As the Church of England prepares to install its first female bishop this year, church leaders are growing bolder and louder in their call for the use of feminine language to describe God. Some of them are even going so far as to refer to Jesus, a historical figure — and a man — as “Jesa Christa.”
Many priests and bishops already substitute “she” for “he” in parish services around the country. At a recent Westminster Faith Debate on women bishops, a woman rabbi sang ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’ with female instead of male pronouns.
Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson told Christian Today: “It strikes me that the whole point of ‘male and female created he them’ is that the God of the Hebrews is a quantum leap other than the strange gods of the Canaanites because unlike them or humans, s/he is beyond Gender.
Already, discussions have started, under the authority of the Transformations Steering Group which meets in Lambeth Palace, London HQ of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The group looks at the place and impact of women’s ministry in the Church and has urged bishops to embrace “expansive language and imagery about God”.
Hilary Cotton, chair of Women And The Church, said many churches up and down the country are already using more than the almost default male language about God.
Some Anglican worship has already embraced the feminine, such as Canticle 82, which likens Jesus to a mother, and Canticle 86, which speaks of God as “our mother in all things”.
Rev Lindsay Llewellyn-MacDuff, chaplain to the Bishop of Rochester, wrote on the Women and the Church website: “What difference would it make if we regularly – in our worship, our preaching, and our everyday conversation – talked about God as ‘she’? I don’t mean all the time, but often – perhaps even 50 per cent of the time. What would it mean if we could talk about God as ‘her’ without sniggering or stropping, but as evenly as we talk about God as ‘him’. What would it do to the way we approach God, or each other?”
In other news, the percentage of British adults who identify as Anglican continues to fall, while other faiths, including other Christian denominations and Islam, along with those who consider themselves non-religious, are either holding steady or are on the rise.
The proportion of British adults who said they are Anglican has fallen from 40 per cent in 1983 to 17 per cent in 2014. However the decline was steepest over the past decade when the proportion fell by two fifths in ten years, down from 29 per cent of the population in 2004.
Perhaps the British are realizing that the squishy, oddball declarations of the Church of England are worth running from in droves.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / chrisdorney