Cameron Miliband Clegg feminist2
Mission

This is what a feminist theology looks like

 

Is this really what a feminist looks like? A feminist politician, perhaps. The men in particular feel compelled to humour this particular cause of equality, and so they don a tacky T-shirt sporting a crass slogan and, hey presto, their affirmation of the sisterhood is manifest; their unswerving dedication to women’s lib is undeniable. Great things, sloganeering T-shirts. Much better than swearing on the Bible.

But not David Cameron, of course. When asked if he would be so kind as to jump on the latest identity-asserting bandwagon, he demurred, thereby assuring the publicity stunt of even greater publicity and poking the embers of Bullingdon misogyny: that nasty Mr Cameron doesn’t like women.  And those even nastier Tories who do like women clearly don’t believe they could possibly be equal. They can’t do: they won’t wear even wear the T-shirt.

The cause of feminism is deeper than all this pressure-group piffle. If there is no longer any male-female distinction in God’s plan of salvation (and there isn’t [Gal 3:28]), there is spiritual parity and eternal equality. Christians don’t need to wear a T-shirt to proclaim the righteousness of feminism: Christ has clothed the female Gentile slave in the redemptive robes of the freeborn male Jew. We are all one in Jesus.

Out of this revolutionary declaration springs a feminist theology, or, if you prefer, a feminist theo-sociology or feminist socio-theology. And, to be honest, the Church hasn’t been very good at expressing it or living it. While Christianity has traditionally taught the eschatological equality of souls for Christ and in the world to come, it has manifestly perpetuated an inequality of the sexes in the Church and the present world. Throughout most of its history, the Church has been a dogmatically patriarchal institution based on an anthropology in which man is the “head” and woman subordinate. Augustine of Hippo asserted: “Woman does not possess the image of God herself, but only when taken together with the male who is her head.” That sort of attitude doesn’t go down very well today.

The Church has for centuries legitimised laws and structures in society which secured male dominion. Feminist theology has sought to challenge this and has, in a sense, existed as long as there have been women who have reflected upon their faith in a way that differed from the patriarchal tradition of interpretation. Barth observes: “Different ages, peoples and cultures have had very different ideas of what is concretely appropriate, salutary and necessary in man and woman.” So, before you dismiss the whole notion of a ‘feminist theology’, it is important to consider a bit of history and agree terminological definitions.

The feminist critique of society and the Christian tradition has its roots in the emancipatory ideas of the Enlightenment. While the liberal tradition has been concerned with an equality of liberties and opportunities, Marxist feminism has been more radical in its identification and elimination of the prevalent “androcentric fallacy” – a phrase which encapsulates the two fundamental credal feminist affirmations: firstly, that men and women do not only differ physiologically, but also in their experience, perception and appropriation of reality; and secondly, that this difference has been masked because the normative representation of humanity in Western culture has been the experiences, values and conceptual constructs of males. In this worldview, men possess all dignity, virtue, and power, in contrast to women who are seen as inferior, defective, less than fully human. Therefore the female contribution to society has been either ignored or repressed.

In relation to the Christian faith, there have been four principal omissions:

i) The failure to find femininity in God
ii) The belief that woman is derivative from and hence secondary to man
iii) The assumption that woman is characterised by passivity
iv) The tendency to identify woman with bodiliness as opposed to transcendent mind

Feminist theology is both a critical voice within the Church and a revolt against the Church from (mainly) women outside who are determined to develop religious alternatives. There is no single feminist theology that can represent the whole, but rather a multitude of feminist theologies which both diverge in style and content and also conflict with each other. This is inevitable given that feminist theologians seek to incorporate women’s experience into theological inquiry without ever defining precisely what such experience is. In practice, the term it is used with different emphases: some focus on women’s social experience determined by socio-cultural factors, while others primarily focus upon bodily experience determined by biology. Since Christian tradition and Scripture contain codified collective human experiences, it is reasonable to assert that how we experience reality must dictate how we make theology. Feminist theology informs itself not only from Scripture and tradition, but also from social theory, psychology and political theory. And with that realisation, many Christians turn off, asserting that feminism is just another temporal obsession – another equality-mania of the age – quite at variance with the revealed Word of God and contrary to natural law and the created order.

But it is concerned with oppression and liberation. It is a righteous cause that restores sight and frees the captives. Since feminist theology is developed out of women’s perspective, its scholarly ideal is not the objectivity of established scholarship, but the conscious advocacy stance of liberation theologies in favour of the oppressed. There are three hermeneutic procedures central to its cause:

i) The recovery of the dangerous memory of women’s oppression by the male patriarchal culture and the Church
ii) The seeking of alternative biblical and extra-biblical traditions that support women’s personhood; her equality in the image of God; her equal redeemability; and her participation in prophecy, teaching and leadership
iii) That feminists set forth their own unique method of theology, which includes the revisioning of Christian categories

It is not difficult to find examples of sexism, patriarchy and androcenticism in Scripture (eg Gen 19:8; Judg 11:29-40; 2Sam 13). It is therefore unsurprising that feminist exegetes emphasise scriptures which contain an explicit critique of patriarchy, in particular the portrayals of God in a traditionally female role (eg Ps 22:9f). God is presented as a father, husband, king, warrior; yet He is also a pregnant woman, mother, midwife and mistress. But because biblical and theological scholarship has historically been male-dominated, it has been a little blind to the oppression: only a feminist interpretative model is seen to do justice to the historical reality of women’s leadership in the Early Church. Mary may have been the Theotokos, but God became incarnate as a man, and that man chose all-male disciples.

In the Christian expression of feminism, there are those who hold to evangelical theology and argue for a non-hierarchical relation of full equality and reciprocity between man and woman. And there are those who work from a commitment to the Christian Faith, however they understand it. And then there are those who do not identify with Christianity at all, but whose beliefs nevertheless include a religious worldview. While acknowledging these differing outlooks and multiple variations within them, they all have in common a direct challenge to patriarchal institutions, social structures and ideologies. They are dedicated to the full equality of male and female, and committed to social and political struggle for the liberation of women.

Christian feminism is essentially concerned with the themes of justice, creativity, work, service, and family. But there is a fundamental christological disagreement among feminist theologians, with some presenting Jesus as “the true Mother of our nature”, while others see Jesus as both fully male and female – a fusion of the feminine Jesus-Sophia with the masculine Jesus-Logos. But the christological question “Who do you say that I am?” receives a response with a profound dimension when answered from the experience of a believing woman. The traditional doctrine of sin as largely based on testosterone-induced self-assertion and self-aggrandisement demands a reconsideration which includes a woman’s experience of loss and the negation of self. The Church of England has recognised the validity of this critique:

If women had been allowed to play a fuller part in the development of the concept of sin, might they not have wished to place a greater emphasis on sin as the failure to assert and take responsibility for oneself? If that is so, then while it might be very appropriate to exalt the virtues of gentleness and sacrificial vulnerability when you have a male audience in mind, to describe sin in that way to women might simply compound their negative self-image and encourage them to collude in a position of abiding weakness (The Mystery of Salvation [Doctrine Commission of the Church of England General Synod, Church House Publishing, 1995]).

In light of the feminist theologian’s concern for liberation, it is not surprising that there is a Feminist Christology based on the liberating praxis of the historical Jesus, particularly the subversive memory which contains an explicit critique of all systems of oppression. In the proclamation of the kingdom, in Luke’s Gospel in particular, it is women and the poor who are given pride of place. It is not the women who hastily desert or deny Jesus: they are first to witness the Resurrection. Significantly, they were also the first to receive the Apostolic Commission to go and tell others. From this, it isn’t ecclesiologically unreasonable (though many may sincerely demur) to argue for women ministers – deacons, priests, pastors, presbyters, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and even popes.

Of key significance to many feminist theologians is the recovery of Sophia Christology from the Old Testament female personification of God. The androcentric Logos was perpetuated by a Christian emperor with a Christian bishop at his right hand, who became the Vicar of Christ on earth, governing the Christian State of the new redeemed order of history. In this vision, patriarchy, hierarchy, slavery and Graeco-Roman imperialism have all been appropriated and baptised by the Church.

And we can go further. Since Chalcedon, humanity has been deceived by ‘Christolatry’: it is undeniable that it is feminist christological inquiry that has permitted African and Asian women to discover Jesus as liberator from colonialism, poverty and an overarching patriarchy. The ethical message is integral to the new humanity that Jesus represents: He is the representative of liberated humanity and the liberating Word of God, manifesting the kenosis of patriarchy; the announcement of the new humanity through a lifestyle that discards hierarchical caste privilege and speaks on behalf of the lowly.

If Christian feminists were simply making the epistemological observation that we are not neutral observers, and that the gender of the theologian or biblical reader may well affect the interpretation, there would be little objection. But many are saying more than this. The advocacy stance, instead of being a tool of interpretation, has become a master. In its explicit gynocentrism, Christian feminist hermeneutics is open to the criticisms leveled at the anthropocentrism of the post-Enlightenment period. The feminist critical principle expounded by many clearly renders the feminist theologian and the feminist community the sole judge of truth, and where the interpreter and the community become the highest judges, there is a danger of idolatry.

The Bible is not against the feminist: there is no need of a new textual base or a new Christology simply because Christ is male. A male Christ does not distance women from full representation in the new humanity: He affirmed and affirms womanhood. The Christian Faith has been warped, misused and abused to legitimise patriarchal systems contrary to its intentions, and it is possible to reform (and necessary to convert) an oppressive patriarchal theology into an egalitarian theology which is liberating to women.

Using the methods and praxis of liberation theology has enabled women to work for justice in their lives. Their experience and understanding of the causes of injustice is the legitimate tool that has enabled a breakthrough in understanding that the limitations placed upon them are not because God orders them, but because man has made them. There can be no doubt that the Christian feminist can and should speak out on matters theologically and spiritually more relevant to women because if God is active in our history, this must include the history of women.

A feminist theology that intends to bring about a renewal of theology must reflect upon the whole of Christianity – both faith and praxis. Jesus was not an effete dreamer: He was a macho realist who deployed His divine testosterone on numerous occasions. “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild” is another Jesus; a false notion of the Messiah. Christian compassion and love aren’t all about breast-feeding, coffee-drinking, chats and warm hugs. There is an intrinsic toughness, but it is not always best expressed through assertions of masculinity, though it may be. Taking women’s experience seriously and making women’s issues visible are important dimensions of a constructive missiology of engagement. The methodology of a biblically-rooted feminist theology will share basic principles with traditional theology, while others will be challenged, and still others held ‘in tension’. The concern for women’s liberation calls for a creative transformation of methodology which can enable theology to integrate insights from women’s experience and feminist scholarship.

However, for the sake of its own insight, and for the sake of its tasks toward the Church and the world, the cause of liberation must stay in a two-way critical and informative dialogue with non-feminist Christians as well as with non-Christian feminists, for not all women are feminists, and not all feminists are women. And not all feminists are militant or Marxist, from which conforming oppression the aggressive demand for politicians to wear feminist T-shirts springs.

If feminism is not itself to become an oppressive ideology, it must submit and listen in the way that it expects patriarchy and machismo to do so. In such mutual submission is the essence of civility and community, and the antithesis of assertions of power. Christians must understand that identity politics is not the same as Applied Theology: Jesus did not pray “Our Mother who art in heaven”. In that socio-historical reality is an assertion of an immutable theology. In Fatherhood, God reveals something of Himself. And we don’t need a T-shirt to proclaim it.

