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World News

CofE to consider gender-neutral God

by Donna Birrell

The Church of England is setting up a commission to consider whether to stop referring to God as “He” in prayers, after some priests asked to be allowed to use gender-neutral terms instead.

The commission will begin in the Spring and any changes would need to be voted through by General Synod.

Rev Miranda Threlfall-Holmes is a member of Synod and also acting Archdeacon of Liverpool. She told Premier : 

"There's certainly no suggestion that we're going to stop the use of male language for God, obviously Jesus was male and the word ‘Father’ is used quite a lot in the Bible.

“What the Church of England are looking at is increasing the range of our liturgy so that some of the other biblical images that are used for God, such as the idea of God as a mother hen, God as a woman looking for a lost coin, are also in there along with some of the other imagery.

“I would say this isn't new and I think it's quite funny that it's front page news. I started Theological College 25 years ago and we’ve been talking about this for a very, very long time.

“Our pronouns are very familiar, but they also domesticate God. So the danger is that we end up talking in a very chummy way about God as Father, and God sometimes as a bloke.

“God is God and Christian theology has always been that God is beyond gender, God is beyond male and female, it's there in Genesis. God made male and female in God's own image.

“It is difficult, but I think the use of Hebrew God does end up creating in people's imaginations an idea that God is male, which is actually not true, and has never been considered true, and can be quite unhelpful for some people.”

A Church of England spokesperson said :

"Christians have recognised since ancient times that God is neither male nor female. Yet the variety of ways of addressing and describing God found in scripture has not always been reflected in our worship."

But he added that there were "absolutely no plans to abolish or substantially revise" authorised services and that no changes could be made without "extensive legislation".



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