MARCHING TO A WORTHY DRUMMER INSTALLMENT #19

Chapter 7: (continued) Reconciling Claims Against a Feminine Holy Spirit

 

 

 

Linking the Holy Spirit to Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs

 

 

I was chided for making a “hasty” connection between the Book of Proverbs and the Holy Spirit. The person who said this to me himself spoke somewhat in haste, knowing nothing about the amount of time I had spent on the subject before committing my thoughts to writing.

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. I could construe his remark about my hastiness to be a bit on the arrogant side in contradiction to his usual gentle demeanor, but instead I shall give him the benefit of the doubt, assuming instead that he honestly thought that it would take only a modicum of reflection on the subject to convince oneself that the Holy Spirit and Wisdom are not one and the same. Allow me, in the following commentary, to demonstrate otherwise.

Along with his comment regarding the haste of my connection between the Wisdom presented in Proverbs and the Holy Spirit, the individual who took me to task added, regarding the prevailing understanding of the Book of Proverbs, that the personification of Wisdom is simply a literary device and was never intended to represent an actual Person. But in opposition to this view, Wisdom in the original Greek has a name of a person, and that name is Sophia. Sophia has a history of being linked, in the Jewish and early Christian religions, with the Personhood of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Himself, in Luke 7:35, associates Wisdom with motherhood, an eminently personal attribute.

“But wisdom is justified of all her children.”

 

While that verse possibly could be interpreted as being merely a figure of speech, Jesus in Luke 11:49 and 50 more emphatically personifies Wisdom:

“Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute, that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation.”

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 companion to the Father in the act of creation, which I take as a distinctly female role. I disagree with the prevailing Protestant presupposition that Proverbs 8 refers to Jesus Christ, as well as the prevailing Catholic presupposition that Proverbs 8 refers to Mary, because in both cases the presuppositions simply don’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 Spirit 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 as noted in my Introduction above.

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 identifies the Holy Spirit as a functional female.

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 (we 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 the Father and God 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 Christ and the Church to Adam’s words regarding leaving father and mother and joining unto his wife to become one flesh. 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,. . .”

Another item that presents itself in a reading of Proverbs with an eye to the Personhood of Wisdom is the implied intimacy between mankind and Wisdom in the warning given in Proverbs 8:36: he that sins against Wisdom wrongs his own soul. Could this imply that our own purpose and function in the spiritual realm might actually parallel that of the Holy Spirit? There may well be a correlation between this caution and the one expressed by Jesus in Matthew 12:31 and 32:

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

These are strong words, and they make a strong connection between Wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps theologians instinctively sense this correlation. Perhaps also not wishing to shoot themselves in the foot and instead of attempting to truly understand what is being said here, they duck away from presenting anything controversial regarding the Holy Spirit. Historically, that has certainly been the situation with numerous theological expositions regarding the Holy Spirit, all of which end up complicating an extremely simple understanding of the nature of the Trinity by claiming that ultimately man is unable to grasp it.

I must express my disappointment with all such expositors for allowing this unjustified fear to prevent them from furnishing a richer, more love-inducing understanding of their God to the Christian community. How can we possibly fulfill God’s greatest commandment to us to love Him with all our hearts if we cannot understand Him? How can we truly worship God if we turn our hearts away from His own Word? I assert with the Revised Westminster Confession that the three Persons of the Trinity have but one substance – that of the Father, shared among them, and three distinct Personalities, or roles. I identify those roles as Father, Mother, and Son, wherein the Three constitute one God in the context of Family, by virtue of the love intrinsic to that structure which, of course, is idealized in its application to God. This identification I make does not represent any cleverness on my part; rather, its very simplicity gives me cause to suspect that many followers of God would do well to actually follow God in love tempered by fear instead of fear tempered by love, and to follow God Himself instead of adhering so stubbornly to the traditions of man.

Moreover, I would suggest that in a functional sense an all-male Godhead represents a model that can be construed with little difficulty to support homosexuality, in opposition to God’s detestation of that practice, as may be found in Genesis 19, Leviticus 18 and Romans 1.

As a final comment regarding my association of Wisdom with the Holy Spirit, I note that Irenaeus, commonly accepted as a respected 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 Luther, who not only was a rabid anti-Semite, but was devoted to scatological quips and who, by the way, thought that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ consort. On the other hand, Irenaeus’ peccadillos, like those of Luther, should not lead one to reject everything that they said or believed.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church, by elevating Mary as she did, did not completely deny the family of God the balancing femininity it so badly needs, so maybe Irenaeus should be respected a bit more in the Protestant community. Another thing the Catholic Church did for the feminine which the Protestant Church did not was to include the Book of Wisdom within the body of canonical, and therefore considered to be inspired, Old Testament books. This beautifully-written book furnishes several interesting passages suggestive of the identity of Wisdom as the feminine Holy Spirit. Selected passages are presented below:

“And in your wisdom have established humankind . . .Give me Wisdom, the consort at your throne . . . Now with you is Wisdom, who knows your works and was present when you made the world; Who understands what is pleasing in your eyes and what is conformable with your commands. Send her forth from your holy heavens and from your glorious throne dispatch her that she may be with me and work with me, that I may know what is pleasing to you. For she knows and understands all things, and will guide me prudently in my affairs and safeguard me to her glory . . . Or who can know your counsel, unless you give Wisdom and send your holy spirit from on high?

– Wisdom 9:2, 4, 9-11, 17

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