Theology Proper

How should we speak about God in our gender conscious society?

During the course of my teaching career, as feminist scholarship made me conscious of the language I used for God, I went through a number of changes in my own practice. I was reminded of that journey as I read a fine article by Simon Chan, in Christianity Today, as a feature in the ongoing “Global gospel project.”

Decades ago, Simon was a student in some of my classes at Asian Theological Seminary, in Manila, and he is a former students from whose writings I’ve profited on a number of occasions in the years since then. He brings helpful wisdom to the very important but rather controverted issue of how we should speak about God in our cultural context. I commend Simon’s article to you. He sums up his proposal in this way:

 Christians have good reasons to insist on addressing God as Father, especially in the liturgy, where the Christian story is reenacted. Father is not a culturally conditioned term but the proper name of God given by divine revelation. It is how God is primarily identified or named in relation to his Son. At stake is the Trinitarian identity, which inevitably affects the church’s identity. Playing the inclusive language game has a high theological cost that far outweighs any gains.


By Terrance Tiessen

I am Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, Canada.

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