BACKGROUND TO BUDDY #8

Note to the reader: the series of articles entitled Background to Buddy were extracted from a Christian nonfiction work that formed the basis for the novel Buddy, which is available from either Amazon or Signalman Publishing. Directions are noted on the page entitled Buddy on this blog site. The purpose of this work was to explain the reasons why I consider the Holy Spirit to be functionally female. Adventure episodes and humor were added for the entertainment of both the reader and the author.

Chapter 4: A Challenge and a Brief Response (continued)

Being labeled as “hasty” in making a connection between the Book of Proverbs and the Holy Spirit:

The connection that I have made among the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom and the Holy Spirit was not made in haste. It developed over a period exceeding a decade. Regarding the connection that I presented in Family of God between the Holy Spirit and the Book of Proverbs, I emphatically confirm my claim as to that connection, citing Proverbs 3:13-20 (particularly verse 19 in light of Genesis 1:1-5) and 8:22-36, in which Wisdom acquires a distinct personhood and is cast in the role of complementary, responsive companion to the Father in the act of creation, which I take to be a distinctly female role. I disagree with the presupposition (apparently the prevailing one) that Proverbs 8 refers to Jesus Christ, because it simply doesn’t fit the context of that chapter. I also could cite Proverbs 9 and 31 in that regard, and Psalm 104:30 which links creation with the Holy Spirit. (Job 26:13 is similar in that regard.) Although I prefer to remain entirely within Scripture in my responses, I also could cite Benjamin Warfield’s commentary in page 122 his book The Holy Spirit4 that “In both Testaments the Spirit of God appears distinctly as the executive of the Godhead [italics in the original].” This reference is particularly appropriate, in that the person who made the objection and I both agree as to our high opinion of Warfield. I also point to Warfield’s more lengthy discussion on pages 124 and 125 that elaborated on the role of the Holy Spirit in the act of creation. I wholeheartedly agree with the person who made the objection on the correctness of linking the Holy Spirit with an executive role, which I consider to be purely responsive (to the Will of the Father), and therefore represents a female role.

An example of the initiator-responder relationship between the Father and the Holy Spirit may be found in Jesus’ own words in Luke 11:13:

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

The linkage given in Proverbs with Wisdom in an executive role, as well as its personification of Wisdom as a complement to God the Father, amply justifies the inclusion of the Holy Spirit in that linkage. Furthermore, the whole tenor of Proverbs not only personifies the Holy Spirit, but makes a functional female identification.

Beyond those comments, I note that other passages in Scripture besides Proverbs, as well as the context of Scripture in its entirety, strongly suggest a female functionality for the Holy Spirit, which adds weight to my entire argument as well as to my connection of Wisdom with the Holy Spirit as presented in Proverbs. As examples I cite Jesus Christ (John 3:3-8) and Paul (Ephesians 5:31 and 32).

In John 3, Jesus explicitly links the Holy Spirit with (Spiritual) birth, an undeniably female function, while in Ephesians 5, Paul declares the spiritual marriage between Christ and the Church, implicating God (my challenger and I wholeheartedly agree on the deity of Christ) in the role of marriage partner. If God as Jesus is involved in romance, isn’t it possible (I would say probable) that God as the Father and God as the Holy Spirit are involved in romance as well? Surely, given the Scriptural certainty of the marriage between Jesus and His Church, the notion of a genderless and therefore passionless and fruitless nature of such a union would not only be incomprehensible, but runs counter to the whole tenor of both Scripture and Creation.

Furthermore, in Ephesians 5, Paul repeats Adam’s words to the effect that a man shall leave his father and mother and join his wife, and they two shall become one flesh. In applying this entire passage to Jesus, does not Paul imply that Jesus had a Mother to leave? As there is a general consensus that Jesus existed long before He came in the flesh, we also must agree that here Paul is not speaking of Mary as Jesus’ Mother.

It may be the case that most theologians don’t perceive any compelling reason to equate Adam’s words regarding leaving father and mother and joining unto his wife to become one flesh with Christ and the Church. But Jesus Himself as quoted in Matthew 19:4-8 appears to attach a significance to Adam’s words that transcends a mere man-woman relationship. In addition, there are other passages in Scripture, including Genesis 24 and Isaiah 54, that tend to confirm the notion that in the spiritual realm the Church shall indeed serve in a female role as the Bride of Christ.

