Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Is God a She?

The new bishop of Gloucester, wants to “gently challenge” us all not to refer to God as “he.” Lee Gatiss reflects on this provocative headline grabber.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper at the weekend, Rachel Treweek joined others who are saying that the Church of England should use both male and female pronouns when referring to God. She personally prefers, we are told, to say neither “he” nor “she”, but “God.” “Sometimes I lapse, but I try not to,” the bishop told the Observer.

“In the creation narratives, we’re told that God created human beings in God’s likeness, and then it goes on to talk about male and female. If I am made in the image of God, then God is not to be seen as male. God is God.”

This is a very old discussion, of course, with precursors in the early church debates with heretical gnosticism. Julian of Norwich (a woman, of course, despite the name!) spoke of God as our Mother. It has been a commonplace in feminist reinterpretations of theology over the last 50 years. As another contributor to The Guardian put it earlier this year when the latest campaign on this issue seemed to get going again, “For many of us with a theological persuasion the debate about gender-specific pronouns for the Divine is as dated as a fondue set and flares, but apparently to some normal people this is not the case.”

Others have addressed these issues before. But since it is again topical, it is worth another look. There are perhaps two main issues here, I think. One is about theology proper, about who God is. The other is about how we know about God, about the doctrine of revelation. But above them both is the issue of power. Read more

No comments: