Author Topic: ELCA prays to "Mother God"  (Read 48291 times)

Mike in Pennsylvania

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #120 on: May 06, 2020, 11:53:27 AM »
Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Not feeding the troll.

Pastor Austin promising to ignore or leave a discussion is like President Trump promising to stop tweeting.   ;)
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DCharlton

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #121 on: May 06, 2020, 11:54:59 AM »
Why do you use "Word"? What makes you think that's how we should translate ὁ λόγος in John 1? The three pages of meaning in DBAG become 60 pages in the TDNT. There are 13 different entries in Lowe & Nida's Lexicon. That word has many other ways of being understood - meaning, it symbolizes a number of different things that we express by different words in English. It comes into English as the word "logic." Why shouldn't we refer to Jesus as "The Logic"?

Why?  Because I'm speaking and writing English, and language that both of us speak.  Furthermore, I'm using a theological language that we both understand.  A person who speaks English and who was trained in a Lutheran seminary in America knows what I mean by those words. 

Meanwhile, you believe that you have discovered a scientific method by which you can transcend language, turning language into a dead corpse which you can dissect and reassemble like Dr. Frankenstein.  I don't think you can.  That's our disagreement.
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readselerttoo

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #122 on: May 06, 2020, 12:20:07 PM »
Christians have been brought into the Church, the Body of Christ, by way of the sacrament of Holy Baptism.  This is the entrance into divine life in which the one God is in three persons and three persons are the one God.  These persons are not like unto other persons but are unique persons who are always for you and never against you.  No analogy or metaphor can reproduce this.  I think we need to emphasize that it is the uniqueness of the persons that is present and that these persons are not "like unto someone or something else."  The Gospel reading for this Sunday (5th Sunday of Easter) somewhat emphasizes this esp. in the dialogue between Philip and Jesus.  To pray to God for the Christian is always and ideally set within the parameters of this functional relationship of love between the Father and Jesus in the Holy Spirit.  The ending of these prayers pinpoints to whom this God we are praying is:   "...through Jesus Christ, our Lord who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.  Amen."  Or some variation dependent on who the prayer is addressed to, ie.  the Father, or the Son or the Holy Spirit.  Even the general prayer beginning with "O God" should end at least with "...in Jesus name."
« Last Edit: May 06, 2020, 12:24:37 PM by readselerttoo »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #123 on: May 06, 2020, 01:39:22 PM »
Why do you use "Word"? What makes you think that's how we should translate ὁ λόγος in John 1? The three pages of meaning in DBAG become 60 pages in the TDNT. There are 13 different entries in Lowe & Nida's Lexicon. That word has many other ways of being understood - meaning, it symbolizes a number of different things that we express by different words in English. It comes into English as the word "logic." Why shouldn't we refer to Jesus as "The Logic"?

Why?  Because I'm speaking and writing English, and language that both of us speak.  Furthermore, I'm using a theological language that we both understand.  A person who speaks English and who was trained in a Lutheran seminary in America knows what I mean by those words. 

Meanwhile, you believe that you have discovered a scientific method by which you can transcend language, turning language into a dead corpse which you can dissect and reassemble like Dr. Frankenstein.  I don't think you can.  That's our disagreement.


As soon as we ask, "What does this word mean?" we are transcending language. We recognize that there is/are meaning(s) behind the word. When I first had a class on Method of Bible Study at Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle, the primary tools were (1) the Bible, and (2) a Dictionary. (The class just dealt with an English translation - RSV. Since, I've expanded that method to use Greek and Hebrew texts, too.) If we don't know what the words mean, we can't understand a passage. Sometimes, when looking up a word in a dictionary, we discover nuances of meaning that we hadn't thought of before.


Lowe & Nida's Lexicon, and Danker's third edition of BAG, make a distinction between "definitions" and "glosses". Definition seek to describe what a Greek word means. Glosses are English words that might be used in expressing that meaning in English. Too often dictionaries just give glosses and we think they are definitions.