  • magnolia

    This is a fascinating and superbly written piece, and I tend to give the subject a little bit of a wide berth. I shall print it out for further pondering as it looks like a balanced and moderate overview. Typically Anglican maybe, in its quintessential leaning towards tolerance, moderation, balance,depth, gentleness and reason, all with deep regard for Scripture, and there is little better than that to me.

    I suspect that the amount of work here will keep baying one- liners, from either direction, at bay, which is an achievement in itself!

  • Shadrach Fire

    The wisest man said; ‘The ways of a woman, who can understand them?’
    Women a very complex individuals and almost impossible to please. They say they want one thing and when you provide, they say “but surely you knew that I did not mean that, but what I meant was this”. Solomon got it in one, but he did have lots a women to learn from!

  • Albert

    Significantly, they were also the first to receive the Apostolic Commission to go and tell others.

    This is highly questionable.

    Since Chalcedon, humanity has been deceived by ‘Christolatry’: it is undeniable that it is feminist christological inquiry that has permitted African and Asian women to discover Jesus as liberator from colonialism, poverty and an overarching patriarchy.

    I think this notion of Christolatry needs fleshing out.

    manifesting the kenosis of patriarchy

    The problem with a statement like that is that it sounds like, in the incarnation, it was patriarchy that was the target. Actually, everything, even God, is self-emptied in the incarnation. It’s hard to see how that can touch only Patriarchy and not also feminism. Is it not just humanity per se that comes under judgement in the incarnation?

  • IanCad

    ” —just as our dear brother Cranmer also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him. He speaks about this subject in all his letters. Some things in them are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, leading to their own destruction,–”

    Quite a three pipe post YG.

  • Owl

    A very thoughtful article which will need time to digest properly. Thank you.

  • Phil R

    Feminism = the greatest mass murder in history

    Congratulations

    • Royinsouthwest

      Don’t men ever urge women to have abortions?

      • Martin

        Roy

        Are we not told it is the women’s choice, that it is her body(which it isn’t)?

      • Phil R

        Carl wrote this a couple of years ago.

        “Abortion is the Guarantor of the Sexual Revolution. It is the final solution by which women may be freed from the “tyranny of biology.” Contraception dramatically mitigates the risk for women, but contraception routinely fails. The burden of that failure falls heavy on women. So abortion is presented as its unfailing backstop. It guarantees the severance of sex from children, and so makes possible the central ideal of the revolution – that sex is principally about personal gratification.

        Now if the Sexual Revolution is considered a moral good, then the Guarantor of the Sexual Revolution must also be considered a moral good. Otherwise, men would be tempted to idealize the pre-revolutionary days when sex and procreation were explicitly connected. Did they achieve the goals of the revolution to immediately condemn them? No, they remember the cause for which they overthrew the old order. If women could have an obligation of parenthood imposed upon them, then women would impose concomitant obligations on men regarding the permanence of relationship as a pre-condition for sex. Abortion assures that there can be no obligation of parenthood.

        Yet abortion is not just the Guardian of the Revolution. There is a more insidious aspect to it – an aspect that explains why abortion has been elevated to the status of secular sacrament. It is the Teacher of the Revolution as well. It reorients a woman’s attitude towards pregnancy and motherhood. One thing I realized long ago is that feminists do not consider the likes of me to
        be their most bitter enemy. It is rather my wife for whom they hold the most enmity. For my wife sacrificed career and status and position to go home and raise her children. She abandoned the field. That is an unforgivable sin.

        Abortion puts maternity in its designated place – a place determined and reserved by the Revolution. It removes motherhood to the margins of a woman’s life where it can be safely constrained. It teaches that motherhood is an option to be exercised (or not) after the achievement of the central goals in life – career and money and power. Abortion is the sacrament that kills the
        primacy of maternity. It is the offering of fire made to Molech, and for the very same reason. But then our culture worships Molech unawares, so why should it not declare the sacraments of Molech to be good?

        carl”

        • William Lewis

          It’s one of Carl’s finest.

        • avi barzel

          Funny, I have this post of his somewhere on file too. Carl has written some astoundingly brilliant posts. Astoundingly, because he is an American.

          • William Lewis

            Yes. The man has come along away given his origins. One could almost introduce him to polite society.

          • carl jacobs

            “Polite Society.” Pffft! It’s only my innate American sophistication that restrains my response.

            Anyways. It’s time for dinner. Where did I put the ketchup?

            carl

          • avi barzel

            Let’s not get carried away here.

          • William Lewis

            Speaking of polite society Avi. Respect is due to the cool, calm and collected nature of your Sargent at Arms fellow. It’s clearly not a ceremonial title.

          • carl jacobs

            Avi

            So you have finally come around on the ‘salted fish as toxic weapon of mass destruction’ paradigm. Good to know I am having a positive influence on you.

            carl

        • avi barzel

          One disagreement only: Abortion assures that there can be no obligation of parenthood.

          Perhaps that’s what men hoped for, but radical feminism ensured that the woman can have her cake and eat it too. So, whereas “my body, my choice” applies to the woman only, if she chooses to bear the child, the formula changes to “my body, my choice, his wallet.”

          • Phil R

            It is true.

            But it seems it is fashionable to blame women for men not being men.

          • carl jacobs

            Avi

            Yeah, but that is merely the state being inconsistent in its own interest. It compels the man to pay so it doesn’t have to. The more subtle implication is the reduction of fatherhood to money. The state doesn’t care if he is there. It merely wants him to pay.

            How long this inconsistency will last is an open question. It only takes one idiot judge…

            carl

          • avi barzel

            One judge won’t do it; the judgment will die in the first appeal. Anyway, the attempt was already made here in Canada in the form of proposed shared custody by default legislation, which would have not only kicked the stool under women who subsist comfortably on overly generous “child support” judgments (typically around month’s wage), but would have impoverished the family law machine that depends on years-long battles over custody and payments. As you may well imagine, the bill died after it’s first reading, I think.

      • carl jacobs

        BTW. I appreciate all the kind words on this sub thread. 🙂

  • Phil R

    Cameron has just gone up quite a few notches with me for not succumbing to the pressure to wear the ridiculous tee-shirt

    • IanCad

      He has indeed; contrasted with the two androgynous curs beside him, he comes of as quite the leader.

      • James60498 .

        As to be expected, Clegg looks very comfortable in it.
        Miliband looks as though he was told to put it on by Harriet Harperson
        And Cameron hadn’t put it on because he is afraid of losing any more votes to UKIP

    • Yes he has, but I cant help but feel it’s because he doesn’t want to look like a sissy than anything to do with Prime Ministers and MPs being neutral and above attaching themselves to causes.

  • Terry Mushroom

    I wonder where Mary, the mother of Jesus, fits into all this?

    • Martin

      Terry

      What mother of God?

      • Terry Mushroom

        Martin

        The Lady who gave birth to Jesus Christ.

        • Martin

          Terry

          The woman who gave birth to the man Jesus you mean. The Lord is both perfect Man and perfect God, the man was born, God was not.

          • Martin, you are skirting with heresy.

          • carl jacobs

            Yeah, no he isn’t. He is refusing to confound the natures. He is exactly right. Mary was given the title theotokos to emphasize the divinity of Christ. That doesn’t mean she gave birth to the eternal second person of the Trinity. The Lord Jesus has a definitive beginning in time. God does not.

            We don’t really understand the hypostatic Union. But it would be wrong to claim that Mary gave birth to God. She gave birth to very man. That would be the human nature part of the hypostatic Union, and that’s the best we can say. Jesus is not God squashed into a human body. He is both fully God and fully man. One person. Two natures, separate and distinct.

          • If, as you say, Jesus is “both fully God and fully man. One person. Two natures, separate and distinct”, but in one body, and Mary gave birth to Him, then she carried God incarnate in her womb and gave birth to Him.

            If Mary is the mother of Jesus, and if Jesus is God, then Mary is the Mother of God.

            Now, while Mary is the Mother of God, she is not his mother in the sense that she is older than God or the source of her Son’s divinity. She is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb a divine person, Jesus Christ, God “in the flesh”, and also that she contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus Christ.

            Unless you are asserting that Mary did not carry God in her womb, but only carried Christ’s human nature, the conclusion that Mary is the Mother of God is inescapable.
            Mary carried and gave birth to the person of Jesus Christ, and the person she gave birth to was God as well as man.

            What’s the fuss over this all about?

          • Owl

            Carl

            “We don’t really understand the hypostatic Union”
            So very true.
            It reminds me of the time in school when we had the trinity explained by an “eminent” theologian.
            After mumbling into his double (treble?) chin in a strong German accent we (the pupils) came to the conclusion that we now understood less than when we started. We were also perfectly sure that our “eminent” teacher didn’t have a clue either.
            I have since searched everywhere for an explanation which would make some kind of sense to my overtaxed brain but, up until now, to no avail.
            I still live in hope that maybe, one day, I will understand.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Mine is not the heresy.

      • Uncle Brian

        Remember the Holy Trinity? God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost? God the Son had a mother.

        • Martin

          Brian

          The man Jesus had a mother, God the Son had no mother.

          • Uncle Brian

            No, Martin, there was only one Jesus Christ.

          • Martin

            Brian

            Where have I disputed that?

          • Uncle Brian

            Here: The man Jesus had a mother, God the Son had no mother. Jesus is God the Son. God the Son is Jesus. Not two different Jesuses, just the one.

          • Martin

            Brian

            And the Man was born but the God was not.

          • Uncle Brian

            So you’re saying it’s okay to slice Jesus in half, like Solomon and the baby? A God half and a man half? Sounds dicey.

          • William Lewis

            Uncle Brian et al

            To say that our Lord is both fully human and fully God is an oxymoron that cannot be reconciled. Here endeth the lesson.

            Just be careful not to get too carried away with the “mother of God” business. 😉

          • Uncle Brian

            An oxymoron, right. It looks like a contradiction but isn’t one really. Jesus is God the Son. He was born of the Virgin Mary. That’s it. No half measures.

          • Martin

            Brian

            Just one question, when was God born?

          • Uncle Brian

            Jesus
            Christ is fully God and fully man. Jesus is God the Son, and he was born of the Virgin Mary. Is that a paradox? God is eternal, outside time, but Jesus was born at a certain time on a certain date. The half-and-half argument is an attempt to rationalise away the paradox, but it is a unwanted attempt to solve
            an imaginary problem. It was not beyond the power of the eternal God, who had always existed, to become a man and to be born of a woman, without ceasing to be what he always had been. Mary truly is the mother of God.

          • Martin

            Brian

            God wasn’t born & has no mother.

          • Martin

            Brian

            When was God born?

    • Mary is the supreme model of Christian life.

      • Martin

        HJ

        Hardly. She clearly sided with Jesus brothers in seeking to dissuade from His course.

        • So where does the Bible show Mary doing this? And where is it clearly stated the relatives were actual blood brothers and Mary was their biological mother?

          • Martin

            HJ

            Try a straightforward reading of the passage:

            And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you. And he answered them, Who are my mother and my brothers? And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.

            (Mark 4:31-35 [ESV]

            Why would the crowd say mother and brothers if that was not what they were?

          • Well, for a start that fails to show Mary trying to dissuade Him her son from His course. And, secondly, the term “brother”, or “brethren”, as some translate it, has a wide variety of meanings.

          • Martin

            HJ

            So how do you explain Jesus’ clear rebuke to them?

            I fail to see why the crowd would have said brothers when there was a more distant relationship.

