Although the use of gender-neutral language to refer to God may be helpful in promoting greater gender equity, at times it can make it extremely difficult to speak about God as a person who cares deeply about each of us rather than reducing God to some type of “higher power” or “spiritual force.” So rather than avoiding the use of pronouns are masculine or feminine in gender when speaking of God, why don’t we instead use both?
How can we speak of God today in ways that avoid perpetrating gender inequity yet continue to present God as a caring, intimate, and gracious person rather than an abstract, distant divinity? This article explores a variety of ways in which we may seek to accomplish that objective.
When the Rev. Dr. James H. Cone passed away in April 2018, Christians throughout the world whose lives had been profoundly transformed by his theology of blackness mourned his death. Here is my own eulogy written from the Mexican context in which I teach.
In his 2017 book The Crucifixion of the Warrior God, Gregory Boyd argues that Christians must renounce the “warrior God” we find in many passages of the Bible in favor of a God who is non-violent and calls on his people to refrain from violence. From my perspective, however, the type of non-violence proposed by Boyd ends up being profoundly cruel and violent. What true love often requires instead are violent forms of non-violence, as well as non-violent forms of violence.
Following the death of her daughter Heather Heyer at a rally protesting racism and white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, Susan Bro exclaimed to the crowd gathered at Heather’s memorial service, “I’d rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we’re going to make it count!” Her words can help us understand what Paul meant when he wrote that God “did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us” (Romans 8:32).
No matter whether we are religious, agnostic, or even atheist, underlying all of our views regarding issues such as immigration, health care, human rights, poverty, education and the role of politics in the world are ideas and beliefs about God and God’s will for the world. Only when we bring those ideas and beliefs out into the open in order to discuss and critique them, therefore, can we address such issues properly.
In 2013, the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America approved a social statement on criminal justice. When considering this vital issue, we must take into account that we have inherited a flawed theology that wrongly divorces justice from grace, mercy, and love, putting these at odds with one another. We must also rethink our understanding of forgiveness and recognize that we are all responsible in various ways for the lives and actions of others.
Rather than seeing inequity on different sides of borders as the result of God having blessed some people more than others, it must be considered the consequence of sinful and unjust systems and structures to which we all contribute. According to Jesus’ teaching and practice, only as we see ourselves as sinners in need of help and healing can we fulfill the mission of serving as God’s instruments to promote justice and equity on all sides of the borders and boundaries that exist in our world.