Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Who Is Lord Revisited

The philosophies of progressive feminism have had a strong impact on mainline denominations.

The Rev. Susan Anderson-Smith, associate rector at St. Philips in the Hills Episcopal Church in Tucson, Arizona, has restricted the use of the work “Lord” in her church.
"'Lord' has become a loaded word conveying hierarchical power over things, which in what we have recorded in our sacred texts, is not who Jesus understood himself to be."
The word “lord” has always conveyed hierarchical power. It has only become “loaded” because of the feminist denigration of all things implying hierarchy. While I would never want to go back to the days when women were pressured by society to fit one role—that of homemaker—I am loathe to reinvent God to fit our cultural sensitivities.

The Bible is clear that God is Lord; it is clear that Jesus is, too. The Early Church consistently called Jesus “Lord” in the same way they did God the Father. If you believe the Bible is not the Word of God, but just a cultural artifact, you can make all the changes you want, I guess.

Jesus’ own words when answering Pilate tell the whole story for me:
"Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.” (Mark 15)
Although Jesus stated that His kingdom was not of this world, He did not deny His status.
The Early Church fervently emphasized Jesus' Lordship, as in Revelation 19.
On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
A church that de-emphasizes the Lordship of Jesus is elevating humanity and cultural agendas over cosmic Truth.. Go online to mainline websites and you’ll see that they are more than willing to take stands on all kinds of issues. But don’t look for any mainline denomination to take a stand against such changes as those in Tucson because these changes match the direction in which the denomination wants to go.

You may think that this hasn't reached your church yet. I hope it has not, but there are key phrases that identify its arrival. If, instead of the "Kingdom of God" you hear "the Realm of God," it has arrived in your home church. If you hear the attributes of God regularly alternated between male and female terms, it has arrived in your home church. If the church leaders are so afraid to traditional, Scriptural language that they drop gender pronouns and replace them with newspeak terms like "Godself," it has arrived in your home church.

Expect that there will be further changes in mainline churches from feminist camps. More than half of the students in the mainline seminaries are women, and few of them are conservative, orthodox Christians.

Keep praying--keep the faith,
Tom

29 comments:

Aric Clark said...

Tom,

First of all, I believe you have a typo in your second sentence. You wrote "work" when I think you mean "word".

As to the topic of your post I do not completely agree with what I perceive to be your main point - that changing from a certain set of scriptural terms for Jesus to other terms is a form of apostasy.

Yes the Bible clearly refers to Jesus (and God) as Lord. I do not disagree that this is a good and right way of referring to the Godhead. In that sense I would disagree with Rev. Anderson-Smith in restricting the use of those terms.

However, it is not a straightforward or simple matter to take Biblical language and use it uncritically in our present context. The terms do NOT convey exactly the same meaning in modern English that they did in ancient Hebrew or Greek. Living in a democratic society we largely have no idea what "Lordship" implies and since parts of the bible rather clearly portray the meaning of this title for God as part of a theocratic civil society we should ask whether we even completely endorse the biblical view of God's lordship. What on earth does it mean to pray for a "Kingdom" in a democratic country?

If we use our language carelessly or without really educating ourselves and our congregations as to the meaning of our titles for God then we aren't really being true to the Bible at all. It only takes a little knowledge of etymology to realize that words change meaning over time - sticking to the same vocabulary is no security that we have the same witness.

Furthermore, there are a diversity of terms for God. In this sense, Rev. Anderson-Smith is right to encourage her people to expand their view of who God is. God has no gender. The bible refers to God with mostly masculine language, but it also uses feminine language (including mother) at times. This is also attested in Church history. Many icons in the early church portray Jesus as a mother breast-feeding the faithful. Calvin used mother metaphors frequently in his theology.

In reality the church has a plethora of powerful metaphors from scripture and the tradition that we should be using instead of the relative poverty of vocabulary we have for God now. God is beyond any of our conceptions. How could a limited range of words possibly be accurate descriptions of the attributes of God. Rather than worrying about leaving behind old language we should be incorporating the new with the old (and the old with the REALLY old!).

Progressive Feminism has had a strong impact on mainline denominations (thank God!). However, we are still in a thoroughly patriarchal society and we have a long way to go to fully repent for our sins of thought, word and deed.

Blessings!

Aric Clark

Toby Brown said...

