Dear Ambrose: Over the years I have heard the terms “inclusive language” and “expansive language.” What is the difference? #mystified
Dear Mystified: The short answer is this: Inclusive language refers to humanity and expansive language refers to God.
The School of Theology at Sewanee has published a pamphlet which states, “Our language often has built-in bias-es that exclude and harm some persons. When exclusive language is used, we fall short of our calling to respect all who are created in the image of God. By using inclusive language for humanity, we respect the dignity of every human being.”
“Expansive language seeks to tell as much truth about God as we can, utilizing the full range of language available to us. It does not displace traditional language for God, but uses additional metaphors. Of course, no human language can contain God. Even so, our theologies of creation, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection affirm that the material world, including language, is a means to understand God in a more faithful way.”