Masculine God? Masculine Christianity?

Has God given us Christianity with a “masculine” feel? Or has Christianity created a God with a masculine feel?

Baptist minister John Piper recently argued that God has given Christianity a masculine feel – see his conference video here, news report here. But Kyle Roberts from Bethel Seminary (MN) is skeptical – see his article “Masculine God, Feminine Spirit?.”

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  1. In Aramaic, the language which is generally considered to have been spoken by Jesus, the word for “Spirit” is feminine. Also though, in scripture Comforter and Paraclete are masculine.

    The bottom line, God is neither male or female but reveals Himself in masculine ways.

    1. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

      Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have imprinted (tattooed) a picture of you on the palm of each of My hands.”

      “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn over her; That ye may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breasts; that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance and brightness of her glory. For this is what the Lord says: I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

    2. Feminine gender of nouns has little to do with gender in the ordinary sense. Girl in grammatically neuter in German, Victim of Calvary is grammatically feminine in French and Italian, and Jesus is thus sometimes called “elle”. English speakers may have a false impression of how grammatical gender functions in languages that have it.

      1. Joe O’Leary on February 9, 2012 – 10:50 pm

        Very good point, Father. hostia (victim) in the Roman Canon is certainly feminine in grammatical gender. I suspect, but have yet to prove, that the civic and domestic rites of the Roman Republic and Empire might (super speculative ‘if’) have joined animal immolation to a feminine gender identity as well as feminine grammatical gender. The separation of Christian eucharistic sacrificial terminology from its pre-Christian (“pagan”) roots might have divorced any feminine gender subtext from grammatical femininity. The fact that grammatical femininity of hostia has survived through grammatically feminine words in Romance languages is likely divorced from any pre-Christian subtext givne the distance of time between Roman cult and modern vernacular conceptual words for Eucharistic sacrifice.

        Indo-European languages which have been influenced by Latin in a different semantic and syntactic manner from Romance languages have often even shed the even grammatically feminine morphology of hostia. The word chosen for hostia in the current German translation of the Roman Canon is “Opfer”, grammatically neuter.

        If the hostia of Roman cult carried a dual valence of gender and grammatical femininity, then some re-evaluation of the Christian resignification of hostia might yield interesting semantic links. These semantic links might be less relevant or even irrelevant in a longitudinal study of vernacular languages of nations which had adopted Christianity.

    3. Rodney Stark, a very prominent sociologist of religion, discusses the evolution of belief in his book Discovering God. Stark says that his book can either be read as the cultural evolution of better “human” images of God, e.g. as rational and loving, or as the evolution of the human capacity to better comprehend a revealing God. Stark invokes Irenaeus, Origin, and Aquinas to explain the principle of divine accommodation whereby the things of God are progressive revealed to us as we develop our capacity to understand. Stark, an agnostic, says that science is unable to decide on the basis of evidence which explanation is true.

      In his book The Victory of Reason Stark argues Christianity was responsible for freedom, science and capitalism long before the Protestant reformation. His first chapter is a panegyric on Christian theology as the science of formal reasoning about God. Stark values Christianity not only because God is revealed as a loving human being in Jesus but also because it models God as rational and therefore capable of being approached and understood progressively through reason and experience. This chapter is available online through the NY Times:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/25/books/chapters/1225-1st-stark.html

      A theory of divine accommodation is necessary to explain a warrior God freeing his people by killing the Egyptians and Jesus saving a new people including Romans by dying on the Cross, and identification of a people by circumcision in the OT and baptism in the NT.

      The very masculine images (warrior and circumcision) of God’s relationship to his people in the OT give way to feminine images of God’s relationship to his people in the NT (Jesus giving birth to the Church from his side on the Cross, and the Church giving birth to Christians from the womb of the baptism).

      Without theories of divine accommodation and rational development of doctrine this is useless text and example proving.

      1. I have not read it yet, but this seems like supercession in modern guise. There is feminine imagery throughout the bible, most notably in God’s compassion and mercy, whose root in Hebrew refers to the womb. And there is masculine imagery in the NT, swords and helmets, etc.

        The story of Isaac is a classic example of moving away from the savage warrior God, and it is a foundational story in the first book of the Torah. I am not sure we have moved completely away from the savage God yet, but i’m sure it is a struggle we share with Abraham and all his descendants.

      2. Jim,

        The “Editor” asked in the introduction to the post Has God given us Christianity with a “masculine” feel? Or has Christianity created a God with a masculine feel?

