Insight on the News
“Our Father . . .”
“Women around the country have been telling fellow worshipers that it bothers them to use exclusively male language (‘Our Father who art in Heaven’) in worship services,” reports the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. “It makes them feel like second-class citizens, the women say, and they can’t relate to a male deity.” Supporting the issue, the administrative board of the United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A., voted in favor of a new list of expressions to be used by parishioners when referring to God during prayer, worship services, and other church activities.
Some nongender expressions prepared by the church board are “source of peace, source of mercy, steadfast and loving one, strength of our life, . . . mind of the universe, . . . high and holy one.” Use of these expressions will be encouraged as an alternative to male pronouns as well as terms like Lord, King, and Father, which ascribe masculinity to God.
However, rejecting the Biblical use of masculine references to God is without precedent. Shortly before his death, Jesus, God’s only-begotten Son, specifically used the Aramaic word Abba, meaning “Father,” when praying to Jehovah God. (Mark 14:36) Similarly, the apostle Paul used this word to convey the intimate relationship between spirit-anointed Christians and their heavenly Father, Jehovah. (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) If, therefore, Jesus taught his disciples to pray saying, “Our Father in the heavens,” should not all Christians today do the same?—Matthew 6:9.
Churches in Debt
After a synod meeting of the Dutch Reformed Church in the northern Transvaal, South Africa, it was reported that the church’s 134 congregations were in debt to the sum of R13,890,000 ($6,667,000, U.S.). Commenting on the problem, an editorial in the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld asked: “Does the fault, however, not sometimes lie with the minister and the church council?” The newspaper explains: “It often happens that the deacon regularly comes around on a monthly house call to collect money, while the minister is conspicuous by his absence and the elder is a stranger in his area. Are church members, in such instances, to be blamed for gaining the impression that the church is interested only in their money, not in their spiritual well-being?”
In contrast, the ministry of Jesus and his disciples laid emphasis on spiritual giving. (Matthew 10:8) While appreciative listeners often came to their aid by voluntarily supplying basic needs such as food and accommodations, neither Jesus nor his disciples sought material benefits. (Luke 10:5-9) As the apostle Paul stated: “I have coveted no man’s silver or gold or apparel.” Instead, he admonished true ministers of God to “let [their] manner of life be free of the love of money.” His visits from house to house were made so that he could ‘bear witness about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.’ (Acts 20:20, 21, 33; Hebrews 13:5) It was the religious leaders of the day who were described by Bible writer Luke as being “money lovers.”—Luke 16:9-15.
Just for fun, German pupils in Lahnstein began to induce occult spirits to speak by means of a drinking glass moving from letter to letter, “writing” a message. What was the result?
“Fifteen-year-olds, afraid to go alone to the bathroom, chatter confusedly about demons. At night, youngsters want to sleep with their parents,” reports German newspaper Rhein-Zeitung. Panic broke out among many of those who “in hush-hush meetings called on spirits and finally on ‘Lucifer.’” Commenting on the children’s reaction “when ‘Lucifer’ supposedly got in contact with them,” one teacher observed: “Even the most frenzied children suddenly became very subdued. They were terror-struck.” Following the experience, the city’s juvenile center prohibited such “games,” and parents were asked not to leave their frightened children alone.
According to the paper, “the occult wave is spilling over into movies, TV, and records.” Yet, dabbling in the occult for entertainment did not provide the German pupils of Lahnstein the fun they expected. Why not? Because the Bible informs us that the Devil is crafty and “is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” It connects the Devil’s effectiveness on earth with “woe.” Satan and his “wicked spirit forces” (the demons) should be regarded seriously as a real spiritual danger, and avoided.—Revelation 12:9, 12; Ephesians 6:11, 12; compare Acts 19:19.