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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Use of the Pronoun She When Referring to God
ChastMastr
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quote:
Originally posted by Gracia:
from ChastMastr:
quote:
but surely you don't mean that concepts and perceptions of reality are inextricably linked to language? What about mystical visions which the recipient cannot put into words?
I have to disagree with you, CM. Concepts really are linked to language.
Mystical visions are direct, interior experience - beyond senses and language.

I'm sorry, I don't understand. How are "direct, interior experiences" of mystical truths not concepts? Not to mention the other things mentioned above. Human language can only go so far; as Lewis puts it elsewhere, a lot of things are too definite for language, but we have to aim for them as best we can with the words we have, or can create.

David
essentialist orthodox guy

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Anselmina
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt the Mad Medic:
I often find it amusing to think what people's reaction would be if Paul showed up and started posting on Ship Of Fools...

matt

I see no reason why Paul wouldn't continue doing precisely what he did it in his own day:

- took the Biblical scholarship of the time and learnt from it (though what he'd make of the second half of the Christian Bible is anyone's guess!);
- ditto, the philosophical thought systems of the time, using familiar cultural metaphors to describe his own ideas about Jesus and God, thus avoiding the reifying and petrifying of culture-bound language and image;
- pushed the envelope where women and inclusivity of other 'outsiders' was concerned;
- continue developing and developing his theology, allowing his experience and deepening reason to progressively affect his dogmatic approach to formulating new Christian doctrine.

Actually, Matt, far from finding it 'amusing' I suspect most people would find it not only challenging but also horrifying. [Snigger] Just as many were, back in Paul's day......

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3M Matt
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Sarkycow.....Sorry it has taken so long to reply to your kind words earlier:

quote:
GAH! Are you really poor at reading for meaning, or just so one-minded and limited in your thoughts that you can only say the same thing over and over?
In general, reading for meaning is fine, but in a discussion precisely about words and what we mean when we use them (in this case "he" and "she") being exceptionally rigorous seems appropriate.

As to being one-minded..Should I be double-minded then? (James 1v8) [Razz]

quote:
Christ used many pictures to explain God, the kindgom of Heaven, disciples, prayer (which is where your particular example is coming from) etc. He made many statements about sin, prayer, commandments, morals etc.
I think this is the general assumption underpinning many of your arguements, that Christ used many metaphors and pictures, and that which he uses when are arbitary and interchangable.

Be careful here about exactly what type of picture Christ uses and when.

True, Christ often uses simile to describe the kingdom of heaven. I think there are 11 useages of such similes, all of them in Matthew (13:24 13:31 13:33 13:44 13:45 13:47 13:52 18:23 20:1 22:2 25:1)

The "Kingdom of Heaven" is (I think) restricted to Matthew's Gospel. If we we include Mark's equivalent phrase "Kingdom of God" then we find two additional similes (Mark 4:26 4:30)

So, we find 13 examples of Jesus using simile to describe the Kingdom of Heaven. How many do we find of Christ using explicit similes to describe God? When does Christ ever say "God is like...." The answer, to the best of my knowledge, is never, which is suprising and unlikely to be coincidental.

So much for similes for God, do we find metaphors for him?

First off, we don't find nearly as many metaphors for the first person of the Trinity as you might imagine. For example the sower in Matthew 13 is not God the Father, but in fact Jesus putting himself into the parable (see Matt 13v37)

And, where we do find a metaphor for God, in fact, the metaphor is not primarily for God, but comes about as a result of another metaphor.

For example, consider the parable in Matthew 13v33:

"He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."

Now, yes, in this parable, the woman is a metaphor for God. However, is the parable about explaining God? No, it is about explaining the kingdom of heaven. It starts "The kingdom of heaven is like...". The implication is that God is only like a woman in so far as the particular context of a woman being a "mixer of dough" goes.

You can read into the parable concerning the Kingdom of heaven being like yeast and dough, but you make a logical error to move to reading into the parable saying God is like a woman.

For a graphically clear example of this sort of error, consider this: Uncooth people may refer to their dirty underwear laundry as being "skidmarked". In this context they are saying their butt is like a car. (ie. It can produce skidmarks), however it needn't follow their is any other similarity between a ferrari and a human backside beyond both potentially being "creators of skidmarks".

If you go through the parables carefully, looking for this kind of error, you will find the number of true metaphors for God very limited indeed.

Yet when we come to the phrase "The Father", we find no reference to God islikea father, just merely that he is The Father. Matthew 11v26-27 is just one of many examples: "Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

Nowhere in any reference to "The Father" or "The Son" do we ever find Jesus saying God is like a father. He is just "The Father". Statement of fact. Since in other cases when Jesus is using a metaphor it is made explicit, it implies to me there is no intention for us to take "The Father" as a metaphor.

quote:
Seeing as you take the model/example for prayer to be literal, then once again I ask: How many limbs are you missing? Or do you not sin? The Lord's prayer is an example prayer. Jesus said 'When you pray, do it like this:
As I hope is becoming clear, I was merely using Matthew 6v9 as an example of Christ referring to the first person of the trinity as Father...

If you like we can use another: three verses previously in Matthew 6v6 Jesus says "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Again, is there any hint here that "Father" is metaphorical? If Christ meant us to use "Mother", why does he never use Mother? Not once. Jesus refers to "The Father" over and over again. Outside the context of metaphorical parables, Jesus still refers to God as "The Father".

Some may palm this off as cultural, but if that was the case, if the intention was convey a metaphor "parental intimacy" the cultural norm would surely have been "Mother" as the traditionally more intimate caring parent? Additionally, Christ is happy to ignore cultral norms about the sabbath, or talking to women, or mixing with leppers etc etc... To argue that in this case for some mysterious reason Christ conformed to the culture seems strangely arbitary.

Matt

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birdie

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CM, yes, sorry about the voice! (And sorry Matt) This is a bit of a hot one with me, for reasons I hope to explain, and that perhaps wasn't appropriate - I apologise.

I do understand what you are saying, and I agree of course that we are more than our gender. However I also think that, unless we are explicit about our intentions when we are using language, it is very difficult to maintain that distinction between individual men and women, and, as you say, the essence of gender. I think it is possible that women find this more difficult than men.

I am very bad at abstract discussion of this type of thing: let me give you the example which springs to my mind, which is also the reason for my over-reaction to Matt:

Some years ago, in the context of a small teaching group about male and female roles, a pastor and teacher whom I respect made the statement that 'men are made in the image of God; women are made in the image of men'. I cannot describe the impact this had on me too strongly. I was utterly shocked and devastated by it, as for me it had profound implications about the way that I relate to my creator, as one created in God's image. I think I have seen you write, CM, (and I wholeheartedly agree) that when we use images like God as father, Christ as a bridegroom etc, that this is because the earthly idea of 'father' derives from our heavenly father, that our earthly idea of 'marriage' derives from the mystical relationship between Christ and the church. Because we are fallen people, these images, which are perfect in God, are marred in us. Now, it seemed to me (and still does) that as I am made in the image of God, and am fallen, God's image is marred in me. If I am made in the image of man, I am made in the image of a marred image, and am taken one step further away from the Image - God. Does that make any sort of sense?

