Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 12 March 2022

Helen King The retiring academic Church and the new normal

Jonathan Aitken Turbulent Priest Sermon, 6th March 2022

Ellen Clark-King ViaMedia.News God (he/she/they, him/her/them)

Renie Chow Choy Church Times Why our material legacy matters
“Widening access to heritage spaces is not a ‘woke fad'”

Nell Hardy Surviving Church Spiritual Trauma and Theatre-Based Intervention

Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim Is a Change Really as Good as a Rest?

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Susannah Clark
2 months ago

Ellen: “I cannot be a priest and not share the God I know as fierce mother as well as gentle father.”

I love that (and the direction of the whole article).

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Susannah Clark
2 months ago

I am firmly in the camp that people’s gender is what they declare it to be, not something others assess based on the individual’s physical form – or in the case of God, absence of physical form. In the case of God, He sent His son as His messenger and Jesus uniformly uses male pronouns for God. If a priest used feminine pronouns for God, I would walk out because I think it is blasphemous.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Kate
2 months ago

Well, it’s reported and translated that way, but until we have time travel and someone goes back to First Century Palestine, we really don’t know. In addition, Jesus was speaking to a population who knew only the Torah and the Prophets in which God is treated as male, so he would naturally use the forms they were familiar with.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Pat ONeill
2 months ago

It is reported that way because God was the actual father of Jesus, with Mary the mother. The Bible is pretty clear on that.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Kate
2 months ago

The Gospels as we have them today is, at best, the recollection of four men originally transmitted orally and not put into their current written form until at least seven decades after the events and then translated from a language hardly anyone speaks today (Aramaic) through Greek and Latin and then into English. To say we know precisely what words Jesus used to describe and address his father in heaven is impossible. (For one thing, it is unlikely he ever used a word that translated into the formal title “Father”. He most likely used the Hebrew/Aramaic “Abba,” which is more… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Pat ONeill
2 months ago

Thank you, Pat! for both comments. Your comments are excellent, and your first paragraph above is spot on! To absolutely know what Jesus of Nazareth said based on a translation of a translation of decades-old testimony is fallacy. God is way beyond sex and gender, God is beyond our ability to fully comprehend God in all of God’s dimensions. The people who wrote the books canonized in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures (Old & New Testaments) were almost exclusively male, so naturally they tended to see God as male. By God’s very nature as the only God and the eternal… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Kate
2 months ago

Do you also consider blasphemous Jesus’ picturing God as a mother hen?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Kate
2 months ago

It can be argued that pronouns are a linguistic convention. They don’t have to be tied to natural sex, or indeed to number: different languages do have dfferent conventions, and these can change over time. For example, standard English has shifted to using what were formerly regarded as plural second person pronouns for the singular, a process that was extended to formally addressing the deity only within the last half century. And over the last few decades there has been a shift in the usage of third person singular pronouns, and it is still not clear where this will be… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

You can argue that about pronouns but the debate is about the gender of God, not pronouns. The Creed starts “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, …” That’s the basis of almost all Christianity, not just Anglicanism, but Ellen Clark-King is trying to change God the Father into God the Mother. Then the Christmas story simply doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s also hypocrisy to lead worship including the Creed or Lord’s Prayer… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Kate
2 months ago

I think you are conflating the understanding of an ancient people with the reality of God.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Kate
2 months ago

You don’t have to deny God as Father to also acknowledge God as Mother. Portraying God as Mother goes back to the Hebrew scriptures in any case: “As a mother comforts her child so will I myself comfort you”. It may not be as common as portraying God as Father, but that has a lot to do with cultural understandings of the Father as head and ruler of the household. It makes no sense to decide that God is either male or female; that road leads inevitably to the idea that one sex is made in the image of God… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Reply to  Kate
2 months ago

One of England’s most revered woman saints, Mother Julian of Norwich, is believed to have addressed the Deity as ‘Mother-Father God’! That is enough to convince me of God’s full knowledge of our common humanity. Jesus, as a human being was representing the full range of our common humanity. His relationship with the women in his life was a new paradigm in his culture. God is much more than binary female or male – being All in All and Greater than any.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Kate
2 months ago

Kate, the creed you are quoting is the Nicene (or, more accurately, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed). It is 4th century and its origins are a little obscure, but it has been modified several times. Its Filioque Clause sparked the rupture between Eastern and Western Christianity; a wound in the Body of Christ. It has never been claimed it is inspired. Our version is of course a translation of a translation. And it differs from the Greek in one important respect: the Greek says Jesus ‘was made human’, but in 1999 our House of Bishops insisted our version read ‘was made man’.… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

It’s hardly misogyny to follow the very clear narrative of the New Testament that the Christ child was male. A happier compromise to meet some modern thinking on this topic might have been “assumed our humanity”, a term I have heard used more than once by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, but who are “we” to say that the Church should turn all its teaching and tradition on its head, also ignoring scripture, and where does this line of thought lead?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