            Indeed it would have somewhat weakened Jesus’ own words if it hadn’t been His mother’s sons.

            As for ‘brethren’, it is merely an archaic plural of brother.

          • How do you know Jesus was rebuking His mother or His relatives? Can you hear His words? See His stance and gestures? Witness the scene? When Jack reads this passage he understands Mary’s concerns and love for Jesus. There is no evidence at all she attempted to turn Him from His mission.

            Search scripture and you’ll see ‘brother’ used in a variety of ways.

          • Martin

            HJ

            I think the words are plain.

          • Do you? They do not support your position.

          • Martin

            HJ

            In your imagination.

      • You mean teenage pregnancy outside of marriage, who never had any “natural” born children?

    • avi barzel

      God has mom? That kicks the can down road: Who created her?

      • IanCad

        Also regarded by many as the Ark of The Covenant!!

        • avi barzel

          I suppose with a heavy dose of poetic license or creative mysticism any interpretation or simile is possible, but would have little theological significance. The Ark housed the tablets of the Law, and was built by men on instructions in Exodus. Even in the most off-the-wall poetic and mystical expressions, Jewish or Christian, it was never thought to have actually created God.

          • Wasn’t the Ark and the Temple the dwelling place of God’s presence on earth?

          • avi barzel

            In a limited way, yes, but as a physical focal point for sacrificial purposes and Temple related rites. I interpret it as an instructive rejection of Pagan (and latter kabbalistic) pantheism ….the God is everywhere, God is in everything or everything is God heresies.

            Even with the existence of the Ark and the Temple, Jews still prayed and sacrificed (with money and acts of charity) individually and communally.

          • Jack’s point was in offering an explanation for Mary’s title as the “Ark of the New Covenant” which you appear to have misunderstood.

            As Jack recalls, when the ark was completed, the glory cloud of the Lord, the Shekinah Glory, covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, representing the presence of God.

          • avi barzel

            My aim was not to challenge Christian theology but to see what rationale it offers for the notion of God having a mother. (Notions have consequences!) And this is in relation to running into a “elokist” Lubavicher mystic who views the deceased Lubavicher Rebbe as a man-God. I asked him if that would make Shneerson’s mother a mother of God, and Shneerson’s wife as God’s consort and the chap became upset and incoherent as quite evidently such questions had never occurred to him. Understandable; the Lubavich didn’t have two millennia to mull this one over….

          • The early Church very quickly understood these things, Avi.

          • avi barzel

            Sure, in a thousand and one contradictory interpretations, judging by the theological squabbles, excommunications, sectarianism and outright warfare.

          • Dude, I guess a bit like the raiders of the lost ark ? Cracking film that. Ah the shekinakh, God’s divine presence, is referred to as a “she” in Judaism (very feminist !).

          • avi barzel

            Indeed so, and quite problematic for some of us rationalists and “puritanical” Rambamists who view such symbolic attributes as problematic anthropomorphic personifications. The “Sabbath Queen”, and Israel as “the bride” (of God) are other examples of kabbalistic inventions, or at best poetic embellishments. Being a dour and stern rationalist, I avoid reciting lecha dodi (not obligatory) and the third paragraph in Shalom Alechem where angels are asked for a blessing.

            Alas, I dont think any of these examples above have contributed in any way to an improvement on status or respect of women, as many who turn around to bow to the imaginary Sabbath Queen or sing Woman of Valor are hardly feminists. Most have never washed a dish, boiled an egg or learned the mysteries of the laundry. That comes from modern social philosophy, which can also be moral and legitimate as long as it doesn’t violate halakhah.

          • Dude, I think the Sephardic approach-or at least my approach (which is probably different)- is to take the mysticism and rationalism like wine , in moderation. There are some good things to do with mysticism (like the hymn you’ve mentioned ) and some crazy shit like the messianic pretentiousness of chabad or some of the more whacky fringe cults. As for housekeeping.. heh I know my round the kitchen etc , my sisters ain’t gonna let me shirk household responsibilities. It’s like a mixing of ‘ keeping up with the Kardashians’ and ‘the big bang theory ‘!

          • Hi Avi,

            I’m busy at the moment. Lots to say, but getting my frustration out in an intensive gymnastics and swimming session has helped. So laters(:

          • avi barzel

            Ha ha, I’ve no doubt that you do have a thought or two, having come across some comments of yours hither and yon ….on da’at torah, for example.

            Good luck on your (halakhically mandated by the Rambam, no less) exercise regimen!

          • Hi avi ,

            Oy, I have a regular gym and swim slot at my local leisure centre (I’m in no way shape or form the stereotype “butch” lesbian).

            Well it’s not anything too controversial, I think my main issue is that you dished my favourite hymn. I love the poetry and music of the Sephardic tradition and to me it is incredibly moving . I think someone said to me that Ashkenazi are wonderfully analytical and we Sephardi are wonderfully poetical… which jolts me to earth with it’s beauty (me being from a hard headed science background) .

            (:

            Now for my favourite Jewish hymn (or the bits I’ve memorized!)

            “Let’s go, my beloved, to meet the bride,
            and let us welcome the presence of Shabbat.
            “Observe” and “recall” in a single utterance,
            God is one and God’s Name is one,
            We were made to hear by the one God,
            In fame and splendor and praiseful song.

            To greet Shabbat let’s go, let’s travel,
            For she is the wellspring of blessing,
            From the start, from ancient times she was chosen
            Last made, but first planned.

            Sanctuary of the king, royal city,Arise!
            Leave from the midst of the turmoil;
            Long enough have you sat in the valley of tears
            And He will take great pity upon you compassionately.

            Shake yourself free, rise from the dust
            Dress in your garments of splendor, my people
            By the hand of Jesse’s son of Bethlehem
            Redemption draws near to my soul!

            Rouse yourselves! Rouse yourselves! Your light is coming
            The glory of the Lord is revealed upon you
            Do not be embarrassed! Do not be ashamed!
            Why be downcast? Why groan?
            All my afflicted people will find refuge within you
            And the city shall be rebuilt on her hill.

            Come in peace, crown of her husband
            ,Both in happiness, in song and in jubilation
            Amidst the faithful of the treasured nation
            ,Come O Bride! Shabbat, Queen!”

          • avi barzel

            Rest assured that I’m polite about my idiosyncracies, Hanna. My family ignores them…they go on singing the third stanza of Shalom Aleichem and no one, except for a couple of shul friends have noticed that I’m somehow not around lecha dodi. Of course a lot of customs are kabbalistic in origin, but since most people don’t know the strange reasons behind them, they are fine as quaint and pleasant customs. If crazy purists like me were allowed free reign, religion would be abandoned due to boredom.

            Funny, though, that Ashkenasim are now considered analytical, when the original rationalists and poets were Sephardic. I suppose it’s because the Ashkenazi were the isolated country bumpkins in Northern Europe, while the Sfard lived in the centres of civilization. That sure changed with the Reconquista and the expulsions.

          • Hi avi,

            Well, it’s not my way to tell others about what customs and ways should be .

            I’d call us a paradox as on one hand we are folksy , conservative country rustics, but on the other reasonably urbane and liberal (I’m reading from my mum’s diary,about the arguments mum, who was 18, had with my grandparents over her wearing a mini skirt, her beehive haircut & wanting to to go out with a goy boy, who was to become my dad, to a Beatles concert, in the 60s!) .

            I love the Ashkenazi and are close to many, and as we’re all Jews at the end of the day… my focus of criticism is the haredi ways, but I think that’s obvious by my posts! (:

            The comment about being analytical came from a discussion we had about the various codifications of Jewish law…the point being that both rambam and Joseph Caro wanted their works to be “the go to” books, without having to go through the sprawling documents that are the Talmud. My friend (a conversion candidate) noted how the Ashkenazi added glosses to these works and thought you guys were defeating the point of providing additional material to works which were supposed to provide a concise piece of literature. I’ve got him reading the kurazi and he finds it easier to understand.

            For me the mysticism stops probably circa 1600 or 1700 and I certainly steer clear from a lot of the modern crap that goes on, e.g. bottled holy water, the idea that doing mitzvah “repairs” the world spiritually, the idea that men study Torah all day , without a proper job,somehow provides us with the same protection as the IDF and of course I agree that it is heresy and blasphemy of the chabad person you met to claim the rebbe was the messiah/ son of God. So we’re probably not too far apart, I just like moving and poetical songs. I’m also keen to rediscover a lot of the old Sephardic teaching, which in some cases managed to combine mysticism and rationalism.

            Sorry for rambling.

            Shabbat shalom!

        • In Catholicism Mary is referred to as the “Ark of the New Covenant” because she bore our Saviour – God made man who came to dwell amongst us..

          • IanCad

            Sure Jack; However that is not always followed. I have seen it written as The Ark of the Second Covenant, and without either descriptor.

          • “I have seen it written as The Ark of the Second Covenant, and without either descriptor.”

            And the problem with that is …?

            Early Christians understood that the Old Testament to be full of types or pictures that were fulfilled or realized in the New Testament. This is an example of biblical typology.

            The Catechism of the Catholic Church repeats words from the earliest centuries thus: “Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the Ark of the Covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is ‘the dwelling of God . . . with men'”

          • IanCad

            Jack, that did not come from the Holy Scriptures.

          • True … Jack never said it did. It came from the early church. Not everything is written in Scripture.

          • Martin

            HJ

            The early church was not free from error.

          • That’s why there was Apostolic leadership and a Pope to preserve Truth.

            “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. How have I deserved to be thus visited by the mother of my Lord?”

          • Martin

            HJ

            I don’t see any mention of a pope in the NT and the apostles were all dead. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 came into play, the completion of Scripture & it’s role as the authority for the Church.

          • You don’t see an Apostolic Church in the New Testament with Peter as leader? Its as plain as the nose on your face.

            And by what authority do you lay claim to infallibly interpreting 1 Corinthians 13:8-12?

          • Martin

            HJ

            As I said, the apostles all died. As for 1 Cor 13, the interpretation is not mine but certainly fits in with Scripture.

      • Avi, having attended a Catholic school in the past, did you learn nothing?

        • avi barzel

          I sat in at religion classes in the sixth and seventh grade of an Austrian primary school, classes I was not obligated to attend as a non-Catholic. These were heavy on catechism and nearly devoid of theology or philosophical discussions. Being of an atheist family, I found the idea of God incomprehensible and references to a Trinity confusing.

          • “These were heavy on catechism and nearly devoid of theology or philosophical discussions.”

            The catechism is full of theology. Jack remembers having many a heated debate with the religious order who instructed him.

            “I found the idea of God incomprehensible and references to a Trinity confusing.”

            Jack still does !

          • avi barzel

            The very idea of debating anything…vigorously or not…with Herr Schueller, the German, History and Religion instructor and his chief pedagogical insyrument, the far-reaching metre-long ruler…still sends shivers down my spine.

          • And that managed to stop you? Get outta there!

          • avi barzel

            Well, that and Herr Schueller’s trick of coming up behind a miscreant and grabbing and twisting the sideburn bit of the hair. O, the piggy-like squeeling by the even the toughest hooligans among us. But I should be fair to Herr Schueller’s memory and admit that it was his enthusiastic and excellent teaching which sparked my love of history. The man lectured from memory, eyes aglow and fixed in the distance as he transported us to Austria’s Celtic Iron Age, its early Habsburg princes or the Ottoman siege of Vienna.

          • ….. and your interest in faith and God?

    • William Lewis

      with more confusing theology probably.

