Update (6/22/06, 9:17 PM): A fascinating post at Siris discusses the use of 'Mother' and 'Womb' langauge in the tradition of orthodox trinitarian theology. The considerations Brandon brings up are such that the PCUSA statement makes less rather than more sense because of them.
GetReligion reported yesteday on the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly's vote to 'receive' (but not 'approve') a paper suggesting liturgical use of new trinitarian language. Alternate formulations mentioned in the paper include "Rock, Redeemer, Friend;" "Lover, Beloved, Love;" "Creator, Savior, Sanctifier;" and "King of Glory, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Love," but the formulation everyone is talking about (with some puzzlement) is "Mother, Child, Womb." It should be noted that the "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" formulation isn't going anywhere, and will continue to be the only formulation used for baptisms (presumably due to Matthew 28:19).
How should we react to this report? XYBA of Once More Into the Breach predicts, "Next they'll include Moe, Larry and Curly," and many theological conservatives seem to share his concern that at some level PCUSA is just making things up here, and there's no telling what they might make up next.
I think, however, that this is an overreaction. It is true that the explicit trinitarian formulation of Matthew 28:19 uses the "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," but explicit trinitarian formulations are rare in Scripture. "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" also enjoys a priveleged place in Church tradition (especially of note is the Nicene Creed), but under the measure it would continue to enjoy a priveleged place in the PCUSA. Furthermore, the formulations "Rock, Redeemer, Friend;" "Creator, Savior, Sanctifier;" and "King of Glory, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Love" are all very Biblical titles for the Persons of the Trinity. I, for one, can't understand why any Bible-believing Christian would object to the use of these in addition to the "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" formulation, since they are indeed all titles God applies to himself. This is not an abandonment of Scripture. The formulation "Lover, Beloved, Love" is not explicit in Scripture as the others are, but it is something we begin to see in Christianity even as early as the Patristic writings, and is a helpful and Biblically grounded way of thinking about the issue. I think, however, that there are two good reasons for Evangelicals to be concerned by this change:
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