The first definition in DBAG for λὀγος is: "a communication whereby the mind finds expression."
Glosses under this definition include: "word, statement, question, assertion, declaration, speech, matter, thing"


As such, λόγος represents, is an expression of, what's in the mind. When we ask (and answer) "What does this word mean (within this context)?" We are seeking to get to the mind of the speaker/writer.


Within this discussion, the definition of metaphor that I am using is: "a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else." Words represent or symbolize inward thoughts of the mind. Thus, in my understanding, all words are metaphors. They represent something else. In olden days, a "writer" might draw a picture of a cow to express what he's thinking. That's no less a symbol of a real cow than the letters c o w. Those letters, in that order, symbolize
"a fully grown female animal of a domesticated breed of ox, kept to produce milk or beef"
or more generally, "any domestic bovine animal, regardless of sex or age,"
or, (in ranching) "a female domestic bovine animal which has borne more than one calf" (compare with "heifer"),
or "the female of certain other large animals," for example elephant, rhinoceros, whale.



Words, perhaps like an ethernet cable (or wireless connection), allows information from one person to flow to another person. The wire is not the information; but the means by which it is transferred. The information in my head gets to your head through words - assuming I've correctly encoded my thoughts into words that you can properly decode. When that happens, we have communicated. The meaning I have for the word cow is "an older female bovine who has given birth to multiple calves," and the meaning you have is "a female elephant," we have not communicated. What I'm thinking has not been transferred by the word "cow" to what you're thinking.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

DCharlton

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #124 on: May 06, 2020, 01:48:14 PM »
As soon as we ask, "What does this word mean?" we are transcending language.

No.  You are literally using language.  Try asking, "What does this word mean?" without using a language. 

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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #125 on: May 06, 2020, 02:11:14 PM »
Going back to my original question, and I don't know what else to say about this. I don't care for analogies in such things, but here goes...
Setting this up.
Let us say I have a friend named Mark Grant. He teaches chemistry in high school, is an active church member, an avid volunteer in his community and loved by all. Many of my friends have met him or heard me speak of him with respect and affection. Mark Grant, they know is an integral and meaningful part of my life.
Now... In a federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, sits Mark Grant, not the one I know and love, but another Mark Grant, convicted of heinous crimes against people and society, a man who gained considerable notoriety when being tried for his lurid crimes.
The "reality" situation.
Mark Grant is my friend and a respected member of society.
Mark Grant, another one of that name, is a convicted criminal of the lowest reputation.
Taking it to the actual and "liturgical" setting.
If in my converse with friends, I refer to "Mark Grant," can there be any doubt that I mean my friend and not the convict?
And to my original question: If, in a liturgy which includes scripture, creed, other references to the Holy Trinity, and the celebration of the Eucharist a prayer refers to "Mother God," can there be any doubt that we refer to the God referenced in the Holy Trinity and not a pagan, female deity reverenced by ancient or modern mystery cults?

I answered you before, but I will again: YES!


Then the problem is not the language, because the context makes it plain that the language is in reference to the Trinity. So, the problem must be the hearer.

No, the problem is the one who refuses to use God's self-given names.  The problem is trying to make God into our image.  The problem is the same as that Elijah spoke of at Mount Carmel.  The problem is idolatry.  Or, if you prefer, syncretism (which really is a form of idolatry).


God's self given name is יהוה. It was considered so holy, that the ancient Jews wouldn't pronounce it (so we don't really know how to pronounce it). It came into English as "Jehovah," and more lately as "Yahweh". The God-given name of the Son is Jesus (or Joshua in Hebrew). The Spirit isn't really given a name; although "Paraclete" is used in John. (It's also used of Jesus in 1 John.)
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #126 on: May 06, 2020, 02:17:37 PM »
As soon as we ask, "What does this word mean?" we are transcending language.

No.  You are literally using language.  Try asking, "What does this word mean?" without using a language.


