Saturday, September 11, 2010

God is no longer Male

The following article was found in the Daily Mail. 

The Scottish Episcopal Church has caused controversy by removing masculine references to God in a new order of service.  The new form of worship, which removes words such as 'Lord, he, his, him' and 'mankind' from services, has been written by the church in an attempt to acknowledge that God is 'beyond human gender'.  Episcopalian bishops have approved the introduction of more 'inclusive' language, which deliberately removes references suggesting that God is of male gender

Traditionalists have criticised the changes on the grounds that they smack of political correctness and because they believe they are not consistent with the teachings of the Bible.  The alterations have been made to provide an alternative to the established 1982 Liturgy, which, like the Bible, refers to God as a man.  The new order of service, which can be used by priests if they have difficulties with a male God, has been produced by the church's Liturgy Committee in consultation with the Faith & Order Board of General Synod and the College of Bishops.

The controversial changes were discussed at the church's General Synod recently. The minutes of the synod reveal that female priests had asked why God was still referred to as a man.  The altered version of the 1982 Liturgy sees masculine pronouns removed when they refer to God and the new approach has even been extended to humans.  For example, the word 'mankind' has been taken out and replaced with 'world'.  Some senior religious figures have objected to the new form of words.

More...Archbishop of Canterbury hits back after Stephen Hawking insists God did NOT create the universe.  'It is political correctness,' said Rev Stuart Hall of the Scottish Prayer Book Society and Honorary Professor of Divinity at the University of St Andrews.  'It is quite unnecessary. The word man in English - especially among scientists - is inclusive of both sexes.   'Those who try to minimise references to God as the Father and Christ as his Son have great difficulties, because the New Testament is shot through with these references.'  Direct quotations from the Bible have been spared change, because of a reluctance to interfere with the word of God.
Services in Scottish Episcopal churches, like the one above, could change as masculine references to God such as 'Lord, him and mankind' have been removed to provide an alternative to the established 1982 Liturgy.  However, the blessing at the end of services has been changed by some ministers from 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit' to 'Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier'.

'The changing of God language is a little tricky,' admitted Rev Darren McFarland, convener of the church's liturgy committee.  'It is then that opinion is much more divided. We have really tried not to mess around with the descriptions of God in the biblical text. But what we want to see is generous language when it comes to gender. God is above and beyond human gender.

'We are not saying God is not masculine. God is also feminine. The problem is trying to use human language to describe the indescribable. 'The bishops have permitted these changes, people do not have to use this form. But we are trying to honour the breadth of descriptions of God in a way that's helpful to the church and its membership.'

Last week scientist Stephen Hawking sparked a religious debate when he declared the universe was not created by god because 'the universe can and will create itself from nothing'.  Hawking's controversial claims from his new book The Grand Design, set out to contest Sir Isaac Newton's belief that the universe must have been designed by God as it could not have been created out of chaos.  The Archbishop of Canterbury dismissed Hawking's findings.
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