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Monday, April 23, 2007

Is Jesus still Lord?

They succeeded in getting many people to stop calling God Father... now there's more - apparently we shouldn't call Him, or Jesus "Lord."

An Arizona Episcopal Church thinks it's inappropriate and unseemly:

"Lord" has become a loaded word conveying hierarchical power over things, "which in what we have recorded in our sacred texts, is not who Jesus understood himself to be," St. Philip's associate rector Susan Anderson-Smith said.

"The way our service reads, the theology is that God is love, period," St. Philip's deacon Thomas Lindell added. "Our service has done everything it can to get rid of power imagery. We do not pray as though we expect the big guy in the sky to come and fix everything."

St. Philip's isn't the only local church to re-examine its language. Other local religious leaders already are eschewing the use of "Lord" for similar reasons.

First Congregational United Church of Christ in Midtown even has a different name for The Lord's Prayer. They call it "The Prayer of Our Creator."
"We do still use the word 'Lord' on occasion, but we are suspicious of it," First Congregational pastor Briget Nicholson said. "Inclusive language is important. Our United Church of Christ hymnal does have hymns that will say 'Father' and 'God.' but the next verse will always then say 'Mother' and 'God.' It's gender-balanced."

Hierarchical power? If Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth," isn't that enough hierarchical power for you? As far as I can understand the New Testament,

...God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

The Episcopal priest has her own interpretation of the New Testament, too:
"Jesus was for an egalitarian community. He did not have room for titles or status. And it is recorded that many of the disciples called him Lord. But they had a different idea about worshipping him," she said. "Jesus was a rabbi and teacher. It was a relationship of mentoring, looking up to him for that kind of companionship."

Umm, yeah. When will these people have the intellectual honesty to drop the pretense and acknowledge that they are not Christians? Imagine my relief to discover that the Christian faith still exists in pockets of Arizona:
"We call him 'Lord' because he is Lord," said the Rev. Joe Bettridge, senior pastor at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church on Tucson's Northwest Side. The church is part of the mainline Presbyterian Church U.S.A. "If you read the Bible, he — God — created everything from nothing. That's pretty powerful to me."

Amen and amen, Pastor Joe.

More here from the Arizona Daily Star. Hat tip to Titus 1:9.


Kevin Simms said...

Organized religions are the reason there is so much strife and malice on earth.

Nick said...

Are you thinking of any in particular?

Also, in my reading of history, while I'm certainly no expert in the field, I couldn't help noticing what happens when societies forget God. The examples of Nazi Germany and Soviet and Chinese Communism spring to mind at once, with their record of literally tens of millions of deaths in the 20th century. Of course this is a death toll that far exceeds anything anyone has ever been able to do for their particular deity.

So if you are speaking of organized religion in the larger sociological sense to take in "religions" like Communism and Socialism, then of course you are right. But if you are thinking of Christianity you would be decidedly incorrect.