Friday, September 29, 2006


A fellow seminarian of mine has ruffled some feathers over on his site pomomusings. While I am not too worried about his salvation :-), apparantly some are concerned about his wife's because of her choice of wording in her statement of faith. I made a comment that her statement seemed pretty trinitarian to me, so what was the deal.

The deal is that a bunch of people have their panties in a bunch about her referring to God with a feminine pronoun. I actually found her statement to be balanced and referring to God in a comprehensive way and not limiting the Triune God to our conception of humanity/gender/etc...

So what do you all think? Should our panties be in a bunch? Or can we allow ourselves the freedom to conceive of the Triune God as one we can know in both masculine and feminine ways?


Anonymous Scott said...

I don't wear panties (no really, I don't. seriously.), but if I did, they might be mildly uncomfortable over this. Not because I have a specific problem with feminine imagery for God (after all, neither did Jesus); but rather because, for all of acknowledging cultural language and such, when dealing in words rather than images, both Scripture and Tradition are overwhelmingly consistent in addressing God by a male pronoun.

The question in my mind, I suppose, is whether the anthropological models of gender which would seek to render the line between male and female inconsequential are defensible. There are strong arguments for fundamental differences, in an ontological sense which takes into account both our embodied and spiritual natures, between genders (JPII's Theology of the Body is one recent and forceful example); this is certainly true of classical Jewish and Christian thought, and should not be lightly cast aside. So with regard to "pronouning" God, in what way is God mirrored in "maleness," and in what ways is that different from the way God is mirrored in "femaleness?" The essential function (if we can call it that) ascribed to God both in orthodox Trinitarian theology and in relation to the Church is that of "Father," which is different in an absolute sense from "Mother." Is that contrast essential or consequential for our interaction with, and conceptions of, God? I guess my answer would be a hesitant and qualified "yes," in that for one reason or another the function, and not merely the image, of God as "Father" is by far dominant in both Judaism and Christianity; but it is qualified in the same sense that it is by Gregory of Nazianzus, who qualified his insistence on a male pronoun with the stern admonition that God must not be understood as being gendered as such; God is spirit, to whom gender cannot be attributed, and is in both genders mirrored in different ways but by neither encompassed.

So that was off the cuff and I'm sure full of errors; maybe I'm way off. What do you think?

7:39 PM, September 29, 2006  
Blogger The Western Seminarian said...

Except for the pronoun, it seems pretty vanilla - which isn't to say that there aren't some really good things in there, just not too challenging to most theologies, I think. As God isn't sexed, both pronouns should be valid. :)

...But in this day and age, where we are working to stop using exclusively 'male' pronouns for God, why choose to use an exclusively female pronoun, unless one is looking to make males feel excluded? It is fairly common to repeat the word 'God' where one might consider a gendered pronoun. I hear it in churches all the time.


11:03 PM, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Iris said...

I serve on our Presbytery's Committee on Preparation for Ministry and I would love to see one of our Candidates for ministry submit a Statement of Faith as thoughtful and theologically sound as this one.

Scripture may be consistent in addressing God by a male pronoun, but it is also consistent in its view of a tiered universe. We grow in our understanding (hopefully). The only way a feminine image of God is going to stop sounding wierd to peoples' ears is to use that language regularly and as a matter of course.

I have no problem with masculine God imagery at all, except when it is used exclusively. I often use gender neutral language, but have you ever tried to sing the hymn "To God Be the Glory" substituting "God" for all the "he's?" It's pretty hysterical!

2:25 AM, October 02, 2006  
Blogger hipastorzwife2B said...

Its probably not that she used "she" as much as using "she" is just as provacative as using "he" these days, and not just in referring to God.
My panties are only bunched when Hubby does the laundry.
Glad to see you back!

1:56 PM, October 14, 2006  
Blogger LutheranChik said...

Delurking tonight...I don't have a problem with using female language for the Godhead; but when I'm doing churchy things (I am an aspiring lay minister who already gets to do most of the stuff I'm being trained for), rather than use female pronouns I try to avoid pronouns altogether. With a little thought it can be finessed.

7:55 PM, November 28, 2006  

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