        What Stark has to say, since his fundamental hypothesis is that we may either be inventing a “better god” or that God may be helping us to understand God better as human culture develops (the divine accommodation theory) is right on target.

        While Stark as an agnostic does not think social science can prove there is a God who is accommodating to our abilities, his thinks this is more likely than we are just inventing a “divine” that is a projection of ourselves.

        Since theology according to Stark consists of formal reasoning about God. The emphasis is on discovering God’s nature, intentions, and demands, and on understanding how these define the relationship between human beings and God a theologian trained in the social sciences could begin with the fundamental assumption that God is revealing God in an accommodating manner to human beings at the same time that human beings are inventing the divine to their own inadequate and false images. (a fundamental conflict in the OT).

        Stark is not shy about evaluating religions in social science terms. He thinks Christianity is superior to Judaism and Islam because Christianity is concerned with orthodoxy, the right way of believing in contrast to orthopraxis, the right way of behaving. Judaism and Islam have been past oriented using law and precedent to develop scripture .Christianity has been more rational, philosophical and future oriented, leading to universities, science and capitalism. Many might disagree, but this is not supercession.

        Starks visions of development of doctrine and rational theology go beyond Newman and Vatican II since Stark sees rationality as the prime human characteristic. Theologians whose fundamental methodology is social scientific may proliferate just as those with historical…

      3. Jim,

        The “Editor” asked in the introduction to the post Has God given us Christianity with a “masculine” feel? Or has Christianity created a God with a masculine feel?

        What Stark has to say, since his fundamental hypothesis is that we may either be inventing a “better god” or that God may be helping us to understand God better as human culture develops (the divine accommodation theory) is right on target.

        Stark as an agnostic does not think social science can prove there is a God who is accommodating to our abilities, his thinks this is more likely than we are just inventing a “divine” that is a projection of ourselves.

        Since theology according to Stark consists of formal reasoning about God. The emphasis is on discovering God’s nature, intentions, and demands, and on understanding how these define the relationship between human beings and God a theologian trained in the social sciences could begin with the fundamental assumption that God is revealing God in an accommodating manner to human beings at the same time that human beings are inventing the divine to their own inadequate and false images. (a fundamental conflict in the OT).

        Stark is not shy about evaluating religions in social science terms. He thinks Christianity is superior to Judaism and Islam because Christianity is concerned with orthodoxy, the right way of believing in contrast to orthopraxis, the right way of behaving. Judaism and Islam have been past oriented using law and precedent to develop scripture .Christianity has been more rational, philosophical and future oriented, leading to universities, science and capitalism. Many might disagree, but this is not supercessionalism!

        Starks visions of development of doctrine and rational theology goes beyond Newman and Vatican II because Stark sees rationality as a prime human characteristic. Theologians whose fundamental methodology is social scientific may proliferate just as those with historical…

      4. Jim,

        The “Editor” asked in the introduction to the post Has God given us Christianity with a “masculine” feel? Or has Christianity created a God with a masculine feel?

        What Stark has to say, since his fundamental hypothesis is that we may either be inventing a “better god” or that God may be helping us to understand God better as human culture develops (the divine accommodation theory) is right on target.

        Stark as an agnostic does not think social science can prove there is a God who is accommodating to our abilities, his thinks this is more likely than we are just inventing a “divine” that is a projection of ourselves.

      5. For some reason I am no longer able to edit a comment once I submit it. Are other people experiencing that difficulty. The html commands within my submissions are not functioning correctly.

      6. Sword and helmet were a reference to Jack’s warrior God. The following from the Holman Bible Dictionary answers the other:

        Racham is related to the Hebrew word for “womb” and expresses a mother’s (Isaiah 49:15) or father’s (Psalms 103:13) love and compassion, a feeling of pity and devotion to a helpless child. It is a deep emotional feeling seeking a concrete expression of love (Genesis 43:14; Deuteronomy 13:17). This word always expresses the feeling of the superior or more powerful for the inferior or less powerful and thus never expresses human feeling for God. The word seeks to bring security to the life of the one for whom compassion is felt. The majority of Bible uses of racham have God as subject. Compare Hosea 2:4,Hosea 2:23; Zechariah 1:16; Zechariah 10:6. God “has compassion on all he had made” (Psalms 145:9).

      7. Jack,

        Now that I have read the chapter, I can only reiterate my earlier comments. Stark may be a good sociologist, but he is a terrible theologian. He has a settled theology ( Reason is good) which he projects back on to philosophical history without much regard for the facts. (as an example, Mary’s perpetual virginity was taught by a synod in Rome 600 years prior to Aquinas, so his remarks on this are off base, if not wrong.)

        This becomes supercessionism when Judaism is distorted into a nonreasoning orthopraxis that was displaced by Reasoning individuals, the people Stark has chosen as his own. He chooses not to see the rationality that fills Judaism because much of it is expressed in unfamiliar formats.

        God message is accommodated to the different ways people understand, but I think it is a mistake to say there was one message for the Jews, and a different one for us (because we reason so much better). Masculine imagery in Tanakh are meant for us, as is feminine imagery. I guess i am skeptical of the masculine feel, or feminine feel, of Christianity. Even more skeptical if this is reached by separating us from our Jewish heritage.

  2. Whenever the discussion of masculine vs. feminine comes up, one should also recall that being gay doesn’t preclude being a real man. For example, I think that while one may like or dislike lace because it represents an authoritarian attitude, to condemn lace as unmanly treads toward homophobia.

      1. I am not concerned with whether or not Bishop X or Father Y is or is not gay. What does concern me is the all too common situation in which Bishop R is obviously gay, in deep denial and makes a point of condemning gays as disordered.

    1. Luke 15:8-10
      New International Version (NIV)

      The Parable of the Lost Coin
      “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

  3. Goodness gracious I could go on and on about this.
    But, just for starters:
    Quick, think of every human-like body-part of God mentioned in the Bible. Mighty arm… feet… backside….

    Can anyone name a single instance of a gender-specific body part of God mentioned in the Bible? Even one?

    Go on… I’ll give you all a few minutes.

    (Hint: There is one CLEAR example, and one disputed example.)

  4. Adam, since when is a “mighty arm” a specifically male anatomical feature? You don’t know any woman athletes do you?

    1. I didn’t say that. I was just mentioning some Divine-anatomy examples.

      My question was…

      Are there any gender-specific Divine Anatomy references in scripture?
      Do you know what they are?

  5. Centuries, what am I saying, millenaries of patriarchy have tried to created a masculine Godde. The Feminine Divine, however, will not die 🙂 Every so often her cool Spirit can be felt. What a delight!

    1. I was going to guess Job as the book, and I saw reference to “womb” there, but I wasn’t sure it was purporting to say that God is the “father” of the rain or that ice was begotten in the “womb” of God.

      1. If we go back to Job 37:10 we have ice being formed from God’s breath, 37:29 seems to be asking who else, other than God, could have formed the ice, rather than implying anything specific about the sex of God.

    2. I looked at the US bishops’ site, usccb.org, since they put the revised edition of the NAB up last year. Their intro says It was composed between the 7th and 5th centuries BC. Since the Exile was 6th century, they decisively identify this as preexilic, or postexilic, or maybe during the Exile. But close to the Exile.

      They use womb, but I am guessing this is to parallel “who fathered the rain” in the previous verse. Belly makes as much sense, here and in 38:8.

      But I am with JP in questioning if ‘God’ is really the answer to these rhetorical questions. Maybe God fathered the rain, maybe not. Maybe frost comes from God’s womb, maybe not. Rain and frost come from God, but in a mystery and not the way they might come from a man or a woman.

  6. I think you may be wrong here; some OT scholars think there is a reference to divine “breasts” also (for example in the name El Shaddai), as well references as to the penis (hiding behind the Hebrew for “feet”). But “womb” certainly is a key example since the word “mercy” (“rechem”) is related to womb. Phylis Trible translates the Hebrew for mercy it into English as “womb compassion.”

    1. So, when Ruth uncovered Boaz’s “feet”, she really……..?

      And I am very disturbed that that verse came to mind so quickly!

  7. Adam, the Hebrew word “beṭen” in that verse really means “stomach, belly, abdomen, bowels etc.”, and is not gender specific. “Womb” is a poetic elaboration common to several translations.

  8. Teresa- El Shaddai=Breasts is the “one disputed example” I mentioned.

    Alex- Poetic interpretation, and could mean “belly or bowels”?
    When children say that “mommy has a baby in her belly” they don’t mean bowels. I’m sorry to be crude, but:
    God gave birth to the world. God did not poop it out.

    1. Mr Wood, I think you’d better stick to your music. There are people who read this blog with a professional knowledge of Semitic and classical languages.

      1. No need for sarcasm — I thought his question was intriguing, and professional semitists are a rarity anywhere, including here. What about: “from the womb before the daybreak I begot you”?

