how God self-identifies

Discussion in 'Non-Anglican Discussion' started by Rexlion, Jan 10, 2022.

  1. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Nowadays, society is into this 'thing' of respecting the right of each individual to self-identify their own gender identity and to choose their preferred personal pronoun. At last count, over 50 genders have been named!

    Ironically, in this day and age some people have also taken to calling God "the Mother" and saying that God is female. Our rector made a good point yesterday when he asked: is God the only one who doesn't get to choose His own gender identity and personal pronoun? :rolleyes:

    After all, God the Son incarnated as a male. And Jesus always referred to our "Father" in heaven as "He" and "Him." Why can't people show due respect for God's self-chosen identity as the male authority? :p

    (In reality, God is probably the one Person who can most legitimately choose whether to be identified as male or female; the rest of us have to accept the XX or XY chromosome pairs we've been dealt!) :yes:
     
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  2. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure about this post.

    Firstly because I suspect it is click bait. Though I readily acknowledge the agnst in being required to remember someones pronouns, while I am still struggling to remember their name.

    Whilst referring to God as Mother is not the dominant strand of Christianity, outlawing it seems just as dangerous. Mother Julian of Norwich clear saw the possibility. I suspect that the Omnipotence of God suggests that he does get to choose pronouns that relate to the divine.

    Jesus, the Son of God, incarnate is clearly male, and addressed God within the dominant tradition, however I think that to read further into those facts as 'God's self-chosen identity as the male authority?' is to force a meaning that is rather more culturally conditioned than you are prepared to acknowledge. Jesus authority is the authority of love and service, not the authority of gender.

    Even though I imagine it was not uppermost in the theological debates of the period, I sense that Article 1 sets us on a very sure path here.

    I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.
    There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.​

    There is a sense in which something of the feminine is carried through the Old and New Testament traditions, and whilst I would be quick to argue that it is not the dominant strand, it is there in the canonical scriptures we receive.

    Genesis 1:27 Women and Men created in God’s image
    “Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them.”

    Hosea 11:3-4 God described as a mother
    God: “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.”

    Hosea 13:8 God described as a mother bear
    “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…”

    Deuteronomy 32:11-12 God described as a mother eagle
    “Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.”

    Deuteronomy 32:18 God who gives birth
    “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”

    Isaiah 66:13 God as a comforting mother
    God: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

    Isaiah 49:15 God compared to a nursing mother
    God: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

    Isaiah 42:14 God as a woman in labor
    God: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.”

    Psalm 131:2 God as a Mother
    “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.”

    Psalm 123:2-3 God compared to a woman
    “As the eyes of a servant looks to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to you, YHWH, until you show us your mercy!”

    Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 God as a Mother Hen
    Jesus: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

    Luke 15:8-10 God as woman looking for her lost coin
    Jesus: “Or what woman having ten silver coins, is she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”​

    I believe that God's authority is revealed as beyond gender, before gender, transcending gender, and in no sense the prisoner of gender.
     
  3. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Except when not talking in allegory God refers to himself in the masculine
     
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  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I assure you, posting click bait was the furthest thing from my mind. Probably because, in my mind, I had deceived myself into thinking that every Anglican... nay, every Spirit-led Christian... would be in virtually complete agreement with the consistent male self-identification of God to His people.
    I really must get my head out of Never-Never Land! :doh: :wallbash:
     
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  5. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Article 1
     
  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Article 1 says God is "without body, parts or passions," which argues against female as much as male; by the logic you apply (or imply?), this could quite easily support calling God "It."

    But that is a consequence of taking Article 1 in isolation while ignoring Anglicanism and Christianity as a whole, which through the centuries have expressed the understanding of the universal church (an understanding which precludes calling God "the Mother" and seeing Him as female).

    Article 1 does not address the issue of God's self-identification, as He expresses throughout the group of texts He inspired. This despite the ability of people in this 'modern' society to find a somewhat feminine trait mentioned in a scattered verse here and there.
     
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  7. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    If we wanted to be super-literal, the Holy Spirit would be “It” (since pneuma is neuter in Greek), while the Father and the Son would each be “He”, and the Trinity=divine nature would be “He” as well (references to the Trinity in the Latin, Greek, and Anglican liturgies all employ the second person singular).
     
  8. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Jesus calls the Holy Ghost a "he".


    Right. That's just the standard immemorial definition of divine simplicity, and has nothing to do with whether God is a "he" or not. Him being a "he" would not be because he had some "parts" which made him a he. That's ludicrous because God is not comparable to anything we humans know or understand. God is totaliter aliter; "totally other".

    In his true self he is completely incomprehensible to us, and all of our language on him can only be predicated by analogy. So he doesn't need to have any parts to be a "he"; even that pronoun is analogical. Nevertheless analogical language is still true language, so he is truly a "he". But he's not like anyone else we've seen that was called a "he".
     
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  9. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.
    There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.​

    No, I don't think that is quite where the logic leads, as 'it' would imply a notion of an a-personal God, whereas our understanding of God is so invested in the personal that we speak of a tri-personal God.

    Genesis 1:26-27
    Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.​

    God created gender, and his likeness is not established in either gender. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity teaches us, amongst other things, that at the heart of the Divine we encounter relationship, and so it is in his image and likeness, at the heart of our humanity we encouter relationship.

    John 15:26
    ἐκεῖνος

    John 165:7
    αὐτὸν

    John 1:32
    ἔμεινεν

    John 14:17
    αὐτὸ μένει ἔσται

    The Greek words here, often rendered in the masculine in English translation, are essentially genderless words, not neuter in the sense of 'it' but rather utilitarian and capable of working through gender. I am not arguing with you here, I was simply interested to see where Jesus refered to the Holy Spirit in gendered terms. Perhaps you could provide some reference.