You could not be more correct in sounding the alarm on this one.

Here in south Texas we have several congregations who will not call Jesus 'Lord' in any way. And one of these congregations will not use creeds!

What has been done about this public flaunting of our Presbyterian convictions?

Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Oh, and they also show up to vote at EVERY presbytery meeting!

Anonymous said...

Tom,

"Lord" is the 2nd most common title for Jesus in the Bible. Christ (Messiah)ranks first.

If I remember correctly, one of the earliest Christian creeds was the phrase "Christ is Lord."

Jesus refers to Himself as Lord in His Sermon on the Mount. Our politically correct churches who don't want to offend should pay particular attention to these words of our Lord:

Matt 7:15-23:
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (NIV)

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
Peggy Alexander

Viola said...

Aric,
I am glad that you accept Jesus Christ as Lord in some manner. However there are many women, Pastors, Elders (I am one) and Deacons in the PCUSA who do not agree that the kind of feminism that refuses to use "Lord" or "Kingdom" is helpful to the Church. Yes, it is good that we live in a democracy since humanity is sinful by nature. But as Christians we belong to a Lord, a King and we also belong to a kingdom. (Another word to watch for Tom, "kindom.") And when the King returns we will be living in a perfect kingdom.

As for other words for Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yes, there are other biblical metaphors but Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the name of the Trinity, is the revealed name that God gives himself. We do not name God he names himself.
Karl Barth has a great quote on this from "The Knowledge of God And The Service Of God According To The Teaching Of The Reformation". Barth writes:
We have not to draw our knowledge of who God is from what we think we know about eternity, infinity, omnipotence and invisibility as conceptions which bound our thought. On the contrary, we have to draw our knowledge of eternity, infinity, omnipotence and invisibility from what we can know about God, from what God has said to us about Himself."

Barth, also, points out that to define God from our own definitions is to define “as Ludwig Feuerbach has irrefutably shown, the essence of man himself.”
Anyway the Father tells us to listen to what the Son has to say and Jesus calls God his Father. And God is his Father eternally. God is not our Father because he is male but because we have been adopted into his family and united to Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. I praise God that he is my Father.

Red_Cleric said...

A church which recently closed in San Francisco Presbytery was of this ilk. The pastor not only didn't use the word "Lord" but the choir and congregation didn't sing hymns or anthems with the "male-dominant/ misogamist" term.

Peace
Alan

Mark said...

Dear all,

I guess I'm only partly heretical, because I use "Lord" and "Sovereign" interchangeably in reference to the Persons of the Trinity.

In the same vein, I refer to Jesus sometimes as God's Son, and other times as God's only begotten Child. Neither designation is biologically incorrect.

I also mix references between "Kingdom of God" and "Realm of God". Funny, but when I looked up "realm" in the dictionary, it said "kingdom" so I don't understand what you're squawking about when it comes to "Realm".

Yes, language has power. That is precisely the point. If all that people hear are male designations, then male designations will dominate their understanding (of God and humans). Feminine and gender neutral designations every now and then help to balance out the biases.

And if all people hear in the Church are Western concepts of power that fueled such ill-conceived doctrines as Manifest Destiny, then that will be how they understand the Church. (Shudder!)

Viola, I'm glad that Father is a positive designation of your relationship with the First Person of the Trinity. I know some Christian women and men for whom it's a negative designation, particularly those who were treated brutally by their fathers and/or other male relatives. I know some Christians for whom Mother is also a negative designation for God, in large part because their mothers were anything but loving.

As a pastor, I'm not going to force anyone to accept the language "Father" or "Mother" of God, simply to make a certain subset of Christians comfortable. Rather, I'll encourage them to draw on the wealth of biblical images for God. Perhaps over time their views will change as their experiences change, but that is between them and God, and it's not for any of us to legislate.

Now, if some of you in your congregations want to exclude individuals who are uncomfortable with male-dominated language in reference to God and humanity, then go right ahead. If you want to shut out people who are tired of religion saturated in Western notions of domination and violence, that's your right. I'll gladly welcome them into my congregation.

Yours in Christ,
Mark

Viola said...

