Does it matter what language is used for God in public worship?
Anyone who has struggled with these questions has encountered the obvious pitfalls to be stumbled into by using:
- gendered language or non-gendered language
- names of power and authority or gentleness and humility
- Biblical metaphors or contemporary metaphors
- replacing male pronouns and patriarchal language with female simply replaces one gendered power structure with another
- removing gendered language has theological limitations
- rewriting beautiful historic texts is tortuous and impoverishing
"Expansive language aims to use as many names and metaphors for God as possible; to stretch the imagination towards God, in order to allow our minds and our mouths to discover that alongside the comfort of loved and familiar imagery, there is also novelty, shock, challenge and joyful surprise in our encounter with the Divine."I find this a hugely helpful idea. Do read the whole essay. It is beautifully written. I'll end with her concluding words:
"Let’s take all these names and more besides, let’s roll them around in our mouths, and taste and see whether they are, in fact, good; and let us feel our way towards articulating our worship in a way that is both inclusive and respectful of one another as it is honoring and worshipful of the God whose name, as St Paul says, is above all names."
Image Credit: god: CC Licence, from dreamsjung on Flickr