To transcend: "be or go beyond the range or limits of"
Language, as I meant it: "the words used in a particular sentence"


To "transcend language" or perhaps better, "to transcend these words" means going beyond just the words on the page to the meaning(s) that the words represent. Almost no one believes that Jesus really wants us to cut off a hand that sins - even if that's what the words say. We go beyond those words to what Jesus might have meant by those words.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Steven W Bohler

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #127 on: May 06, 2020, 02:21:06 PM »
Going back to my original question, and I don't know what else to say about this. I don't care for analogies in such things, but here goes...
Setting this up.
Let us say I have a friend named Mark Grant. He teaches chemistry in high school, is an active church member, an avid volunteer in his community and loved by all. Many of my friends have met him or heard me speak of him with respect and affection. Mark Grant, they know is an integral and meaningful part of my life.
Now... In a federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, sits Mark Grant, not the one I know and love, but another Mark Grant, convicted of heinous crimes against people and society, a man who gained considerable notoriety when being tried for his lurid crimes.
The "reality" situation.
Mark Grant is my friend and a respected member of society.
Mark Grant, another one of that name, is a convicted criminal of the lowest reputation.
Taking it to the actual and "liturgical" setting.
If in my converse with friends, I refer to "Mark Grant," can there be any doubt that I mean my friend and not the convict?
And to my original question: If, in a liturgy which includes scripture, creed, other references to the Holy Trinity, and the celebration of the Eucharist a prayer refers to "Mother God," can there be any doubt that we refer to the God referenced in the Holy Trinity and not a pagan, female deity reverenced by ancient or modern mystery cults?

I answered you before, but I will again: YES!


Then the problem is not the language, because the context makes it plain that the language is in reference to the Trinity. So, the problem must be the hearer.

No, the problem is the one who refuses to use God's self-given names.  The problem is trying to make God into our image.  The problem is the same as that Elijah spoke of at Mount Carmel.  The problem is idolatry.  Or, if you prefer, syncretism (which really is a form of idolatry).


God's self given name is יהוה. It was considered so holy, that the ancient Jews wouldn't pronounce it (so we don't really know how to pronounce it). It came into English as "Jehovah," and more lately as "Yahweh". The God-given name of the Son is Jesus (or Joshua in Hebrew). The Spirit isn't really given a name; although "Paraclete" is used in John. (It's also used of Jesus in 1 John.)

Thank you for this lesson.  Of course, it is what we all learned our first year in seminary (if not before).  However, there are many names God gives us to call Him in the Bible.  Such as "Father".  It NEVER teaches us to call Him "Mother".  Those who pray to "Mother God" have discarded/rejected God's self-revelation for a god(ess) of their own making.  Idolatry.

DCharlton

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #128 on: May 06, 2020, 02:23:55 PM »
As soon as we ask, "What does this word mean?" we are transcending language.

No.  You are literally using language.  Try asking, "What does this word mean?" without using a language.

To transcend: "be or go beyond the range or limits of"
Language, as I meant it: "the words used in a particular sentence"

To "transcend language" or perhaps better, "to transcend these words" means going beyond just the words on the page to the meaning(s) that the words represent. Almost no one believes that Jesus really wants us to cut off a hand that sins - even if that's what the words say. We go beyond those words to what Jesus might have meant by those words.

Okay, fair enough.  Now show me how you go beyond words, without in the process using words.  If, as John 1:1 says, the Word was in the beginning, and that the Word was God, you are going to have to go back beyond the beginning, and even beyond the Second Person of the Trinity, to transcend words.  You are also going to have to do so without the use of any created thing, because everything that was made was made through the Word.  Good luck.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #129 on: May 06, 2020, 02:27:02 PM »
I think I understand the point of your analogy. If people pray to Mother God in the context of a Christian worship service it is reasonable to assume that they are not including prayers to some goddess out of a pagan religion. So it is not necessarily idolatry or syncretism. Fair enough I suppose. But that still does not mean that is a good idea.  Similarly we could include prayers to Baal God in our liturgy. Baal is an ancient near eastern honorific meaning Lord or Master. So to pray to Baal God could be similar to praying to Lord God. A good idea? It could certainly be confusing. Or how about praying to Allah? That is a word that is more contemporary in usage and is the Arabic word for God. If used in the context of a Christian service, should the hearers not assume we are not praying to the deity of Islam but the Christian God? Possibilities for confusion are even greater. (And yes, I know that Arabic speaking Christians do call the Triune God Allah when praying in their native tongues. but we are not Arabic speakers.)