You said this:

quote:
I would also argue that masculinity (not our humanity per se) reflects certain aspects of God in ways that femininity (not our humanity per se) does not (apart from the above postulation of femininity reflecting the Son within the Trinity), femininity reflecting Creation itself.
I would agree that masculinity, as you say, reflects certain aspects of God in ways that femininity does not. However, I would also argue that femininity reflects certain aspects of God in ways that masculinity does not, rather than reflecting creation itself. I think this is the essence of what I am trying to say. Making that connection between the feminine and creation, I think is running the risk of associating women with the 'other' and saying, as was described above, I think, that females simply do not bear the image of God.

I said above that we need to be explicit about our intentions when we use language, in order to maintain the distinction between 'me as a woman' and 'the essence of femininity'. I also said that this may be more difficult for women than men, and again, I would relate this to my example, above. If the pastor in question had made that distinction a little more, and spoken about masculinity and femininity, I might still have disagreed with him, but it is unlikely that I would have been quite so uncomfortable. However for the men in the group (including my husband who needed a lot of long and careful explanation to understand why I was so upset), the form of language used was much less important, because, to put it very crudely because this is going on for ever, they're okay either way!

To conclude (yay! I hear you cry). My creation in God's image is fundamental to how I relate to God and also to my attitude to myself as being a creature of worth because I bear that image. Telling me that I am made in the image of man takes that away from me.

A postscript: last week I was at a child protection training evening. The (male) leader was discussing adult survivors of sexual abuse and mentioned that they might find relating to God as father very difficult. He mentioned that other images of God such as the hen gathering her chicks, might be useful for such a person. All the men in the room laughed. That is another reason why I get a bit quiet & dangerous over this one, but again I apologise for my tone, which was inappropriate.

This is the longest and most involved post I have ever made. Thank you for your time.

bird

(just for the record about 5 people posted while I composed this!)

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ChastMastr
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt the Mad Medic:
To argue that in this case for some mysterious reason Christ conformed to the culture seems strangely arbitary.

I'd also add the apostles, Paul, etc. who were, unless we disbelieve them, getting direct instruction from the Almighty fairly clearly (visions, voices, etc.) very early on, so if we're going to attribute cultural bias to them, why in Heaven's name would God neglect to correct them the rest of the way on such important matters as how to conceive of or speak to Him? "Oh, and by the way, while you let those Gentiles (whom I've officially declared can be made clean now) in, don't forget..."

(And how do we know it's not our own age which is biased? Yes, we only have our own lenses to look through -- which is why I think learning more of the past is wise, and checking our knowledge against the witness of history -- and when it comes to changing things which are not only dating back the last thousand years, but the entire history of the Church -- and before that, Judaism -- and apart from that, the whole Pagan male-rulers-of-the-pantheon which seems pretty universal -- well, then in that case it really does seem to me as if to see God as non-masculine goes against all of humankind up till very, very recently -- and that I can't do...)

Gah, sorry for the impromptu sermonette.

David
" [brick wall] " orthodox guy

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3M Matt
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OgtheDim said:

quote:

Well...as some of us think Paul was, for his era, rather more liberal about women then the average Jewish/Roman/Greek Male, you may be shocked too Matt.

Anselmina said:

quote:

I see no reason why Paul wouldn't continue doing precisely what he did it in his own day:
*snip*
- pushed the envelope where women and inclusivity of other 'outsiders' was concerned;

As someone said, this is really for another thread, and if someone wants to start it feel welcome.

In summary, both these comments seem to have behind them the assumption that what was really important about Paul's teaching was not the actual position he took on issues, but the direction his views weremoving compared to standard prevailing cultral views of the day.

ie. The unspoken logic of the argument goes something like "Paul's position with respect to women was liberal compared to the prevailing view of the 1st century culture, therefore Paul was intrinsically "a liberal", therefore he would be on the liberal end of the cultral spectrum today".

This is called relativism and it begs the question "was Paul a relativist?". I emphatically think he was not, but if someone wants to start thread on that it might be interesting.

Incidently..Birdie-I had absolutely no problem with your "dangerous voice" comment! and no apology was neccessary. You were being slightly pre-emptive of my position, but quite understandably.I have no hesitation in saying women are made in the image of God just as much as men are. I thought last post was brilliant by the way.

matt

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ChastMastr
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Yipes! Feel like I'm in a race (gasp! Must -- post -- before -- I have more replies to reply to... gasp! Choke!) . [Embarrassed]

Re voice: [Love] *hug* [Love] Thank you! No problem. Yes, I do admit there has been genuine sexism (Gasp!) in the church which makes standing for the doctrines I believe in kind of embarrassing and frustrating (see my continual litany on the pristly genitalia thread). Unfortunately I am stuck with still believing it to be true.

I do think many women find this distinction more difficult than men, but again I do think it's because of the way genuinely misogynist people have approached the whole thing. If it is possible to apologise on behalf of those of us who believe the way I do for the inappropriate ways this has been dealt with in the past, I apologise for it.

Yes, I think the way the whole "image of an image" thing is treated isn't very good -- even if true it does not lead to the conclusions people reach. For example, where one is morally in relation to God has nothing directly to do with their place in the Chain of Being -- Lucifer was, well, the highest and greatest of the angels originally, and where is he now? Mother Theresa of Calcutta, compared with (say) some of the more decadent Popes, was not even ordained a priest, yet is pretty much agreed to be on the fast track to canonisation, and with good reason. And of course the Christian understanding of our relationship to God isn't supposed to be focused as much on what our natural abilities are (apart from being grateful for them, or asking for help in doing better with them) but on love. When asked about who gets the higher places in Heaven, Jesus said the last would be first, and the first would be last, etc. So if someone's putting on airs about being male then they're heading in exactly the wrong direction... and our "nearness" to God is meant to be, not the natural instance of our birth but on a spiritual level.

But I do think, yes, there's a distinction between being human (and therefore made in God's image) and being male/female. In a sense, as I've posted elsewhere, all Creation is "feminine" in relation to God.

I do think in a sense femininity does reflect aspects of the Second Person of the Trinity in relation to the First; but I am seeing this in terms of yin and yang, hierarchy and obedience, etc. which I hadn't wanted to get into as much here.

Perhaps if I say that in our humanity we all reflect Him and are made in His image ("In His image He made them; male and female He created them"); but in our gender roles, especially within the family, we are meant to reflect Him in ways which (which I think are going to offend some people but I've posted this before and it does tie in with all this) deal with hierarchy, obedience, sacrificial love, and more, in the sexual act and in the bearing of fruit (children), etc.

