GOD, FACE TO FACE INTRODUCTION

The she-wolf lay trembling but still in a dark cold cave, her eyes blinking in the face of a harsh wind that ruffled her fur, seeking to expose her flesh to its frigid bite. The cave itself was surrounded by a bleak and hostile universe, its antipathy to life as immense as its vast scale.

 

Nested underneath her was a pack of cubs, warmed and fed by the suffering body above them and oblivious to the stress she was facing to ensure their survival. They fought for the warmest spot and the most milk, thinking only of their own well-being within their tiny universe beneath her sheltering underside.

 

I realized with a shock that the cubs represented us and that the life-giving body above was the Holy Spirit.

Many years after I became a Christian, God granted me two insights, profound in their influence on my experience as a believer: the first was a mathematically-based understanding of details associated with the events of Jesus’ feeding of the multitudes1; the second was an understanding of the nature of the Holy Spirit and of the Spirit’s role within the Trinitarian Godhead.

  1. A presentation of the feedings is furnished in Appendix 2 to Marching to a Worthy Drummer

 

The former insight, once established, was easily verifiable, and thus provided a means to strengthen my faith in the divine Source of the latter. As such, it was instrumental in the maintenance of my confidence in the gifts that God so graciously handed me. The importance of this confirmation was made manifest by the severity of the criticism against my insight into the nature of God.

I had been aware from the very receipt of this insight that it didn’t square with the conventional understanding of God as professed by the mainstream Churches, both Catholic and Protestant, for the insight itself was consistent with the vision of the wolf and cubs I had received many years previous upon accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

I was given to understand the relationship between the wolf and her cubs in that vision as symbolic of that which existed between God and the human race, the wolf representing the Holy Spirit. The vision awakened in me a hunger for the knowledge of God.

Why a wolf? I don’t know the answer to that, but to me a wolf is emblematic of nobility and strength.

The bigger question is why I was favored with the two insights that I acquired much later. I don’t know that either, but maybe it’s simply because I asked for it.

Attempting to share this vision with other Christians in my enthusiasm as a newly-minted Christian, I was quickly confronted with the displeasure of my peers. I kind of suspected that, because the image of a wolf can be taken by some as inappropriate and demeaning to God. But that wasn’t the problem at all. The problem was gender. The vision couldn’t be correct, because the Holy Spirit was referred to in Scripture as masculine rather than feminine. Given this negative reaction, I proceeded no further with the sharing, completely avoiding the pastoral staff in the matter. Until I was given further insight into the issue many years later, I put the vision out of my mind and focused instead on understanding Scripture. This in-depth review served me well upon receiving the gift of insight, as I was then able to confirm my understanding of the Holy Spirit’s gender through Scripture.

I subsequently wrote about the insight in my book Family of God, after which I submitted the book to a friend who possessed impressive theological credentials. As before, I was criticized for the view, but with a twist: the Holy Spirit was not considered by him to be feminine, but neither was this Divine Entity masculine; the entire Godhead was considered to be void of gender in the sense of participating in a procreative function. The entire Creation, in his view and in the view of the seminary from which he emerged with a degree in theology, and, in fact, in the view of virtually every Western denomination acknowledged to be Christian, was accomplished by some pure Godly process in which gender differentiation was not involved.

The form of my friend’s displeasure exposed the heart of the matter: sex. Sexuality was forbidden within the Godhead. The entire Church denomination to which he belonged viewed sex as basically evil and too earthy for God. His denomination was not alone in this dim view, which represents the official public assessment of the mainstream Church regarding all matters sexual in nature. In privacy, it’s an entirely different matter, as the world discovers in recurring episodes of sexual excesses within the Christian clergy and laypersons. A lesser-known manifestation of this sordid business among Christians is the startling estimate that 80% of Christian males regularly view pornography, a good half of them being full-blown addicts to this form of voyeurism.

In a subsequent book Marching to a Worthy Drummer, in which I enlisted the aid of Scripture to rebut the mainstream view of the genderless Godhead, I made in the Introduction the following commentary regarding the source of this mainstream viewpoint:

Love was in the air at the time of the Pentecostal birth of the Church. And hope besides, a freshness of season, a joyful anticipation. Despite the anger and persecutions of those who knew not Christ against those who did, the Church willingly, thankfully and even possessively took up the Cross, marching boldly toward a paradise restored.