Mark,
Manifest Destiny was not based on the biblical view of the kingdom of God. Instead it was part of the progressive ideals of early liberals who drew on Darwinism and made the mistake that many made in the late nineteenth century. They saw the Anglo civilizations as the light of the world instead of Jesus Christ. And they based this on what they saw as progressive evolution. The main advocate of Manifest Destiny was John Fiske. A good bit of information on this is found in "The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion 1805-1900" (pages 318 to 324) by Gary Dorrien who is a liberal historian and a good historian.

As for metaphors for God that are feminine, of course there are biblical ones, but that is different than the name of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Calvin often gives an emphasis to this. When writing of baptism he writes, "we shall be sufficiently fortified if we reflect that by baptism we were initiated not into the name of any man, but into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and, therefore, that baptism is not of man, but of God, by whomsoever it may have been administered.” (Book four chapter 15 para. 16)

That God is Father is good news for any who have experienced either abusive parents or spouses. He is the model of compassion and mercy not the abuser. In Jesus Christ we see all that God is.

Presbyman said...

Mark said:

"Now, if some of you in your congregations want to exclude individuals who are uncomfortable with male-dominated language in reference to God and humanity, then go right ahead. If you want to shut out people who are tired of religion saturated in Western notions of domination and violence, that's your right. I'll gladly welcome them into my congregation."


That is a pompous and self-righteous comment as far as I am concerned.

Mark said...

Viola,

Manifest Destiny is one of those catch-all ideas that was around in concept and practice a long time before John Fiske was born. Some of its earliest influences came from Puritan ideals of the 1600's.

The phrase "manifest destiny" was coined by journalist John O'Sullivan in 1845, when John Fiske was three years old. O'Sullivan believed the US had a God-given mission to spread US-style democracy throughout the continent.

Fiske may have been involved in the resurgence of Manifest Destiny thinking in the late 1800's, but the Manifest Destiny Era died out in the years leading up to the Civil War. Given the fact that Darwin didn't publish The Origin of Species until 1859, when Fiske was 17 and the phrase "manifest destiny" had been around for 14 years, it's hard to blame social Darwinism for "The Origin" of Manifest Destiny thinking.

If you reread what I wrote, I did not blame Manifest Destiny on conservatives (though you were quick to blame it on liberals). Rather, I raised it up as an example of Western thinking that clouds Western theology and interpretation of scripture. And yes, beyond Caucasoid racism, many of the supporters of Manifest Destiny were seeking to make North America as contiguous a Christian society as it was a contiguous land mass.

Now, if proponents of this blog are going to get as worked up over the biblical names of God as you are over liberals being responsible for the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, then why haven't they (or you) pushed for the Tetragrammaton as the definitive name of God? Exodus 3:13-15 says:

Moses said to God, "If I come to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." He said further, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, "I AM has sent me to you.'" God also said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, 'YHWH, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you':
This is my name forever,
and this is my title for all generations."

(Emphasis added.)

The whole business of "Lord" as a designation for God and Jesus has to do with a practice created by humans to reverence the name YHWH in conversations and in Old Testament manuscripts. We must understand two features of Hebrew Bible texts to appreciate this: Kethibh (what is written) and Qere (what is read). Allow me to quote from J. Weingreen's A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew, Second Edition, p. 23:

[A] type of deliberate change in reading due, in this case, to reverence, is the Divine name Yahweh.... The Divine name was considered too sacred to be pronounced; so the consonants of this word were written in the text (Kethibh), but the word read (Qere) was Adonai (meaning 'Lord'). The consonants of the (Kethibh) YHWH were given the vowels of the (Qere) Adonai... producing the impossible form Yehowa [the English Jehovah]. Since, however, the Divine name occurs so often in the Bible, the printed editions do not put the reading required (Qere) in the margin or footnote; the reader is expected to substitute the Qere for Kethibh, without having his [sic] attention drawn to it every time it occurs.

Therefore, the title/name "Lord" arose not from biblical mandate, but from the human practice of substituting one word for another out of reverence for God's name. By Jesus' day, this practice permeated Jewish thinking. The Greek word Kyrie ("lord" or "sir") served as the equivalent for the Hebrew word Adonai in the Septuagint (the Greek text of the Old Testament and Apocrypha, sometimes abbreviated as LXX). By taking the title "Lord", Jesus was actually identifying himself with the name Yahweh. We know this from his many "I am" statements in the four Gospels ("I am" and "Yahweh" being related words in the Hebrew language, as exemplified in God's exchange with Moses in Exodus 3:13-15 cited above).

