Women And The Church (known as ”˜Watch’), the pressure group calling for the use of ”˜female language’ to describe God, know that such a change would lead to bitter rows in vestries and thunderous denunciations in the General Synod, the Church of England parliament.
But they are ready for battle. Watch ran ”” and won ”” the campaign for women bishops.
They are not to be confused with the loopy Christian feminists who danced in circles, clutching ”˜healing crystals’, in the Seventies. No one listened when that lot demanded that God be called ”˜She’, as they did incessantly.
Watch, in contrast, is led by a group of politically savvy networkers. These women are embedded in the ancient structures of the Church.
Watch’s members love to point out that the Bible uses feminine imagery: God is compared to ”˜a woman in labour’ in the Book of Isaiah.
But throughout the Gospels Jesus constantly refers to God as ”˜Father’ ”” most famously in the Lord’s Prayer.
Referring to God as ”˜Mother’ drives a horse and cart through Scripture. Such an innovation is guaranteed to split the C of E as never before.
And much of the anger would come from Christians whom feminists are desperately anxious not to upset ”” women from immigrant backgrounds. African, West Indian and Asian Anglicans ”” who keep many inner-city British parishes alive ”” think feminised worship is tainted by paganism.
For many of them, referring to God as a woman is, indeed, a form of goddess worship, something they have fought against in their countries of origin.
We should also ask why this particular question has arisen now. One influence is the fashion for rewriting history to highlight the role of women in biblical times.
Much of this is based on bad scholarship and wishful thinking. Several books portray Mary Magdalene as the real leader of the Apostles. They are about as plausible as The Da Vinci Code.
The Church of England is not good at telling the difference between necessary modernisation of its practices and secular fads. Nothing has done more damage than its embarrassing attempts to be ”˜relevant’.
In some parishes, every other sermon is about climate change, on which the vicar poses as an expert even though he’s done no more than skim-read The Guardian.
And do you remember those hideous cathedral youth events billed as ”˜raves in the nave’?
Despite weighty theological arguments, the ”˜God as She’ proposal falls clearly into the category of gimmick.
Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, has warned us that the Church could be extinct in 25 years’ time unless services become more spiritually fulfilling.
Calling God ”˜She’ will not achieve that fulfilment. The proposed twist of language will do nothing to stop the decline of Christian faith in this country.
On the contrary, it will make worshippers squirm. And nothing empties pews faster than that.
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