Re women and the "other": Well -- in an odd way I'd say that God is the ultimate "other" -- and perhaps part of the problem is of men (male human beings) being too presumptuous in the way they treat such matters. I.e., if they imagine that God is just "one of the guys" Who shakes His head at women (various jokes about this sort of thing abound), rather than trying to look to Him as their own Bridegroom -- as the ultimate Other to Whom we are all, male and female, "feminine" -- then they have a surprise or two waiting.

Oh dear, I'm sure about three dozen more people have posted since I wrote this. I hope it's not too incoherent.

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Anselmina
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# 3032

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quote:
Originally posted by Matt the Mad Medic:

ie. The unspoken logic of the argument goes something like "Paul's position with respect to women was liberal compared to the prevailing view of the 1st century culture, therefore Paul was intrinsically "a liberal", therefore he would be on the liberal end of the cultral spectrum today".

This is called relativism and it begs the question "was Paul a relativist?". I emphatically think he was not, but if someone wants to start thread on that it might be interesting.

matt

Can't speak for Ogthedim, but I don't refer to Paul as a liberal, or even as liberal in his formulating 'new' Christian doctrine. Naturally, he would have been viewed as apostate by his fellow non-Christian Jews, having taken on board Jesus as Messiah; but whether he would have been viewed as liberal, or unorthodox in the Christian sense is impossible to say, as Paul was right there at the beginning before such labels had been invented.

Whether he would, today, feel at home more with the liberal style of theology than with the conservative evangelical style is not, to me, a helpful question. As I understood at least the implication of your original comment about Paul's posting on the boards, I believed it to mean that his contributions would be 'amusing', based on the impartial and incomplete body of his writings we have available to us, and assuming he would wish, here in 2002 to defend all those writings of the first century.

My reply was to say his contribution to theology today, would probably continue along the lines he began back then. I don't see why Paul shouldn't behave in our day and age as he did in his own, just as my earlier post says. Whether that results in liberalism or relativism, or conservative evangelicalsm, or any other -ism, is anybody's guess.

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Og: Thread Killer
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# 3200

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quote:
Originally posted by Matt the Mad Medic:

***Snipped out bits Matt was quoting (how many quotes do we want in here, eh? [Wink] ***

In summary, both these comments seem to have behind them the assumption that what was really important about Paul's teaching was not the actual position he took on issues, but the direction his views were moving compared to standard prevailing cultral views of the day.

Whereas your statement that prompted my response was:
quote:
I often find it amusing to think what people's reaction would be if Paul showed up and started posting on Ship Of Fools...

As you seem to be amused by what people on the Ship's views would be relative to Paul's, I find your logic a little puzzling as to rejecting how others would find amusing the picture of you also having to deal with the enigma known as Paul.

However...this is all tangential.
[Note to Admins; this is where I like to put in a Joy emoticon to signal joy at the whole thread, including the tangent; but...I can't anymore... [Frown] ]

Ultimately, Matt, what I find rather illuminating vis-a-vis my OP is your claim that Paul would support your position now because he would have supported it then. As you imply you are not a relativist, its hard to see how you would WANT to look at the use of the 3rd person female pronoun. As some of us take a diametrically opposite views as to the role of scripture and the Holy Spirit in a changing world, there seems to be an impasse here hard to get beyond.

However, Matt, your views have been very interesting to read through. Thanks.

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I wish I was seeking justice loving mercy and walking humbly but... "Cease to lament for that thou canst not help, And study help for that which thou lament'st."

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3M Matt
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# 1675

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There's clearly a lot more potentially interesting discussion in the whole "21st century paul" thing, but if we wanna take that further it should really be a new thread I think.

One thing I don't think I've said that I should, is that obviously, during the history of the church, the masculine association with God has been misused to exclude women or assert dominance over them. Clearly at times it's been unhelpful.

However, there are numerous things it would probably have been easier if God hadn't done. Like the last supper...if only Jesus hadn't done that whole "this is my body" thing, we wouldn't have the discord over issues like transubstantiation.

A lot of posts in this thread seem to be along the lines of "I find it easier to....." or "it would be helpful if.." and in many cases I agree, but I'm not sure the way forward for our theology is based upon what we find helpful in a religion which claims to be an account of the facts above any claim it may make to being helpful to us as individuals.

matt

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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[Not worthy!] Birdie! [Love]
BTW, for your work with sexual abuse, you might track down the book "Survivor Prayers". Alternative images, and lots of honesty. And bless you for your work! [Angel]

CM wrote:

and apart from that, the whole Pagan male-rulers-of-the-pantheon which seems pretty universal -- well, then in that case it really does seem to me as if to see God as non-masculine goes against all of humankind up till very, very recently

Er…um…(choke)…(splutter)

A tiny sampler:

Inanna—“Queen of Heaven”, Sumeria
Spider—Creatrix, in many cultures
Tiamat—Creatrix. Babylon
All-Mother—Creatrix, Australian Aborigines
Grandmother Growth—Creatrix, Huichol people, Mexico
Coatlique—Mother (of deities and people), Aztec people, Mexico
Rhea—Universal Mother, Aegean region

Many goddesses who are now seen as subservient to gods weren’t always that way. They changed with the transition to patriarchy. Mainstream mythology and history often don’t look that far back.

BTW, in many cultures, the sun is feminine—e.g., Amaterasu in Japan.

You might want to read:

“When God Was A Woman”—Merlin Stone

Any of Dr. Marijah Gimbutas’ works

“Heart of the Goddess”—Hallie Iglehart Austen

“Mother Wove the Morning”—Carol Lynn Pearson

“The Chalice & the Blade”—Riane Eisler

“She Who Is”---Elizabeth A. Johnson (Christian theological perspective)

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ChastMastr
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"Ruler of the pantheon" and "creatrix" are not the same, though in monotheism it's kind of inevitable. When you refer to the "transition to patriarchy," when did this specifically take place?

(In any case, I look to the Pagan past not as a primary source, Radical Faerie though I am; I'm a Christian first and foremost.)

David

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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Originally posted by ChastMastr:
When you refer to the "transition to patriarchy," when did this specifically take place?

Over a long stretch of time. You'd be best off checking the works of Dr. Gimbutas and Riane Eisler, as I mentioned above.

(In any case, I look to the Pagan past not as a primary source, Radical Faerie though I am; I'm a Christian first and foremost.)

Um, you're the one who brought up Pagan history. I just provided info.

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FatMac

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quote:
Originally posted by Matt the Mad Medic:
A lot of posts in this thread seem to be along the lines of "I find it easier to....." or "it would be helpful if.." and in many cases I agree, but I'm not sure the way forward for our theology is based upon what we find helpful in a religion which claims to be an account of the facts above any claim it may make to being helpful to us as individuals.

Even if we conceed for the sake of argument the rather bald statement that Christianity claims to be an account of the facts, surely that doesn't impact the point at issue here. I hope MMM that you are not claiming that it is a fact that God is a Father? What is a fact is that Christ and various male NT writers felt that the metaphor of God as Father was a helpful one for their listeners/readers. This does not necessarily mean that it is a helpful metaphor for all time, nor (even if it is helpful now) does it rule out other metaphors.

