How Shall We Speak of God? Seven Reasons Why We Cannot Call God “Mother” -- By: Randy L. Stinson

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 13:2 (Winter 2008)
Article: How Shall We Speak of God? Seven Reasons Why We Cannot Call God “Mother”
Author: Randy L. Stinson


How Shall We Speak of God?
Seven Reasons Why We Cannot Call God “Mother”

Randy L. Stinson

President, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Dean of the School of Leadership and Church Ministry
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

Christopher W. Cowan

Associate Editor, The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Adjunct Instructor of New Testament Interpretation
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

Over the years it has become more and more evident that the current gender debate among evangelicals is not a “detached” issue, having no effect on other areas of Christian teaching and practice. Rather, it seems that how one understands and responds to the biblical teachings on manhood and womanhood often informs and influences one’s understanding of many other significant Christian doctrines.

One recent challenge comes from some evangelical egalitarians who advocate, or at least express openness to, speaking of or addressing God as “Mother” or with the feminine pronoun “she.”1 But does Scripture permit this step? The following brief essay is not intended as an exhaustive response to the use of feminine language for God. But we hope it will assist believers in understanding some key biblical objections to this challenge, and we pray that it will encourage faithfulness to Scripture as we seek to glorify God together.2

(1) There is no biblical precedent for referring to God with feminine terms such as “Mother” or “she.”

The Bible uses many masculine appellatives, names, and titles for God (e.g., God, Lord, Father, King, Judge, Savior, Ruler, Shepherd, and Husband) and consistently uses masculine pronouns for God. We also find “ungendered,” impersonal titles, appellatives, and predicate metaphors used for God (e.g., Rock, Fortress, and Shield). However, no similar feminine terms or pronouns that predicate God are to be found in Scripture.

(2) Biblical, masculine language for God is not culture-dependent, but rather is God’s chosen self-revelation of his identity.

Some have argued that the patriarchal culture of ancient Israel dictated the biblical use of masculine terminology for God. However, other ancient Near Eastern cultures, though no less patriarchal than ancient Israel, worshipped masculine and feminine deities (See Jdgs 3:7; Acts 19:34) and even referred to one...

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