icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
7 Feb, 2023 21:07

Church of England discusses gender-neutral God

If liberal clergy get their way, the Almighty Father may be stricken from the scriptures
Church of England discusses gender-neutral God

Liberal Christians are pushing the Church of England to abolish gendered references to God from scriptures and services, the Telegraph reported on Tuesday. Describing God as a man, they argue, is a “theological misreading.”

The argument was brought up at a sitting of the General Synod – the Church’s lawmaking body – this week. According to the Telegraph, the Reverend Joanna Stobart of Bath and Wells asked the Liturgical Commission what steps were being taken “to develop more inclusive language in our authorized liturgy.”

Stobart said that she wanted more options to “speak of God in a non-gendered way,” and more prayers that didn’t refer to God “using male pronouns.”

The Liturgical Commission is responsible for setting out how church services are conducted, including what kind of language is used during these services. Its vice-chairman, the Bishop of Litchfield, told Stobart that the commission has “been exploring the use of gendered language in relation to God for several years,” and would discuss the matter with the Faith and Order Commission this spring. 

However, any change to the Church’s liturgy would require the unanimous approval of the Synod, where there is strong opposition.

“The fact that God is called ‘Father’ can’t be substituted by ‘Mother’ without changing meaning, nor can it be gender-neutralized to ‘Parent’ without loss of meaning,” Rev. Ian Paul, a member of the Church’s Archbishop’s Council, said in response to Stobart’s proposal. 

“Fathers and mothers are not interchangeable but relate to their offspring in different ways,” he continued. “If the Liturgical Commission seeks to change this, then in an important way they will be moving the doctrine of the Church away from being grounded in the Scriptures.”

The Church of England differs from the Catholic Church in several key ways: It does not recognize the Pope as the one appointed ‘Vicar of Christ’, it allows clergy to marry, and it permits women to be ordained, all while delegating more authority to individual bishops and ministers. Thus, while orders from the Vatican forbid Catholic priests from blessing same-sex unions, the General Synod of the Church of England is currently preparing for a divisive vote on the matter this week. 

While the catechisms of both the Catholic and Anglican churches define God as neither a man nor a woman, both refer to him as male in their liturgy.