      • Nothing confusing about it at all. Its Christianity 101.

        The Incarnation – God became man. This means the Second Person of our Triune God became human and was both God and man – two natures in one. Mary gave birth to Jesus – as God and man.
        What’s so difficult to grasp?

        • avi barzel

          No, not difficult to grasp at all. Our kabbalists go on about “natures” and “manifestations” as well. A significant minority of Chabad-Lubavichers today hold a similar view. According to them, the last Lubavicher Rebbe, Menachem Shneerson, is/was also God and man and the current “hidden messiah” all in one. They claim this apparent trinitarianism has no connection to Christian theology and use interpretations of passages in the Torah, Talmud and Zohar to justify their view. For the record, I consider both modern kabbala and Lubavich Judaism, which attempt to partition and redefine God as heresies.

          • Uncle Brian

            Avi, that’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you about. What little I know about Judaism I learned from a Chabad rabbi. I’ve been vaguely aware that there are substantial doctrinal differences among the many strands of Orthodox Judaism … but “heresy”?

          • avi barzel

            It depends who you ask of course, Uncle. The Chabad houses all over the world do tremendous and brave outreach work to Jews in remote locations and to Jewish travellers. I have respect for these families who face isolation, discomfort and even death (e.g., the family which was gruesomly tortured and killed in the Mumbai terror attack) and when travelling, have attended their shabbatons…Sabbath dinners…and services.

            That being said, the activist emissaries are usually not Rebbe-messianists and never involve their guests in the issue. Nevertheless I always pray using my own prayer book (either Art Scroll or Koren published), skip some of the prayers and songs, wash hands according to my custom and say my own kiddush…blessings over the wine and challah as unobtrusively as possible, so as not to confuse other guests and be “in your face” with my hosts. Invariably they notice and respect me and other people who do this, while most guests who are secular or newly observant never notice.

            Chabd has not been openly declared a heresy, although a number of rabbis …typicslly non-Hassidic Lithuanian School ones…have called it so. At issue is their commentary, the Tanya, a number of innovations to custom, reliance on a number of controversial kabbalistic interpretation and the suggestion the The Rebbe…Menachem Shneerson…may be the returning or hidden Messiah.

          • Uncle Brian

            Thanks, Avi. As far as I recall, I only heard Rabbi A. mention the name Schneerson one single time, in passing. In the city where I was living at the time, I think he was struggling to do his best to meet the needs of a tiny Jewish community among an overall population of close to 2 million, and he certainly wasn’t trying to compete with anybody.

          • avi barzel

            The Chabad shlikhim (missionaries) cater to and depend on the support of Jews from many different denominations and cannot afford this internal controversy to surface. Consequently most Jews think of Chabad as another Orthodox Jewish sect and would be horrified to learn that some in the movement consider the late Rebbe to be the Messiah who will return from the dead, or worse, the physical manifestation of God. If the various Chabad houses adopted some of the messianist beliefs and practices found in of their Crown Heights, Safed or Jerusalem synagogues and seminaries, the movement would collapse in a fortnight.

        • William Lewis

          What’s so difficult to grasp?

          Really? The Trinity is easy to grasp?

          Perhaps “Mary is mother of God incarnate” would be (slightly) less confusing.

          As Avi has intimated: saying “Mary is mother of God” makes a nonsense of the cosmological argument and begs the question: “who was God’s grandmother?”

          But perhaps Jack’s happy tongue is in his cheek?

          By the way, I agree that Mary is a model to us all (male and female) in her willingness to submit to the will of God.

          • William, you are splitting hairs but Jack agrees the title ‘Mother of God’ is open to misunderstanding if you are not familiar with the Incarnation and the hypostatic union.

            Perhaps ‘Theotokos’ i.e. ‘God-bearer’ or ‘Birth-Giver of God’ is more to your liking?

            The Council of Ephesus decreed in 431 that Mary is ‘Theotokos’ because her son Jesus is both God and man: one Divine Person with two natures (Divine and human) intimately, hypostatically united.

            Mary’s humility and obedience to the message of God have makes her an exemplar for all Christians both male and female. That’s why all generations call her Blessed.

    • Mary the mother of Jesus.

      • …. who was both God and man.

        • Martin

          HJ

          Who is both God & Man.

        • As you know Jack, the term ‘mother of God’ is never used in the Bible, although ‘queen of heaven’ is, but not of Mary.

          Calling Mary ‘Mother of God’ has at the very least caused confusion among some Muhammadans who wrongly believe that Christians regard Jehovah, Mary and Jesus as the Trinity.

          The term ‘Mother of God’ is unnecessary, unbiblical, and at least potentially misleading, therefore like the term ‘Our Lady’ should not be used.

          • Elizabeth, on greeting the pregnant Mary, used these words:

            “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. How have I deserved to be thus visited by the mother of my Lord?”

            The Church cannot adapt traditional expressions, which reveal its theology, to suit Islam. It has to explain its beliefs. Indeed, Islam shows great respect for Mary and share a shrine in Ephesus. These complaints about Mary being ‘The Mother of God’ are new in Church history. Luther and Calvin both accepted the term. It reflects our belief in the Incarnation and the Triune God.
            Not in the Bible? Where is the term ‘Triune God’ in scripture? Or the term ‘Incarnation’? Or ‘Hypostatic Union’? Are we not permitted to use these because they are not in the bible? Or because Islam will be confused? They express our faith as we have come to understand the depth of scriptural revelation.
            Mary is the mother or our Saviour and our God, who took human flesh. She is rightfully honoured by the Church. Calling her ‘Our Blessed Lady’ comes nowhere near what we owe her. And because pagans worshipped a false goddess, we are to withhold recognition of Mary as ‘Queen of Heaven’?
            One final point. Where is it actually written in the scripture, particularly in the New Testament, that we are constrained completely by what is written there?

    • len

      Mary cannot possibly be ‘the mother of God’.Since Jesus pre existed Mary so Mary cannot possibly be’ the mother of God ‘that would have to mean that Mary pre existed God?.

      The Catholic’ Mary ‘is quite possibly ‘the queen of heaven ‘. ‘The women were engaged in kneading dough and baking cakes of bread for the “Queen of Heaven” (Jeremiah
      7:18). This title referred to Ishtar, an Assyrian and Babylonian
      goddess also called Ashtoreth and Astarte by various other groups. She
      was thought to be the wife of the false god Baal, also known as Molech.

      • If Mary is the mother of Jesus, and if Jesus is God, then Mary is the Mother of God.

        Now, while Mary is the Mother of God, she is not his mother in the sense that she is older than God or the source of her Son’s divinity. She is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb a divine person, Jesus Christ, God “in the flesh”, and also that she contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus Christ.

        Unless you are asserting that Mary did not carry God in her womb, but only carried Christ’s human nature, the conclusion that Mary is the Mother of God is inescapable. Or are you claiming the old heresy that Christ’s human nature was separate from his divine nature, they were two separate and distinct persons – one divine and one human?

        Mary carried and gave birth to the person of Jesus Christ, and the person she gave birth to was God as well as man.

        • Martin

          HJ

          The Lord Jesus Christ has two natures, He is firstly God, the second person of the Trinity, having no beginning or end and certainly no birth – hence no mother. He is secondly Man born of Mary who is mother to the Man, not to God.

          There is, of course, no separation in the natures, both are the one person, but the Man was born, the God was not.

          • Terry Mushroom

            Martin

            So no incarnation then? The Word wasn’t made flesh?

          • Martin

            Terry

            Not what I said.

          • Martin, why this obsession with denying Mary the title ‘Mother of God’?

            Jesus, as Jack has already said, is both God and man. Mary carried and gave birth to the person of Jesus Christ, and the person she gave birth to is God as well as man.

            This comment is illogical if you believe in the hypostatic union: “the Man was born, the God was not.”

          • Martin

            HJ

            The person who is Jesus Christ existed before time itself. The Man, was born, the God was not. Nowhere does that contradict the the hypostatic union.

          • Er …. that’s illogical.
            God took human form in the flesh and was born. If Jesus had not been born, then God would not have dwelt amongst us. You cannot separate the person of Jesus into His Divinity and His Humanity in this way. He was one.

            So answer me. What’s the real beef in calling Mary ‘The Mother of God’? We all know the Second Person of the Trinity, is eternal.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Those who are born have a mother, Was God born?

          • Was Jesus of Nazareth God when He was born?

          • Martin

            HJ

            Jesus is the human nature, God wasn’t born.

          • Has Jesus a mother?

          • Martin

            HJ

            Irrelevant.

          • Jack doubts if Jesus sees it that way.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Wishful thinking.

          • Well none of us know what Heaven is like so it is, in some respects, speculative thinking.

            Should we, through the grace of God, arrive there, (in Jack’s case it would be after a spell in you know where), we would be spiritual brothers and sisters of Christ. Surely Mary, as Christ’s earthly mother, and the woman who he designated as John’s mother at the foot of the Cross, and him her son, will have a unique status?

          • Martin

            HJ

            You do realise that, in thinking there is a you know where, that you are claiming you can do something for your own salvation, that God’s work was insufficient.

            Aside from the honour Mary received in carrying the incarnate Messiah, she is one who is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone. She has no merit of her own.

            And we should not forget that Heaven is but a temporary abode for the believer. What a place that new Earth will be with those who know their only claim to that place is the superabounding grace of God.

          • Really Jack hasn’t the energy for a full on discussion about ‘you know where’ and all it entails in terms of the Crucifixion and the economy of salvation. He has a grandchild to think about.

            “Heaven is but a temporary abode for the believer.” This idea is completely new to Happy Jack. Could you elaborate?

          • Martin

            HJ

            I was, I confess, teasing you about ‘you know where’. But don’t rely on it.

            As to Heaven, our temporary abode:

            Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation of John 21:1-4 [ESV]

            Have you not seen this before?

          • Then you’re a very bad man, Martin. Jack makes no claims for his own salvation. It will all be God’s work – the sin will be Jack’s. We differ on the nature of sanctification and the atonement.

            Yes, Jack has read this message. He understands it allegorically in terms of the division between Heaven and earth going rather than Heaven and earth remaining separate plains of reality. The New Jerusalem being all of God’s people, His Church, who will be with Him at the end of days.

          • Martin

            HJ

            You mean you haven’t read this:

            But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

            Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (II Peter 3:8-13 [ESV])

          • Terry Mushroom

            Martin

            Then, what did you say? Sorry, like Jack, I don’t follow you at all.

          • Martin

            Terry

            The Lord Jesus Christ has two natures, a man who was born at Bethlehem and God who has existed since before time. The Man has a mother, the God has not.

      • Terry Mushroom

        Len

        I agree with Jack!

        How do you explain Luke 1: 42-45?

        • IanCad

          Terry,
          I agree with Len!
          “Blessed” in Luke merely means approval, or, to speak well of.

          • Ian
            And Jack agrees with Terry !
            Are you saying Mary didn’t give birth to Jesus and/or that Jesus wasn’t both God and man ?

            “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. How have I deserved to be thus visited by the mother of my Lord?”

  • SidneyDeane

    Archbishop Cranmer
    It does always amuse me when people-who-happen-to-have-been-born-in-a-“christian”-society (aka Christians) cherry pick from the bible, as you did in this article – with complete confidence I might add. You referred to Gal 3:28 for example.

    You appear to have however omitted to mention 1 Timothy 2:12. Why is that, Cranmer?
    I can’t wait for you to tell me how that inconvenient verse is a “metaphor”. The bad ones always are, right?