And CM, perhaps we simply must agree to disagree but I cannot possibly stomach any theology, however subtle or nuanced which sees males/masculinity as fundamentally more representative of God's nature than female/femininity, nor do I believe that such a view coheres with Scripture taken as a whole.

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3M Matt
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quote:
Even if we conceed for the sake of argument the rather bald statement that Christianity claims to be an account of the facts, surely that doesn't impact the point at issue here. I hope MMM that you are not claiming that it is a fact that God is a Father? What is a fact is that Christ and various male NT writers felt that the metaphor of God as Father was a helpful one for their listeners/readers.
In my (lengthy) reply to Sarkycow, I think I laid out my view on this. Yes, metaphors are used in the Bible, but a little study of the way Jesus uses them shows it is very different to the way he uses the term "Father", which is often used plainly as if it were a matter of fact.

In a sense it may be kind of metaphor, but in a very different way to, say, a metaphor of God as the sower of seed as he is in some of the parables, or as the master of servants as he is in others. It is a metaphor that runs so deep in God's nature that Jesus refers to it as the reality of God is, not a reflection or impression of Him. Jesus never treats "The Father" like a metaphor, but as a reality.

As to it being a rather bald statement to say Christianity is an account of the facts, I consider it the starting point of any meaningful basis of Christianity. As Paul said, "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith". Christianity stands or falls as an account of the facts. If true we should accept them whether we like them or not, if false we should reject Christianity no matter how helpful or appealing it may be. 1 Corinthians 15v14. I may differ with another Christian on the details of the facts, or interpretation of their implications, but if I find myself in discussion with someone who believes Christianity is really a philosophy first before being factual, then there is precious little common ground between us.

matt

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3M Matt.

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FatMac

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# 2914

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quote:
Originally posted by Matt the Mad Medic:
In a sense it may be kind of metaphor, but in a very different way to, say, a metaphor of God as the sower of seed as he is in some of the parables, or as the master of servants as he is in others. It is a metaphor that runs so deep in God's nature that Jesus refers to it as the reality of God is, not a reflection or impression of Him. Jesus never treats "The Father" like a metaphor, but as a reality.

Oh, come on! In what possible sense can it not be a metaphor. A father is a human who provides half of the genetic material for the conception of another human; a father is the long-term partner of the mother who gives birth to a new human; a father is the male who nurtures, protects and teaches a young human till they are able to live independently. God is none of these. Any sense in which we see God as Father is precisely metaphorical - God is Father in that he loves us as a father loves a child. He is father in that he disciplines us as a father disciplines a child. He is father in that he gives sacrificially of himself as a father (ought to) for his wife, etc. etc.

quote:
As to it being a rather bald statement to say Christianity is an account of the facts, I consider it the starting point of any meaningful basis of Christianity. As Paul said, "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith". Christianity stands or falls as an account of the facts. If true we should accept them whether we like them or not, if false we should reject Christianity no matter how helpful or appealing it may be. 1 Corinthians 15v14. I may differ with another Christian on the details of the facts, or interpretation of their implications, but if I find myself in discussion with someone who believes Christianity is really a philosophy first before being factual, then there is precious little common ground between us.
My point is not that Christianity says some things about some facts; my point is that this is not a sufficient description of Christianity, which IMO is not so much a philosophy as a relationship. My marriage to my wife involves some facts, and indeed relies on some facts, but it is not "an account of the facts". And in the context of relationship "what I feel", or "what is easier" has a great deal more bearing than in a court of law where the aim may indeed be simply to construct "an account of the facts."

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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Does anyone know whether Jesus uses more than one term for Father?

I know he uses "abba", which is most closely equivalent to "daddy" - an intimate term used by children. Does he also use a more formal term for father - which would presumably have implied references to such things as authority, inheritance, ancestry.

We no longer live in a society in which the man is the owner of all property which is passed on to his sons. Nor where being able to trace your ancestry is important (by and large most of us earn our own place in the world rather than be respected because of who our father is). Nor is it expected that parents - let alone fathers - have authority over adult children. Therefore, we would mean something different by "father" than would be meant be Jesus and his contemporaries - and as such, if a different word describes God better (ie: closer to what Jesus would mean, rather than necessarily "makes me feel better") then why not use it?

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3M Matt
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# 1675

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quote:
Oh, come on! In what possible sense can it not be a metaphor. A father is a human who provides half of the genetic material for the conception of another human; a father is the long-term partner of the mother who gives birth to a new human; a father is the male who nurtures, protects and teaches a young human till they are able to live independently. God is none of these.
I understand where you are coming from, and, but for a fairly recent 180 degree flip in my thinking, I would have agreed.

I recently watched the film "Gladiator". At the end is a scene where Maximus dies and goes to heaven. I've seen the film several times before (it's a classic), but on this occassion watching it, it occurred to me that something was wrong with that scene.

The colours are wrong.

Heaven, in "The Gladiator" is vague, shadowy. The colours are washed out and faded. The whole thing has the feel of being a pale imitation of real life.

The reason is that I think we all have a natural intution to feel that the world we are in now is solid, real and vibrant, and that the "spiritual world" is vague and fluid. I can't help feeling that underpinning your comments is something similar to this philosophy.

May I suggest that the reverse is true? That it is earth which is a pale reflection of heaven?

In this case, it would be more true to say that an earthly father is a metaphor for God the Father than to say that "God the Father" is a metaphor.

Is it not more true to say that Earthly fathers are a bit like God the father, than to say that God the father is a bit like our earthly fathers?

Shouldn't the reference come that way around as all things were concieved in the heart of God before they were concieved in the realities of this world?

Psalm 139 says God knew us before we were concieved in this life. However, it's tempting to think that something "concieved in the heart of God" was vague and shadowy until it was made a physical object. I know for myself, I very easily fall into the trap of thinking that when God concieved something in his heart, it was in some sense solidified when it was concieved in the physical world.

I'm inclined to think this is a mistake. When a painter has an image in his mind and commits it to paper, is there not a sense in which the image in his mind is the real thing and the image on the page is the imitation of it?

Your basis seems to be "of course God cannot be a real father because a real father is the one who passes on genetics." DNA is a physical reality of this world. But where was the very idea of DNA concieved? Surely first it was in the heart of God?

So when you say, because of genetics, God cannot really be a Father, (because the reality is you got your genetics from an earthly father) in fact what you call "real" is actually merely the physical image that God painted with his paintbrush, and the true reality of it is within God.

To return to your original statments...
"A father is a human who provides half of the genetic material for the conception of another human"
who really provides the genetic material? Who was the father of the father? Who really concieved the new human?