      2. I see RSV has “from the womb of the morning” (Ps 110:3); NRSV also. The word for womb is rehem (close to rahmim).

      3. We all know, of course, that God hath not sex, yet we are comfortable thinking of him as having masculine and feminine aspects. The only problems which seem to arise come from those who seem bent on changing the dynamic and making it out as though ‘she’ were a ‘godess’ and altering the balance of attributes quite in favour of a hardly disguised and agendaed feminism which clearly has a narcissistic self interest and an utter lack of appreciation for the masculine. One doesn’t, on the other hand find too many who champion with equal fervour his masculine attributes; this, in fact, would be considered somewhat outre, and might imply that there WERE some positive masculine attributes.
        We should, then, be glad that God is neither male nor female, nor masculine nor feminine, but is He Who Is, who could be far better described by some of the more astute theologians who partake of this blog. We tread on treacherous ground when we make too much of the metaphorical imagery by which we understand God and his life in our lives. True, the Bible has many feminine presentations of God to convey how he interacts with us. It also has a panoply of masculine characterisations which also reveal another side of his nature and interaction with us, his people. Is it too much to let these allusions just be there and realise that they do not at all show the whole God (what could!), but only aspects. It is rather silly to be always focusing on some aspect as if it would justify the narcissism of any particular feminist or masculinist ego. God is all in all… what would one expect. (There is, by the way, no feminine without the masculine… and vice versa. So the triumphalism needs to be buried.)

      4. The wisest words I have witnessed Mr Flynn offer herein. Will he next accuse Mr Wood of writing parodies?

      5. MJO: To a great extent, I agree with you. And I am very annoyed by those who would neuter God in prayer and song (cough, cough, GIA).

        But- the problem is that people like the above Preacher, or the Catholic Church, make a WHOLE LOT of theology out of what is apparently masculine about God, and very little (or nothing at all) about what is apparently feminine.

        If we know something about Fatherhood, and then are told how God is like that, we learn something about God we wouldn’t otherwise know. Likewise if we know something about Mothers, and are then told how God is like that. But we are so much never told how God is like a Mother, or like a wife, or like a sister, or like the Lioness…

        We are missing vital information about who God is when we ignore so many of the things that we might compare God to.

        I hope you’ll agree with that, as I don’t think it’s going out on a big ledge.

        Now, to go out on a ledge…
        I would suggest that “neither male nor female” might be an inaccurate description of God. Genesis says that we humans are created, “in the divine image, male and female.” It does not say, “in the Divine Image, neither male nor female.”
        I’m not suggesting that God is a hermaphrodite (although I get accused of saying that a lot). I’m suggesting that God dwells above Gender- much as He (for lack of a better pronoun) dwells above all things, and that maleness and femaleness (like all other things) flow forth, equally, from Him.

    2. Adam, it is not the case that beṭen “could mean belly or bowels”, it DOES mean belly or bowels, not “womb”. I did not say “interpretation”, but “elaboration”; the English translators of the KJV, Douay, JPS etc. have used “womb” in a poetic and imprecise way, just as a child may use “belly” imprecisely. Hebrew has a gender-specific term for “womb”, reḥem, but the verse you cite uses beṭen, which is not gender-specific and does not actually mean “womb”. To put it another way, a doctor writing in Hebrew would say that babies are conceived in the reḥem, but would not say that they are conceived in the beṭen. You have attempted to make a doctor’s point with a poet’s vocabulary; the Hebrew word used in the verse you cited is NOT gender-specific, as you claimed. The book of Job is written in poetry, not prose, and uses a great deal of figurative language, which is often rather imprecise. The next part of the same verse says “and the frost from heaven, who hath begotten it?” “To beget” (yalad in Hebrew) means to produce something out of oneself that is of the same nature as oneself – a cow makes milk but begets a calf. Are there perhaps four beings that participate in the uncreated divine nature of the Triune God: Father, Son, Spirit and frost from heaven? Shall we begin reserving snow in the tabernacle?

  9. “masculine” and “feminine” are not genders but qualities. A woman (gender) has both masculine and feminine qualities, as does a man.

  10. I was in no means trying to imply that I think God is FEMALE, any more than I think God is MALE. And, yes- I understand there are members of this community that have actual knowledge of Hebrew.

    But the hysterical (in it’s modern sense) androcentric theology needs some balance here, and I think clear references in Job to God’s womb are an interesting point in that. Unlike “feet=penis” (what?), this is not a veiled reference. “Belly” notwithstanding- the translators are right: it’s a reference to womb, God’s womb.

