If God is mother, who is Mary?

three  s companyWe 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.

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  • http://peterseanesq.blogspot.com Peter Sean Bradley

    Within a week of the close of the PCUSA’s General Convention, the First Presbyterian Church of Fresno – Fresno’s oldest and largest Presbyterian church – announced its “trial separation” from the denomination because of the general drift of the PCUSA into heterodoxy culminating in the last General Convention.

    Combine this with the Fresno based Diocese of San Joaquin’s decision to ask Canterbury for oversight within one week of the close of the ECUSA’s General Convention, and it has been a big week for religious news in Central California.

    As near as I can tell, however, media coverage in these stories, or the interesting fact that a single community is seeing a break-up of both denominations over theological issues, has been essentially non-existent.

  • http://www.arbitrarymarks.com ck

    Just seems to me like they’re missing the difference between a Trinity and a Trio. Plain and simple.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The media is also missing the angle on what all this will do to ecumenical relations. So far, the individual denominations seem to have shown not a wit of concern over this issue. Knowing how independent the radical clergy in mainstream Protestant churches are–how can the Catholic and Orthodox churches continue to recognize mainstream Protestant baptisms if there is any chance at all some minister baptized in the name of “Larry, Moe, and Curly??”
    Although I am sure that if the Catholic and Orthodox churches are compelled to stop recognizing mainstream Protestant baptisms the liberal media will dump on them like it always does when these churches of Tradition stand by their Tradition and do not obey the ranting and raving of the NY Times, Washington Post, NBC, etc.

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  • http://janvbear.blogspot.com Jan Bear

    If God is our Mother, then does Jesus have two mommies?

  • http://www.gracelutherantulsa.org Mason Beecroft

    One of the largest and most influential PC USA congregations in Oklahoma has started the process of removing themselves from the denomination. The congregation (Kirk of the Hills) had an emergency voters meeting this past week to remove the denomination from their legal articles. Apparently, the presbytery had made some legal moves that would influence property rights and it was interpreted as aggressive by this congregation. I suspect that the actions of the presbytery were intended to chill any congregations seeking to leave after the convention, although this is purely speculative on my part. I attended the meeting as an outsider (I’m a pastor in the LCMS) and do not have any insight. Interestingly, the only news coverage to mention was a cartoon in the Tulsa World that commented on the outcome of the convention and it was hilarious. The punchline on the Trinitarian language debate was a proposal for “rock, paper, scissors” as an option.

  • BJ

    In a small town in South Texas, according to the local paper, the Presbyterian Minister resigned the Sunday after the convention. He has become affiliated with another conservative Presbyterian group and started a mission with its first service being the next Sunday. I have no information about the feelings in the congregation.

  • Emily

    how can the Catholic and Orthodox churches continue to recognize mainstream Protestant baptisms if there is any chance at all some minister baptized in the name of “Larry, Moe, and Curly??”

    I imagine that both of those churches will begin to conduct more provisional baptisms, such as was done for a few of the 40 RCIA candidates the year I was confirmed:
    “N., if you have not been validly baptized, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

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