A few short centuries later the Western Church, greatly enlarged and enjoying the status of a state religion, had lost its newness and its joy. It was an institution now, a secular power. In the acquisition of this comfort and lofty position it now stood as a receiver of service, having forsaken the love of serving others. Far worse than that, it had lost the joy of loving God at the most basic and important level, that of natural intuition.

Some might think that this loss was an inevitable consequence of the easing of conditions for the Christians. No longer faced with persecution, they became soft of spirit and their fervor of worship decayed into indifference toward God.

Indeed, that was part of the problem. The Church always has been at her best when forced to face suffering and persecution. But looming over that external nudge toward decline was a much bigger dilemma, an internally-caused one that drove Christians away from their love of God because they could no longer see God with the intuitive clarity they possessed earlier.

This urge for reformation that stripped them of their knowledge of God was a desire to distance the Church from the sea of false notions and pagan beliefs with which she was surrounded. Sensing the great danger their Church faced from these competing ideas, many of which were lewd and corrupt, the leaders among the faithful strove to set their faith apart from the baser systems of belief in order to ensure its uniqueness and, above all, its purity. They intended to accomplish this with a thorough housecleaning and, energized with this objective, they pursued this task as if on a sacred mission.

By the time they were finished their objective was achieved beyond all rational expectations. Sexuality was completely divorced from the Christian faith as practiced by the mainstream Church. If the realization of that objective required a certain “correction” of Scripture in a few critical places, well, so be it. God certainly wouldn’t frown on the desire to purify Christianity. Not only were Mary and Joseph purged of sexual experience beyond the pain of childbirth and the necessity of breast-feeding, but God Himself, being considered above the baseness of sexual experience, was neutered. The Holy Spirit was changed from a feminine Being to a weakly masculine one, and, as a consequence, the Godhead was stripped of its family context and instead came to be viewed as a fellowship of brothers.

Gone was the intuitive basis for love, as represented by the Christian’s own family and spousal experience. In seeking God, the believer was forced to approach Him with agape love, having been made to forsake any hint of eros and the possessive love it engendered. From this complete lack of understanding of who God actually was, it was only a matter of time before indifference toward Him set in.

All one has to do to verify the anti-sexual bias of the early Christian Church is to read what the Church Fathers themselves, including Justin Martyr and Augustine, had to say about the place of sexuality within Christianity. There also is much evidence that Scripture was tampered with to disassociate sexuality from God.

Like most committed Christians, I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture in the original autograph, and its inspiration, again in the original, by the Holy Spirit. But, having been exposed to numerous off-the-wall interpretations of Scripture, I certainly don’t have any faith in the ability of mankind to maintain that Scripture in its original, pristine state.

On the last go-around on this subject with my friend, he again responded negatively to the clear Scriptural evidence of the femininity of the Holy Spirit as well as the equally clear evidence of Scripture having been tampered with regarding gender and God. He said, in effect, that he would produce Scriptural evidence that was thoroughly contradictory to mine.

Now, as I eagerly await his substantiation of his claim, I cannot help but to anticipate what this evidence might look like. I sincerely want to see the face of this more appropriate God. And the Source of this picture had better be Scripture.

Why is that? According to John 1:18, we have not and indeed cannot directly see the face of God the Father.

“No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

 

Nevertheless, we understand from Scripture that Jesus (Col 1:15) is the very image of the Father, so that we know from John 14:9 that if we see Jesus, we also see the Father:

“Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?”

 

How can we see Jesus, and thus the Father? Many great artists have attempted to paint his features, but we have no assurance of their resemblance to the actual Jesus. But Jesus wasn’t speaking of what He looks like, but what His heart looks like, and we have Scripture to show us that. His most preeminent attribute, according to John 1:1 and 14, is His role as the Word of God:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . .And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”

Having access to this picture of God in Scripture, it is incumbent upon us to adhere to it, understanding any view of God that contradicts His portrait in Scripture to be false and unworthy of our attention.

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