Jesus' command in Matthew 28:19 is to baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit", NOT to use these as exclusive names for the Trinity.

Meanwhile God is explicit in Exodus 3:15: "YHWH.... This is my name forever, and this is my title for all generations." That sounds like a clear-cut command to me.

So if y'all are going to be biblically correct, why aren't y'all pushing for Yahweh as THE EXCLUSIVE NAME for God?

Hmmm?

Yours in Yahweh,
Mark

Mark said...

Viola,

You said, "That God is Father is good news for any who have experienced either abusive parents or spouses. He is the model of compassion and mercy not the abuser. In Jesus Christ we see all that God is."

Because of my abusive father and negligent mother, I found it extremely difficult to call God either "Father" or "Mother" for most of my adult life. I believe that, in Jesus Christ, God grants me the grace (1) to think of God as being more than "Father" or "Mother", (2) to call upon God by many biblical names, and (3) still to give glory to the One Triune God.

Now, after years of healing, I can both think of and call upon God as Father, on those occasions when I understand the Holy Spirit is leading me to do so. By the Spirit's leading, and by the multitude of names and images of God in scripture, I have come to understand that God is not bound by one name, one title, or one idea. I have come to relish both the apophatic and the cataphatic understandings of God.

For the record, as a minister of the Word and Sacrament, I only baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The scriptural precident is clear, which is why I do so.

Yours in Christ,
Mark

Jodie said...

Viola,

That's a cute theory on "Manifest Destiny" except Fisk was only 3 years old when the phrase was first coined, and Darwin hadn't even thought of 'Evolution' yet.

The concept is thought to go back to the Puritans and John Winthrop's "City upon a Hill" - the darling of Ronald Reagan and his neo-con ideology.

Of course "city upon a hill" was just a metaphor. Turning metaphors into doctrine always makes a mess of things.

Jodie

Viola said...

Mark & Jody

Yes John O'Sullivan "coined" the phrase "manifest Destiny," but it was the social Gospel Preachers and liberal idealists who, using the idea of progressive evolution, filled out the meaning and promoted the idea. In fact Fiske wrote an article for "Harper's Magazine," in 1885, entitled "Manifest Destiny" which made him famous. Historian Dorrien writes that Fiske "belongs to history chiefly as the theorist of 'manifest destiny.'" Another proponent was Josiah Strong who wrote "Our Country" in 1885. While species may take a long time evolving ideas about social Darwinism did not.

Thank you for bring up the Teragrammation and its translation to Adonai, then to Kyrie in the LXX. You make it so clear, "By taking the title "Lord", Jesus was actually identifying himself with the name Yahweh. We know this from his many "I am" statements in the four Gospels ("I am" and "Yahweh" being related words in the Hebrew language, as exemplified in God's exchange with Moses in Exodus 3:13-15 cited above)." Yes, Jesus is Lord.

But as Christians, we not only know Jesus as our Lord, but also as the Son of the Father. This is who he revealed himself as, and in our union with him we acknowledge God as our Father.
I am sorry that you had such a bad childhood and pray the true love and compassion of the Father will finally overcome those memories, although I know in this life that is often not possible.

Mark said...

Presbyman said, "That is a pompous and self-righteous comment as far as I am concerned."

Call it pompous and self-righteous if you wish. I was addressing what I see as a very real attitude on the part of some "conservative, orthodox" Christians who claim to have the only "true" understanding and interpretation of scripture. From where I sit, that attitude smacks of exclusivism that is foreign to the life Christ call us to live. For those with that attitude, go ahead and believe that way if you choose. There are others of us who will keep our doors open to those you condemn and exclude.

Viola said, "I am sorry that you had such a bad childhood and pray the true love and compassion of the Father will finally overcome those memories, although I know in this life that is often not possible."

Viola, I appreciate your prayer and the kindness you intend. At least you did not pray for the false love and compassion of the Father. However, once again you did not read what I wrote. You write as if you expect that, when "the Father...finally overcome[s] those memories", anyone who survives abuse will (indeed, must) think and talk like you. And what's more, you speak as if the Bible supports no other ways to know and call upon God than what you spotlight in scripture. I respectfully disagree.

