The Episcopal Church in America descended into chaos last night after leading bishops on both the liberal and conservative wings dissassociated themselves from a last-gasp effort to avert a schism with the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Just hours after its newly elected woman head preached a sermon in praise of “our mother Jesus”, the Episcopal Church agreed to “exercise restraint” in appointing any more gay bishops after a tense day of debate and argument.
I deal with the ordination issue below, but Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s homily deserves its own analysis.
As Ruth Gledhill reported:
Earlier, at the morning Eucharist at the convention in Columbus, Ohio, Dr Schori signalled her feminist credentials in a sermon that drew on the writings of the 14th-century Julian of Norwich. She said: “Mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation — and you and I are His children. If we’re going to keep on growing into Christ images for the world around us, we’re going to have to give up fear.”
Liberals in Britain and America defended her sermon as being in a long tradition of writings by women theologians that use the metaphor of Jesus as mother.
The transcript of Bishop Schori’s homily provides a bit of context:
Colossians calls Jesus the firstborn of all creation, the firstborn from the dead. That sweaty, bloody, tear-stained labor of the cross bears new life. Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation — and you and I are His children. If we’re going to keep on growing into Christ-images for the world around us, we’re going to have to give up fear.
This idea of a “Mother Jesus” giving birth to creation is precisely the kind of gynecological theology that biblical Christianity opposes. Creation is not birthed from a divine womb — it is spoken into being by a divine Word.