Friday, June 30, 2006


Or a TEC, or whatever the acronym is, I can't keep track of anything anymore! But ECUSA makes it rhyme...

Presbyterians and the Holy Trinity: Let Us Phrase

Delegates to the U.S. church's policy-making body endorse other wordings to describe a 'triune God.'

By K. Connie Kang, Times Staff Writer

When referring to the Trinity, most Christians are likely to say "Father, Son and the Holy Spirit."

But leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are suggesting some additional designations: "Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child and Life-giving Womb," or perhaps "Overflowing Font, Living Water, Flowing River."

Then there's "Rock, Cornerstone and Temple" and "Rainbow of Promise, Ark of Salvation and Dove of Peace."

...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...
"Compassionate Mother." Ooo. How avant-garde. How do I begin to unpack the theological problems. And "Life-giving Womb." Uhhh...

"Rock, Cornerstone, Temple" and the others aren't really that offensive. They seem to be accurate enough references to God. The problem is that the phrase "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" has a special place in Christian theology. In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Christ Himself tells us to "Go therefore, teaching all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (28:19) I guess that this Presby convention in Alabama has determined that Jesus was a sexist.

This phrase is so important that according to the Catholic tradition these words (in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit) must be used when baptizing a child, or the baptism is invalid and has no effect.

A while ago there was a story about a priest in Australia (I believe) who had been baptizing children "in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier" in an ill-considered attempt at sensitivity to feminists. When this was discovered by the local bishop, he had to send out letters to all of the children who had been so "baptized" (some of them already grown!) informing them that they had not actually, in fact, been baptized. This was very serious as baptism is the gateway to all of the other sacraments; one can not validly receive sacramental absolution, Holy Communion, the sacrament of marriage, etc, if one is not validly baptized.

This is the trouble with our friends, the Latter Day Saints; although Mormons are usually wonderful, moral people they are not Christians because they are not baptized in the name of the Trinity, which is a theological concept that was not accepted by their founder, Joseph Smith.

Anyway, the point is that one simply can't do better than "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;" these are words given to us by Christ Himself to describe the Trinity. It's really unfortunate that the Presbyterians feel that Our Lord's words imply that women are superior to men. I am sure they could find plenty of Christians who do not get that impression at all; perhaps this says more about the panel members' preoccupations than any supposed linguistic sexism. I would also point out that while it is true that God the Father has no gender, God the Son is very much a man. Jesus was a fully human male. Hopefully, the Presbyterians will not decide at future meetings to jettison the hypostatic union.

And "Compassionate Mother" is just completely out of left field. Can I just say that? Straaaange.


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