Standard usage from Biblical times has been to address God and refer to God using masculine designators and pronouns. What does it communicate to break with that tradition and address God with specifically female referents? One thing that bothers me about this whole discussion and the drive to also use female referents for God is that it suggests that God is in His nature gendered. From all that I have read in the Bible, to actually assign a gender to God would be a category error. God is not the sort of person to have a gender. To specifically assign gender would be to make of God something that He is not, and to take a step to reforming God to be more like us.

So why do we call God Father and use masculine pronouns to refer to Him. Other than God, and possibly angels, we know of no persons who are not gendered. In our everyday experience the genderless are things and not persons. Also at least in English the masculine has also served as gender nonspecific referents. Some years back I read an article I believe in the journal Logia in which author argued that God in His essence is masculine in a way that transcends human masculinity but in which human masculinity participates. That article bothered me as much or more than an ELCA prepared liturgical prayer to Mother God. One of the dangers in this discussion is that it furthers the temptation to remake God to be more like us, and to enlist Him into our gender battles and wars.

We are in an era of the Balkanization of the human family. How many genders do we now divide people into, with more genders everyday. How many varieties of sexual orientation is recognized in the expanded alphabet soup of LGBT+++? Does each gender, orientation, generational cohort, political leaning, ethnic subtype need to have their own God? How many worship services should we really be hosting each Sunday, we need a service where God is addressed as male, one for female, and shouldn't we have services where God is addressed by all the other gender subtypes? Oh yes, and we definitely need services for worshipers of God the Republican, God the Democrat, God the Capitalist, and God the Socialist, God the youthful, God the aged, and God of the middle aged. etc.

If we need to address God as Mother because of women who have had bad experiences with fathers, how can they worship in a service where God is addressed as Father? But what of those, men and women, who have had bad experiences with mothers and still recovering from those trauma. Would not prayers to Mother God be a trigger for them? Should not part of their recovery and healing process (and it is often a long healing process) to learn to not generalize from their bad experience to all fathers or all men but recognize that their bad father was not normal but a bad father. God is what a good father or mother should be like. And no, one does not just flip a switch and make it so. But does allowing women or men with trauma to stay traumatized and over generalizing doesn't help them heal either.

For whatever reason, in the Bible we are encouraged to address God as Father, I know of no Biblical prayer that address God as Mother. We may no like that, but it seems to me a species of hubris to take it upon ourselves to correct what the Bible says because it suits us.

And yes, I know that there are passages where God is compared to a mother. I distinguish between metaphors and imagery for God and addressing God.


The word, "god" is used of all sorts of pagan deities; yet, no one seems confused when we use "God" in Christian worship that we are referring to the Triune God.


While male terms were used generically in the past, e.g., "men" could refer to a group of people that included females; English evolves. The way some words used to be used (and spelled) changes over time. We no longer use thee and thou in normal talk like they did in the 17th century; nor the verb forms that went with those pronouns.


I remember reading a short book from the American Bible Society about the Good News Bible soon after it was published. It argued that they are not changing the Bible, but new translations are necessary because English changes. While language that was acceptable in generations past may not be considered proper language today.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #130 on: May 06, 2020, 02:33:07 PM »
As soon as we ask, "What does this word mean?" we are transcending language.

No.  You are literally using language.  Try asking, "What does this word mean?" without using a language.

To transcend: "be or go beyond the range or limits of"
Language, as I meant it: "the words used in a particular sentence"

To "transcend language" or perhaps better, "to transcend these words" means going beyond just the words on the page to the meaning(s) that the words represent. Almost no one believes that Jesus really wants us to cut off a hand that sins - even if that's what the words say. We go beyond those words to what Jesus might have meant by those words.

