Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Theological Circles

One of the most “controversial” prayers I have ever heard was a prayer that went something like this: “Loving Mother God, Help us to be impregnated by your Holy Spirit so that we may give birth to your word in the midst of this world that we are living. Amen.”  Alright, so it was a bit more articulate than that, but that’s what it was, more or less.  It made me a little uncomfortable at the time, but I went with it.  Since then I have heard God called many things.  I pride myself on surrounding myself with people that have different views of God than me. 

Today, I’m sitting in my Doctrine of the Trinity class, and we’re talking about the interchangeability of gender language in regard to the part of the Trinity traditionally called “Father.”  I am just going to allow my fingers to flow, not caring about articulation, and document my train of thought. 

First, we should not use gendered language when talking about God.
  This is because we don’t know anything about God, and therefore any attempt we make to ascribe something to God is going to fall short.  This is especially true for masculine language for two reasons: 1. Using masculine language ascribes masculinity to God, and we don’t know the gender of God (or if God even has a gender) and 2. Using masculine language perpetuates the oppression of women that has so long been justified by the use of the term “Father.”

Well, then I was thinking.
  If we can’t (because of reason 2 listed above) call God “Father,” then we can call God “Mother.”  But, hold up.  We can’t do this because of reason 1 listed above.  The question posed to us was, “If you were baptizing a baby, what term would you use.”  _____, Son, Holy Spirit.  Hm… what would I use?  Ah Ha!  Creator!  I triumphantly raise my hand to share my answer.  The professor then says, “But, if you limit God to ‘Creator’ then you are taking away many important qualities of God.”  So when you start trying to use terms that don’t demean God, it confuses the congregation who (on the whole) doesn’t give a rip about theology like you do. 

So great… here I am… So I can’t call God “Father” or “Mother” or anything else for that matter.
  So what do you call God?  We start discussing a school of thought that says that all language for God is metaphorical anyway, so we can call God whatever.  The thought behind this is that because we can’t know anything about God, any attempt is as good as any other, because no attempt is going to do any justice.  So now we’re back to square one.  Using the term “Father” is just as good as any other. 

No matter what word I choose to use (be it "Father" or "Mother" or "Parent" or "Friend"), that word is going to represent a broken relationship in someone's life.  All people can hurt people, and using relational terminology to speak about God is no good, just like anything else.  Hm... 

Sheesh… I’m running in circles here, knowing that eventually I am going to have to arrive at a conclusion and defend that conclusion in front of a Board of Ordained Ministry.  What a day… 

Out of all of this, I have discovered that I really do like theology.  I love working through these issues.  I love "Rational wrestling with mystery" (Thanks, Barth, for that).  I love it.  I am doing the right thing with my life.  

1 comment:

Learning as I go said...

Very interesting. Have you read the shack? Although its a fictional book- it does introduce the idea of God as mother (later to find out in the book God can be visualized in either gender). Anyway, might be something you want to check out.

Thinking about you...