Hi guys, quick question

I have a protestant friend, we have discussions regularly on many subjects. And this week, we were basically debating the use of inclusive language, and whether it should be used when translating the Bible. To sum it up we agreed that it shouldn’t nescessarily be changed just like a 18th century novel would not be changed but read in context. Where we disagree was regarding the “gender” of God and the Holy Spirit. My thoughts were that throughout the Bible God is given traits of a patriarchal figure, and is referred to as the Father etc. I basically said that Jesus when teaching, and other Biblical writers had a choice between using Father or Mother and that Father was chosen because it fits God’s characteristics better. He sees it more that Jesus had to choose one or the other (He, She) because “it” would be inappropriate,(Which I partly agree with, but I still feel that while naturally God has characteristics of a nurturer associated as a female characteristic, I feel that the masculine description is more accurate. )

Anyway, firstly he claims that in certain wirtings the Holy Spirit is female, is their anything to back this up? Secondly, getting back to the debate over God the Father, I was just wondering, reading other posts it says in Latin their are pronouns that are considered neutral and inoffensive, is it the same case for the original languages of the Gospel? As well as Ariamic which Christ spoke? If this is the case I feel it would support my argument because it would no longer be about offending but rather choosing a better descriptive word.

Hope that made sense. :stuck_out_tongue:

Please if you have any other tips, knowledge or advice on the subject please post it as any help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

I just so happened to be conversing with a fellow who just came out of the Seminary about this very matter.

The reason for calling God Father is twofold. 1. Beause Jesus reveals God and He called Him Father. That’s the short and sweet version. 2. The more detailed version: God is present to the world in transcendence and immanence. Transcendence is a reference to His superiority over the world, His standing over and above His creation. Immanence refers to God’s closeness to creation, His being a part of it. Now God is both transcendent and immanent with His creation but clearly His transcendence is greater. You wouldn’t want to emphasize His immanence because that would basically lead to paganism. We emphasize God’s transcendence because He is much, much greater than
His creation and in fact cannot be compared to it. When we look at masculine and feminine we note that the masculine transcends his creation. The Father gives his seed and then stands back over and above and separate from his creation, i.e., the child. The feminine stands with her creation, she is immanent with the child. The child grows in her. Therefore when you emphasize transcendence you must refer to the masculine. This is why God must be called Father. Note how pagan religions always have priestesses. Its not a coincidence that those who emphasize God’s immanence always end up in paganism with priestesses.

I don’t know if Greek or Aramaic have neutral or gendered pronouns, but no doubt somebody will help out with that.

The answer as to if the pronouns have different genders would seem to be yes:

Thanks for that response friend, had to read it over twice but makes perfect sense now. This will certainly aid me in future discussion which will be this Friday.

Thanks for the speedy reply.

Regarding the Holy Spirit, you know of no texts that support the fact of The Holy Spirit being called female do you?


EDIT: Thanks for the follow up on the other question in my original post.

Also from your original post you said that emphasizing God’s immanence over his transcendance would lead to Paganism, Could you please explain how so,as I am not very familiarized with the beliefs of Pagans, and I know it will come up and I want to have some information supporting it.

I don’t know much about texts, but I know that there are different theologians who speculate that the Holy Spirit could be called female. The truth is that God transcends all gender. He is neither male nore female (the reason I said “He” is in the prvious posts lol).

239 - By calling God “Father”, the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God’s immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.

The Son is definitley male, because He was a male in the form of Jesus Christ. The other post explains why the Father is called male. The Holy Spirit isn’t either male or female, just like the Father isn’t, but it might have male or female characteristics. If you listen to this radio show from Catholic Answers, around halfway through is some info about this point from Jimmy Akin:


agreed I don’t think God is biologically male, just feel that Father is the better suited description.

[quote=ak29]Also from your original post you said that emphasizing God’s immanence over his transcendance would lead to Paganism, Could you please explain how so,as I am not very familiarized with the beliefs of Pagans, and I know it will come up and I want to have some information supporting it.

I’m not much of an expert on paganism or any of what you’re asking about, but from what I know this is what I can tell you.

Paganism is something that is very focused on the visible world. Whereas God is of the Spirit, Paganism is more concerned with the flesh. For example, God made commandments not to worship idols. An idol was literally a statue which was worshipped as a god itself. It wasn’t supposed to be a mere statue of a god, but it was supposed to be a statue that was a god. Think about those movies where the explorers find these jungle people who have to make a sacrifice to some giant staute or something. If you’ve ever seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom you have a perfect example. Paganism emphasized, as the quote explains, the immanence of its gods: the gods existence physically in the world. Christianity has this immanence as a part of it, such as when Jesus was in the world (as well as in the Eucharist, and probably some other things I’m not thinking of right now… of course God has immanence in our very existence since he sustains us as well), but obviously it is God’s transcendence that matters most. To pagans, it was the physical presence of their gods that mattered, both insofar as their actual presence in statues was concerned, as well as in the fact that the fears of earthquakes and volcanoes and other natural disastors was usually a primary reason for pleasing the gods (think about how in those movies the people always have to sacrifice some woman or something to make sure the god doesn’t do some horrible thing).

That’s really vague, but hopefully it will help you out.

It does very much so, and it helps support the orginal argument that God’s transcendence is more important than His immanence.
Thanks for all the help on this. In about 12 hours I will be picking up this discussion with my friend, and afterwards I will give an update. I do feel I have a disadvantage considering he is 35(he runs the youth centre, that I go to) and I am only 16 and he seems to have a much greater knowledge of these subjects, hopefully as I continue to learn it will balance out, I do try to do my best defending Catholocism by coming to this forum frequently, reading the Bible and other sources of information… Hopefully everything goes well. You have been a great help. God Bless.


You’re welcome, of course :slight_smile:

I don’t know if you will be talking about anything else, but you may want to bring this along in case anything comes up:


It’s not done yet, but it should help a little bit.

There’s a longer version here: ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/WALLET.HTM


The first one has some explanations to it, so it may be good to bring that one, which has explanations, along with one of the bottom ones, which is easier to find things in and more thorough. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the resources, yes I do try and engage in conversations with many people about all facets of Christianity and to defend our beliefs to the best of my ability. I am sure these will come in handy, I am going to give them a read right now.

EDIT:Just brushing through it, it looks great, finally something I can use to find the bible passages regarding certain issues quickly and easily, I must say this is great :stuck_out_tongue:


I’m not a big expert on languages here, but I do know this: in many languages, every word is assigned a gender–masculine,or feminine–BUT, that does NOT mean that the person/place/thing represented by the word is necessarily masculine or feminine to match it.
Unfortunately, this leads a lot of people to unfounded assumptions about the subject at hand. The words for the [Holy] Spirit being fem., masc., or neuter, in other words, does not reflect that someone is trying to assign a sex gender to the Spirit (as has been said); it is, instead, simply a linguistic convention.
Inclusive language used for God is, in other words, using an excessively literal view of the meanings & usages of language.

ak, when revealed himself through the written word He allowed the writters the freedom to use the language and understanding of their times. This is why many passages refer to God in the masculine. Also, because of the culture of the time and even our own time, there are attributes we say are masculine and feminine, for example Wisdom is often refered to as a “She” which may be the source of your friend’s statements about the Holy Spirit. In the Greek of the Bible, Hebrew and Latin, unless something is clearly female it is written as male (or neuter). Remember, God is so “Other” we cannot express our understanding of God except through Human Language. But one final thing to really muddle things, Jesus does refer to God in the Masculine and as “Father”, but God again is something totally other.

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