In further support of my equation of Wisdom with the Holy Spirit, I cite Isaiah 11:1 and 2:

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord,. . .”

As a final comment regarding my association of Wisdom with the Holy Spirit, I note that Irenaeus5, commonly accepted as a Church Father, also directly equated Wisdom with the Holy Spirit, and he did so a number of years before I (and others of my ilk) did. It may be said in response that Irenaeus as a human had his problems, one being his belief in Apostolic succession. I thoroughly agree that such should not be revered, pointing to another Church great, Martin Luther6, who not only was a rabid anti-Semite, but was devoted to scatological quips. On the other hand, Irenaeus’ peccadillos, like those of Luther, should not lead one to reject everything that they said or believed.

The remark that it is inappropriate to confer Godhood on a female Entity:

Is it really inappropriate, in the light of Paul’s comments regarding female participation in Church activities, to confer Godhood on a female?

Personally, I think that the reason the Paul, in 1 Timothy 2, expressed the desire to limit the role of females in the Church is that he wished all of us, given our future hope of participating so intimately in the Godhead, to remain suitably humble regarding the nature of that future participation. In that sense, he would have had no interest in lessening the position of the female in the present Church; to the contrary, his interest would have been to keep all of us, male and female, in our places.

One can readily discern in the account of the prophetess Deborah in Chapter 4 of the Book of Judges that God didn’t categorically deny to women the exercise of leadership. Deborah was the fourth in a line of fifteen judges over Israel following the death of Joshua and before the institution of kings over the nation. The situation was extreme, to be sure, and apparently the men at that time had turned so far away from God that He not only handed over the prophetic role to a woman, but also made her a judge and a military leader. Given that the Israelite men at that time apparently didn’t step up to the plate and shoulder their responsibilities, Deborah’s actions should not be considered to be usurpations of authority as Paul admonished against in 1 Timothy 2:12. According to the account in Judges 4, Deborah served as a military leader only when Barak refused to confront the Canaanites without her. That certainly can not be construed as a usurpation of the man’s role, and it is apparent from what followed that God was there all the way with both Deborah and the woman Jael, who slew Sisera.

The scene is set for the story of Deborah in Judges 2:13-19:

“And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers who spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the lord had sworn unto them; and they were greatly distressed.
“Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges, who delivered them out of the hand of those who spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the lord; but they did not so. And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them who oppressed them and vexed them. And it came to pass when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.”.

The full account of the exploits of Deborah and Jael in Judges Chapter 4 is given below.

“And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when [the third prophet] Ehud was dead. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor, the captain of whose host was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles. And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord; for he had nine hundred shariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
“And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in Mount Ephraim; and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. And she sent and called Barak, the son of Abinoam, out of Kedesh-naphtali, and seid unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward Mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali, and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee, to the river Kishon, Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him unto thine hand.
“And Barak said unto her, If thou will go with me, then I will go; but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding, the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honor; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him. Now Heber, the Kenite, who was of the children of Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.
“And they showed Sisera that Barak, the son of Abinoam, was gone up to Mount Tabor. And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon. And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand. Is not the Lord gone out before thee? So Barak went down from Mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him. And the Lord routed Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak, so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet. But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.
“Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber, the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin, the king of Hazor, and the house of Heber, the Kenite. And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle. And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink, for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him. Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? That thou shalt say, No.
“Then Jael, Heber’s wife, took of nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come,and I will show thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he cam into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.
“So God subdued on that day Jabin, the king of Canaan, before the children of Israel. And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin, the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin, king of Canaan.”

The bottom line is that God is not so rigid that He unconditionally prohibits a female from serving in a role usually reserved for a male. Where in Scripture outside 1 Timothy 2 is there even a suggestion that He should categorically deny a female from sharing Godhood with Him? Furthermore, it is a reach to extrapolate that notion from that single instance in Paul’s letter to Timothy. Even in that passage, Paul notes the cause of the proscription against women teaching as Eve’s deception in the Garden of Eden. It is more likely that Paul’s proscription came about through his perception that Eve had usurped her role as Adam’s wife in acting independently without his lead, perhaps in so doing violating her creation in the image of the Holy Spirit. This likely scenario, then, far from precluding a female Holy Spirit, actually supports the notion.