    But that was just a fun little aside…

    Both Proverbs and Baruch speak of the SECOND person of the Trinity in explicitly feminine terms. The idea, much touted by the moderately-liberal, that Sophia (Wisdom) is the Holy Spirit is a bit of a cop-out. Wisdom refers to herself as, “the First Born.” She describes herself as being given birth. Remember: The Second Person is “begotten,” the Third “proceeds.” In Baruch (in the reading from the Easter Vigil), Wisdom is referred to as the Book of the Law, who has “walked among men.”

    It’s interesting to me that only Person of the Trinity that you could accurately characterize as “male” (because of the specificity of the Incarnation) is also the only one to be described in Scripture using a specifically Female language. Moreover, to say the Christ is primarily masculine is also odd, considering what the details:
    -we are “reborn” through him
    -the rebirth is accomplished through:
    –penetration of his body
    –outpouring of blood and water
    -we are nourished by his body

    And the attempt to use the relationship between Christ and His Church as a basis for this line of thought (see Theology of the Body) gets even weirder if you just stop and think about it for, you know, even a minute: The Church is Female. The Church is the Body of Christ. The Church is the Bride of Christ…Therefore, what?
    The Body of Christ is: Female? Christ is married to… his own body?

    But we’re supposed to…

    1. The Church is Female. The Church is the Body of Christ. The Church is the Bride of Christ…Therefore, what?
      The Body of Christ is: Female? Christ is married to… his own body?

      This illustrates the problems that arise when one attempts to take a metaphor literally. I admit some squeamishness with consecrated virgins precisely because they seem to consider themselves to be literal brides of Christ. Then there was the homily that said the priest stood in the place of Christ and we lay people were all brides of Christ. I’m not sure who was more put off by that one, the women or the men!

      When discussing whether God is masculine or feminine or both, perhaps we should consider the possibility that we’re the metaphor!

      1. That is exactly my point. Taking the metaphors too literally. The problem with male-centric gender theologizing is that they like to take the metaphors particularly literally… until they contradict male-as-normative, in which case you’re supposed to… I dunno… see past it or something.

        As for me, I have no problem with being a part of the “Bride of Christ.” I’ve read Song of Songs and I know that, even as a male person, Christ is my ultimate lover and spouse. But it’s hard for most straight males to get to that understanding because they have no framework for understanding Christ as feminine.

        Women are “supposed to” see in their husbands the image of Christ. But men should… must… see in their wives Christ’s image as well.

        Again: I have no conflict with {Church==(Body of Christ && Bride of Christ)}, and I don’t think the gender implications of those two statements are in conflict or need to be explained. My PROBLEM is with people like the good Baptist Reverend, or the Magesterium, that want to use half of a metaphor to make a point and ignore the rest of what that would imply.

    2. Right. So in order to convey a gender-specific (as YOU described it) idea, the Hebrew author deliberately chose a word for a part of the anatomy common to both males and females, rather than a word with the same number of syllables and the same accent pattern (because we are talking about poetry, this is important) that is specific to the female anatomy. For the (undoubtedly) woman-specific activity of making snow.

      Humpty Dumpty sat on a Bible…

      1. Fine. You win. God either pooped out the Ice and Snow, or else it exploded out of His stomach like in that Alien movie. Or maybe there was a Divine Fistula.

  11. Couple other random points…

    1
    I understood that the source material for Job is thought to be particularly ancient. I’m open to correction on this point as I am not, as has been pointed out, a Biblical Scholar.

    2
    The Baptist preacher’s assertion that male and female humans can be grouped together in the word “man,” which is specifically male might be the most insulting part of that whole article. It’s linguistically dubious in the first place. Moreover, the suggestion is that women are not fully human. Which is awesome: Women can’t be priests/leaders not only because they are not enough like God/Christ- but also because they are not enough like people.

    1. The usage of the term “man” to mean persons of both sexes has a long pedigree in English, for example, in the mid seventeenth century Winstanley wrote: “And the Reason is this, Every single man, Male and Female, is a perfect Creature of himself; and the same Spirit that made the Globe, dwels in man to govern the Globe; so that the flesh of man being subject to Reason, his Maker, hath him to be his Teacher and Ruler within himself, therefore needs not run abroad after any Teacher and Ruler without him, for he needs not that any man should teach him, for the same Anoynting that ruled in the Son of man, teacheth him all things.”

      (we replicate the Greeks in this, with their usage of άνθρωποι to mean people of both sexes)

      It’s less a linguistic problem than a social problem: we need to educate men not to be so bone-headed as to think that the use of the term “man” excludes women.

