Warning, Mansplaining Ahead!
Surprisingly, there are a couple liberal seminaries that are actually considering using a gender neutral placeholder for God the Father. The main argument of liberal theologians is since God is not considered a “man,” then calling Him a “Him” or “Father,” is applying an exclusively masculine name to His nature. Is a feminine pronoun acceptable though? No, it is nonsensical, and when in doubt, we can look at the Biblical text and teachings of Jesus to properly negate any such claim.
The relationship between Jesus and God is that of a son and father, respectively. Several times Jesus recognizes God as Father. According to “Bible Study Tools,” in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) God is named Father around 65 times, and over 100 times in John’s Gospel! Jesus uses the word Father in a few passages:
First, during the Lord’s Prayer Jesus says, “Our Father who is in heaven” (Mat 6:9). Here Christ is indicating that the Father is not only an exclusive term for the Messiah, but for all mankind. Second, in John 10:30, Jesus also identifies the hypostatic union with the first member of the trinity saying, “I and the Father are one.” Finally, (three arguments are plenty), in the events leading up to His death Jesus cries out, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). If Jesus recognized God as Father in the beginning, middle and end of His ministry, then the masculine pronoun is warranted.
Why are we attempting to change Scripture anyway?
The real issue is supplanting our post-modern worldview and ideological supremacy in western culture over the Bible. In a noble attempt to be fair to everyone, we actual devalue the intent of Scripture. This is not a knock on women by any means. It is simply that God chose to reveal Himself as a Father. Jesus recognized this truth. However, most would rather appease their sinful mind by changing what the intent of Scripture is. Paul had a lot to say about this by recognizing the unrighteousness of man that suppresses the evidential truth of God’s divine nature, thereby replacing it with a lie (Rom 1:18-21, rough interpretation). This is actually plaguing the church by conforming to the practices of this world, something Paul warns against (see Romans 12:2).
Any time we allow culture to control the truth of the Bible, we open the door for compromise. In doing so this demolishes the intent of God-breathed, inerrant Scripture, and turns into the very thing people argue against. That is, that man tainted the original manuscripts and altered the faithfulness of Scripture, which is utterly untrue. However, compromising the original meaning to appeal to the feminist community is heretical. It is a poor understanding of the trinity, and a blasphemous attempt to appeal to non-believers. Why then has God made Himself known via a masculine pronoun? Because that is the manner in which He chose to be known.
At some point, along the expanse of time, the Bible is going to offend. It only offends because of our preconceived, prideful, self-righteous notions of how we think the world should behave. The idea of a righteous God, veiled in human flesh, who lived a blameless life, performed miracles, forgave sins, and died a horrific death to provide salvation for those whom He calls, is unfair and offensive. If Jesus faithfully proclaimed God as Father, then we should too. Remaining faithful and objective, with a proper exegesis of the text will allow the Gospel to truly transform your heart.
“If you don’t trust the Bible enough to let it challenge and correct your thinking, how could you ever have a personal relationship with God?” – Tim Keller
Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (New York, New York: Penguin Group, 2008).