On a New Gendering of God

Essay by Rev. Mark Sandlin on 11 October 2018 14 Comments

Naming God is difficult at best, divisive even in its mildest form, and can be thought of as sacrilegious at its worst. I was confronted squarely with this reality as I entered divinity school.

Well, my first day of orientation at Wake made me forget about all of that, as this divine calling I had answered, as this desire deep in the core of my soul to talk about the God that I love and what that God wants for this world, was given parameters.

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Question

Can Christian Theology once again be enabled to interact with contemporary knowledge?

Answer

Dear Reader,

My answer to this question is a complex one. On one hand, I believe there are tremendous riches in the Christian tradition. It’s a 4,000+ year theological lineage which contains endless metaphors, parables, and doctrines which have helped foster human evolution and have sparked some of the greatest social reform movements in history. That must be acknowledged and celebrated.

On the other hand, there are spiritual and theological traditions that predate Christianity and that happened geographically around Christianity that have been buried beneath Christianity’s dominance that I believe might speak even more profoundly to our world today, simply because most of them have not be usurped by empires like Christianity and thus require a lot less deconstructing and decoding to get to the heart of.

So, to be brief, I will say that of course, Christian theology can evolve and interact with contemporary knowledge. It will certainly require us to step outside of traditional “orthodoxy”, but that has happened in every new era of human thought for the past 2,000 years. The Christian tradition is rich and enduring, and because of its nearly universal reach, it will remain a helpful way for talking and explaining new knowledge.

However, we should also be looking to indigenous theologies and traditions- Celtic, African, American, and Asian spiritual ties- that have a lot more to say (and a lot more credibility to speak) about humanities current crises with tribalism, environmentalism, and colonialism than Christianity. The images, traditions, and deep perennial wisdom that they can teach us will be much more potent in the coming era and we would be wise to harken to the voices of our pre-Christian ancestors. In fact, I would suggest that this is precisely what Rabbi Yeshua would have wanted us to do.

~ Rev. Brandan Robertson

 

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