"a father is the long-term partner of the mother who gives birth to a new human;"
Who really brought the father into partnership with the mother? Who knew the new human before it even resided in the Mothers womb?

a father is the male who nurtures, protects and teaches a young human till they are able to live independently
{i]Who not only nutures and protects, but by his very will sustains me and allows my next breath? A parent may withdraw care from a child for a few hours and the child will get hungry. If God withdraws his care for one instant, my very existence would cease.[/i]

I am not at all convinced I have conveyed what I'm getting at all well. It just seemed to me your idea that God must be the metaphor because genetics is the reality is the wrong way round, but to put into words what the reverse of that is is something very hard to do. Probably impossible.

matt

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3M Matt.

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ChastMastr
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# 716

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quote:
Originally posted by golden key:
Originally posted by ChastMastr:
When you refer to the "transition to patriarchy," when did this specifically take place?

Over a long stretch of time. You'd be best off checking the works of Dr. Gimbutas and Riane Eisler, as I mentioned above.

Is this within history or in a (hypothetical?) prehistory? The arguments I have heard thus far for a matriarchal prehistory have been less than convincing to me, I'm sorry to say.

quote:
Originally posted by linzc:
And CM, perhaps we simply must agree to disagree but I cannot possibly stomach any theology, however subtle or nuanced which sees males/masculinity as fundamentally more representative of God's nature than female/femininity, nor do I believe that such a view coheres with Scripture taken as a whole.

Are you saying, then, that Paul did not teach that God was more masculine than feminine,or that the early Church did not teach that?

If they did, then I consider myself in good company. We may have to agree to disagree.

MMM said:
quote:
As to it being a rather bald statement to say Christianity is an account of the facts, I consider it the starting point of any meaningful basis of Christianity.
and
quote:
May I suggest that the reverse is true? That it is earth which is a pale reflection of heaven?

I agree with them
words above by Em Em Em


"All in Plato, all in Plato, etc." -- Prof. Digory Kirke

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My essays on comics continuity: http://chastmastr.tumblr.com/tagged/continuity

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FatMac

Ship's Macintosh
# 2914

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quote:
Originally posted by Matt the Mad Medic:
Heaven, in "The Gladiator" is vague, shadowy. The colours are washed out and faded. The whole thing has the feel of being a pale imitation of real life.

The reason is that I think we all have a natural intution to feel that the world we are in now is solid, real and vibrant, and that the "spiritual world" is vague and fluid. I can't help feeling that underpinning your comments is something similar to this philosophy.

I understand what you are getting at (CSL did it quite well in 'The Last Battle' I think). I have no problem with the idea that God is the reality, we the pale copies. Indeed it is that understanding of God as a reality much richer, deeper and fuller than our own which convinces me that all our 'God language' is metaphor.

You see the point which I think you're missing is that language is itself a human construct rather than divine. So ISTM that 'father' which is a human word has specific human meanings. In our efforts to grope through the earthly fog towards the divine reality, we are limited to using human words which thus can never be more than metaphors for that which is beyond our grasp. Or if you want to put it the other way, in reaching throught the earthly fog in divine revelation, God must, because of our weakness, use human words and ideas, which thus can never be more than metaphors for that which is beyond our grasp.

Now perhaps you are arguing that by his revelation God divinely authorises some metaphors rather than others. And I would agree with that. But the real question is whether it is the metaphor itself (ie the human language construct) or the concept underlying that metaphor which is authorised. ISTM that it is the latter, and that when the human language construct begins to fail to convey the concept accurately due to changed social context, use of language, etc., that we then must, carefully and prayerfully, consider different ways of couching God's revelation in human language.

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Do not avoid the grey areas - they are where God works.

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Laura
General nuisance
# 10

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So in a sense, lincz, what you are saying is that by calling God "father" we are really saying "more than father", "better than father", and doing so in a language that is of our own making, and so which cannot in any sense be adequate to capture "God". Of course, in a larger way, then, many of our concept words are metaphoric. What is "love"?

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Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. - Erich Fromm

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ChastMastr
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# 716

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quote:
Originally posted by linzc:
You see the point which I think you're missing is that language is itself a human construct rather than divine. So ISTM that 'father' which is a human word has specific human meanings.

How do we know this? More specifically, how do we know that those words have not been allowed, permitted, encouraged, or directed by God in order to help us understand Him better?

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My essays on comics continuity: http://chastmastr.tumblr.com/tagged/continuity

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daisymay

St Elmo's Fire
# 1480

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Matt the MM and lincz,

I think God is the true Father and Mother of us all. Any mothering or fathering we do or talk about is only an echo, a shadow of the real parenting of God. Ours is also real, but in a weaker way, because we are human.

Other pictures, metaphors, similes, symbols, stories, also add to our understanding of who God is, what God is like. We need them all to build up a truer picture of God - and meanwhile we are also experiencing a relationship with God, so we are getting to know God experientially as well as intellectually.

All people and things are contained in God. There real existence is.

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Wm Duncan

Buoy tender
# 3021

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Does anyone know whether Jesus uses more than one term for Father?

I know he uses "abba", which is most closely equivalent to "daddy" - an intimate term used by children. Does he also use a more formal term for father - which would presumably have implied references to such things as authority, inheritance, ancestry. [snip]

fwiw, the Aramaic (?) "abba" finds its way into the New Testament 3 times (Mk 14:36, Rom 8:15, Gal 4:6). Each time, it is paired with "pater", which is a more formal Greek word for father. It might be that the writers are simply pairing in order to provide translation of the Greek ... The rest of the time, "father" is mainly "pater" -- but then, did Jesus really speak Greek?

Wm Duncan

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I have overcome a fiercely anti-Catholic upbringing in order to attend Mass simply and solely to escape Protestant guitars. Why am I here? Who gave these nice Catholics guitars?
-- Annie Dillard

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FatMac

Ship's Macintosh
# 2914

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quote:
Originally posted by Laura:
So in a sense, lincz, what you are saying is that by calling God "father" we are really saying "more than father", "better than father", and doing so in a language that is of our own making, and so which cannot in any sense be adequate to capture "God". Of course, in a larger way, then, many of our concept words are metaphoric. What is "love"?

Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. As for other concept words like love, I agree that the words we use are inevitably inadequate to the task of encompassing all that is meant by the concept. However I am not sure that I would use the 'metaphor' in every case. The idea of a metaphor is that we compare one object to another non-identical object. I am saying that by definition God, being transcendent, is unlike any human word or concept so that all our language is metaphorical. OTOH if we are describing a human concept like love, we are more likely describing aspects of it - love is patient and kind; not jealous, boastful or proud... I don't think I would use the word 'metaphor' in this case.

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Do not beware the slippery slope - it is where faith resides.
Do not avoid the grey areas - they are where God works.

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FatMac

Ship's Macintosh
# 2914

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quote:
Originally posted by ChastMastr:
How do we know this? More specifically, how do we know that those words have not been allowed, permitted, encouraged, or directed by God in order to help us understand Him better?

