Is God Male or Gender-Neutral? Episcopal Church Begins Debate on Book of Common Prayer

Jul 4, 2018 by

by Steve Warren, CBN News:

Since before the days of the early church, God has always been addressed in prayers as a male, including terms like Father, King, and Lord.

In the New Testament, Jesus taught his disciples to pray to God using a male term. In Luke 11:1-4, one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. “And He said to them, When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name.'” (NASV)

Now the Episcopal Church is debating about overhauling its Book of Common Prayer, which is used in Episcopal congregations worldwide.

The debate centers on making sure that prayers in the book are clear that God is not male, but doesn’t have a gender, The Washington Post reports.

“As long as ‘men’ and ‘God’ are in the same category, our work toward equity will not just be incomplete. I honestly think it won’t matter in some ways,” the Rev. Wil Gafney, a professor of the Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School in Texas told the newspaper.

Gafney is on the committee recommending a change to the gendered language in the prayer book. Like many other Episcopal priests, he wants a prayer book that upholds that God is bigger than any gender.

Long separated from the Church of England, the leaders of the Episcopal Church will be considering two resolutions during its convention which begins Tuesday in Austin, Texas.

One resolution asks for a modernization of the Book of Common Prayer which was last revised 39 years ago.  According to the church, a complete revision would take several years and a new prayer book would probably not be ready for use in congregations until 2030.

Besides adding gender-neutral language concerning God, some advocates also want other revisions including, a Christian’s duty to the Earth’s conservation, adding same-sex marriage ceremonies to the liturgy, (since the church has been performing homosexual weddings for years) and even adding a ceremony to celebrate a transgender person’s adoption of a new name.

The other resolution asks that the church not update the Book of Common Prayer, but should spend the next three years studying the existing book. The prayer book’s roots go back to the first Anglican prayer book which was first published in 1549.

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