I can and do believe that Jesus is Sovereign and the only Son of God, and that I do not have to call upon God only as Father in order to appreciate the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity, or the relationship between God, humanity, and the rest of creation.

Augustine had the freedom to call the Triune God, "Lover, Beloved, Love", and the Church did not call him on the carpet for it.

Now, neither you nor Presbyman, nor anyone else, have addressed my question. Based on a clear reading of Exodus 3:15, why aren't y'all pushing for Yahweh as the exclusive name and title for God?

Yours in Christ,
Mark

Toby Brown said...

Jodie,

You MUST learn not to mix up Republicans! You showed how out of touch you are by calling Ronald Reagen a 'neocon'.

The 'neo-conservative' school of thought that is now so prevalent in Republican politics came after Reagen won the Cold War.

Many of the tenets of neo-conservative political thinking would have been opposed by Reagan.

Read National Review or any book by William F. Buckley and you'll get a great education in classical conservative political thinking in America today.

TomGray said...

Jodie,
I think that "city on a hill" was Jesus' metaphor.
Tom

Mark said...

Viola,

I reread your post and was struck by this sentence: "Thank you for bring up the Teragrammation and its translation to Adonai, then to Kyrie in the LXX."

Please reread what I wrote and quoted. "Adonai" and "Kyrie" are NOT translations of the Tetragrammaton, "YHWH". They are not even transliterations of YHWH.

God commanded us not to take God's name in vain, yet God did not command the Kethibh/Qere method. It was human convention that came up with that. Our Hebrew ancestors figured that one could not take the Divine name in vain if one did not speak it. Therefore, they devised the Kethibh/Qere approach to speak (Qere) the word "Adonai" outloud whenever the word "YHWH" appeared in writting (Kethibh).

This is neither a small point nor hair-splitting. The Kethibh/Qere practice of SPEAKING the word "Adonai" IN PLACE OF the name "Yahweh", out of reverence for the Divine name, so deeply imbues Judaism that some modern day Jews will even say "ha Shem" (Hebrew for "the Name") in place of "Adonai" in conversation! And some will write "G-d" instead of "God" in written English!

That is what I mean when I say that the practice of calling God "Lord" is a human convention to show reverence to the name Yahweh. We may just as easily use "Yah" or "Yahu" -- common Old Testament abbreviations for Yahweh -- as we use "Adonai" or "Lord". Names like Joel ("Yahu is God") and Isaiah ("Yah is salvation"), or words like hallelujah ("y'all praise Yah"), are attempts to use shortened forms of Yahweh without taking that name in vain.

To make this perfectly clear, many Hebrew scholars believe that the name Yahweh (YHWH) means "he causes to be" or "he causes to happen" because it appears to be a causative form of the Hebrew word for "to be".

Therefore, Adonai and Kyrie, which both mean "lord", are NOT translations of Yahweh; they are placeholders, shadows of a far more glorious understanding of God's name than just dominion. God is not merely "lord"; God is the One who causes all things to exist. God is our very life! (In that regard, a more apropos placeholder for the name Yahweh would be Creator, especially given that God's first action in the Bible is to create.)

Therefore, when Jesus accepted the title Kyrie ("Lord"), he was taking upon himself the more important name/title Yahweh. He was claiming that he is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). That's so much more than simply lording himself over us, for he said, "the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). He is Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23), God with us (not God over us), Yahweh in the flesh.

Yours in Christ,
Mark

P.S. Incidentally, it's Tetragrammaton, not Teragrammation. "Tetra" means "four", and "grammaton" means "letters". The Tetragrammaton ("four letters") refers specifically to the four letter name for God in the Hebrew texts, written by their approximate equivalents in the English language as YHWH.

John West said...

