Molly Field James, in Anglican and Episcopal History 92/4 (Dec. 2023): 668-670

June 6, 2024

“… The depth and breadth of God’s love is more fully explored in Lamm’s book, God’s Kinde Love. It is a text that also offers fresh insight into the life and text of Julian as a theologian rather than a preacher. Lamm reminds us that theology is not merely created from intellectual exercises or discussions; our understanding of God is mediated by our experiences, and those who have gone before us. It is the classic “three-legged stool” of the Anglican tradition. We need scripture, reason, and tradition. Any of those alone do us and God a disservice. Lamm’s text is deep, thorough, and engaging. She begins by providing the background and context for her writing on Julian as a theologian and the context in which Julian lived and wrote. As with any theologian, while there is much that is universal in her texts, our understanding is enriched when we know something of Julian’s world – of plagues and life in medieval England. Lamm goes on to examine the theme of “Revelation as Exposure” and then ultimately to discuss Julian’s writings along- side Romans 5:5 and Augustine’s Doctrine of Grace. The most significant chapters, and the most significant impact of Lamm’s work, focus on developing a rich and deep understanding of God’s Grace and God’s Mercy.
Lamm notes, “Julian resisted the dominant religion-political understanding of mercy-as-amnesty . . . and retrieved instead a Biblical understanding of mercy-as-compassion,” and Julian’s understanding of grace is about God as “the cheerful gift-giver who delights in humanity” and a world where “human persons are equal to one another in dignity” (p. 177). It is this explication of Julian’s doctrines over the course of multiple chapters, as well as the engagement with longstanding theological traditions, that make Lamm’s text so compelling and important. It is not hard to argue the dam- age that has been done over the centuries from a theology embedded in patriarchy that emphasized power, sin, and punishment. How different might our world be if the starting place for understanding God, ourselves as individuals, and humanity, was the grounded belief that God is compassionate and delights in us, and we have an essential dignity that cannot be taken away? These may be understandings frequently found in contemporary theological texts, but they are not the dominant theme of patristic or medieval texts and their almost exclusively male authors.
Lamm’s understanding of Julian and her presentation of her as a theologian make God’s Kinde Love a text that should be a part of historical and systematic theology courses. So often students only encounter Julian along with the other mystics of her time – Rolle, Kemp, Cloud of Unknowing, etc. She does belong there. She also belongs in classes that discuss the doctrines of Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, etc. Our world, institutions, education, and our own faith lives could all benefit from a theological understanding that emphasizes compassion, delight, and dignity….”

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