We had an entertaining discussion a few weeks ago about the decision by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to accept alternative names for the Trinity. Most readers offered their own names for the PCUSA to consider (Ears, Nose, Throat; Jack, Chrissy, Janet, with a further discussion of who Mr. Roper and Larry represented. I say the Regal Beagle represents heaven).
A few readers brought up how one of the more controversial name suggestions — Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child and Life-giving Womb — denigrates Mary and deviates from Jesus’ own words. Father Joseph Honeycutt wrote:
FWIW, Jesus refered to his Father in heaven because . . . His Father WAS (is) in heaven! He would never have said “Our Mother in heaven” . . . because, well, she was right down the street!
K. Connie Kang, a reporter with the Los Angeles Times had a great article a few days ago that looked at the decision to accept additional names for the Trinity as well as what fallout the convention’s decision was having. She didn’t just do a “he-said, she-said.” Kang sought out multiple perspectives from folks on either side and explained a bit more about their opinions. For instance, she cites from the report that makes the recommendations for changes but also lets those unhappy with the view have their say:
Written by a diverse panel of working pastors and theologians, the report noted that the traditional language of the Trinity portrays God as male and implies men are superior to women.
“For this and other distortions of Trinitarian doctrine we repent,” the report said. . . .
“They’re attempting to be politically correct, and unnecessarily so,” said Hank Hanegraaff, president of the Christian Research Institute in Charlotte, N.C.
“Jesus Christ comes into a culture in which women are considered to be on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder . . . and makes women his disciples,” he said.
“Women are the first to bear witness to the empty tomb, which is central in Christianity. The Bible says in Christ there is neither male nor female. We are one in Christ.”
Kang’s story also explains the bureaucracy behind the report’s acceptance, when the new terminology may and may not be used, the trouble the PCUSA is having in retaining members, and even a criticism that the changes equate the name of God with metaphors for God, which our reader R. Boyd hinted at a few weeks ago in his satirical campaign against the use of the cross:
Clearly the time has arrived to select and embrace a new, life-affirming symbol of our sophisticated and superior post-modern faith in absolutely anything we feel good about. Something that celebrates the bounty of creation, rather than sin, suffering, and death.
I suggest a golden calf.
I hope more local reporters look at how this national decision affects Presbyterians on the local level. Let us know if you see any reports.