IRD NEWS RELEASE

The Institute on Religion and Democracy
Wednesday, February 7, 2001 
Contact: Luke Herche (202) 969-8430

 

NEW UNITED METHODIST SONG BOOK SUBTLY PROMOTES GODDESS THEOLOGY

A new United Methodist hymnal supplement contains several hymns that refer to God as "Mother" and refer to Her divine womb. Called The Faith We Sing, the song booklet subtly introduces some of the radical feminist theology of the controversial Re-Imagining Community. That movement seeks to replace the "patriarchal" God of the Scriptures with feminine deities, according to Mark Tooley, director of the IRDís United Methodist committee.

"Unfortunately, this publication, with its questionable theology, will be purchased by thousands of unsuspecting United Methodist churches," Tooley noted. "It was published without the broad public discussion that preceded the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal," he said. If it had been, the questionable hymns almost certainly would not have been included.

One hymn in the new supplement, "Womb of Life," refers to God as "Mother, Brother, Holy Partner, Father, Spirit, Only Son." In reference to the hymnís title, it asks God to "aid the birthing of the new world yet to be."

Another hymn, "Bring Many Names," refers to "strong Mother God." It also refers to "old aching God" and "young, growing God," in references that seem to deny the timeless, eternal nature of the God of the Bible, who has no age.

The hymn "Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth" refers to "Mothering God," "Mothering Christ" and "Mothering Spirit," who "gave me birth in the bright morning of this world."

The hymn "She Comes Sailing on the Wind" refers to the Holy Spirit in feminine terms, saying, "She comes sailing on the wind, her wings flashing in the sun; on a journey just begun, she flies onÖfull of laughter, full of light."

The hymn "I Am Your Mother" is a self-described "earth song" that refers to the planet as a "Mother" pleading not to be neglected or abused.

"The God of the Bible does not claim a gender or sexual identity," Tooley said. "But the God of the Bible identifies Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He may have maternal qualities, but there are no references to "Mother God" in the Bible."

Tooley said descriptions of Godís "womb" or of God giving "birth" to creation are not appropriate. Pagan deities procreated and gave birth to creation. The God of Christians and Jews, in contrast, created by simply speaking His Word. The Bible never describes God, even metaphorically, as having reproductive organs, either male or female.

"The problems in these several hymns may seem minor to some," Tooley acknowledged. "The vast majority of hymns in The Faith We Sing are orthodox. But the church of Jesus Christ has no higher responsibility than to accurately transmit the identity and character of God. Inclusion of even a few hymns that inaccurately describe God and defy settled Christian doctrine is unacceptable." Tooley asked the churchís Publishing House and the Board of Discipleship to republish the hymnal supplement without the questionable hymns. "Followers of John and Charles Wesley must surely understand the power of hymns to teach theology," he concluded.