    • Phil R

      Sidney I never thought I would agree with you on anything

      But as a Born Again Christian. I completely agree with your comment.

      Except the cherry picking of the Bible to reflect our own lifestyle and current cultural bias is not amusing.

      • SidneyDeane

        Well congratulations for agreeing with me. (lol, joking).
        Which part did you agree with then do you mean?

        • Phil R

          Sidney

          I thought it was clear in my comment.

          We should not cherry pick the Bible to support a particular worldview.

          Cranmer seems to have fallen into the trap that you describe. That is of quoting passages that support their worldview but ignoring others.

          Gal 3:28. The liberals love it don’t they. But does it mean what they think it means?

          • SidneyDeane

            Ah yes sorry ok i see. Agreed.

    • Owl

      Sid,
      1 Timothy is still disputed. See Bart Ehrmann’s “Misquoting Jesus” for a discussion on the subject.
      As Paul seems to take the complete opposite stand in 1. Timothy as in other Epistles there is good reason for being sceptical that this letter was written by Paul.

      • Martin

        Well we can ignore what Bart Ehrmann says.

        • Owl

          We can also ignore what Martin says.

          • Martin

            Owl

            Of course you can, if you can prove me wrong from Scripture.

          • Owl

            Why should I want to prove anything from scripture?

          • Martin

            Owl

            All you’ve proven so far is that you haven’t any basis for your statements.

          • Owl

            Martin,
            please be more explicit.
            which statement(s) are you referring to?
            how have I “proved” that these unknown statement(s) are baseless?
            You are being very vague Martin, do try to keep up.

          • Martin

            Owl

            I haven’t seen any statements from you that have any basis, is that explicit enough?

          • Owl

            No, that is a cop out.
            I am very disappointed in you Martin.

          • Martin

            Oh dear.

          • So sad ……

            Btw, Owl, what is your definition of a Christian?

          • Owl

            Jack,
            definite or indefinite article?

          • Ummm …. let’s keep it relatively simple and go with the indefinite article for now. You know, those beliefs common to most Christians.

          • Owl

            HJ,
            relatively simple You’re kidding!
            Len is a Christian. You are a Christian.
            Len disagrees entirely with you.
            You disagree entirely with Len.
            Martin believes fully in scripture for authority.
            You believe in the RCC for authority.
            Martin is a Christian, you are a Christian.
            Get the point.
            Let’s go back in time. Historically and according to the early church fathers, James was head of the church in Jerusalem and successor to Jesus.
            Was James a Christian?
            Was the Virgin birth or divinity of Jesus defined already in the year 33 AD or did that come later?
            etc. etc. etc.
            “beliefs common to most Christians”? huh, what about the “other” Christians?
            OK, your question defeats me. You win.

          • Its not about “winning”, is it? Its really about whether you have faith in Jesus Christ as Divine, the Second Person of the Trinity, who through His life, death and resurrection opens the path to salvation.

          • Owl

            Jack,
            you said the indefinite article!
            you have supplied your own personal definition of the definite article.
            I am fully aware that these are what you would consider to be the mainstays of Christianity so I avoided the simple answer.
            My experience is that most people who consider themselves Christian answer “I don’t know” when asked about the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity or the resurrection.
            You (and Carl) would most likely say that they are therefore not Christian. I think they are. What’s more, they are being honest.
            Perhaps they will receive enlightenment from God next week, or perhaps not. Who am I to judge.

          • So what is your definite article for “Christianity’, Owl?
            Its sad if people say they follow a faith without … well … faith.
            If these anonymous ‘most people’ mean “I don’t know” in the sense of not fully understanding but believe, that’s different. After all, faith, in part, is believing something you don’t “know”. If they mean: I’m not sure I believe, these are difficult concepts, then, with God’s help, maybe there’s room for growth. However, if they simply dismiss these basic doctrines as unimportant, unnecessary, or untrue then its hard to describe them as Christian. Perhaps they have just been badly taught about these great mysteries – or not taught at all.
            And you are correct, these beliefs and out faith depends on the grace of God moving in this direction and extra grace to develop and grow in our faith.

          • Owl

            HJ,

            I would only try to explain the “I don’t know” from my own experience.

            At the age of approx. seven, I had to learn the catechism.

            I don’t think I ever got past the first two questions and answers.

            1. Who made you? the answer left out my parents completely.

            2. Why did God make you. answer: to know him, love him and serve him etc. How could I (a seven year old) know God? I couldn’t see him or hear him. How do I love someone who I didn’t even know and when I wasn’t even too sure what the concept of love meant.

            I spent ages just trying to make sense of this. Result was total confusion.

            I also realised that most of my peers were not bothered at all whether they understood or not.

            Later, as mentioned, concepts such as divinity, trinity or Eucharistic Sacrifice were taught in a way that I could not understand. My solution was, in later life, to search for answers. Most of my peers said “I don’t know” and carried on going to church on Sunday.
            I think most of my peers would answer your questions with Yes, they believe in the same things that you do but if they were to be honest it would be an “I don’t know”.
            I do not have a personal definition of a Christian as, for me, they come in all shapes and sizes. Ask God, he may know, I certainly don’t.

          • Owl, you’re honesty does you credit.

            At the same age Jack had no problem with these things at all. He was a trusting soul. He may not have understood intellectually but he always knew in his heart God existed, loved him and was looking after him. However, Jack was argumentative about Adam and Eve and the ‘apple’. He was outraged that this resulted in Jesus dying for us. As for Jesus being God, he never doubted this for a minute and was seriously grieved about the way He was treated on earth. He also developed a deep love for Mary, Jesus’ mother. The rest came later and fell into place when he was much older and after many years outside the Church.

            God draws us to Him in His own way. Jack’s advice is to go to Church on Sunday when you’re ready and be a quiet part of the Church community. Leave the rest to God’s grace – its not down to us in the final analysis. Who can understand all these mysteries? Really? Jack believes and has faith. He loves the Gospels, especially Saint John’s but struggles with the Epistles of Saint Paul. The detail he leaves to the Catholic Church because he believes that’s the way God intends it to be and he is thankful he was ‘predestined’ to be Roman Catholic.

            Safe travelling and enquiring – and Jack would recommend the Papal Encyclicals and the Catechism of the Catholic Church as good sources for developing understanding.

          • Malcolm Smith

            It depends. If you are an unbeliever, then all you have to determine is whether a Biblical author’s opinion sounds good to you. However, if you are a Christian, then you have to accept that the Bible contains God’s instructions to us, and you need to determine whether your own opinions need changing in its light. In this case, the authorship of 1 Timothy is irrelevant. But if you argue that it is not relevant to us, then you are making an argument against Christianity. In which case, why are you bothering to read this blog?

          • Owl

            Malcolm,

            “However, if you are a Christian, then you have to accept that the Bible contains God’s instructions to us”
            Similar to other writers on this blog, you are giving me your understanding of a “Christian”.
            I disagree with your definition.

      • Bart Ehrmann ? From fundamentalist ‘born again’ Christian, through to liberal protestant and then agnostic. Someone who argues much of the New Testament is forged and manufactures Jesus as God.

        • Owl

          HJ,
          He also happens to be a biblical scholar.
          His book gives some insight into textual context and it’s history. I found it an interesting read.

          • Jack much prefers good fiction.

          • Owl

            Jack,
            keep an open mind and you will stay
            Happy

          • Noooooo ……………… Jack says bring back The Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

          • Owl

            Oh dear, Jack, it was a stupid idea at best. I would have thought you would know better.
            Never mind, it takes all kinds to………….

          • Give Jack a good book with a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur and he’ll remain Happy all his days.

          • Owl

            By all means Jack.
            All the best to you and yours.

          • And to you too Owl – and don’t get too heated with Martin. He’s trying …..

          • Owl

            I am not even warmed up.

            Actually, I think Martin is alright, it’s just that taking scripture literally does tend to make him sound a bit pompous and bigoted. I am sure that he is in reality a lovely man.

          • Ummm … Jack enjoys his little tussles with Martin. He enjoys his raw enthusiasm. And, let’s be honest here, any orthodox Christian would be duty bound pull you up for promoting the ideas of Bart Ehrmann.

          • Owl

            HJ,
            I have not promoted anything!
            I merely pointed out where a discussion of a topic can be found. I did not state my own stance on the subject.
            I have a strong impression that some people who decry this book (and the person who wrote it) haven’t even read it.
            Have you read it HJ?

          • Why would Jack want to poison his mind by reading the work of a heretic who wants to deconstruct Christianity? Jack is aware of his views and saw him once on the History Channel.
            True you never promoted his work but you did cite him as a person with some scholarly authority on scripture.

          • Owl

            HJ,

            Bart Ehrmann is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill according to Wiki.
            It also lists his education and works.
            It doesn’t mean that you or I agree with all he says, it just means that the man has spent a great deal of time studying the matter. Of course I can cite him as a scholarly authority on scripture. That’s what scholars are for.
            You sound sometimes like an offshoot of the Spanish Inquisition! Read the bloody book before you criticise it! At least you will then know what you are talking about.
            Shalom.

          • Lol …………. Jack does not have to attend a Satanic Mass to know he disapproves of it.

            Distinguished Professor or not, he’s an apostate. He abandoned his Christian faith because of a lack of faith.

            “You sound sometimes like an offshoot of the Spanish Inquisition!”

            Why thank you. The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (formerly the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition) is a fine body.

          • Owl

            HJ,

            “Lol …………. Jack does not have to attend a Satanic Mass to know he disapproves of it”
            Thank you Jack, I made a bet with myself that you would answer with this old excuse. I admit I really expected the one about drinking poison but it amounts to the same.
            I must accept you consider it beneath you to learn history as some of the historians were not of your persuasion.
            I think a scholar should not be biased. He should write about what he finds not his preconceptions of what was.
            I found the book to be theologically neutral but full of interesting facts about biblical research.
            I am glad that you like being associated with that “fine body”.
            I am also glad that I am not associated with that not so fine body but I am learning where they were coming from on this fine blog.

          • “I found the book to be theologically neutral but full of interesting facts about biblical research.”

            No book on scripture or its history is neutral. The premise of this particular author is that the New Testament was constructed by men to create and manufacture a Jesus who was God. That Jesus Himself had no such conception of Himself. Jack has already encountered this heresy numerous times.

            You’ve read the book. So, give Jack one interesting “fact” from it.

          • Owl

            No Jack,
            That’s the lazy way out.
            Read it yourself before letting your preconceptions get in the way.

          • Nah …. Jack has better things to do with his time and to spend his money on, thank you. It would be like donating money to a person who is dedicating his life to undermining the faith of others.

          • Owl

            Well, I certainly would not want to have a hand in undermining anyones faith, especially yours.
            I was really referring to history which is a subject which greatly interests me. I am fascinated by early Christian history and its Judaic background. I have discovered that it is a very large subject and I still have a lot to learn.

          • Agree, the cultural and religious competition between Judaism and Christianity, mixed in with Greek Gnosticism and Roman paganism, is a fascinating area of study. The rivalry accounts for much of the bitter polemic between Jews and Christians that has been so long lasting and still gets thrown around the internet today in quotes from the Talmud and the early Church Fathers.
            Jack wishes you happy studying.

          • Phil R

            When the argument starts to unravel.

            The next step is to get personal and use the bigot word…….