The nation of Israel has had another female leader much more recently, one whom God also used to save the country. The following story, while somewhat redundant, serves to underscore the fact that Paul’s comments regarding the service of women in the Church has little or nothing to do with their capability of performing roles, with God’s blessing, more commonly associated with males.

Born in 1898 in Kiev, Russia, Golda Mebovitz7 immigrated to the United States at the age of 8. She grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She married Morris Meyerson in 1917 and with him she immigrated once more in 1921 to Israel, her homeland for the rest of her life.

Culminating a career in government service, Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969, becoming the fourth P.M. of the new nation. (There may be a prophetic implication here between Deborah’s being the fourth judge – and effective leader – of Israel and Meir’s being the fourth leader.) Mrs. Meir served in that capacity until she resigned in 1974 at the age of 76, partly because of failing health.

In the year previous to her resignation she played a major role in extricating Israel from near-defeat in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Faced with terrible attrition in the coordinated Egyptian-Syrian assault, Israel was on the point of annihilation. Golda flew to the United States to plead with then-president Richard Nixon for support in the form of weaponry with which to resupply her troops.

Amazingly, Nixon’s Quaker mother had told him when he was a child that some day he would be in a position to help the Jews. When that happened, she said, he must do everything in his power to provide that help. Her message to her son was prophetic, and when Golda Meir approached him with her plea for help, he remembered his mother’s admonition. Accordingly, he embarked on a massive resupply operation for Israel. The action saved the day, and with that help Israeli soldiers turned the near-defeat into victory.

So apparently God still doesn’t mind if a lady takes over the reins once in a while. While it’s rare, it’s obviously not forbidden. Paul’s comments in 1 Timothy 2 related to Eve and her female offspring, not to the Holy Spirit. Nor do they have anything to do with women’s future post-resurrection roles.

If one wants to find a mindset that really represses females, all one has to do is go to China or India or visit a Mosque, talk (in depth) to a Muslim, or digest the tenets of Shari’a law. Interestingly, Islam, while treating women as greatly inferior to men, also denies the deity of Christ and the existence of the Holy Trinity, and advocates the murder of Christians and Jews. Jesus is there, to be sure, but as a mere prophet who subordinates Himself to Mohammad, denies that He died on the cross and supports the Muslim antipathy toward Christians and Jews. I personally think that God’s view of womanhood, as gleaned from Scripture, is vastly different than that promoted in the anti-Christian Muslim faith. The odd fact might also be noted that whereas Deborah was the fourth judge over ancient Israel, Golda Meir was the fourth leader of the modern nation of Israel, giving Deborah this additional prophetic role of Israel’s distant future. That is indicative to me of God’s continuing hand over His people.

Even if one would insist upon a Godhood reserved exclusively for males, I suggest only a female function for the Holy Spirit, not a female substance. I would remind the objector that my understanding of the Holy Spirit is as a compositional male (substantively) as well as a functional female. In that capacity the Holy Spirit would indeed be capable of assuming a male role, notably the exercise of Will belonging to the Father. That the Holy Spirit has not assumed this lofty position to date is simply one of obedience to a functional role that is complementary to the Father’s will given the continuing presence of the Father. This notion brought the disobedience of satan (Isaiah 14) to mind, which was of that nature. The issue also raised the companion issue of subordination of one Member of the Godhead to another, which appears to many as a heretical stance. In that regard, the specter of the old Arian heresy rears its ugly head. Here again, I had addressed the Arian heresy in Family of God, noting how it had no application in my thinking. The Arian8 heresy, in placing Jesus below the Father as lesser than God, is nowhere close to what I propose about the Members of the Godhead, which is more a voluntary and time-specific functional subordination, not one of intrinsic capability. Scripture itself endorses my stance. In John 14:28, for example, Jesus declares the Father to be greater than Him, which makes no statement whatsoever regarding either His Godhood or His capability of assuming the Father’s role. Regarding the issue of precedence between the Father and Jesus, I cite Revelation 3:14, wherein Jesus names Himself “the beginning of the creation of God”. I don’t think this departs greatly from the Westminster definition of the Godhead, but to those who would claim that it does, I note that as far as we dimensionally-restricted humans are concerned, the beginning of the creation of God is also when time began in our universe, which is equivalent to our “eternity past”. I also would remind them that the Westminster Confession is extra-Scriptural.

[to be continued]

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