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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Maternal compassion of God and hell
Kwesi
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As I understand you, Rosa, your argument is that God the Father has characteristics which encompass qualities that we would regard as masculine and feminine, but which we tend to see as predominantly characteristic of either males or females. I have no difficulty with that. My argument is that a male-dominated theology over the centuries has tended to ignore or downplay the feminine aspects of God's nature, which you have identified in your quotations, thereby presented an unbalanced understanding of his character. To my mind the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary is evidence of that deficiency.
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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Rosa, you make a very fair point and back it with sound scriptural references. The question, however, is why then the need for the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede with the Son and the Father if those feminine qualities are already identified with the nature Godhead?

You can't fully understand the "need" of the BVM without understanding the First Crusade. Euro Christian males were told you weren't a REAL Christian unless you went and killed Saracens. The masculine side (tough, murderous) of God was all. For want of a way of being Christian without being a murderous ape, people turned to the Theotokos. Karen Armstrong does a good job bringing this out, but one imagines other writers on the history of the period would cast light on this phenomenon, in particular the brutalization of Christianity in the First Crusade, and the swing the other way in the cult of the BVM.

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Anglican_Brat
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Would creating liturgies and prayers where Christians worship Sophia, be okay?

After all, Sophia or Wisdom is mentioned in the Bible.

There is one hymn that I sang where Wisdom is explicitly mentioned:

https://hymnary.org/text/who_comes_from_god_as_word_and_breath

Interestingly, the tune is the Salve Regina Coelitum, the traditional tune of the Hail Holy Queen Anthem.

[ 01. January 2018, 21:29: Message edited by: Anglican_Brat ]

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Kwesi
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I think there is a danger of isolating an element, in this case concepts of Hell, from their surrounding contexts. How does any understanding of Hell fit in with other contemporary theological ideas?

For example, what about the Harrowing of Hell, which had traction in the mediaeval world? Luther believed in it, and the 1557 Lutheran Formula of Concord stated: "we believe simply that the entire person, God and human being, descended to Hell after his burial, conquered the devil, destroyed the power of Hell, and took from the devil all his power.”

ISTM this is a view of Hell that is very different from the notion of a place where God sends people to be tortured, but an evil domain from which humanity has been wrenched by a victorious Christ. In modern terms it chimes in with the view that Hell is something experienced in human history and from which we need to be rescued a la Martin60, if I understand him correctly.

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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To a large extent you can blame English translations for that confusion, Kwesi, though they are following the Latin "descendit ad inferna" in the Apostles creed. The Greek is more like "descended to the underworld".

The "hell" in the harrowing of hell (as in the Apostles creed) is surely Hades, the abode of the dead where almost nothing happens. The fiery hell is the translation of the Gehenna of fire and presumably the fiery bits of Revelation. A perennial source of confusion.

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Anglo-Cthulhic

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venbede
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Three points occur:

A For Christians, the nature of God is revealed above all in Christ on the cross – a man, but an emasculated man.

B in terms of creedal orthodoxy, God is the Trinity so God the Father is only an element in understanding God. And the fatherhood is not a biological or human fatherhood. The Son is eternally begotten and the Father never existed without the Son.

C To my mind, an Earth Mother Fertility Goddess would not be good news. She would mean life is only a matter of producing children to carry on the race. The cross and resurrection break out of that circle: we matter eternally as individuals not as potential parents.

All three points indicate why heterosexuality is no longer normative for Christians.

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And when this we rightly know,
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Martin60
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Kwesi, mousethief; a fascinating line of argument. Might one ask for an Armstrong reference? And aye Kwesi, you understand me just fine on Hell; as to its harrowing the C2nd onward doctrine of which diverges from demonic tartarus to the dead's hades without warrant.

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Love wins

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Kwesi
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quote:
Honest Ron Bacardi: To a large extent you can blame English translations for that confusion, Kwesi, though they are following the Latin "descendit ad inferna" in the Apostles creed. The Greek is more like "descended to the underworld".