          • Owl

            Phil,

            nothing is unravelling. I thought that the idea of a blog is to discuss. This also includes listening to other opinions, thoughts etc.

            definition of bigot (Miriam-Webster):

            ” a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices”
            I had no intention of “getting personal”. The difference, as I see it, is that I can accept Martins’ opinions as his truth but mine are not even discussed, never mind accepted.
            This attitude tends to bring any debate to a full stop, unfortunately.

          • carl jacobs

            [Hands Jack “Institutes of the Christian Religion’]

          • Straight onto the bonfire ….

          • Martin

            Owl

            There are two kinds of biblical scholar, those who wait on God and seek His understanding, and those who consider themselves able to understand without recourse to God. Bart Ehrmann is the latter.

          • Owl

            Pompous crap Martin.
            Biblical studies ranges from archaeology, literary criticism, history etc. to linguistics and theology.
            It would appear that only people who have the same mind set as yourself can state an opinion or even study the bible.

          • carl jacobs

            Owl

            Did Jesus rise from the dead and emerge from the tomb in which He was placed as a corpse? Because science will tell you that event can’t happen. Whom do you believe?

            carl

          • Owl

            A very odd question.
            Science deals with the rational world and is limited by that.
            I may believe that Jesus rose from the dead but I cannot “know” this unless God/Jesus/Holy Spirit decides to inform me.
            The Gospel resurrection stories do not agree with each other and I am not wise enough to “know” which, if any, are correct.

          • Martin

            Owl

            It doesn’t surprise me that you don’t like the truth.

          • Owl

            I do like the truth. You keep making observations that you have no knowledge of. Bad habit.

          • Martin

            Owl

            Those who pretend God doesn’t exist hate the truth.

          • Owl

            I wonder who you are referring to.
            If your comment is directed at Bart Ehrmann then I would humbly mention that there is a difference between agnostic and atheist.
            I your comment was directed at me then I would, once again, suggest that you stop making assumptions.

          • Martin

            Owl

            There is no difference between those who are agnostic or those who are Atheist. Indeed those who pretend to worship God but create a god in their own image are equally of those who pretend God does not exist.

          • Owl

            Suggest you consult a dictionary!

    • William Lewis

      Sidney

      The title of the post is “This is what feminist theology looks like” and there follows an extensive elaboration on that theme. I can find barely a single personal opinion on the subject from the author and so to accuse him of cherry picking seems somewhat banal.

  • Martin

    Your Grace

    Not sure why you bothered to write such a long article since the Bible is very clear. Man and women have equality in Christ but they do not have the same roles. There you have, in one sentence, the theology of women, and men.

    • Owl

      Martin,
      I must assume that you regard the bible as inerrant.
      I and many others see it as a very human book with human failings.
      Interpretation is another problem.
      The article is very worthwhile and gives a lot of food for thought.

      • Phil R

        So what bits shall WE decide is true?

        This week,,,,,,,,,!

        It is the theology of I want to live my life as I want so I will pick and mix the bits that make me fell good.

        After all God is a God of love and just wants me to enjoy living my life as I want

        Sums it up?

        • Owl

          Phil,
          what are you talking about?

          • Phil R

            Owl

            If you don’t like my answer see Carl’s above. He essentially says the same thing in a more coherence way.

            here

          • Owl

            Phil,
            My comment had nothing to do with liking or disliking.
            I did not understand your point.

      • Martin

        Owl

        Why should I care what you think of the Bible?

        • Owl

          I don’t believe I made a request or suggestion that you should!
          What is your problem?

          • Martin

            Owl

            You, I think, replied to me.

          • Owl

            Correct, and……

          • Martin

            Owl

            And I pointed out your flawed thinking. When you learn that Scripture is the repository of truth then you may be able to understand.

          • Owl

            How condescending of you.
            Where did you point out my flawed thinking? I must have missed it.
            You believe that Scripture reflects the truth. I accept this.
            This is your truth.
            You believe, you do not know.

          • Martin

            Owl

            There is only one truth and that truth is founded on Scripture. If your basis is not Scripture you have no basis.

          • Owl

            In your opinion obviously.
            How do you “prove” your two statements above?

          • Martin

            Owl

            Scripture. But then you wouldn’t accept such so it is of no relevance to you.

          • Owl

            Martin,
            you are using circular logic. Give it a break.
            Also your opinions of what I can accept or what is relevant to me is beyond your knowing. Don’t assume.
            Please do point out the “flawed thinking”, I’m still waiting…..

          • Martin

            Had you not noticed your thinking is circular, all derived from a belief that the Bible is but a book by men. There’s your flaw.

          • Owl

            Thank you for your opinion. Duly noted and filed away in the appropriate container.

          • Martin

            Owl

            I’m afraid Psalm 14:1 becomes ever more evident as the truth in my experience.

          • Owl

            Why “afraid”?
            I am pleased that you are comforted.

          • Martin

            Owl

            Perhaps you should read the psalm.

          • Owl

            Have done.

          • Truth existed before Scripture and was entrusted to the Church to reveal.

          • Martin

            HJ

            It is not the Church to whom the truth is entrusted but the Holy Spirit who caused men to write the Scriptures. And the Church is not the church of Rome but the assembly of all those whom God has saved.

          • The Truth was entrusted to men appointed by God. Before it was written it existed and was preached by the Apostles.
            Where does it say in scripture only that that is written is Truth? And who was charged with determining the authenticity of what was written and then developing our understanding of this?

          • Martin

            HJ

            It is quite clear from the Letters to the Seven Churches that churches can lose the gospel and are not a sound repository of truth. Even within the time of the apostles churches left the truth and it continued after the apostolic age. The church in Rome was one of those churches, pretending to unbiblical sovereignty over God’s people and leading many into idolatry

          • CliveM

            Actually you didn’t, you were simply rude.

          • Martin

            Actually I did. And I think I may be accused of being blunt but not rude. If someone treats the Bible as “a very human book with human failings” they show little thought and even less understanding.

          • CliveM

            O wad some Power the giftie gie us
            To see oursels as ithers see us!
            It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
            An’ foolish notion:

          • Martin

            Clive

            Indeed.

          • Owl

            Actually you didn’t.
            I have put a great deal of thought into it.
            Understanding is what I am still striving for.

          • Martin

            Owl

            What you should be striving for is God’s mercy.

          • Owl

            Martin,
            You seem to think that you know what I should be striving for.
            It must be good to be omnipotent and know everything.
            I, as a mere mortal, have not yet even approached this stage of development.
            Bow, scrape, tugs forelock.

          • Martin

            Owl

            My, what modesty.

          • Owl

            Not at all, master. I know my place.
            R. Corbett

          • Owl

            Actually Martin still hasn’t even though he has the gall to write to you “Actually I did..” etc.
            And yes you are right, he is just opinionated and rude.

          • CliveM

            Martin seems to feel that rudeness in all things proves his Christianity. He calls it being truthful!!

      • carl jacobs

        Owl

        If the Scripture is “a very human book with very human failings” then the authority behind Scripture is no greater than man himself. What then do we know about God and how do we know it?

        There is an easy answer to this question. “We don’t know anything with sufficiency because God hasn’t revealed anything with sufficiency. We speculate about that which we can never know.” That way is despair.

        carl

        • Owl

          Carl,
          Not despair, hope is the correct term, I would think.
          We do not know who wrote the Gospels or even which language they were originally written in.
          Some people consider them inspired by God and/or the Holy Spirit. I do not know the reasoning and background behind this belief.
          Personally, I consider them works of great wisdom which formed our western culture.

  • The Elderking

    If someone pressurised me into wearing a t shirt, esp. with an implied threat that I would be publicly censured – even for something I avidly believe in – I would refuse.

    Why should people give in to this kind of bullying?

  • David

    Martin below says what needs to be said. Men and women are equal but different by design, having overlapping but different roles. This incredibly complex article merely obscures that kernel of truth, which a confused world increasingly rejects, with disastrous results. We are still hurtling along, down, the path which obscures this basic truth, so that we can “have it all”. But it’s increasingly obvious that we can’t, not without crossing forbidden boundaries, though often these boundaries do not have razor edge sharp definitions, but they certainly do exist and can be identified if we choose to do so. So the west continues into its journey of pain, confusion and destruction, pretending that men and women are totally interchangeable parts; but one day some may recognise that it is on this catastrophically destructive course, but still be unable to reverse out of it, at least not without God’s help anyway, which few will seek. But he will always be there for those who wish to seek him.

    • Martin

      David

      It’s part of the curse:

      To the woman he said,
      I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
      in pain you shall bring forth children.
      Your desire shall be for your husband,
      and he shall rule over you.

      (Genesis 3:16 [ESV])

      • The Inspector General

        You’re rather chilling at times Martin. The laughter stops, and we inch away from you, back to the wall. That kind of thing…

        • Martin

          IGiO

          I wouldn’t want you to get too comfortable.

      • David

        Is there much “rule over you” happening then ?

        • Martin

          David

          We have a partnership.

          • Aaaaarrrrgghhhhhhhh ….. you have a marriage. Inherent in this is the idea of a partnership and much, much more. Don’t succumb to words of our time.

          • Martin

            HJ

            I won’t.

      • IanCad

        I’ve tried that on several times Martin.
        Have the scars to prove it.

        • Martin

          😉

  • Uncle Brian

    Clocking in at over 2,000 words, this must be one of Your Grace’s longest posts that I have ever read. It grabbed my attention from start to finish. Fascinating and
    thought-provoking! Congratulations.

    For the time being, there’s just one point I’d like to comment on, and that is the putative opposition between the “male” logos and the “female” sophia. Aren’t they making too much of that? Couldn’t it just be an accident of the kind that occurs over and over again in any language that has three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter—like German, as Mark Twain has taught us:

    Gretchen. Wilhelm, where is the turnip?
    Wilhelm. She has gone to the kitchen.
    Gretchen. Where is the accomplished and beautiful English maiden?
    Wilhelm. It has gone to the opera.

    http://usa.usembassy.de/classroom/Mark%20Twain/Mark%20Twain%20Awful%20Broschuere.pdf

    • avi barzel

      Ha ha! Brilliant quote selection, Uncle Brian! No rhyme or reason (mostly) to gender assignments in German…they simply have to be learned and memorized, although oddly enough, maiden makes sense (i.e., maedchen) as a neuter (?) because it is a diminutive!

      • Uncle Brian

        Thank you for your kind words, Avi, but the credit goes entirely to Mark Twain, not to me.

        • Malcolm Smith

          It was the same in Old English. “Maid” was feminine, but “maiden” neuter.

  • William Lewis

    Kudos to Dave for not bowing to feminist-chic diktats, but then he does have a large swathe of disaffected conservative electorate to win back.

    • David

      They are not coming back. The pretend “Conservatives” continue to split the right vote.

      • James60498 .

        Dave might be pretending that he’s becoming a proper conservative again.
        But don’t worry, Hague is keeping the liberal flag flying
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11199047/Gay-rights-should-be-centre-of-UKs-relations-with-Commonwealth-William-Hague.html

        • David

          Yes I know, and I agree with you.

          • Alan Wilson was at the Pink News Awards too. The man swore during his speech. Most unbecoming for a bishop. Still, at least he managed to plug his new book supporting homosexual marriage.