    Now, to be clear, I have not argued that God is a woman, but either do I argue that God is a man. The convenience of the Christian Tradition which has tended to speak of God predominanly in terms of the masculine, may simply be a reflection of a predominantly patriarchal social system in which it has been expressed.
     
  10. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I agree! It is a reflection of a patriarchal social system, one that was established by God.
    (Gen 3:16) ...and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

    People of God have recognized and honored this fact for millennia. This was well known in Apostolic times:
    (Eph 5:22-24) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

    A few societies here and there, in various places and times, have deviated from that system; they have not been God-honoring societies, though (I speak of the one true God).
     
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  11. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Right... patriarchy is biblical!
     
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  12. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Yet we must ask the question, is this prescriptive or descriptive?
     
  13. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Could be both in this case. Definitely prescriptive, though, based on context.
     
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  14. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    The Greek word autos can be translated as “he”, “she”, or “it”, depending on the gender of the noun to which the pronoun refers. It’s the translator’s choice. Since pneuma is neuter, “it” is the most linguistically correct choice, and is so rendered in the NRSV. (The Greek Orthodox writer Philip Sherrard followed the same convention in his writings.) The Holy Spirit, as a hypostasis of the divine nature, possesses all the personal attributes of that divine nature. But the peculiarity of Its hypostasis is not to speak with reference to Itself, but to reveal the Son, so it is appropriate that his personhood has an ‘anonymous’ character, unlike the Father and the Son. I believe Barth also called attention to this in vol. 1 of the Church Dogmatics.
     
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  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    FWIW, there are places where the Greek word used to indicate the Holy Spirit is parakletos.

    Joh 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
    Joh 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you
    .

    Parakletos is masculine, and of course the corresponding masculine pronoun, he, is also used.

    I will concede, however, that womenfolk usually are the nurturing, comforting, communicative type... which sort of fits the description of the Holy Spirit. And while researching the question tonight, I looked for info on the gender of the Hebrew Ruach haQodesh and every webpage I've looked at says this is feminine.

    However!! Looking deeper at a couple of those webpages I just mentioned, they veer into a variation of Arianism and a "family" concept of God in which the Son and the feminine Holy Spirit are both created beings and all 3 together form a family unit (making the Holy Spirit the spiritual "mother" of Jesus)! So we want to be careful and somewhat skeptical about where this idea of a 'female' Holy Spirit could lead (it vaguely reminds me of LDS doctrine).

    Even if the Holy Spirit were to be regarded as feminine, of the Godhead 2 Persons of the Trinity are consistently and conspicuously identified as male, 1 of whom is our wonderful Redeemer.
     
  16. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Psa 24:10 Who is this King of glory? YHWH of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

    As this page shows, in this passage the word translated "he" is the masculine "hu" in Hebrew.
     
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  17. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    One need not veer into social trinitarianism merely for recognizing that some of the descriptions of divine activity are couched in feminine terms (and I’m not not an advocate of referring to either the Holy Spirit or the divine nature as “she”).
     
  18. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    It could possibly be both, and in light of what we know of the culture in which the story of salvation comes to birth it is actually definately descriptive.

    Adjective
    παράκλητον (paráklēton) n
    1. inflection of παράκλητος (paráklētos):
      1. masculine accusative singular
      2. neuter nominative/accusative/vocative singular
    It should be noted that liguistic gender is a quite seperate issue to biological gender, though it does bear some connections, however they are generally not absolute.

    John 14:17 is a noted example where the masculine has been rendered in the translation far more strongly that could be taken from a natural reading of the greek. Some of this of course has to do with how do you translate things and keep it readable in the language you are translating it into.

    I have no issue with addressing God as Father, and I can live with the notion of using the male pronoun for the Holy Spirt, though I would not naturally do that. My real problem comes down to using the faith to champion a Male Chauvenist position, which I think is clearly counter scriptual.

    In the Nicene Creed we said, depending on the rendition, something like 'Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven,' and we all know that means 'For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven' as rendered in the 2019 BCP.

    Part of this change simply reflects a change in the way we use language. Once when we said 'men' we meant everyone, but now when we say 'men' we mean males.
     
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  19. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Yes, typically. However as you know, autos itself can function as the noun, if another noun is absent. See for example the famous proverb, “Know thyself”, gnothi seauton. Here it is in the neuter. If it were masculine it would be seautos. If it were feminine it would be seauta.

    In all the instances where the holy ghost is referred to in the New Testament, not once is the feminine pronoun used. That’s all I’m saying.

    I’m not for an instant leaning on social stereotypes that if the HG is “nurturing” that that should tell us something about its gender. For one, plenty of men are nurturing (while remaining manly). And in addition, the Holy Ghost in himself has no gender. He is completely incomprehensible to us, and we can only understand him by analogy. The predication of him as “he” is simply a grammatical fact of the New Testament (on which I’m open for any correction).

    But of course we can connect it to other Trinitarian truths, namely that there are no parts in the Trinity. God himself, qua God, is a he, as Rexlion points out. We know the Father is a he; we know Christ is a he; the only conclusion is that the HG would be a he also.
     
  20. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Getting back to my original post, where I mentioned that some people nowadays want to refer to "God the Mother," what does it say about these people when they cannot confess the introductory words of the Nicene Creed? "We believe in... the Father, the Almighty..."