This seems highly unlikely CM. Is it only the Greek or Hebrew words which are so allowed, permitted, encouraged or directed? Or a bunch of words in every human language that has ever existed? And what about cases where the concepts in one language do not adequately translate from other languages? Perhaps we should be starting the Lord's Prayer "Dear Daddy".

quote:
Then daisymay said:
I think God is the true Father and Mother of us all. Any mothering or fathering we do or talk about is only an echo, a shadow of the real parenting of God. Ours is also real, but in a weaker way, because we are human.

Other pictures, metaphors, similes, symbols, stories, also add to our understanding of who God is, what God is like. We need them all to build up a truer picture of God - and meanwhile we are also experiencing a relationship with God, so we are getting to know God experientially as well as intellectually.

Agreed. [Not worthy!]

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Do not beware the slippery slope - it is where faith resides.
Do not avoid the grey areas - they are where God works.

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ChastMastr
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# 716

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quote:
Originally posted by linzc:
quote:
Originally posted by ChastMastr:
How do we know this? More specifically, how do we know that those words have not been allowed, permitted, encouraged, or directed by God in order to help us understand Him better?

This seems highly unlikely CM. Is it only the Greek or Hebrew words which are so allowed, permitted, encouraged or directed? Or a bunch of words in every human language that has ever existed? And what about cases where the concepts in one language do not adequately translate from other languages? Perhaps we should be starting the Lord's Prayer "Dear Daddy".
It may be every human language, for all I know. I was mainly addressing the claim "language is itself a human construct rather than divine," which is most definitely more than I know. It could be some original language (one which was before Indo-European, Finno-Ugric, etc.) which is only splintered into the bits we now have across the world. It might be that it's language itself, rather than any one language, which is divine. But given that God Himself, in the beginning, was the Word then it seems to me that language may very well be a very special way we're made in God's image, and I would not say that it's only human. Re the Lord's Prayer, what did Jesus say to do? What form of "father" did He use?

It also seems to me that, if "father" carried with it all sorts of other meanings in the first century, and we're trying to make those meanings clearer in the cultural context we have now, then we're largely going to have to bring back, or explain, those older meanings, because in our egalitarian age, we don't think in terms of hierarchy, authority, obedience, etc. I've said elsewhere that it's hard to grasp Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords when you have no kings or lords as an example, nor a concept of kings and lords except for some nasty old system of government we've fortunately abolished. In the same way, if "father" meant many things which were taken for granted in the first century, but which are not now, then we're going to have to do research to find them out and put them in modern terms. God as "an unelected leader to whom we owe absolute obedience" doesn't sound very nice to many people when put that way, though, I think...

Sorry, I'm grumpy this morning but trying not to be Hellish.

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My essays on comics continuity: http://chastmastr.tumblr.com/tagged/continuity

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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quote:
Originally posted by ChastMastr:
quote:
Originally posted by golden key:
Originally posted by ChastMastr:
When you refer to the "transition to patriarchy," when did this specifically take place?

Over a long stretch of time. You'd be best off checking the works of Dr. Gimbutas and Riane Eisler, as I mentioned above.

Is this within history or in a (hypothetical?) prehistory? The arguments I have heard thus far for a matriarchal prehistory have been less than convincing to me, I'm sorry to say.

There's been lots of research into both history and prehistory. I have Riane Eisler's book here, with charts and cited references. As for Dr. Gimbutas (archaeologist, BTW), background infor on her and her work is here. Much more elsewhere on the Net.

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--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
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Zeke
Ship's Inquirer
# 3271

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Those who were discussing the inadequacy of the single word "love" might wish to check out a book by C.S.Lewis(him again!)called "The Four Loves." It deals with the four different words for love found in Greek.

He occasionally infuriates me with his sexist statements but is of course excellent in many other ways.

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No longer the Bishop of Durham
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If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it? --Benjamin Franklin

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Melissa
Apprentice
# 3443

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I went to a local presbyterian church here for work this morning and was so excited to find something in bulletin they printed about Inclusive Language and thought I would share--

"In the language of worship at The First and Franklin Street Presbyterian Church we try to be faithful to two realities. First, we were created both male and female, in God's image. God is neither exclusively male nor exclusively female, and does not favor one sex over the other. Second, the tradional, usually male-centered language of the church, incomplete as it its, links us with many generations of the faithful, and has a claim on our respect. Accordingly, we strive to balance traditional images with new ones which challenge us to see the manifold nature of God in creative ways."

I think that I was in awe when I saw it in the bulletin. [Not worthy!] It really seems like a good approach to me.

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Those who dance are thought mad by those who don't hear the music.
--Exit to the Rainmaker

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Sarkycow
La belle Dame sans merci
# 1012

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quote:
Originally posted by ChastMastr:
It also seems to me that, if "father" carried with it all sorts of other meanings in the first century, and we're trying to make those meanings clearer in the cultural context we have now, then we're largely going to have to bring back, or explain, those older meanings, because in our egalitarian age, we don't think in terms of hierarchy, authority, obedience, etc. In the same way, if "father" meant many things which were taken for granted in the first century, but which are not now, then we're going to have to do research to find them out and put them in modern terms.

(Bold mine.)

The word 'exactly' comes to mind. In the first century, saying "God is a woman, a mother," meant "God is someone who can't enter the inner areas of the temple; does the housework; looks after the children; cannot own anything; can be sent away summarily by us; is intrinsically unholy and in fact unclean once a month; etc.". By saying "God is a man, a father," the meaning is "God is someone who can enter the temple; owns property, people, animals, etc.; is clean and holy; is in control; has worth and value and what He says matters; etc.".

In a similar way, Paul(?) declares that we are all "Sons and co-heirs of the kingdom of God." I think he even specifies that includes women as well as men. He doesn't say that because boys are better than girls, or because women will one day be made perfect by becoming men. In the first century, only sons could inherit. However, a man could adopt a son, and the adopted son could inherit everything, cutting the natural son out (if the father so wished). So Paul is using the idea that like an earthly property owner could 9at that time) adopt a son, and pass everything to him, so God adopts us, and we become heirs and inheritors of the kingdom of God.

So Cm, you are right - The terms 'father' and 'mother', in the first century had many different connotations to now, and this dictated which Jesus and the NT writers used. We need to explore what the words meant, and so find terms which mean similar things in our time and culture. Today 'mother' and 'father' are much more equal than in the first century, and we need to reflect this. Parrot-fashioned bleating that "Jesus used a specific term in a specific time and culture, and so we must use that even though all connotations and meanings have changed," cannot and should not wash now. Similarly, arguing that the bits which support your view are literal and must be adhered to, whilst claiming that points which do not back up your view are meant metaphorically and so can be ignored is intellectually dishonest.

Viki

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“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”

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Sarkycow
La belle Dame sans merci
# 1012

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Matt - I had a interesting series of thoughts this evening, whilst at Communion, re God being Jesus' father, and hence male.

For the purpose of the incarnation of Jesus, God could not be female. This is due to our phycial make up - the man impregnates, and the woman carries the foetus. God physically couldn't have used a human male as father, and so taken the mother role (carrying foetus to term).

