The latest word these days at least in ecclesiological discussions and theological circles is “alternative.” If sociological projections on trends are correct,
the Adventist church should follow suit in about 5-7 years (it used to be about 10, but with increased lines of information, trends seem to work faster).
In the month of June, the Presbyterian Church of the United States (PCUSA), the largest of the three Presbyterian groups, adopted a motion to provide alternatives on the terminology of the Trinity to help parishioners connect with their faith. Some of their suggestions were non-controversial and even biblically-supported, while others are the cause of a 2.1 million orthodox Presbyterian reactionary movement (a minority).
What were they, you ask?
Instead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they were, respectively:
Rock, Redeemer, Friend
Creator, Savior, Sanctifier
King of Glory, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Love
Overflowing Fount, Living Water, Flowing River
Rock, Cornerstone, Temple
Rainbow of Promise, Ark of Salvation, Dove of Peace
Sun, Light, Burning Ray
Speaker, Word, Breath
Fire that Consumes, Sword that Divides, Storm that Melts Mountains
Giver, Gift, Giving
One From Whom, One Through Whom, One in Whom We Offer Praise
One Who Was, One Who Is, One Who is to Come
*Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child, and Life-giving Womb
The last one takes the cake. While advocates are not arguing for the replacement of the traditional terms, they admit the underlying reason for this FIVE-YEAR STUDY was to de-emphasize the patriarchy of the church and to uncover the true meaning of the terms themselves.
Comically in reaction, opposition has suggested additional “alternatives” for the Holy Godhead:
Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Executive, Legislative, Judicial
Hook, Line, Sinker
Game, Set, Match
Judge, Jury, Executioner
Snap, Crackle, Pop
Id, Ego, Superego
Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria
Huey, Dewey, Louie
While no disrespect was intended, these alternatives were attacking the unnecessary political correction the Christian Church, and specifically the Presbyterian denomination, is undergoing currently. All these actions reveal the presupposition that the Bible is not inspired and requires an analysis to “uncover” the true meaning behind the culturally-modified text. While some of these other terms may describe the three persons of the Trinity, there is a difference between calling your parents by their name, their title, and descriptions to help understand who your parents are.
These actions are part of a larger philosophical movement (postmodernity) that states that absolute truth cannot be obtained, absolute truth does not matter, therefore, absolute truth does not exist. Because so, even these statements are transitory.
Alternatives therefore provide an ambiguity in the concepts of purpose, meaning, reality, standards, values, judgments, assessments, comparisons, contrasts, language, gender, identity, etc. There simply is no benchmark. As a result, even language does not actually relay what it is trying to say. Even this post really is pointless.
Logically, the Bible is not truth, but a limited perspective on an effervescent pseudo-reality. If pushed enough, God and Satan are the same person anyway.
I doubt the majority of these adherents had the conscious motivation to lead this way. They were sincerely wanting the laity to understand better. But doesn’t understanding come the Word of God, rather than changing it?
This magical word “alternative” is the starting point for this movement. Already, the Episcopal church is having alternative clergy with alternative partners, an alternative lifestyle, alternative gender-identities, and alternative marriages. Evangelicals are publishing alternative versions of Scripture with alternative interpretations and alternative interpreters. Alternative is already associated with styles of worship and music.
Soon, we might even have an alternative day to worship an alternative god.