22 Oct 2014-
When was the last time you prayed, “Our dear heavenly Mother?” Not likely, right?
Why? Why not?
This is part of the reason why IMPACT magazine was started almost four decades ago: “To help working adults apply Christian principles to contemporary issues of immediate concern.”
That’s it: to assist Christians to think about their faith and work it out in daily living, so that other people around us have occasion to ask for “a reason of the hope you have in you.” (1 Pet 3:15)
Every pastor and every church leader recognizes that the tendency for the average Christian is to be indistinguishable from their pre-believing neighbours, relatives, colleagues, and friends. There is no difference in outlook, budgeting, purchasing decisions or even question of migration. Where’s the distinction? Should there even be one?
Noticing a trend in the preceding 10 years, the editorial board of IMPACT took the bull by the horns and raised the issue of “child-less versus child-free.” The former were folks who were unable to conceive and bear children. But we noticed there were Christian couples who chose to be child-free: fully capable of producing children but not wanting it, and not for medical reasons. Just to be unencumbered in their pursuit of a “full life” as they defined it. Is that a correct Christian mindset? Or maybe, should there even be one?
Coming back to the question whether references to God should be gender-inclusive: is this merely being politically-correct? Are there deeper doctrinal implications? Dr Simon Chan, one of the authors for IMPACT explained just one of the multi-faceted aspects in his masterly article in Christianity Today (Vol 57 No 6): “The father metaphor points to God as the Creator (eg Isa 64:8; Mal 2:10) “from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” (Eph 3:15) Father captures in one word two seemingly contrasting characteristics: God’s love for His creatures and His lordship over all creation. Here again, we see the difference between Israel and ancient Near Eastern cultures. In the Judeo-Christian faith, God the father created the world as something separate from Himself, whereas in the Near Eastern societies, the mother metaphor pictures the mother-goddess giving birth to the world (which makes it an extension of the deity’s body). Calling God Mother undermines the Christian doctrine of creation by implying that God and the world are made of the same stuff and virtually indistinguishable. So we need Father in order to get to the right doctrine of Creation.” Thanks, Simon, for putting us on the right road. Or maybe, should there even be one?
IMPACT (and many Christian magazines and websites) supplements the weekly sermon. Sermons are terrific opportunities to inform with the hope to transform listeners by the renewing of the mind. But preachers have a tough time to achieve this in 30 to 40 minutes weekly slots of varying attention spans and receptivity. Besides, many pew-sitters have that incredible habit to hit the “Delete” button within an hour of leaving church or five miles driving distance, whichever comes first!
No time to read? That usually translates into “no time to think.” Someone once told me his faith was pure and simple: “God says it; I believe it; that settles it.” True. But should it not be – “God says it; that settles it”? Whether you believe or not doesn’t change God’s truth one bit. Oh dear, is that coming down too hard on the poor fellow? Or could both of us be right? What, only one? Or maybe, should there even be one?
One “Free” Look
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