If Jesus had been incarnated as a seahorse, to seek and save them, then things would have been different. The female fertilises the egg, and the male carries it to term. There, God would have been physically unable to be male, as a male seahorse would have been needed to carry the Jesus foetus to term. And seahorses would have been having this debate in reverse, with the dominant viewpoint being God is female, and why can't you males all accept that, and we're not really being sexist when we use our gender to stand as shorthand for everyone, after all, the dictionary lists that usage of it, so it must be ok.

I hope, were the situations reversed, that I would argue as passionately that both sexes are equal, and God is neither one nor t'other, but beyond gender. I have the feeling that you would not be arguing so passionately for the traditional view if it were that God were female, with you being male still.

Viki

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“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”

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Sarkycow
La belle Dame sans merci
# 1012

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(Triple posting [Big Grin] )

Sorry, I forgot about this thread for a while [Embarrassed]

Thanks golden_key for the not worthy [Smile]

And some great posts by linzc and golden_key, not to mention birdie [Not worthy!]

Viki

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“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”

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welsh dragon

Shipmate
# 3249

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quote:
Originally posted by OgtheDim:
[QB

I want to know if people can rationalise or theologise the idea of referring to God as She, or, in the possessive form, Her.[/QB]

I should imagine that She is wondering why on earth we are making such a meal out of the attribution of an animal sexual gender to a Being that is transcendent... [Roll Eyes]
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ChastMastr
Shipmate
# 716

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quote:
Originally posted by sarkycow:
Similarly, arguing that the bits which support your view are literal and must be adhered to, whilst claiming that points which do not back up your view are meant metaphorically and so can be ignored is intellectually dishonest.

I don't believe I am doing anything like that, and if you are accusing me of intellectual dishonesty, doesn't that belong in Hell?

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My essays on comics continuity: http://chastmastr.tumblr.com/tagged/continuity

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ChastMastr
Shipmate
# 716

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Please also note that I am predicating my arguments, whether they are valid or invalid, on the material itself insofar as I can perceive it, and not on the gender of my opponents, which would be the argument ad hominem. If in some way I have attributed any kind of intellectual dishonesty to any of you with whom I disagree, I am heartily sorry and I do apologise, but I do not believe in doing that except in the most extreme cases -- and even then I am not sure I have the moral right to. Perhaps you did not mean to accuse me of willful ignorance, and if that is the case, then I am glad to know, but I honestly believe this calls for an apology. Being accused of lying to myself is pretty much of the worst things I can be accused of in my view; considering that I am literally, desperately trying to find arguments in favour of women's ordination down in Dead Horses, I don't believe I am being willfully, selfishly, maliciously blind to the truth.

I'm sorry, but this makes me angry.

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My essays on comics continuity: http://chastmastr.tumblr.com/tagged/continuity

Posts: 14068 | From: Clearwater, Florida | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Og: Thread Killer
Ship's token CN Mennonite
# 3200

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Melissa,

That was wonderful...Thank you for the quoation.

[Yipee] (because...well there still isn't a JOY emoticon you know) [Wink]

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I wish I was seeking justice loving mercy and walking humbly but... "Cease to lament for that thou canst not help, And study help for that which thou lament'st."

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ChastMastr
Shipmate
# 716

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My apologies for getting angry. That was an inappropriate response, and I formally let go of resentment relating to that now.

I do think accusing one's opponents of intellectual dishonesty is inappropriate for a courteous debate, and I stand by my statements relating to that.

Addressing the actual content of your post, Sarkycow, you say that
quote:
The terms 'father' and 'mother', in the first century had many different connotations to now, and this dictated which Jesus and the NT writers used.
Well -- yes -- though I also say that Jesus -- being Himself God incarnate -- is the One ultimately behind all meaning, and particularly the Hebrew understanding of things as they had special revelation from God on behaviour and the nature of things which the Gentiles did not. This is why I treat Pagan sources, while helpful, as only secondary or tertiary -- though I give them much more weight than contemporary non-supernaturalist notions. (In scientific matters, I do give more recent scientific understandings more weight, when they are dealing with the physical side of things, but not when they try to speak on metaphysics.)
quote:
We need to explore what the words meant, and so find terms which mean similar things in our time and culture.
But what do we do when the contemporary terms, because of modern attitudes (some of which may even be anti-Christian by some standards -- they are by mine), exclude the very concepts as much as possible? For example -- if we take the notion of (not getting into gender but just authority) monarchy -- most people now would say that monarchy is an intrinsically unjust and immoral system -- or at least many people I have known believe. What modern term would we use for "king" or "queen" with its assumed older meaning of a specifically rightful and unelected ruler of a nation or tribe? Would not modern attitudes look at King David as, at best, a possibly well-meaning tyrant at best, and work toward putting a "democratic" government in to replace him? CEO does not work; president or prime minister does not work; if modern attitudes and assumptions take for granted that unelected power is intrinsically against justice, in my opinion NO modern term will be equivalent because a shift in popular beliefs has made -- by modern principles -- the very concept of monarchy, as it was understood in the past, (supposedly) untenable. I don't believe we are actually forced to believe this way by modern attitudes -- but I do say that it may be impossible to actually translate the idea into "modern terms" without giving a crash course in ancient or old-fashioned philosophy. And that the same goes for the notions of masculinity and femininity. I've hinted, and will say clearly, that I think the modern era, while it has good things mixed in with it, has made some terrible mistakes in letting go of the old notions of what Man and Woman mean, and I think this does tie in with our notions of God. I also will say that we have corrected some genuine injustices along the way -- but that I believe we have thrown out the baby of "the meaning of gender" with the bathwater of "inappropriate assumptions based on gender and symbolism." I think we disagree on what assumptions are appropriate -- and on what the meaning of gender actually is.
quote:
Today 'mother' and 'father' are much more equal than in the first century, and we need to reflect this.
Unless, of course, they are only more equal legally rather than on other levels, if as I suggest (and which I read in the Old and New Testament as well as the vast bulk of Christian tradition) the husband/father really is -- though due to injustices, not under the civil and secular laws -- the head of the family and household.

The issue of "reflecting" modern society is one which comes up a lot on the Ship -- how far are we called to use modern terms and ideas to convey the truth of the Christian faith -- and how far are we called to bring ideas alien to the modern mindset into the modern world anew? And is gender and its meaning (and therefore the "masculinity" of God as I argue for it) one of those ideas, or not?

quote:
Parrot-fashioned bleating
Baa, humbug. [Smile] So there. [Big Grin] A sheep shot, but I like Polly-morphic perversity. But yes, actually, I am trying to be an obedient sheep (albeit an intelligent, thinking one) -- and if I must recite traditional notions as if I were a parrot (though I hope I am thinking about them more than that) then so be it. "We believe in one God, the Father almighty" etc.

