Tag Archives: Jesus

Gender Inclusive Language and God

I wonder whether you’ve read the recent news about those within the Church of England who wish to begin addressing God as ‘She’? Of course, this is no new idea; the femininity of God is suggested in a small number of places in scripture, and occasionally, cults have arisen which emphasise God’s feminine nature. (1) In this case, a group which meets at Lambeth Palace with the snazzy name of the “Transformations Steering Group”, is calling for a rethink on language about God and is seeking to have changes made to the liturgy; changes which are, in some places, already taking place on an informal basis, with ‘He’ being changed to ‘She’ for example, when talking of, or addressing, God. The Daily Telegraph on 31st May, 2015 notes that ‘Hilary Cotton, chair of Women And The Church (WATCH), the group which led the campaign for female bishops, said the shift away from the traditional patriarchal language of the Book of Common Prayer is already at an “advanced” stage in some quarters.’ (2) Read more »

Tinsel, Santa and the Incarnation

Each Christmas, over the past few years, I’ve read through Karl Barth’s little book Christmas. The chapters are adapted from articles he wrote for publication in German newspapers between 1926-33. In the final chapter of the book, Revelation, Barth reminds us that although God is ‘eternal and invisible and spiritual’ he is also ‘temporal, visible and a physical person.’ He points out too, that it is no longer left to us to construct a God of our imagining; to attempt to ‘seek him somewhere in “infinity”’ and then come up with our clever theories about him. Rather ‘He has come to us (without ceasing to be infinite) in finiteness’ (emphasis mine). In other words, the revelation contained in the Christmas story sweeps away our preconceptions and makes the nature of God real as the ultimate mystery is revealed in time and space. Read more »

Was Jesus an Environmentalist?

With all the conversation about creation-care amongst Christians, one has to ask, “Was Jesus an Environmentalist?” It isn’t a silly question, one would hope that if Christians are going to engage in an activity as part of their Christian obligation, it would make sense to ask if Jesus would support the behavior?

In one sense, the question of environmentalism is anachronistic. People in Christ’s day had enough trouble just staying alive, let alone worry about whether a specific species was going extinct. But on another level, we can inquire and gain some insight on how his behavior should be a model for ours? For example, many people worry about whether they are recycling enough or feel guilt about the bottled water they bought because they were thirsty.
Consider Christ, he killed a fig tree simply because it didn’t bear fruit when he wanted it (Mk 11). Does this exemplify behavior of someone who is supposedly calling us to environmentalism?Christ killed a tree simply to make a point. Is that right? Couldn’t he have just made his point in a more environmentally responsible way?

I think a couple of points should be considered. First, Christ is Lord of Creation. He can do with his property as he wished/s. Second, since Christ was fully human, it means we too can destroy elements of God’s creation in God’s service. That may shock some people, but it is true. When you eat an animal, you destroy God’s creation but no moral stain obtains. The key is to judge oneself accurately and truly, by asking, “is this destruction to God’s glory or yours?”  While that is a humbling question, we should also consider that Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Stephen Vantassel is a tutor at King’s Evangelical Divinity School and author of Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock, 2009)

Questions for Christian Animal Rights Activists

uring my research for the book, Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock, 2009), I encountered a number of arguments used by Christians claiming that Scripture supports compassion/non-violence against animals. Here are some questions, I would love to get answers to… Read more »