Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Holy Spirit a goddess?

"Moshe Rabbenu, I’ve got a few questions for you: How much does the Torah passed down in your name reflect what you actually said and did and experienced? And now that you have crossed over to the other side, how much space is there between your experience and articulation of God and the God whom you now know in eternity? Why couldn’t you find a woman from your own folk you could stand long enough to marry? And is the bias against women in the Bible directly related to your domestic issues? And Elijah, I have a couple of questions for you too: how does being taken bodily up into heaven in a chariot of fire actually work? Does your body phase in and out of solid matter cohesion like in a transporter beam? Is heaven on the other side of a wormhole? When you killed the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal but not the four hundred prophets of Asherah was it because you really didn’t mind a little goddess worship on the side? Are we feminists right in saying that Asherah was just the Canaanite articulation of the Holy Spirit and not really another God? Those are just some of my questions. I don’t know if Peter had questions or if he just wanted to be in the presence of his holy and revered spiritual ancestors." (Emphasis mine)

I may get smacked for citing so much content from someone else's blog in one hit. But that's life. The above derisive rant wasn't penned by a scornful atheist or your run-of-the-mill radical feminist. These are the words of a minister. In fact, the author is an Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

As Dan Skogen notes:

"Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney ordained Episcopal priest who teaches the future leaders and pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America."

Is that how a faithful Christian minister should behave towards the Word of God and the Holy Spirit? Or is the basis for judging what actually constitutes the Word of God founded on whether it agrees with one's ideology? Is whatever fails to meet one's criteria subject to mockery?

Two posts ago I blogged about gay activism and suggested that academics within the Lutheran denomination are beginning to use their selective brand of "hermeneutics" to champion the practice of homosexuality, same-sex marriage and a host of other social ideologies. Judging from Gafney's comments, significant elements within the ELCA are already happily wallowing in the depths of heresy and paganism.

Why would an organization, with the high pedigree that the Lutherans have historically enjoyed, allow people like Gafney to teach at their seminaries?

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2Ti 4:1-7

I could quote a few more Pauline verses that would be germane to all this and thereby generate the proverbial "gnashing of teeth". Of course, many will hasten to point out that Paul was a misogynist who got some basic things wrong because he was raised in a patriarchal society. Moreover, they'd argue that a lot of the stuff in his epistles is irrelevant to "modern needs" and must be filtered through the lens of the appropriate hermeneutics.

Sadly, the secular media embraces these examples of "Christianity" because their narrative is complementary to where the main-stream media believes an "enlightened society" should be heading. But are these examples truly faithful presentations of God's Word to the unbeliever and babe in Christ?

"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. Act 20:28-31

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. Jam 3:1

Speaking of hermeneutics, according to Gafney:

"Because of what all seminary professors, biblical scholars, seminary trained clergy and religious leaders and careful critical readers of scripture know: we all interpret everything we read or see, including (and not just) sacred texts. Yet there is a misperception that texts – especially religious texts – are independent of interpretation, that their meaning is whatever the literal text says, with no nuance or room for interpretation. And Those who get to say that the text means what it literally says to them, are those with power, frequently white, male, heterosexual, cis-gendered, able-bodied, frequently clergy (with or without seminary education depending on the tradition)."

Are these people actually looking at the texts and sifting out subtle "nuances" that have "room for interpretation"? Or are they beginning with modern diversity-derived presuppositions, and then cherry-picking what they need from wherever they can in Scripture?

I recommend Dr. Robert L Thomas' "Evangelical Hermeneutics - The New Versus the Old". See especially chapters 13 and 14 (Evangelical Feminism & Evangelical Missiology) in regards to the subject of this blog. See Gary Gilley's book review HERE and also note the articles:

Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutics - Part 1 

Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutics - Part 2

Further reading:

Gods and Goddesses

Yahweh and Asherah (Michael Heiser)

Biblical Hermeneutics: Foundational Considerations 

The Hermeneutics of Evangelical Feminism

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