I don't bear you ill-will but this was not necessary. Going to move on now.

quote:
that "Jesus used a specific term in a specific time and culture, and so we must use that even though all connotations and meanings have changed," cannot and should not wash now.
Unless of course that culture was closer to the truth about these matters than we are now, which I definitely believe. And I think that, as Christians, the old meaning most definitely should inform our connotations and meanings. We may not get it wholly right but I think we'll get a lot closer if we try to follow it. After I became a Christian, a lot of old literature (Dante, Spenser, Milton, etc.) made much more sense to me, because it was predicated on the same notions, or similar ones. I'd even say that Pagan literature (Greeks, etc.) made more sense to me because I believe them to be closer to Christianity than either is to the mindset of our post-Christian era.
quote:
Similarly, arguing that the bits which support your view are literal and must be adhered to, whilst claiming that points which do not back up your view are meant metaphorically and so can be ignored
Well, as I genuinely believe my view to be correct, or at least closer to the truth, then obviously some things which do not seem to support it will seem less relevant. Some people may say that Scripture is interpreted literally, but that when Jesus says that the bread and wine are His Body and Blood, He speaks metaphorically, because they believe on doctrinal grounds that it is not literal -- I think they are misinterpreting this, but I do not think they are doing so dishonestly. I think a lot of this depends on what we take as the grounds for our beliefs; in my case, Christian Tradition is the lens through which I try to understand Scripture, with side sources of Jewish Tradition (which I also try to understand in light of Jesus' coming as the foretold Messiah) and Pagan Tradition (which provides a general human backdrop to it all). And I try to assemble it all together with my Reason as best I can. I don't tend to think very highly of arguments predicated on the idea that all of these people were simply wrong for most of human history and we suddenly have it right. (This is why, if certain things could be proven to me (on other threads), it would solve certain arguments very quickly -- say if it were proven that women were ordained to the priesthood and the practise was only stopped after several centuries, in the same way that Roman Catholic priests were allowed to be married for some time in the early Church -- and that Orthodoxy never stopped it -- then I could accept female priests as valid with no problem whatsoever. Even now I am almost convinced to accept it, but it is very difficult and I am trying not to do so on the grounds that it would win me more friends, that it would be convenient, that I would be less frustrated when a visiting female priest serves at the altar, etc. But I cannot, must not, allow myself to be convinced for selfish, slanted motives. But accepting female priests is not the same issue as accepting a notion of God, in my honest opinion.)

No offence is meant in any of this. I know how it must sound, to be male and argue for this. But my gender does not change the arguments one whit, as far as I am concerned. Gay jokes aside, it also doesn't change the notion of all creation, including myself, as feminine in relation to God. I even see the notion of Creation-as-feminine as supporting, though not permitting worship of, the existence of a kind fo "Earth Mother" -- we are told that "All Creation groans in travail" like an expectant mother, and I see much to support this idea, from Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis to old (and recent) Pagan beliefs. It cuts both ways and I have to face that wherever it takes me, however popular or unpopular it makes me here or anywhere else. This does mean I can simultaneously please and piss off people from all sorts of points of view, including ones closely allied with (but not identical to) mine, but I am stuck with it whether I like it or not.

Most sincerely,

David

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John Holding

Coffee and Cognac
# 158

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CM --you are right when it comes to "King" -- the concept doesn't make sense to many people, so we do need to find additional ways of expressing what scriptures say about the "king-ness" of God. That is an argument in favour of finding feminine (and other) imagery to add to our existing almost entirely masculine imagery for God. it is not an argument against this (and if I have misunderstood your point, I am sorry).

The truths are indeed eternal, and should not be modified to take account of current fads. But we have to be able to express them today in words that will be understood. If the good news is for all people, as I believe, it is unconscionable to use language that excludes some because they can't make the mental leap back 2 millennia, or don't have the education to understand 19th century language.

It is human and understandable to want a single, universal and unchanging expression of the truth. We have to get over that, and accept new expressions to sit alongside the old ones.

John Holding

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ChastMastr
Shipmate
# 716

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Um... actually, no, my point was that to understand these properly in a modern age we need to try to get into the mindset of the "archaic" world because the modern era does not supply the basic concepts. I.e., "non-democratically-elected rightful person in charge who has ultimate power over people, who should obey this person without question and with a smile on their face when they do it" sounds perfectly horrible to many people. We didn't elect God to be Creator Of All That Is. So in my mind, unless we at least try to understand "what a king is all about" without assuming it to be a Bad Thing, then we're not going to make much headway, whatever words we try to use. Not to mention the question of whether the traditional notions of kingship, gender etc. or the modern ones are more true in themselves. It seems to me that to say "we have to use modern terms," even when they exclude the very notions I am saying I believe are true, puts us -- in my opinion -- at the mercy of something not unlike Orwell's Newspeak. If it is intrinsic to the modern mindset that unelected rulers are a Bad Thing, how can we express this except by a negative image with a disclaimer? "God is the Dictator of Dictators and... erm... only, well, not like all the others we deplore..." (Would we carry this further and say that if someone were in the world of 1984, they would be forced to call God "the Big Brother of Big Brothers"?)

It may be argued that the traditional understanding of God (not merely metaphors or symbols, as I argue above) is just as limiting; but I and some other traditionalists believe He has specifically given them to us. We don't believe it was our idea, nor that we have the power to change what we understand to be His Nature, or our own gendered nature, for that matter. Some of this has to do with more than just our understanding of God -- it also has to do with our understanding of gender, which is where some of the difficulty comes in in finding common ground on this matter.

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My essays on comics continuity: http://chastmastr.tumblr.com/tagged/continuity

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Elizabeth Anne

Altar Girl
# 3555

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I know quite a few people who won't use a pronoun for God at all. They just say "God" in all contexts. I agree with that, even if it can make sentences grammatically awkward. I don't believe God is literally male of female.

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Born under a bad sign with a blue moon in my eyes...

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Sarkycow
La belle Dame sans merci
# 1012

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CM - I am so sorry. I lost my first post, and so tried to retype it all as I remembered it. I didn't quite suceed [Frown]

The comment
quote:
Parrot-fashioned bleating that "Jesus used a specific term in a specific time and culture, and so we must use that even though all connotations and meanings have changed," cannot and should not wash now. Similarly, arguing that the bits which support your view are literal and must be adhered to, whilst claiming that points which do not back up your view are meant metaphorically and so can be ignored is intellectually dishonest.
was directed at Matt.

I realise I should have made a new para, and redirected my gaze (metaphorically speaking) at Matt.

Once again, I apologise for not making this clear and so for attacking you for things you didn't say.

Viki

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“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”

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ChastMastr
Shipmate
# 716

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quote:
Originally posted by sarkycow:
CM - I am so sorry. I lost my first post, and so tried to retype it all as I remembered it. I didn't quite suceed [Frown]

...

Once again, I apologise for not making this clear and so for attacking you for things you didn't say.

Thank you! [Smile] *hug*

David
Current mood: busy at work -- no, wait, that's LiveJournal

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My essays on comics continuity: http://chastmastr.tumblr.com/tagged/continuity

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