Over the past several years, the global church has been grappling with sex abuse scandals and how to address and lift up the needs of survivors. In their new book, Surviving God: A New Vision of God Through the Eyes of Sexual Abuse Survivors, theologians Rev. Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Rev. Susan M. Shaw work to dismantle traditional theological constructs that perpetuate the grave issue of sexual abuse, shedding light on how these patriarchial beliefs diverge from the compassionate and just essence of the gospel.

This week on The State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush is joined by the authors to delve into the authors’ lived experiences and unveiling the intricate intersections of gender, race, sexuality, class, and religion. They discuss what can be done to offer a hopeful pathway to a reimagined church committed to healing and justice.

 As I think more theologically every day, I’m thinking that our image, our metaphors, our understanding, our language, our words about God actually really, really has a deep impact on our actions, our thinking, our modes of behavior…If we continue to use this language in the church, it really allows abuse, allows domination, allows colonialism, allows subjugation, allows genocide, all these things, they are intersecting forms and acts of violence perpetrated against other people.

– Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, professor of theology at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana, and an ordained Presbyterian minister. She’s the author or editor of more than 20 books, including Hope in Disarray: Piecing Our Lives Together in Faith and Healing Our Broken Humanity: Practices for Revitalizing the Church and Renewing the World.

Grace and I went into this book as survivors ourselves, and so we want survivors to know that we are speaking as people who understand what they’ve gone through and what they continue to go through. And while the book has a lot of difficult material, and we’re going to talk about that, but we also ended on a note of joy. And so we want survivors also to know that we’re going to get to the joy as we talk about it.

– Dr. Susan M. Shaw, professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Oregon State University. Her books include Reflective Faith: A Theological Toolbox for Women, and God Speaks to Us, Too: Southern Baptist Women on Church, Home, and Society. An ordained Baptist minister, Susan makes her congregational home in the United Church of Christ.

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