He proposes a male God who is incarnate as a male – we aren’t told the gender, if any, of the Holy Spirit – and suggests that this version of divine/human interaction is analogous with human family relationships.
Most human families I know have a female element too, and as indicated by numerous letters to this paper from a certain type of Christian, this appears to be the only acceptable type of Christian “family”.
So it is surprising that Mr Lucas ignores the female aspects of religious faith. Catholicism has retained some of it in the concept of the Mother of God – albeit a bloodless and passive version of the divine feminine.
This might not matter particularly – feminists can find much in the Gospel stories to confirm that Jesus honoured the divine feminine as well as using metaphors of a father God.
But there is still an unpleasant strain of misogyny in Christianity (and militant Islam). In the early church writers went so far as to suggest that women, especially if they were sexually active, were evil and unclean.
This extreme view of the female has never quite disappeared – witness the continuing problems of domestic violence and sexual exploitation reported regularly in this paper.
As a reaction to this view many feminists have left the Christian church, and although there is no suggestion that contemporary Christianity condones violence against women, many of those who claim to speak for it fail adequately to redress the balance.
There are Christians who challenge the received doctrine, such as Margaret Starbird, who has written convincingly of the role of Mary Magdalene which has been lost from the Gospel accounts – her books are like The Da Vinci Code without the hype and are exhaustively researched.
There is still much that liberal Christianity gets right, and Christianity has always moved with the times – witness the ordination of women – but it needs to move rather faster if it is not to lose the support of women who still make up the majority of church congregations.
Specifically, those who represent liberal Christianity need to speak up more forcefully, rather than allowing the extreme traditionalists to speak for them.
(Dr) Mary Brown
Ian Galloway’s liberal and reductionistic piece on Christmas (Platform, 24 December) is an easy sell but misses the central point of Christianity.
Jesus’s birth is firstly about incarnation and only secondly about human community. But for Jesus’s resurrection it is unlikely that the world would have heard much of him – no more perhaps than any other of his wise contemporary rabbis such as Gamaliel.
Thus Ian Galloway exposes the fault line on the Church of Scotland between those whose imperative is to witness to the experience of God in their lives through Jesus Christ and those who wish to express the best of humanity as they see it in Jesus of Nazareth. These are not mutually exclusive. They have a definite order though – which Ian Galloway reverses.
(Rev Dr) Robert Anderson
Blackburn & Seafield Church