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Freeing God from Gender and Tradition

Freeing God from Gender and Tradition
"God the Father" and "God the Son" are not merely expressions of an outdated worldview. They express reality as experienced through thousands of years of revelation
The Episcopal Church has been unraveling the Received Tradition for decades, says biblical anthropologist

By Alice C. Linsley
Special to Virtueonline
July 5, 2018

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church will be asked to consider resolutions to free God from gender. Some in that body want the prayer book to conform to a theology of God as bigger than gender.

Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee said that the Episcopal Prayer Book "really constitutes the Episcopal church in significant ways. Our theology is what we pray."

Watch as the Episcopalians continue to pray their way to a new, synthetic religion.

Lee is a member of the committee that will consider resolutions to revise the Episcopal prayer book (erroneously called a "Book of Common Prayer"). His committee will put a resolution before the larger legislative bodies at the convention.

The Rev. Wil Gafney, a professor of the Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School in Texas, is also on the committee. She says concerning the Lord's Prayer, " 'Our Father,' I won't fiddle with that."

As so the unraveling of the catholic Faith continues, and the hypocrisy deepens as the majority of Episcopalians doubtless will continue to recite the Nicene Creed and the Lord's Prayer.

The proposals are motived by a desire for equality; and attempt to create a body that is so thoroughly egalitarian that gendered terms no longer have meaning. The conundrum is evident in Gafney's attempts to free God from gender. She sometimes switches the word "King" to "Ruler" and sometimes uses "She" instead of "He."

These muddled attempts work against the objective of equality through the divine mystery of kenosis. Only as God is greater than humankind is there a possibility of salvation. Two souls sinking in the sea can't save themselves. Salvation comes from above, from one greater. There is no escaping this hierarchy. Attempts to do so eviscerate the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who being God, emptied Himself (kenosis). The superior entity empties itself to serve the weaker. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (c. 130--202) expressed it this way: God had "become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself."

St. Paul addresses this in the relationship of husband and wife. The Apostle tells us that this earthly pattern speaks of the mystery of Christ and the Church. Jesus Christ emptied Himself, becoming a Man, and as a Man serves the weak, redeems those in bondage to sin, and restores the lost. This would not speak with such power had He become a Woman.

The Kingdom of God is not characterized by equality. There is a supreme Head, Jesus Christ. He is called King, Priest, Master, Savior, Lord, Son of God, Rabbi, etc. These are facets of the long-awaited Messiah, and terms that are received, not invented.

The received Tradition concerning Messiah is very ancient. The Father and the Son were associated with the Sun among Abraham's Hebrew ancestors. Genesis 1 explains that the Sun is the greater light that rules the day and the moon is the lesser light. This is gendered language. The ancient kings known to Abraham's people appeared before their people with Sun-tanned skin, a sign that they were overshadowed by the Sun, the symbol of the Creator. Their queens appeared with whitened skin, representing the Moon, the lesser light.

Christianity is not dualistic. It holds a binary view in which one entity of the binary set is superior in some empirically obvious way to the other. Males are larger and stronger than females. The Sun's light is greater than the Moon's refulgent light. The Episcopal Church shuns the inequality of the binary sets, having bought the lie that this expresses conquest and domination. How do we transcend this and retain the binary order expressed in the Bible? We confess our need for a Savior, and we refuse to jettison the nuanced language of hierarchy.

In the Christian Faith, the Triune God always is number one, always has priority, and always is infinitely greater than created things. There is no equality, so let us disabuse ourselves of that falsehood.

Further, "God the Father" and "God the Son" are not merely expressions of an outdated worldview. They express reality as experienced through thousands of years of revelation. The Orthodox priest Thomas Hopko wrote, "In his actions in and toward the world of his creation, the one God and Father reveals himself primarily and essentially in a 'masculine' way." (Women and the Priesthood, p 240)

He is the Father of every good gift (James) with whom there is no turning of shadow (solar allusion).

He appoints rulers by divine overshadowing. This solar imagery was widespread among biblical populations of the ancient world. Many of the Hebrew rulers are designated as divinely appointed by the initial Y in their names. The Y is a solar cradle. The great chiefs of the Biblical world were designated as such by the initial Y in their names. This is more evident in Hebrew than in English. Consider the following:

Yishmael -- Ishmael; Yitzak -- Issac; Yaqtan - Joktan (Abraham's son by Keturah); Yishbak - Yishbak (another of Abraham's sons by Keturah); Yacob -- Jacob, Yetro -- Jethro; Yeshai -- Jesse, and Yeshua - Joshua/Jesus

The Y-shaped headdress of the Somali nomads is called Barki and refers to the sun's blessing upon the wearer. The word corresponds to the Hebrew Birka.

The swelling of the sun speaks of God's greatness and sovereignty. The Arabic yakburu means "he is getting big" and with the intensive active prefix: yukabbiru means "he is enlarging." There is a relationship to the word Hebrew or Habiru, referring to a caste or royal priests. At Nekhen, the oldest know site of Hebrew worship (4000 BC), the priests greeted the rising sun and watched as it expanded across the horizon. The priests of Nekhen placed invocations to the Father (Ra/Ani) and the Son (Horus/Enki) at the summit of the fortress as the sun rose. This is likely the origin of the Hindu Sun blessing ritual (Agnihotra) and the Jewish Sun blessing (Birka Hachama) performed every 28 years.

When the Angel Gabriel delivered God's message to the Virgin Mary, she inquired how this was possible. The Angel explained, "You shall be overshadowed." (Luke 1)

The fantasy world of Neo-Pagans poses the Earth is Mother. Long before, the ancients believed that Earth is inseminated by the Sun. Things that fell from the sky were considered gifts from the Creator. This is why beads of hammered meteoritic iron were placed in graves. At el Gerzah in northern Egypt, around 300 graves were discovered in 1911-1912. Tombs 67 and 133 contained a total of nine iron beads. Analysis of the beads indicates that they were formed from surface iron deposited by meteorites. The beads predate the emergence of iron smelting by nearly 2000 years, and other known meteoritic iron artifacts by 500 years or more (Yalçın 1999). Anthropologists believe these iron beads express hope for life after death. The ancients understood that our salvation comes from above.

The Episcopal Church has been unraveling the Received Tradition for decades. It is about to progress to the next stage. The male priesthood has been overthrown. Mother Earth has been elevated to a deity. Kingdom language is rendered meaningless. The new religion is becoming more and more synthetic, having little connection to the Messianic Faith of our Father Abraham.

Jesus said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." (John 8:56)

The Apostle Paul explains, "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." (Romans 4:18)

The maleness of God and Jesus Messiah is part of the Holy Tradition received from Abraham and his Hebrew ancestors. It is not a matter for negotiation. To set this aside is to eviscerate the Messianic Tradition and to denigrate the Gospel to simply another religious path.

Alice C. Linsley served as a priest in the Episcopal Church for nearly 18 years. Her research in Biblical Anthropology led her to the conclusion that the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church signaled that the theological foundations of that body were in rubble.

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