Today’s Biblegems question asks, “Would referring to God in feminine terms qualify as a different religion than Christianity? Why does God refer to Himself in masculine terms and what is the significance of that?”
Biblically, the concept of “religion” has to do with “the outward expression of belief, and does not mean …the content of belief.”1 Hence, James 1:26-27 describes “pure religion” as that which reflects a person’s faith in outward acts of love and compassion.
The term ‘religion’ as it is commonly used today refers to a specific set of spiritual beliefs and related practices. One distinct set of beliefs and practices in contrast to another would therefore distinguish the two as separate religions. Where this sometimes gets a bit muddy is when two sets of beliefs are virtually identical, except for certain specifics. Typically, when two sets of beliefs are inherently related to each other and close in their basic beliefs they are considered the same religion, such as Catholicism and Protestantism. Both are commonly accepted as basically “Christian” because of their foundational beliefs.
Sometimes, however, such a severe departure from a basic belief system can take place that the new system is seen as being a deviant group. In Protestant Christianity this would be considered a cult. To borrow a definition, a cult is “any religious movement that is organizationally distinct and has doctrines and practices that contradict Scripture as interpreted by traditional Christianity…”2
So, does referring to God in feminine terms constitute a distinct religion, or a cult? To the degree that a belief system around the feminization of God has developed into a organized movement, that movement might accurately be described as a cult, due to the departure from Scripture as traditionally interpreted. If the nature of God is also assailed, not just terminology, then a distinct religion might well be in view.
The fact is, God does typically refer to Himself in masculine terms. These terms do not describe God’s gender, but describe His relationship to us as created beings made in His image who were designed to love, worship and obey Him as King (Melech; Adonai: masculine), Lord (Kurios: masculine), Father (Abba: masculine) and God (Elohim; Theos: masculine). He exercises unequalled authority over all creation. He rules over a hierarchically organized mankind, where …the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God (1 Cor. 11:3). The human order in gender reflects the order of the universe, in which Christ, the third person of the triune God, reigns supreme under God the Father (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:10).
To speak of God in feminine terms is to undermine the Scriptural doctrine of God. God is not who we want Him to be, nor who we think Him to be. He is Yahweh—the great “I Am,” and we have no business redefining Him in our terms.
1 The new Bible Dictionary, Eerdmans Pub. Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. Inter Varsity Press, 1962, rep., 1975. Pg. 1083
2 Scripture Twisting, James Sire, IVP, Downers Grove, Ill. 1980. Pg. 20