The "hell" in the harrowing of hell (as in the Apostles creed) is surely Hades, the abode of the dead where almost nothing happens. The fiery hell is the translation of the Gehenna of fire and presumably the fiery bits of Revelation. A perennial source of confusion.

Thanks for your observation, and I readily admit my ignorance. I wonder, however, why what you identify as an obvious confusion has not been so for a number of prominent Christian theologians in the past, including Luther, Calvin, Aquinas and so on?
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Kwesi
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Thanks for the confirmation, Martin60!

An element I should have made more explicit in linking Hell with the Harrowing of Hell is the Ransom Theory of Atonement dating from the early church, where Christ is identified as Redeemer. It is expressed in the hymn O Come, O Come,Emmanuel, with its latin origins in the Middle Ages, including the stanzas:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel
,
That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear:


Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.



O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
;
From depths of Hell Thy people save,

And give them victory o'er the grave.


Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
:
Shall come to thee, O Israel.


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Martin60
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The most beautiful hymn I know.

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Love wins

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
An element I should have made more explicit in linking Hell with the Harrowing of Hell is the Ransom Theory of Atonement dating from the early church, where Christ is identified as Redeemer.

I don't know any Hebrew, and only a small amount of Greek. From what I have heard, I think that the NT idea of Redeemer comes from the OT idea of Redeemer as mentioned in Job, and Kinsman-Redeemer as mentioned in Ruth.

A redeemer was one who did something for you that you could not do for yourself. There is no idea of debt or guilt. You just needed to be helped out of a bad situation.

It's possible that my understanding of the OT idea of redeemer is incorrect. I would appreciate comments.

Moo

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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Kwesi wrote:
quote:
I wonder, however, why what you identify as an obvious confusion has not been so for a number of prominent Christian theologians in the past, including Luther, Calvin, Aquinas and so on?
I'm honestly not familiar with the writings of any of these gentlemen on the subject, Kwesi - it's not really an interest of mine!

But maybe I should clarify that the the confusion I referred to was the potential confusion of referent. For all I know they may have been clear in what they were referring to.

Going back to the Latin, The word inferna does seem to have been a pretty close translation of the Greek, and carries connotations of "under", and "below" (specifically relating to the grave). By the time its descendant "infernal" has made its way into Middle English, it seems to have picked up all the fiery, devilish, demonic tones that so delighted our medieval ancestors. Though when that happened I don't know. I'll see if I can find any information on that.

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Anglo-Cthulhic

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
An element I should have made more explicit in linking Hell with the Harrowing of Hell is the Ransom Theory of Atonement dating from the early church, where Christ is identified as Redeemer.

I don't know any Hebrew, and only a small amount of Greek. From what I have heard, I think that the NT idea of Redeemer comes from the OT idea of Redeemer as mentioned in Job, and Kinsman-Redeemer as mentioned in Ruth.

A redeemer was one who did something for you that you could not do for yourself. There is no idea of debt or guilt. You just needed to be helped out of a bad situation.

It's possible that my understanding of the OT idea of redeemer is incorrect. I would appreciate comments.

Moo

Useful observation, Moo.

Here's the Mighty Oracle on Go'el. It would seem that payment may be involved (e.g. redeeming a kinsman from slavery), but not necessarily.

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Martin60
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Aye, just read that, fascinating. Especially the vengeful stuff.