          • David

            He’s certainly a long way away from Scripture, not to mention the foundational documents of the C of E then. Liberal Christianity is doomed. In fifty years it will be, here in our country, mainly, genuine Catholics and genuine Bible respecting Protestants. They will continue to take different standpoints on where authority lies, whilst agreeing on morality. There will be much cooperation at a practical level between the traditional Catholics and the traditional Protestants, as a matter of necessity. The universal Church will have shrunk, but it will be standing upright and strong. They will be surrounded by a vast mass of unbelievers, the descendants of Christians, many of them having been of the cultural variety only, plus members of other religions, many of them by then too being of the cultural type. That’s my conjecture.

          • Jack agrees we are heading towards a serious situation of apostasy in the Western Church.

          • David

            Exactly ! This is of course combining with a cultural low in western culture generally ? Given that Christianity IS, the bedrock of the west, despite the denials from the so called “liberals”, these two things are, of course, closely related. But few in society, and even the Churches, can see this, due to the “woods and trees” myopia of course. Even the Catholic Church, normally a welcome bastion of and conservatism, seemed to have a wobble the last week, unless I was mistaken ?

          • David, you were not mistaken. There have always been liberals in the Church but their power has been growing of late. Some, mainly from the West, are attempting to introduce changes in orthodox Christian morality and Church teachings under the guise of ‘pastoral care’. Pray they do not succeed.

          • David

            Spot on “Happy Jack”.

          • Martin

            HJ

            It is interesting how little discipline exists in the CoE

          • That’s because they separated themselves from Rome.

          • carl jacobs

            [knods in agreement]

            Why, just look at all the discipline being handed out over the heterodoxies of the recent Synod. The RCC is purging itself of modernists as we speak. It won’t be long before this Model of the Throughly Modern Pope will be out on his ear as well. Tridentine Latin Mass, here we come!

            Oh, wait…

          • Carl, do not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit in keeping the Church true. If anything, the exposure and rapid collapse of the liberals in the face of resistance from orthodox bishops and cardinals, was heartening.

            The Catholic Church has faced heresy and apostasy before. It always emerge from such trials stronger.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            do not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit in keeping the Church true.

            He said, whistling past the graveyard.

            carl

          • Don’t whistle too soon, Carl. should the Catholic Church fall all hell will break loose. Then Christ will return. Until that time, and no one knows the hour, Christ’s promise holds.

          • CliveM

            “Should the Catholic Church fall all hell will break loose. Then Christ will return.”

            Well HJ, have you not given us all a reason to hope for the fall of the RCC? If it is in the way of Christ’s return, then could it please get out of the way?

            Did you really mean that?

          • Yes, Jack meant it. And your line of thinking is flawed. The role of the Church is to guard Truth and help save people from damnation by teaching the Gospel. Christ will return when the appointed hour and time arrives. Meanwhile, its the job of Christians to carry on. And remember, the Jews have to convert before His return.

          • CliveM

            Happy Jack

            I knew it was flawed, for reasons in addition to the ones you give. I was just taking the statement and extrapolating. I was curious as I hadn’t seen that claim made before.

          • The other obvious flaw, Clive, is that it would have put you on the side of those who Crucified Christ so that His Kingdom would come. There’s right and there’s wrong; the rest is with God.

          • CliveM

            Only if your view of the RCC is correct. Whilst I am in no sense anti RC, I don’t agree with the RCC understanding of itself.

            I still find it a curious statement to make and I don’t actually think you’ve explained the basis for it.

          • CliveM

            Ps my statement was also tongue in cheek!

          • Martin

            The Church was kept true by separating from the church of Rome at the Reformation.

          • Martin

            HJ

            The discipline in the church of Rome appears to be an illusion. It hasn’t stopped ‘priests’ getting up to mischief.

          • No it hasn’t and that’s why strong leadership is called for. The means are there it just takes will. Doctrinal heterodoxy and sexual immorality go hand in hand.

          • Martin

            HJ

            As I said, it appears to be an illusion.

          • Alan Wilson

            a kind and generous comment on some of the stuff in my postbag based on a reactionary world view. It’s toxic nasty stuff. And I am not especially liberal. It’s just that after 40 years of reading the Bible daily in the original languages I’ve had enough of people suborning a text that is innocent of modern culture wars to reinforce their bigotry.

          • Phil R

            So we should trust a clever guy like you then to get the Bible right being able to read the Bible in the “original languages and all”

            Like the Pharisees perhaps?

            What we want to know is…

            Did you swear or not?

            It tells us something about you as a person you see.

            (From someone who cannot read the Bible in the original languages)

          • Alan Wilson

            I think people just have to read the Bible the way it is, but remembering the fact that the first Bible translation to use the word “homosexual” was in 1946. Plenty of Bible reading went on before that.

          • Phil R

            They all knew what they meant when they used the other words. (Sodomy perhaps was one of them?)

            Anyway what does what we call this act that the Bible condemns, have anything to do with it.

          • Are you perhaps thinking of William Tyndale who, if memory serves, translated arsenokoites as ‘buggerers’ in 1 Cor. 6:9? Would you prefer that?

          • Alan Wilson

            The Tyndale Translation of I Corinthians 6 translates “arsenokoites” as “abusars of them selves with the mankynde” and “malakoi” as “weaklinges.”

          • My apologies; my memory played me false. Unfortunately I can’t seem to delete the post which I would otherwise do.
            However, arsenokoites comes from two Greek words, arsen and koites meaning ‘male’ and ‘bed’ respectively. The reason he uses this word and not another is that he is referencing the Septuagint translation of Lev. 20:13. ‘If a man lie with a man……’ The reason that translations did not translate arsenokoites as ‘homosexual’ until recently is the same reason that they did not render it as ‘gay.’ The former word was not coined until the end of the 19th Century, and the latter until much later.

          • Bishop Alan “I am not especially liberal” Wilson.
            Well that just shows the progress made by liberalism. You support homosexual marriage and all that goes with it, in terms of impact on the family and children, and claim not be especially liberal. A couple of generations ago bishops like you supported contraception. Then a generation back bishops like you supported divorce and abortion. Now its sexual practices that are perversions of God’s intentions.
            Heck, there’s a whole ‘industry’ producing theological arguments to justify this too and its busily reinterpreting scripture. You’re part of it. Enjoy the limelight and applause while you can.

          • Alan Wilson

            I was with the police in Slough the day of the EDL demonstration earlier this year. there were about 250 EDL members present, including a group with a rainbow flag describing themselves as “LGBT EDL.” I am more liberal than them, but you will find gay people in all sections of society these days.

          • That’s like saying: “I’m more orthodox that Gene Robinson and.Jefferts Schori .” Its all relative; isn’t it?

          • Yeah right. And my approving the execution of properly convicted murderers makes me an extreme right wing fascist bigot today, while in most ages of the world it was seen as simple common sense justice. C S Lewis has some interesting observations on different times and cultures moving to different extremes in ‘Screwtape Letters’. Time for a re-read.

          • carl jacobs

            How tragic for the church that those who read Scripture in the original languages over the previous 2000 years didn’t have the benefit of enlightened bishops. Why, maybe the church would have noticed its bigotry before it became all the rage of the denizens of egalitarian autonomy.

            carl

        • Martin

          James

          One has to wonder how sexually perverted behaviour deserves any sort of rights.

  • The Inspector General

    Feminism is all about disappointment. The disappointment by some women that they have been born as females and “have to paint their face and dance” as John Lennon put it in one of his songs, in the hope that some man they themselves find attractive would notice them and take care of them. That’s it. Nothing more.

    Well, that’s not quite right. There is more, but whatever it is these malcontents have dreamt up and continue to do so, it all follows from the above.

    The most attractive side of feminism, attractive to those who consider themselves the biggest victims of the lot (…and yes, we are talking women who make themselves unattractive or remain unattractive, because they lack the
    willpower to do anything about it – anyone seen Sinead O’Connor lately ?…) is
    the ‘go it alone’ happiness feminism supposedly gives. Which it doesn’t, unless
    you count solitude in your twenties with some damned cat to be woman’s destiny.

    And what were the roots of feminism ? Oddly enough, not the attitude of men. For sure, many men are absolute disgraces, but their women knew it when they shackled up with them. Women dreamt up feminism as an answer to other women. They took umbrage at the way their more popular sisters would preen and pose and bitch to those ladies they considered lesser. Women who would parade their men of choice to their plainer associates, and wink at them indicating “look what I’ve got that you’ll never have”. Then came modern advertising and marketing people sniffing the air. Manufacturing the ‘typical’ woman image that few can ever think they’ll attain. So the aggrieved took comfort by wearing dungarees and having their hair cut short. Feminism really is about cutting off your nose to spite
    your face. But if it stops these gals going mad with unfulfilment and jealousy, then feminism it must be. And there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.

    Dear God, this is one of the most depressing posts the Inspector has ever submitted. Bring on the dancing girls…

    • avi barzel

      Well, depressing or not, you’re certainly back in full form, refreshed from your e-sabbatical, firing at will with all guns blazing on full auto, Inspector.

      • The Inspector General

        Greetings Avi. Firing live ammunition too !

        • avi barzel

          Greetings, Inspector. But of course, blanks may make satisfactory sounds, but as I’m certain you’ll agree, there is nothing as satisfying as a neat target being converted to flying shards or splinters!

          • The Inspector General

            It really is good to be back here, old chap.
            Cranmer is the prime blog that cannot be ignored. This man needs to be a part…

          • avi barzel

            Certainly glad to see your Sir; for a while I feared you had upset His Grace, to be sent off to purgatory…perish that thought… but he seems to have become desensitized or resigned to your more enthusiastic contributions.

          • The Inspector General

            We can but delight that the fellow appreciates free speech, Avi. Let truth be out, says this man, and if it is not true, let it be exposed to be just that, false words.
            Good night, old friend.

        • CliveM

          Good to know you don’t fire blanks!

    • Skinnyead O’Connor has a new CD out, apparently a strong return to form, for those who like that sort of thing.

      Expert in doublethink our Skinnyead-an outspoken pro-choice feminist who when she sadly suffered the miscarriage of a wanted pregnancy ranted against the lack of concern the hospital staff gave to her feelings.

      She should spare a thought for the gynaecologists- they have to skilfully judge whether to comfort a woman for the sad loss of her baby or reassure her its only a blob of cells to be sucked away and disposed of with the other septic waste.

      Yes, feminism has been a big success at achieving its stated aims. Whether women or indeed children or men are better off as a result, that’s another matter.

      • The Inspector General

        Ah, a new CD. Well, there you go. Explains her latest whines about needing to drink from the furry cup due to lack of interest from males.
        Still, what do expect when you look like you’re on the run from the Magdalene Sisters having had your head shorn to combat a body lice outbreak…

      • Stephen, given your background, you surprise me. Can you not see in Sinéad O’Connor the results of the sins of our time: family breakdown, child abuse, Irish Catholicism, sexual confusion and spiritual alienation? Surely, these are the victims of our age, the possible lost sheep, who deserve our prayer?

        • Jack, I most earnestly wish for the lady’s enlightenment and repentance leading to temporal and eternal happiness. That is entirely consistent with my detesting her philosophy and many of her public statements. With all my heart. But as her name had come up in the context of feminism and its fruits, I could not help myself from posting the above observation.

          A 12 week miscarriage is a lost baby to be mourned while a 12 week termination of pregnancy is an inconvenient parasite to be destroyed. I have been close to many women in both situations during my years as a GP and very likely my personality was shaped by sharing the pain of many others. If I come across as a cruel and insensitive b*****d at times then try getting though several large boxes of Kleenex per annum over two decades by handing them to women (mostly women) and men who have come to see you for a blub.