      1. anthropos and homo mean human being in Greek and Latin respectively. They don’t carry the strong gender connotation of man in English.

        The word for a man (male) is aner, plural andres, in Greek and vir in Latin

        However anthropos is often used to denote a man and in the phrase “pater andron”, Father of men, to describe Zeus, aner is used to refer to humans.

    2. The linguistic point made above, beginning with “The Baptist preacher”, is (also) absolute nonsense. There is no reason at all to imagine that Indo-european languages like English default to the masculine to “suggest… that women are not fully human.” Quite the contrary. All the predominantly masculine groups of nouns (the second and fourth declensions in Latin, the second declension in Greek etc.) have parallel groups of neuter nouns; predominantly feminine groups (the first and fifth declensions in Latin, and the first in Greek etc. ) never have parallel groups of neuter nouns. However, masculine and feminine noun types are NOT rigidly segregated. This strongly suggests that in the Indo-European mind, “masculine” was thought of as close to neuter, and “feminine” as too distinctive to be classed with neuter. Hence, a “close-to-neuter” noun like Latin “homo”, Greek “anthopos” or English “man” can used as the name of the species without any implication that women are not included or that male is the norm. Which is in fact the case.

  12. If Christ is the bridegroom welcoming his bride, then that makes the Chruch as a whole, an individual Christians specifically, the bride.

  13. Oh, this is just a pain in the “beṭen”
    (stomach, belly, abdomen, bowels or any other favorite body part you might choose to interpret “beten”!)

  14. Reply to #28 – I think thou dost protest too much! The tone reminds me of those who complained about “black is beautiful” as an attack on whites.

  15. Actually, BR, I have always thought that black was beautiful… even though I am not. No, one does not ‘protest too much’ if there really is a balance and a lack of self-serving judgment. (And, you did give me cause to reflect; so ‘thanks’….. And do note that I spoke against both forms of triumphalism.)

  16. As one of my favorite Catholic theologians, Mary Daly, said so eloquently: “Why indeed must ‘God’ be a noun? Why not a verb – the most active and dynamic of all.” God has no gender. This is why I am so angry at the direction the all-male clergy-centered church is taking us. We are an Easter People. We are the salt of the Earth both Women and men. We Celebrate! We Believe!

  17. Ben Witherington, a prominent Evangelical Bible Scholar, has published his response to John Piper over at his Bible and Culture blog where he does a lot of extensive book reviews on things Scriptural

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/02/12/john-piper-on-men-in-ministry-and-the-masculinity-of-christianity/

    Well let’s start with the orthodox Christian point that GOD IS NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE IN THE DIVINE NATURE. The Bible is clear enough that God is ‘spirit’, not flesh and gender is always a manifestation of flesh.

  18. Jesus taught us to relate to God as “Our Father,” and to the Holy Spirit as “He.” Any other way would be un-Christian, that is not in imitation of Christ.

      1. Or, perhaps that should be, “Mister,” in light of the literalist and fundamentalist interpretation of the Gospel (in this case Matthew 23.9) which you appear to be promoting.

    1. Fr SS –
      He did indeed. Nor did he ever speak of his ‘heavenly mother’, or say anything that could be even a remotely feminine parallel to ‘I and the Father are one’. The one prayer that he gave us after the disciples asked for it is addressed to ‘Our Father, who art…’
      If our Lord spoke of any feminine characteristics in reference to God, I have yet to hear of them.
      It is not my intent here to downplay the scores of feminine characteristic that are applied to our Heavenly Father throughout the scriptures. In fact, I affirm them and am enriched by what they may teach us about Him. They are essential to the scriptural record and are given great attention and respect by all who would court wisdom. I just think it odd that our Lord, conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary, made no such feminine metaphors and spoke of God, I believe, almost entirely in terms of Father: ‘my Father’ and ‘our Father,’ his love of women and caring for their plight notwithstanding.
      It would be interesting to read a scholarly treatment of Jesus’ concept of God done by a serious Catholic scholar-theologian.
      (I’m not happy with what I put here because I fear it doesn’t clearly deliver the thoughts I have; but, perhaps it will engender some worthwhile reflection and converse that will have an enlightening and beneficent result. One thing that one should avoid, however, is to suggest that what was or was not done in his time infulenced his work and behaviour, because never does he seem to have been constrained by the mores and social contracts of his time – these were not a factor in the mission which the scriptures tell us he fulfilled perfectly and of which he left out nothing that was the Father’s will.

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