TRINITY INSTALLMENT ONE

In my previous posting, I noted additional support from Scripture regarding my perception of the functionally feminine nature of the Holy Spirit. Having revisited the topic, I’ll stay on that subject for the next several postings with a general background introduction followed by commentary on the presentation of the subject by several respected Christian authors.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul presents to the Church a remarkable mystery of great importance. It is to be treasured not only for its contribution to our future hope and expectation, but also to clarify our understanding of our God. This mystery is encapsulated in Ephesians 5:25-32:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
“This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

A devoted Christian condensed this beautiful statement into the following magnificent observation: “Just as Adam’s side was opened for Eve, so Jesus’ side was opened for His Church.”

In dwelling upon this wonderful notion, we experience not only joy in understanding that our future spiritual role shall be as the Bride of Christ, but catch a glimpse of the Trinitarian nature of God Himself.

A paradox stands in the way of internalizing this new and welcome information. It first must be resolved in order that we may fully accept it. The issue is this: we, redeemed mankind, are collectively treated as masculine whereas here in Scripture we are given to understand our spiritual role in relationship to Jesus as feminine. This conflict requires us to differentiate between our gender as an aggregate of individual elements and our gender in a functional application. Thus, regarding our future spiritual identity, as an aggregate we shall be male whereas functionally we shall be female.

A conflict of precisely the same nature exists in our understanding of the Holy Trinity: Among the Members of the Trinity, the First and Second Persons, as Father and Son, are naturally considered to be male in gender. Regarding the Third Person, the Holy Spirit, however, there is no small amount of gender ambiguity. In routinely applying the pronoun ‘He’ to the Holy Spirit, Scripture automatically assigns the male gender to this Divine Person. It has often been commented, however, that Scripture seems to develop an image of the Holy Spirit that is female in nature. To the Holy Spirit are regularly assigned the attributes of comfort, nurturing and compassion, supported by statements made by Jesus Himself. These female attributes are functional descriptors, whereas the pronoun ‘He’, when applied to the Holy Spirit in Scripture, refers to the Divine Person in the sense of object. There is a striking parallelism here with the object/function gender differentiation of the Church.

The Book of Proverbs further supports a female functional designation for the Holy Spirit. Of particular interest in this regard are Proverbs 3 and 8, from which the following excerpts are taken:

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. . .She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. . .The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. . .Doth not wisdom cry? And understanding put forth her voice? . . .The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.”

Several items come to mind from the above review of these passages in Proverbs. The first is that the Persona is female throughout; an attempt to assign some of these passages to Jesus Christ, as many do, would constitute an unnatural force-fit, most obviously in the issue of gender, but also with respect to function and role. The second is directly related to function, wherein the passages suggest a connection between Wisdom and the Holy Spirit as furnishing the most likely Person to which a female function may be assigned; the third is that the Holy Spirit was active in creation itself, as summarized in Genesis 1:1-3:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”

In the context of Scripture’s general treatment of the Holy Spirit, this passage more than suggests that the Father was assisted by or in union with the Holy Spirit in the act of creation, the result being, as Jesus Himself suggested in Revelation 3:14, a manifestation of the Son. I am not alone in this assertion regarding the active participation of the Holy Spirit in the creation event. As a matter of fact, I merely echo the position of the respected scholar of Scripture Benjamin B. Warfield in Chapter 17 of his book The Holy Spirit. I quote below from this work:

“His offices in Nature – The ‘Spirit’ or personal ‘Breath’ is the Executive of the Godhead, as the ‘Son’ or ‘Word’ is the Revealer. The Spirit of God moved upon the face of chaos and developed cosmos (Gen. 1:2). Henceforth he is always represented as the author of order and beauty in the natural as of holiness in the moral world. He garnished the astronomical heavens (Job 26:13). He is the organizer and source of life to all provinces of vegetable and animal nature (Job 33:4; Ps. 104:29, 30; Isa. 32:14, 15), and of enlightenment to human intelligence in all arts and sciences (Job 32:8; 35:11; Ex 31:2-4).”

Perhaps, in speaking of the Holy Spirit, Warfield might have noticed that the Arm of the Lord in Scripture possesses both Godhood and an executive role. Had he perceived this, he may have included Scriptural reference to “the Arm of the Lord”, as in Isaiah 51:9 and 10, among several other passages that refer to this holy Arm. As translated from the original Hebrew without interpretive license, this passage would read as follows:

“Awake, awake, put on strength, O Arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not She who cast out Rahab, and wounded the dragon? Art thou not She who hast dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; who hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?”

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