Blogopotamus! discusses a brouhaha and its disappointing aftermath that arose after Christianity Today noticed and went completely nuts over an Episcopalian liturgy someone had written honoring the Divine Feminine.
See, here’s the trick though — they were attempting to “reclaim suppressed voices” of Scripture. Specifically the voices of the syncretistic Israelites who were inveighed against by idol polemicists in the OT.
There’s two levels on which this causes a scandal.
First, the notion of “reclaiming suppressed voices” in Scripture. That’s something which is unthinkable to a Biblical literalist, or even a milder inerrantist (or whatever the technical term is) — the idea that there might be multiple disagreeing voices in Scripture worth listening to, and some voices worth disputing, is very problematic from an even mildly Evangelical point of view.
Second, the notion that God can be imaged and approached as feminine or female. I have a feeling that this is part of the scandal: if the point of this “reclaiming suppressed voices” thing were something which the Christianity Today writers didn’t find objectionable on its face, they might have cut them more slack. But the end was offensive, so the means was offensive too.
Anyway, obviously one of the most liberal bishops in one of the most liberal American denominations stuck up for this liturgy in the face of criticism from Evangelicals, right?
No, sorry. One of the most liberal bishops in one of the most liberal American denominations instantly removed the offending liturgy and disavowed it and basically completely caved in and apologized to the conservative Evangelical magazine for his denomination being so terribly liberal. He is going to “investigate” whether this old piece of liturgy still represents the views of the people involved, taking absolutely for granted that it is a bad thing which, if it really does represent their views, deserves censure.
The key factor here is that the legitimacy of the outrage was never questioned. Nobody stopped to say “I notice your outrage is based on some principles that we may or may not share. Shall we stop to consider whether it is appropriate and whether we should share it and act on it, or whether it represents a difference of opinion?” The inerrantist and anti-Divine-Feminine assumptions which underlay the criticism passed completely unchallenged.
Opportunity for dialogue: lost.
Assumption that evangelical and fundamentalist voices represent the only true Christianity: unchallenged.
Liberal Christianity: assumed unquestioningly to be apostate and vicious, even by the bishop involved..
Nice job, Christianity Today. Nice job, Bishop Bennison.