Okay, fair enough.  Now show me how you go beyond words, without in the process using words.  If, as John 1:1 says, the Word was in the beginning, and that the Word was God, you are going to have to go back beyond the beginning, and even beyond the Second Person of the Trinity, to transcend words.  You are also going to have to do so without the use of any created thing, because everything that was made was made through the Word.  Good luck.


What do you think "Word" means in that sentence? (Or if you prefer, what does ὁ λόγος mean in that verse?) Asking, "What does this word mean?' is going beyond that particular word. Perhaps, better, it is seeking to look behind that particular word to the reasons the writer/speaker chose that word in that sentence. It is seeking to discover what might have been going on in the head of the speaker/writer when s/he used that word.


I think it was Bultmann who preferred the idea and word Revealer rather than Word for John 1.


Some have suggested John 1 is derived from the personification of Wisdom in the Old Testament and Apocrypha.


That's what I mean be going beyond the word.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

DCharlton

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #131 on: May 06, 2020, 02:57:54 PM »
As soon as we ask, "What does this word mean?" we are transcending language.

No.  You are literally using language.  Try asking, "What does this word mean?" without using a language.

To transcend: "be or go beyond the range or limits of"
Language, as I meant it: "the words used in a particular sentence"

To "transcend language" or perhaps better, "to transcend these words" means going beyond just the words on the page to the meaning(s) that the words represent. Almost no one believes that Jesus really wants us to cut off a hand that sins - even if that's what the words say. We go beyond those words to what Jesus might have meant by those words.

Okay, fair enough.  Now show me how you go beyond words, without in the process using words.  If, as John 1:1 says, the Word was in the beginning, and that the Word was God, you are going to have to go back beyond the beginning, and even beyond the Second Person of the Trinity, to transcend words.  You are also going to have to do so without the use of any created thing, because everything that was made was made through the Word.  Good luck.

What do you think "Word" means in that sentence? (Or if you prefer, what does ὁ λόγος mean in that verse?) Asking, "What does this word mean?' is going beyond that particular word. Perhaps, better, it is seeking to look behind that particular word to the reasons the writer/speaker chose that word in that sentence. It is seeking to discover what might have been going on in the head of the speaker/writer when s/he used that word.

I think it was Bultmann who preferred the idea and word Revealer rather than Word for John 1.

Some have suggested John 1 is derived from the personification of Wisdom in the Old Testament and Apocrypha.

That's what I mean be going beyond the word.

But you're still using words.  I'm waiting for you to show me how to transcend words, without in the process using words. 
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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #132 on: May 06, 2020, 03:29:11 PM »
I object to addressing God as "Mother," but as usual I don't see the issue as first and foremost whether we can or not. Rather, why would anyone choose to? I object to the desire behind the call for an alternate to "Father" more than I object to whatever alternative people come up with. Why not have God's Word shape our understanding of God, our selves, our neighbors, and the world rather than starting from our own elf-understanding and imposing that on God? 

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #133 on: May 06, 2020, 03:39:46 PM »
I object to addressing God as "Mother," but as usual I don't see the issue as first and foremost whether we can or not. Rather, why would anyone choose to? I object to the desire behind the call for an alternate to "Father" more than I object to whatever alternative people come up with. Why not have God's Word shape our understanding of God, our selves, our neighbors, and the world rather than starting from our own elf-understanding and imposing that on God?

Wait, wait, wait -- "elf-understanding"?  Now they want to make God into an elf?!??  :)

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #134 on: May 06, 2020, 04:10:02 PM »
I object to addressing God as "Mother," but as usual I don't see the issue as first and foremost whether we can or not. Rather, why would anyone choose to? I object to the desire behind the call for an alternate to "Father" more than I object to whatever alternative people come up with. Why not have God's Word shape our understanding of God, our selves, our neighbors, and the world rather than starting from our own elf-understanding and imposing that on God?

Wait, wait, wait -- "elf-understanding"?  Now they want to make God into an elf?!??  :)
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