The Minnesota Conference of the United Methodist Church has removed the term, ‘Father,’ from the Apostle’s Creed in an attempt to be more gender inclusive to God.
The ancient creed of the Christian Church reads:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.However, United Methodists in the Minnesota Conference decided that referring to God as “Father” wasn’t inclusive enough for the 21st century United Methodist Church. At the conference, held May 30 through June 1, conference organizers omitted reference to God the Father. Instead, they changed the phrase “God the Father Almighty” to “God the Creator Almighty.” The creed passed out to attendees also removed the phrase, “Jesus Christ, His only Son” to “Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.”
One attendee, Keith Mcilwain, posted a screenshot of their newly revised creed via social media.
Of course the point is that the term Father has become offensive -- offensive to those who believe any reference to maleness is injustice. . . offensive to those who a bad father growing up. . . offensive to the families with two moms or only one mom and no dad. . . well, just plain offensive. It does not matter that this is the language of Scripture or the Church has confessed this language (the language of God's own self-disclosure) for going on two thousand years. What a shame that Jesus could not have looked into the future and picked some other term less freighted with patriarchalism and its sins! But that is how Jesus has taught us to pray. . . Our Father who art in heaven. . .
McIlwain is currently the pastor of Slippery Rock United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania. Mcilwain said, “No United Methodist individual or body has the authority to edit those creeds which were formulated by the early Church and have helped define orthodox Christianity for the better part of 2000 years..."
When we find Scripture offensive, we must change it (or ignore it). When we find creeds or confessions offensive, we must change them (or ignore them). When we find truth offensive, we must change it (or ignore it). Is there anything more offensive that sin which causes death and cannot be fixed except by God Himself taking on flesh, suffering on the cross, dying in our place, and rising (still with the scars of His death) to proclaim the price of sin has been paid? The reality is that the Gospel does offend and if it does not, something is wrong. The reality is that Scripture is not a mirror of what is considered politically appropriate for this moment but what God has determined we need to know in order to be saved. The reality is that we are not God's editors or advisors (talk to Job about that one) but hearers of His Word and those in whom the Spirit work through that preaching and the sacraments to create faith (trust) in His saving work.
I am offended every time I go to my Lutheran Church and everything begins with talk of my sin and its guilt and its fruit of death. But thanks be to God that He does not shy away from the truth simply because some of us find it offensive. For in this Word is my hope and this hope is built on nothing less that Jesus' blood and righteousness. Even my feelings must give way to the Word that endures forever.