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Kwesi
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quote:
Moo: It's possible that my understanding of the OT idea of redeemer is incorrect. I would appreciate comments.
Remember, Moo, I’m not claiming that these ideas are firmly grounded in the bible. What I am interested in is the ways theological metaphors come to be and develop, and how they might relate to one another. I have no desire to claim that the concept of Redeemer in the OT has anything to do with a future “Harrowing of Hell” or Ransom theory of the atonement. Indeed, what this post has thrown up is that important and culturally influential theological ideas, in this case about Hell and its nature, arise, which are weakly rooted in scripture. We recall that Anglican-Brat’s initial question arose from an ”apocryphal legend, relat[ing] to how the Blessed Virgin Mary, upon visiting the fires of hell, apparently prayed that the souls of hell might be temporarily released from their suffering.” I suppose it’s an example of how Heath-Robinson the architecture of theology can become: a weakness in understanding of the nature of God occasioned strange ideas concerning the nature and role of Mary. Add-ons are usually less satisfying than a return to the drawing board, but who wants a return to Chalcedon?
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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:

I'm wondering however, if our understanding of divine justice and judgment is rooted in the traditional understanding of God as primarily masculine. The Father punishes while the Mother is loving and merciful.

I think we should go back to Eden.

"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves."

Where is God's judgment here?
Nowhere; God did place upon them the consequences they felt after their disobedience - but those consequences of their sin were immediately felt - knowledge of things they shouldn't have known (including the reality of death), shame, and a desire to hide from God.

When God appeared, he cursed the serpent for what he had done; then he pronounced an increase in the woman's pain in childbirth and made the man's work harder. No eternal consequences of hell here.

He then banished them from the Garden - not as a punishment but as a precaution so they would not eat from the tree of life in their fallen state and live forever unredeemed.

He then gave the word of hope - that a Saviour would come and rescue humanity from their acquaintance with death, shame and estrangement from God.

I see nothing at all in this story about a wrathful God sending Adam and Eve to Hell.

I do see a wrathful God having an opinion on man's actions since the Fall - starting with murder of course - but redemption is the action and reaction of a merciful God who simply wants his people back.

Hell, sadly, is the consequence for those who refuse his efforts to save them. He leaves the unredeemed in their state of 'fallenness' and with the consequences f their subsequent unforgiven actions.

But I don't see that as a male God punishing people in a way that a female god wouldn't.

[ 03. January 2018, 17:06: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]

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Kwesi
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quote:
Mudfrog: When God appeared, he cursed the serpent for what he had done; then he pronounced an increase in the woman's pain in childbirth and made the man's work harder. No eternal consequences of hell here.
Ironically, Mudfrog, your reasoned argument demonstrates precisely why there is a greater need for the feminine in theological thinking. Only a male who has never experienced labour could accept the pains of childbirth as a just continuing punishment for Eve and her daughters, or ignore the injustice of a perpetual subservience of wives to their husbands. It reeks of corrupted patriarchy.

Furthermore, your insistence on the wrathful nature of God is by no means eccentric, though it does express his nature at its most macho. It is by no means surprising that it took a female theologian, Julian of Norwich, to challenge that whole thesis:

“But in God may be no wrath, as to my sight…..… I saw truthfully that our lord was never wroth nor never shall be. For he is God, he is good, he is truth, he is love, he is peace. And his might, his wisdom, his charity, and his unity do not permit him to be wroth. For I saw truly that it is against the property of his might to be wroth, and against the property of his wisdom, and against the property of his goodness. God is that goodness that may not be wroth, for God is nothing but goodness.”

Even if you cannot accept my argument you have to address the question raised by Anglican_Brat concerning the reasons for the cult of the Virgin Mary. How would you account for it?

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Honest Ron Bacardi:
To a large extent you can blame English translations for that confusion, Kwesi, though they are following the Latin "descendit ad inferna" in the Apostles creed. The Greek is more like "descended to the underworld".

The "hell" in the harrowing of hell (as in the Apostles creed) is surely Hades, the abode of the dead where almost nothing happens. The fiery hell is the translation of the Gehenna of fire and presumably the fiery bits of Revelation. A perennial source of confusion.

This book suggests that most of our ideas about Hell come from Dante, not from scripture.

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My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Martin60
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The misunderstanding of I Peter 3:19-20 (tacitly augmented by I Peter 4:6 a few verses on) predates its implication in the Apostles Creed by two centuries starting with Melito of Sardis in the C2nd.

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Love wins

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