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Location: Texas, United States

Evangelical Anglo-Catholic Deacon in the Episcopal Church (Dallas). I also received a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary in Historical Theology and Pastoral Ministries and am completing a post-graduate certificate in Anglican Studies from Nashotah House Seminary.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Christianity feminized?

There has been a recent movement within mostly Evangelical Christendom that argues Christianity has become too feminine. Basically, in any given church more women are active then men, and this is blamed on an emasculation of Evangelicalism.

In response, in Tennessee, there is starting a group called the "Godmen" conference. What is their solution you ask? Football, explosions, grunting and bad hygine..whaaa??

Wait a minute, are men supposed to be barbarians now?

Actually they’re right, but like many "don’t give me theology, just give me Jesus, church-growth" evangelicals, they don’t know why they're right and are looking for shallow and hollow answers.

The problem is not that Church culture lacks sports or other "masculine traits", the problem is folk-religion theology that thinks violence is always bad and that Jesus is always mild mannered and gentle as a dove.

Has anyone read Isaiah 63? Where God himself slaughters his enemies? In this case his people…to the point where his train is soaked in their blood?

How about Jesus' return in revelation? Or the overturning of the money changers?

The issue is some seem to think that "God is love" means God is Aphrodite, some kind of nebulas principle of love . Actually "God is love", means that is a trait of his personhood alongside holiness, justice, and other traits. God is a person, not a principle!

Evangelicals also fall into this trap, for how many times have you seen a painting of Christ pantockrator? (Christ all powerful) on the throne surrounded by angels in glory? Instead we have pictures of him playing baseball with kids and petting sheep. Not that these are wrong in and of themselves necessarily, but that only these images presents a skewed and unbiblical view of God, the Lord of Armies, who threw the horse and the chariot into the sea.

But instead of tackling the underlying theology, the silly evangelicals, decide they no longer what to shave on Sundays (see the article link at the end). These kind of things aren't solutions, they’re barbarism. What happened to the ideal gentleman knight? Chivalry? Love and defense for others? Being willing to endure suffering and even fight for those you care about, without devolving into animals?

Men are to be strong and aggressive and meek and kind, and loving, and intense all at the same time!

Christ loves his church so much he gave himself for it and blesses and loves it yet will return in the end to destroy violently those who have opposed him and persecuted his church and throw them into hell. Buddhist may think this is contradictory or wrong, but not Christians who read their Bibles and know the teachings of the Church for 2000 years.

1 Comments:

Blogger Nate said...

Wesley,

I own a book that pursues these themes in agonizingly-over-analyzed detail. It is called "The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity" by Leon J. Podles. Check Amazon for it (or you can borrow it from me sometime).

The author comes off as someone who has a mother-complex to me, but some of his insights are justified.

I agree with your thesis that Evangelicals are seeking to assert their masculinity in trivial and counter-productive ways in many of the "men's" movements I have seen in the church in recent years.

However, I have one issue with what you said. When the Bible says "God is Love", I do not believe it is merely one divine attribute among all of the others. Rather, I think it is a deep statement about the nature of the immanent Trinity, and the perichoresis of the three Divine hypostasies. I essentially agree with Augustine on this one: namely that Love entails a Lover, a Beloved, and the Love which ninds them.

This is a huge discussion, which I am not sure if it is fruitful to get into, because I think we both get to the same place in affirming Christ's masculinity. But basically, I put Love in this primary position because this is where Scripture puts Love (cf. 1Co 13; Mat 22.37-40; et al).

Now, it is the nature of love to be comforting and caring at some points, and harsh and disciplinarian at other times. The same love will cause me to yell at, and even spank my daughter if she tries to touch a hot stove, but also it will lead me to hold and kiss her if she actually touches that stove and burns herself. Thus, I do not think that divine justice and mercy are attributes set alongside love, but they are attributes that flow forth from love.

I have a different theory about the feminized Protestant Jesus, the Catholic pre-occupation with Mary, and the lack of male participation in Western Christendom (by the way, the Eastern Orthodox Churches have a much higher percentage of male participation than any western denomination). My theory is that when we loose sight of the feminine aspect of the Triune God, our need for the "Divine Feminine" manifests itself in unhealthy ways.

Yeah. Before you freak out, let me explain. Christ is the masculine embodiment of the Divine Logos (remember the Christ Victor icon). He is the icon of perfect masculinity, the Husband of His Wife, the Church. Yet, it is His Spirit that fills this Church and makes the Church the Church. It is His Spirit that gives us new birth (cf. Titus 3). It is His Spirit that hovers over the suface of the deep and prepares creation like a mother-bird preparing her nest. It is the Spirit that is immanent though creation, gathering us together, embracing us, and watching over us. And, I would argue that it is the Spirit who is the actualization of Divine Wisdom, personified as a woman in Proverbs 8, Wisdom of Solomon, and Wisdom of Sirach.

CS Lewis says that masculinity and femininity "goes all the way up" into the Divine Nature, and I agree.

I would argue that by ignoring the femininity of God in the Holy Spirit in a mis-guided attempt to hyper-emphasize the masculinity of God, we simply change the locus of that femininity to the wrong object (Mary for the Catholics, Wuss-Jesus for Protestants). By regaining a healthy sense of the femininity of God locused in the Spirit, I think we will take a small step back to a healthier worship of the Triune God.

12:19 AM  

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