Not a translation of a translation, but a translation. The modern-language translation is directly from the Greek. Obviously the Greek does not actually say “was made human”. It says “καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα” (kai enanthropesanta). The question is how to translate the Greek. The ELLC translation has “and became truly human” but this did not find favour with the Church of England’s revision process. So far as I can remember there was not a great deal of debate about this line in the period 1997-2000, when it was going through the synodical process. Most of the discussion about the creed focused on… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

But the Greek is not the original language of Jesus or those who followed him (with the possible exception of the late-comer, Paul). They spoke Aramaic, a Semitic language often defined as a dialect of Hebrew and their original oral accounts of Jesus’ live and words would have been spoken in that language. Somewhere along the line, probably before the written versions we have now, those accounts were translated to Greek, most likely by a bi-lingual (Aramaic-Greek) individual or individuals speaking to Hellenic peoples. So, yes, in the long run, all our English versions (and, for that matter, all versions… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Pat ONeill
2 months ago

Two points. First, my previous comment, and I believe Janet’s that I was responding to, is talking about the text of the Nicene Creed. This was written in Greek, and the words “and was made man” / “and was made human” are a translation of the Greek enanthropesanta. Secondly, and this is somewhat more questionable than the first point, we don’t know for sure what language or languages Jesus spoke. It may only be a minority view but it is quite possible that Jesus spoke at least some Greek, and that at least some of his teaching was given in… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

I am not an expert either, but am relying on what I have learned from those far more knowledgeable than I.

As for exchanges between Jesus and those who may (or may not) have spoken Aramaic, we have only the fallible evidence of the Gospels that those conversations occurred at all. And as for Pilate–we do not send diplomats or foreign service officers to posts where they cannot converse with the locals; why suppose that the Romans would do any less?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Pat ONeill
2 months ago

Pilate was not a diplomat or ambassador. He was a colonial / imperial governor. A better comparison might be with British governors sent to India or to Africa in the days of Empire. Did we expect them to know the local language? I don’t think so. They may have picked up a few words, but they had subordinates to translate for them, and many of the subject people learnt the lingua franca (English in this case, Greek in first century eastern Mediterranean) in order to converse with the imperial rulers and traders. English became the language of government throughout the… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

Many thanks. As to British governors, it would depend. In India all governors were from the ICS apart from the viceroy and those of the three presidencies (Madras, Bombay and Bengal) or Burma after it was removed from India in 1936, although occasionally they would be held by ‘politicals’ (as per the NWFP or British Baluchistan). ICS governors would definitely have known many of the local languages to the point of fluency (they would all have served turns as district magistrates or collectors). Most of the presidency governors, often minor office holders or ‘obscure backbenchers’, would certainly not have done… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

Interesting thread. One recites the creeds in the liturgy where Credo reflects back to scripture. This is true even of the ‘historical’ references in the creeds i.e. ” … suffered under Pontius Pilate…” references the Pilate of the passion narratives. The Pilate of the gospels is like the actual Pilate in the same way that the character of ‘The Queen’ in the mini series, The Crown, is like the actual Queen, or the character of General Custer in a Hollywood horse opera is like the actual G.A. Custer. Like the conversations between the royal family characters in The Crown, the… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

You are right, I should have said merely ‘translation’. I do recall ‘and was made man’ being discussed at General Synod, and it was pointed out by several speakers that a better translation would be ‘and was made human’. The meaning of the Incarnation lies not in Jesus’ sex but in his humanity. The reply from the bishop responding on behalf of the House of Bishops I can’t remember which one) acknowledged this but insisted they would stick to ‘was made man’. I was so incensed at what seemed to me deliberate sexism that I voted against adopting the Creed… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Kate
2 months ago

Genesis 1: 26,27.
26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
27 
So God created humankind in his image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Father David
Father David
2 months ago

Although I agree with the theme of his sermon I am left wondering if Johnathan Aitken is misusing the pulpit or not in his point scoring? Perhaps another platform would be more appropriate to take a righteous aim at the Governing Body and cathedral Chapter of Christ Church? Just sayin’.

Susannah Clark
2 months ago

With regard to Jonathan’s observations – which resonated with me from my own experience of Christianity in prisons – on the Oxford diocese and Christ Church debacle: I am reminded of those old confessional words:

“We have left undone those things which we ought to have done.”

Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Susannah Clark
2 months ago

‘As I [Jonathan Aitken] ask, “How well did some prominent Oxford Christians obey the ‘Love thy neighbour’ Commandment during the longest, costliest, nastiest, and worst reputation destroying scandal in living memory to stain the honour of this University and its most celebrated College?’

Spare a thought – and a prayer – for some prominent Chichester Christians as they seek to obey not just the ‘Love thy neighbour’ Commandment.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
2 months ago

Richard, I will gladly ask God to hold them and help them, whatever it concerns.

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