Tom's posting here has certainly sparked a rampant discussion. While I agree with Tom's thesis I do see room for other interpretations and it seems those with those interpretations have a right to them. My own difficulty in this arena stems from certain parts of Jesus Ministry. It is obvious from Genesis on that Jesus was around, was part of creation and existed with the Father. But I have been troubled by certain aspects as follows:
1. After his Baptism a voice said this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased and a dove came down. obviously Jesus and the Father were not the same exactly.
2. Just before his arrest as he was praying in the garden under such stress that he was sweating so badly that it was compared to drops of blood, he prayed that this cup be avoided but added not His will but "Thine be done". I have never believed that he was talking to himself but to the heavenly Father.
3. On the cross after all the punishment and near death he screams "my God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me" Obviously God the Father, and Jesus at that particular instant were not the same.
Now, I know that theologians have wrestled with this for 2000 years and I have yet to read an answer that satisfies my questions about the relationship. The model prayer that Jesus gave us starts out with calling on the name of Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. AT this point he does not pray to himself or even list himself or the Virgin Mary as intercessors.
Now the point I am really trying to get around to is that many of the examples Tom gives are not that critical in the total scheme of things. This is an area open to theological differences. The big issue with PCUSA is in the obvious liberal politics expoused daily, it is with pro choice issues, it is with the condoning of a sinful lifestyle for those ordained to serve God, it is with a publishing house that is totally out of control, it is with so many other issues that we should all be aware of by now. Calling something the realm of God versus the Kingdom of God is not an issue. Blackmailing those of us who want to go elsewhere with the loss of a place to worship is an issue.

Jodie said...

So, we are all in violent agreement then. “Manifest Destiny” was an evil doctrine, the neo-cons are not good news, and the Sermon on the Mount does not give America a divine right to rule the planet.

I’m happy.

By the way, you can read John Fisk’s article online at

http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/
cgi-bin/moa/
moa-cgi?notisid=ABK4014-0070-81

(you have to paste the link together)

It’s very interesting. A bit white supremacist, some of his predictions were spot on, some were way off. I don’t see how today’s progressives would find anything to identify as their own in it but it does sound weirdly similar to the principles of the “Project for the New American Century”. Take a look and see what you think

http://www.newamericancentury.org/
statementofprinciples.htm

Toby, the roots of the neo-con movement go back to the Powell manifesto under the Nixon administration, but it was under the Reagan administration that they got the political, institutional and financial backing that got them where they are today. But I sort of liked Reagan, so it would be nice if he didn’t have anything to do with it. After all, when he didn’t go to church, the church he didn’t go to was Bel Air Pres. That’s got to count for something.

Jodie

Anonymous said...

Regarding Aric Clark's response to Tom,

I am a woman and I disagree with this comment to Tom's post which states it is going after meaning rather than the original words of scripture. Meaning is something derived in people and it changes as they change--if the words are always the same, we can find our way back to their original intent. If someone spoon feeds us, we don't know the original words and could be victim of wrong teaching depending on the teacher. I believe a reference to Bereans in the New Testament studying things out for themselves bears this out. Scripture, of course, was birthed in a patriarchal time period, and there is merit in a non gender approach in the sense that we need to recognize that God did not mean to limit women to domestication. But as a woman I am not willing to yank the Lordship of God out of my discourse because of the change of society. The only reason to do so is to subordinate ourselves to current patriarchal influences and new dominating feminist ones (one form of servitude for another kind--women can be just as controlling and domineering as men, and they are good at doing it to other women)--we know the limitation of patriarchy and we don't need to be perschmucked about the fact that it provided context when the bible was written.

Karri

Viola said...

Mark,

You are right translation was a poor choice of a word. I understand what you are saying but don't think you grasp the full importance of your own words. You keep attempting to drive home the expression "a human convention," when writing about the use of Adonai or Kyrie in place of YHWH or Yahweh and of course it was, but God uses such human conventions to make his word known.

God in his word allows us, as you have so clearly pointed out, to see that Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, that he is God as well as human.

My problem with your post is your statement about John 14:6. You write "That's so much more than simply lording himself over us, for he said, 'the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'(Matthew 20:28). He is Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23), God with us (not God over us), Yahweh in the flesh."

Well, yes, he is God with us but how is he not also God over us? It seems to me that you are trying to empty the word Lord of some of its content. For me the fact that he is not only Lord with me, as well as my redeemer, but is also Lord over me is something for which I am extremely thankful. "For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11.)"

I am thinking also about the "The Theological Declaration of Barmen."
"Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and death." If he is not Lord in the sense that he is over us we are open to both our own sinfulness and the sinfulness of others.

Jodie,
I hope I am not in “violent” agreement just agreement.

Mark said...

Karri,

Pardon my ignorance, but what does "perschmuck" mean? I've googled it, but I don't know German (or is it Yiddish?), so I can't read the references.

