Jesus went up into the hills and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve–designating them apostles–that they might be with him… Mark 3:13-14
It has been called “The Second Reformation,” which may be gracing it with far more glory than it deserves. Others have called it less complimentary things, feeling that it is the greatest compromise of the decade, perhaps in two millennia. It is the decision of the Church of England to ordain women as Anglican priests, a measure which passed by a mere margin of two votes. On one side are those who contend that it was God who ordained that men should provide the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ. They cite the fact that Jesus chose 12 men to walk with Him, 12 who became Apostles and were the foundation and example of the Church for the past 2,000 years.
On the other side are those who contend that women have their own God-given gifts, and to ignore that fact seriously depletes the ranks of leadership and causes the church to operate in a vacuum, ignoring the strides that women have made in society in our generation.
What the Church of England has done apparently squashes the 22-year effort of the Anglican and Catholic churches to reunite, undoing the legacy of King Henry to establish his own church, one which allowed his divorce and remarriage. A spokesman for the Vatican said, “This decision by the Anglican Communion constitutes anew a grave obstacle to the entire process of reconciliation.”
“Admission to the priesthood is just one issue as feminism rapidly emerges as the most vexing thorn for Christianity,” says Richard Ostling. Women, serving as priests, whether in the Anglican priesthood, or serving as pastors in major denominations, is merely the tip of the iceberg. The issue involves radical changes in church life and government when it comes to the place of women, issues which have become angrily debated by women who believe change is long overdue.
In some denominations–usually older, main-line groups–hymn books have been radically altered. No longer do their congregations sing Frederick Faber’s hymn, “Faith of our Fathers, living still, In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword,” but a version which Faber would hardly recognize.
Scripture, too, has been changed, in spite of the fact that doing this has no manuscript evidence whatsoever to support the contemporary translations, and no support from Greek syntax or grammar. It’s like saying, “I don’t like something, and I think that I have the right to alter it to say what I think it should.” The Great Commission, found at the close of Matthew’s Gospel has been altered by the United Church of Christ Press, 1992 edition, to read, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of God the Father and Mother and of Jesus Christ the beloved Child and of the Holy Spirit.”
Altering the biblical text, changing the concept of God as Father to either a feminine or neuter rendering, is nothing short of heresy to those who believe that the words of Scripture were inspired by the Holy Spirit and should not be tampered with.
The issue is not really a “male versus female” issue. The bottom line is whether the text of Scripture can be altered or changed to fit the trends of society today–something which the church has never countenanced before.
It is little wonder that liberal churches have lost members by the thousands in recent years, and churches holding to traditional theology, embracing warm, contemporary worship and Bible teaching, have experienced unprecedented growth.
If the movement to integrate feminism into the church is correct, the church has been wrong for 2000 years. If it is the other way around, may God help us!
Resource reading: 1 Peter 1.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally entitled “GOD, OUR FATHER”