In the October/November, 2006 issue of Touchstone, the editors gave a resoundingly negative assessment of the Ancient Evangelical Future Call. Perhaps our most prominent objection was the absence of masculine terminology for God. While it employed the masculine pronoun for Christ, in each place “God” was mentioned, where normal English usage would call for a masculine pronoun following, “God” was simply repeated in the customary manner of theological femspeak. “He” or “him” was never once used, thus making the statement acceptable to, and signable by, those who hold a theology in which gendered language for God is either optional or wrong.
Howard Snyder of Asbury Seminary, one of the editors of the Call, responded to Touchstone criticism by pointing out that
None of the theological editors object to identifying the God of the Bible as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While we certainly endorse human equality before God, we do not want to be misunderstood as proposing a “neutered” (as S. M. Hutchens calls it) view of God. We fully believe in and trust the Triune God as revealed in Scripture and believe the church should live under his sovereignty and guidance.Note that Dr. Snyder straightforwardly uses the masculine pronoun for God here, and that on the home page of the AEF Website, it is clearly and prominently stated that “God, the Father, watches over his Church.” Perhaps this was put in place in response to our criticism. But whether or not, it will not do, and one hopes this consortium understands it is playing for a gallery that still does not include us.
I venture the reason one will not find any member of the Touchstone editorial board signing this statement is not because none of the Call’s theological editors object to identifying the God of the Bible as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but because they will not assert it in the Call itself, which never identifies God as Father or Jesus as Son. When such documents are written, as this one was, by experts who are well aware of the present theological atmosphere, such omissions are both deliberate and significant, and it is both right and reasonable to hold them responsible, especially when, after public identification of those omissions, they confirm them by not altering the piece. The problem is not that that it is open to those who do not object to the language of orthodox Trinitarianism, but that it is open to those who do. Thus the Call is both incoherent and self-defeating if its reason for existence is, as it indicates, to summon Evangelicals to a more deeply historical and catholic understanding of the faith. Why write a call to ancient orthodoxy in the koine of modern heresy? Quem deus vult perdere . . . ?
The only logical reason I can suppose is the desire to win to the Christian faith, by mutual striving toward greater truth, those who will not call God Father or Son, or use the masculine forms for the Godhead. If so, the intention is praiseworthy, and unquestionably evangelical, but the method is passing strange. Surely we will be forgiven, not being privy to the secret, for pointing this out and not signing on.