In Christ,
Mark

Mark said...

Viola,

I am not opposed to the concept or the language of Jesus as Lord. I think and speak of Jesus as Lord on a daily basis. I am opposed to the view that demands that there is no other way to speak of Jesus than as Lord, or that there is no other way to speak of Jesus' Sovereignty than with the word "Lord". Ditto in reference to God. Words have the power to shape people's perceptions. "Lord", without the balance of other biblical sovereignty concepts, leaves a Medieval feudalistic image of deity that simply isn't supported by the fullness of scripture. The lordship of the Lamb upon the throne is marked by sacrificial love expressed upon the cross, not by cultural notions of male dominance. Jesus and God both call themselves Shepherd, which is an expression of Sovereignty quite apart from "Lord".

Likewise, I am opposed to the view that demands that there is no other way to speak of the Trinity than in patriarchal terms. This business that "Father" is the only true revealed name of the First Person of the Trintity is false. Yes, of course, Jesus refers to God as Father. There is clearly a Parent/Child component to the relationship between the first two Persons of the Trinity, and to the relationship between the First Person and humanity. Yet that is not the entirety of those relationships. God clearly presents YHWH as God's "name and title". Jesus never speaks of God's Fatherhood in the exacting terms that God speaks of the name YHWH. The name "YHWH" carries notions of generative/creative power that are not dependant upon gender, but which indicate intimate relationship with creation.

Though humans are defined by gender, we are defined by other things as well. These other definers are reflected in scripture and color biblical references to humanity and to God. Thank God for the Third Person of the Trinity, who often embodies "gender neutral" understandings like Paraclete/Comforter.

Yours in Christ,
Mark

TomGray said...

Mark (and others),
I do think that Jesus spoke in specific terms of God as Father. The Lord's prayer is the best example of this. His parables support the title, too.

In terms of the Lordship of Jesus: He certainly can be addressed by terms other than "lord." The critical element is that we call no one else "Lord."
Tom

Jodie said...

Tom,

You are of course correct, but the point is that the term "Father" is a metaphor, the meaning if which is all but lost.

Worse, there are those who have invented meanings that are entirely antithetical to the teachings of Jesus, strongly suggesting a misuse of the term.

Jesus also portrayed himself as a humble servant. In the washing of the feet in John, he instituted a relationship between himself and us that divests himself of his lordship entirely.

Short of changing the literal statement of the metaphor, how do you propose recovering its meaning?

Jodie

Viola said...

Jodie,
Is your name a metaphor? I don't think it is. And don't you as a person give meaning to your name, the kind of meaning that no one else can give but you. In the same way Jesus as he bowed over the feet of his disciples gave the trure meaning of Lord to that title. Also as the one who is Lord he gave the true meaning on the cross as he died for us. And he will also give the complete meaning to his title when he come again and all bow before him. Only Jesus, in his word, gives the true meaning of Lordship.
He has never divested himself of his Lordship, only for a time, of his glory as he humbled himself for us.

Mark said...

Tom,

You said, "In terms of the Lordship of Jesus: He certainly can be addressed by terms other than 'lord.' The critical element is that we call no one else 'Lord.'"

Where did that comment come from? What are you talking about? Neither I nor any other liberal/progressive who's posted to this blog have called anyone else "Lord", nor have we suggested that anyone else be called "Lord".

Yours in Christ,
Mark

TomGray said...

Mark, that comment came from me. There are also some good Scriptures to back it up.
Tom

Mark said...

Oh, Tom, shall I spell it out for you? When I said, "Where did that comment come from? What are you talking about?" I was wondering why you changed the subject! The rest of us were talking about...well, how we talk about God. Not one of us suggested that someone other than God should be called "Lord", "Sovereign", "Heavenly Father", "Son of God", "Paraclete" or a host of other biblical names and titles reserved for the God alone.

Your comment "The critical element is that we call no one else 'Lord'" came out of left field (just an expression, mind you, not a description of your theological viewpoints). It appeared to me as if you were suggesting that the progressives/liberals were offering up other "lords" than the Trinity, which we most certainly were not.

If I understand you properly, then I don't appreciate your insinuation. If I misunderstood you, please accept my apology.

Yours in Christ,
Mark

phillip j. owings said...

mark and jodie, could both of you describe to me the size of the chip on your shoulder?