Attachment Theory and the Cry of Dereliction
Toward a Science-Engaged Model of Atonement for Posttraumatic Stains on the Soul
Keywords:atonement, trauma, science-engaged theology, Eleonore Stump, psychology
Recent discussions in analytic theology and philosophy have explored how traumatic events can interrupt a person’s experience of union with God. Sparked by Eleonore Stump’s book Atonement, this problem has been treated as a type of “stain on the soul” relating to morally lamentable leftovers in human psyches after horrendous sin has been committed. While Stump deploys a science-engaged model of atonement to address many kinds of stains on the soul, one kind remains unaccounted for, namely, stains on the soul caused by trauma in which the survivor is innocent of any moral wrongdoing. How might such “posttraumatic stains on the soul” (PTSS) be healed through atonement? In this paper we offer the beginnings of a science-engaged model of atonement to fill this recent lacuna. We zero in on one particular kind of PTSS, namely, the experience trauma survivors can have of blaming God for their suffering. Drawing insights in psychological science from attachment theory and interpersonal neurobiology on the role of empathy for human flourishing, we sketch a model of atonement to explain how it might be that God, without being morally culpable, nevertheless makes reparation for persons who feel angry at God and/or alienated from God as a result of suffering trauma.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Preston Hill, Dan Sartor
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