Title

Facing God : an examination of how people talk about God in an inclusive environment.

Date of Award

5-1-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

School

Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Abstract

Throughout Christianity's history, with few exceptions, male language has been used to describe God. There have been many movements to change this language, as it limits people's understandings of God and is also harmful to the way women see themselves. Some religious institutions, like Theological Seminary, have implemented an inclusive language policy in order to initiate change in how people talk about God. I have analyzed how God is presented in worship services from August-December 2013 by doing participant observation and a coding analysis of the spoken and written liturgy. Using the work of Ana-Maria Rizzuto and her ideas about God Images and God Concepts, I also conducted fifteen interviews with individuals within the schools congregation in order to understand how they talk about God personally. I found that, overwhelmingly, while people thought they were being inclusive by using gender neutral names and titles for God; feminine names and titles were not used, both in the services and in individuals. Using the work of past feminist theologians, like Elizabeth Johnson and Rosemary Radford Ruether, I discuss the lack of feminine language, and the hesitancy in trying to change the masculine theological language outside of the seminary.