          I cannot help but find it ironic that Sinead O’Connor wants both things to be equally true depending on the mother’s feelings at the time. Perhaps she has resolved this conflict, but listening to her latest CD would be a high price to pay for finding out. Perhaps The Inspector will volunteer….

          BTW she is the one who put her views in the public realm, so it’s legitimate to comment on them. I wish her all the good I hope for myself, and at your fair rebuke, will find some time to pray for her. Regards and good night.

          • Stephen, we all approach these situations from different starting points. Jack can understand your anguish over every aborted and lost infant.

            In Jack’s work, he has met with those suffering from the sins of our times. He has followed Sinéad O’Connor’s career and sees in her deep hurt and a fighting against the institutions and ideas that she believes harmed her – the Church, the state, her mother, her father. Unlike the Madonna types, who have been fiercely critical of her, she challenges our culture rather than exploits it for her own benefit. She’s on the wrong path and Jack hopes she turns back to God.

          • Granted without qualification my friend. May I be granted the grace and wisdom to criticise wrong ideas and actions, my own first, while hoping the best for my fellow sinners.

    • michaelkx

      may I humbly refer you to my post above : ” well as far as I am concerned, the three of them are big girls blouses”

    • sarky

      The 1800’s just rang, they want the inspector back!!!

      • carl jacobs

        Lol. You say that like it’s a bad thing. 🙂

  • The Inspector General

    By the way, the Inspector wishes to express his deep concern that two of our so called political leaders have seen fit to wear what should only appeal to immature ignorant youth. You can’t ignore the old maxim “By his attire, shall you know him”. One does not expect these two clowns to wear top hat and morning coat, but everyone knows that gentlemen only wear shirts.

    Sadly indicative of the lack of grammar schools in this country setting standards, which they were very good at. Still are, though in a much quieter way due to socialist thinking that we are somehow all equal in ability if only the thickos were given the same encouragement as our best.

    They’ll be back one day, these wonderful schools, and on a grand scale. Our present set up, where our brightest are expected to rub shoulders in the same playground as roughs who can barely read and write will come to an end. Has to. We’re not producing enough professional types which we’ve never needed more than we do now. One thing’s for certain, if privileged private education for the scions of the wealthy was ever outlawed, the great and the good would be planning the return of the grammars for the following day…

    • Martin

      IG

      I thought our political leaders were ignorant youth, not a beard among them.

      • The Inspector General

        Milli thing would quite suit a goatee beard. Trade off his resemblance to Trotsky…

        • Martin

          IG

          A full set would hide more of his face.

          • The Inspector General

            Let’s leave beards for those who adhere to the evil of Islam shall we…

          • Shadrach Fire

            Did Jesus have a beard?

          • Pubcrawler
          • Martin

            I doubt that’s good evidence, being from the 4th century & showing Jesus in a philosophers toga. It seems unlikely that an ordinary Jew of that day would not have a beard.

          • TimeForTea

            Jesus definitely had a beard before He was beaten and crucified and He had it ripped off during His beating and mocking prior to being crucified.

            Prophesying in Isaiah 50:6:

            ‘I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.’

            After His resurrection I believe there is good reason to think that now and for eternity He will bear the scars of His affliction including the scars from having His beard ripped out. At the time this was a huge insult and deliberate as part of the mocking for Him being He that was born King of the Jews.

            Amongst other things, in Revelation the Greek translation of Chapter 5 Verse 6 would more properly be rendered not ‘a lamb’ but ‘the lamb’. ‘And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood THE Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.’

            This would indicate ‘as it had been slain’ He was seen by John bearing the scars of His love for mankind even after His resurrection. We will spend an eternity trying to understand what this cost Him.

          • IanCad

            TFT, I believe your entire post is correct.
            “Worthy is he Lamb that was slain”
            Apart from circumcision I’m not aware of any biblical injunction for the defacing of the body.

            Thus, it would appear to me, beards were de riqueur for the Jewish peoples in those times.

          • Pubcrawler

            I do hope, Inspector, that you will make an exception for those venerable members of the real ale fraternity, such as myself, who have proudly sported a full beard for a number of decades, and will have nothing to do with the Mohammedan heresy.

          • avi barzel

            EHEM!

          • IanCad

            There’s not a bare-faced man living who wouldn’t benefit from a full beard.

          • CliveM

            Itchy, hate the things. Go all dandruffy as well!!

          • Martin

            You don’t treat it right. If you will scrape your face with a rusty bit of metal, what do you expect.

          • IanCad

            Clive,
            More like grated parmesan cheese in my case. It was a joke in our family for Uncle Ian to scratch his beard when having spaghetti. (Please pass the beard!) After a while it disappears.

            Men with beards don’t develop jowls.

          • CliveM

            Eeeewww yuck!!!!!!

          • dannybhoy

            Dandruff?
            I thought that was grated cheese on my pasta..

          • CliveM

            I am NEVER going to grow a beard!

          • dannybhoy

            Tried it, but it was thick under my chin and patchy above,
            It was a look.
            But not a good one..

          • CliveM

            LOL 🙂

          • Martin

            Must be you.

          • CliveM

            Probably. Did grow one once, it was pitiful!! And itchy………

          • Martin

            I’ll bet Jesus had one.

    • dannybhoy

      Professional opportunists can’t be expected to have scruples as well as dress sense.

  • Christianity has always been good news for women.
    In ancient Rome, the right for women to own property came with Constantine.
    In India, it was the abolition of Suttee under the influence of William Carey.
    In China, the abolition of foot-binding. If Christians gain influence in modern-day China, they will surely abolish forced abortions.
    In 19th Century Britain, the raising of the age of consent from 12 to 16.

    • avi barzel

      Martin, you make it almost sound as if Christianity in Britain arrived in the 19th century, whereas it was on its decline at the time. The age of sexual consent was at times 7 or 8, in parts of Britain and most of the US, although usually around 12 for marriage. The sexual “consent” part was to protect the better-off men when they abused child servants and prostitutes. Before that it was Elizabeth I who managed to raise the marriage age from ten to fourteen…”Bloody Mary” was married off at 10.

      • The 19th Century, until around 1875, was the high noon of evangelical Christianity in the UK. It was also the time when the greatest advances for the poor and disadvantaged were made (cf. Lord Shaftesbury). The raising of the age of consent to 16 was achiebed by the campaigning of the good old Salvation Army.
        I am unable to find any reference to ‘Bloody Mary’ being married at ten, though a marriage was arranged for her earlier than that, but it never occurred. She eventually married Philip of Spain in her 30s.
        Conditions for women were greatly improved at the time of the Reformation and especially by the Puritans. Witness the poems of Anne Bradstreet which show a very high level of education. With the Endarkenment, however, education for the power classes generally and women in particular took a back seat until the Great Awakening and the coming of the Ragged Schools, organized, of course, by Christians.

        • dannybhoy

          It was mainly the nonconformists and evangelical Anglicans who instigated and pressed for changes in our society. The recognition that through the preaching of the Gospel men and women were changed from within.

  • steroflex

    Oh Dear.
    The Church of England is built on history. Its strength used to be that it was the unquestioned bastion of Englishness under the ruling monarch. It was an unchanging rock in a changing world. So if you change it radically be rewriting God as a middle class sleek woman, place a grannie in the pulpit and put the kiddies first, you do rather tend to lose the spirit of the excellent liturgist whom you represent.

  • michaelkx

    well as far as I am concerned, the three of them are big girls blouses. 😉

  • All that’s really needed for Christian feminism is a study and meditation on the words and actions of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

    • Terry Mushroom

      Yes, get Mary right in the economy of salvation and everything else falls into place. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women.”

      • The Inspector General

        When God choses a woman, you have hear ear thereafter. Do you have a problem with that, as they say in Glasgow…

    • I always thought that St Catherine of Siena was the best role model for authentic Christian feminism. You have to hand it to a fourteenth century woman who wrote rude letters to the Pope telling him to grow some balls 🙂 Ok, not literally, but I believe some of the letters weren’t far off 🙂

      • Hi Sister Tiberia. Good to hear from you. Hope you are well.

        Yes, there are always exceptions. Saint Hildegard of Bingen was no shrinking violet either. Speaking one’s mind and saying what needs to be said, isn’t ruled out for a woman. St Catherine of Siena was inspired by Our Blessed Lady and saw humble service as an opportunity for spiritual growth. She also regarded silence and solitude as strong means of fostering closeness to Christ.
        All Christians, men and woman, are called to “speak truth to power” in whatever age we live. The Cardinals and Bishops did it recently at the Synod.

        • I’m keeping well, Jack, hope you are too 🙂

          I actually sat back and watched this Synod in something like amazement. I actually rang a friend halfway through and said “Pope Francis is never going to get away with it, they’ll see what he’s doing”. She rang me back afterwards and said “Well, I don’t think they saw what he was doing” 🙂 Wily Jesuits indeed.
          I won’t derail this discussion with an explanation, simply to say that my opinion is that the Synod did *exactly* what the Pope wanted, and I don’t think either the liberal or the conservative Catholics saw it. If you want to discuss this further, I’ll put something on my own blog 🙂

          • You’re ever the optimist, Tiberia. Jack has read and said all he wants to on the Synod for now. Who can make sense of it all?

          • CliveM

            The Church needs more optimists!

          • What Jack was actually suggesting is that Sister Tibs shows a ‘pollyanna’ disposition. Let’s hope she doesn’t notice. Now that’s optimism.

          • CliveM

            You may have given it away!

            Been a while since I saw the film, but from memory her optimism worked. Some times it is nice to have someone to remind you that the victory is already won.

          • Yes but you have to be able to recognise those Dunkirk moments and have the foresight to get radar in place in readiness for an all out air assault ….

            The “victory” Sister Tibs probably has in mind is not what Jack would regard as a victory.

          • I have great faith in the Holy Spirit being able to sort it all out, HJ, be it sooner or later, and probably not in the way that anyone expected. I am merely of the opinion that Francis is playing a long game here and this synod was only the first moves on the board – and that he got what he wanted from it 🙂 I think that’s a little too cynical for pure Pollyanna 🙂

          • No, that is being a Pollyanna about some of the key men running the Church and also the role of Francis, Sister Tiberia.

    • dannybhoy

      Men and women are equal but different.
      Saint Paul expresses an opinion, not a revelation. Most happy Christian couples I know discuss issues together and reach a decision together. In our case we talk things out, I value my wife’s opinions and we arrive at a decision.
      But I take the responsibility for it!

      • CliveM

        “But I take responsibility for it” so do I, at least if it all goes wrong!

        • dannybhoy

          Clive I was brought up on the teaching that women SHOULD BE SUBMISSIVE!
          And I believe that the happiest relationships involve the man taking the lead, taking responsibility or acting as spokesman.
          My wife for example is more educated and more talented than I am, but she likes me to take the lead. Perhaps because she knows that I value her opinions.

          • CliveM

            “SHOULD BE SUBMISSIVE”

            Not in my house! I think the dynamics of a marriage are such that each couple have to work out for themselves what works best.

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  • len

    Rather ironic that in promoting one cause (feminism) these politicians wearing T-shirts promoting feminism have highlighted another cause mainly the use of child labour in sweatshops making said clothing.
    It should also be remembered that Eve was deceived by a the master deceiver, how many Christians have been deceived into thinking the religion they are following is the ‘real thing’?. Those who believe they cannot be deceived probably already are.

  • SidneyDeane

    Cranmer
    No response to my earlier post i see.
    Also no comment surprisingly from the usual sheep.
    Noted.