A week ago I was in Oxford and I made the mistake of going to the morning service at one of the city-centre churches. I suspected the moment I saw the rock band and the TV monitors sprouting from every pillar in the place that this was not my sort of church. However I am prepared to tolerate such things on occasion in order to get a better picture of the diversity of the Church. What I couldn’t tolerate that morning was the chorus in which we were invited to affirm of God that ‘He’s my mate.’
I’m sorry, but it simply is not so. God is the mystery of the world. He is the emperor of emperors before whom all created principalities and powers must ultimately bend the knee. He is my truest lover, who knows me more intimately than any human lover could, who knows me more fully than I know myself. To refer to him as my ‘mate’ is to trivialize that relationship and is, to my mind, a mark of the most appalling disrespect.