Friday, December 5, 2008

Trinity & idolatry

The Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) tell us, “You shall not have other gods besides me.” This prohibits idolatry or worshipping idols. I see idolatry whenever I go to a Christian church, where the God-talk never fails to conjure up images of male gods.

Christians defend the Father-Son language by saying they need the comfort of a personal Spirit. But if this were all, Mother-Daughter language would be accepted. Well, goes the argument, we respect the tradition. So let’s look at the patriarchal tradition. Relentlessly we are assailed by the liturgy’s “He,” “Him,” and “His” references to individual male figures.

More damaging than nouns such as “king,” “lord,” and “father” are the masculine pronouns, “He,” “Him,” and “His.” Insidiously they drip into us, conditioning us to feel that ultimate divine power is male and that male power is natural, normal, proper and right, while female power is unnatural, abnormal, improper and wrong.

The pronouns’ deep effect was revealed by the theologian who tried to correct the mistaken perception but tripped over it instead when he wrote, “God is not male; he is a spirit.” No wonder people talk about the Transcendent Mystery as if it were one male individual or three males—3 guys in the sky!

When I entered the world of theology, blows from the he-man language came immediately and oppressively. Secular writers show more sensitivity to women than Christian writers, a painful fact that destroys the Church's credibility when it speaks out on respect for human rights and world peace.

Even in the apophatic Christian tradition, which is intensely aware that Spirit transcends any ideas we can imagine, God-He language intrudes. It spoiled my reading of the classic medieval work, The Cloud of Unknowing. This stirring meditation on the ineffability of Spirit dropped with a thud when the Great Ineffable was reduced to hehimhis.

Another such deflating description was written by Martin Luther, who wrote,
"Nothing is so small but God is still smaller, nothing so large but God is still larger, nothing so long but God is still longer . . . He is an inexpressible being, above and beyond all that can be described or imagined."

The one thing Luther could describe or imagine was its maleness. He can be forgiven his inability to move out of the patriarchal envelope of his time. I am less inclined to tolerate church leaders of today, who have abundant opportunities to learn inclusive language.

6 comments:

Nemo Solifugae said...

In my mother's last conversation with her father about Christianity, she asked him which was more important - to believe that Jesus was divine or to follow the ideals and beliefs he taught. His answer was to accept Jesus' divinity. That's what being a Christian meant to him.

Personally, my beliefs are atheistic and, in a more philosophical way, agnostic. I don't believe in a conscious deity of any kind. But I do like the idea of god as repenting the potential for good within Humankind, compassion for others. It seems to me that certain people ultimately care more about the divinity of Jesus and the existence of an absolute and conscious god than the ideals and message.

I appreciate what you're doing with spirituality.

Nemo Solifugae said...

In my mother's last conversation with her father about Christianity, she asked him which was more important - to believe that Jesus was divine or to follow the ideals and beliefs he taught. His answer was to accept Jesus' divinity. That's what being a Christian meant to him.

Personally, my beliefs are atheistic and, in a more philosophical way, agnostic. I don't believe in a conscious deity of any kind. But I do like the idea of god as repenting the potential for good within Humankind, compassion for others. It seems to me that certain people ultimately care more about the divinity of Jesus and the existence of an absolute and conscious god than the ideals and message.

I appreciate what you're doing with spirituality.

Anonymous said...

In God's written record to mankind, the 66 books of scripture, He is referred to as the "Father", not the "mother", and He is always referenced in the masculine gender.

The central focus of redemption in the Bible is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, not daughter of God.

There were twelve tribes of Jacob (male) and there were twelve disciples of Jesus Christ (male).

God's order:

"But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." I Cor. 11:3

I am female and know also this:

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Gal. 3:28

Also, the biblical directives for husbands are to love his wife as his own body (Eph. 5:28) ... a tall order for husbands.

It is interesting to note that there will be no marriage or giving in marriage once a person has passed from this life to the next (Matthew 22:30), which would indicate that male / female procreation will be non-existant on the other side of this life as we know it.

And, by the way, the trinity IS idolatry because Jesus is not God, but the Son of God (I John 4:15). God is not "three" something. He is ONE.

Jeanette said...

Yes, in the JUDEAO-CHRISTIAN scriptures the ineffable Source is always referred to as "Father." That's precisely what's idolatrous. The other holy scriptures of the world include feminine images of what we call "God" as well as masculine images.

Tria said...

I totally agree with you that God is not a trinity and Jesus, though awsome as he is, is not God. So, as a Christian who has now denounced the trinity doctrine openly, what is one to do with it other than writing a blog? (Not that that is not a bad idea) When someone doesn't agree with what the church teaches because they believe the bible over doctrine, it's not a comfortable place to be. So where does that leave us? We are Israel scattered.

Chris Brand said...

Perhaps and explanation for a Jewish perspective would be helpful.

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2891/jewish/Why-arent-women-and-men-treated-the-same-in-Judaism.htm