Saturday, July 08, 2006

Kermode, Virgo and Driscoll



You have to listen to Mark Kermode's very funny ranting against Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which is bound to be high quality nonsense. Film reviews from July 7th. These are live on Simon Mayo's Radio Five Live programme every Friday, and good to download too. What Dr. Kermode fails to realise is that we know its like a silly theme park ride... we know it is mindless. But we like that kind of fun, once in a while. And given that Capote and Munich were the last two films I saw its time for a bit of sunsoaked drivel.

Meanwhile, Adrian was at TOAM and loved Terry Virgo and insists that you get familiar with Terry by listening to his Romans preaches from last Septembers UCCF Forum conference - they were best with the front-row seat I managed to bag for most of the week, but they work well on MP3 too! Key quote:
"Lets go and make Jesus famous"

HT Clokester: Mark Driscoll's interview in Christianity Today makes good reading - bring on a revival of chilled-out solidly-reformed Christianity in the UK please! Key quotes:
I am also honest about the pain of pastoral ministry—how pastors are sinners too. I hope the book is funny enough to start to put the "fun" back into fundamentalism.

Reformed theology offers certainty, with a masculine God who names our sin, crushes Jesus on the Cross for it, and sends us to hell if we fail to repent... I came to Reformed theology by preaching through books of the Bible such as Exodus, Romans, John, and Revelation, along with continually repenting of my sin. I am, however, a boxers, not briefs, Reformed guy. I am pretty laid back about it and not uptight and tidy like many Reformed guys.

I have thousands of books in my library and lean most heavily on dead guys for theology and modern stand-up comedians for preaching tips. In the end, I am an old-school, Jesus-loving Bible-thumper with a penchant for the portrait of Jesus in Revelation as an ultimate fighter with a tattoo down his leg.
Time to get on with preparing my talk on Luke 4v1-13 for church next week... Jesus, where we cave to temptation he stood firm!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Looking forward to Pirates II, too! Really enjoyed the first one. Depp is superb actor. Did you hear Pirates III is already on the drawing board with a planned cameo appearance for Keith Richards?

    Driscoll chilled out in boxer shorts? I'd hate to meet a Y-front wearing Reformed thinker in a mood!

    Just to comment on one part of the quote, "Reformed theology offers certainty, with a masculine God...", here'a a different Biblical view of God and gender from an academic who teaches at Calvin College, MI.:

    "we who follow the biblical example must first know what that example is. Some of the texts which started me rethinking the way I conceptualize God follow.

    A: Female images for God (drawn from women’s biological activity)

    1. God as a Mother:

    a. a woman in labor (Isa. 42:14) whose forceful breath is an image of divine power . God is threatening to come against Israel in power, a power likened to the forceful air expelled from the lungs of a woman who is in the final throes of labor. Calvin misunderstood Isaiah’s intent and construed this as an image of maternal tenderness!

    b. a mother suckling her children (Num. 11:12)

    c. a mother who does not forget the child she nurses (Isa. 49:14-15)

    d. a mother who comforts her children (Isa. 66:12-13)

    e. a mother who births and protects Israel (Isa. 46:3-4). In contrast to idol worshippers who carry their gods on cattle, God carries Israel in the womb. The message to the people is two-fold: it demonstrates God’s superiority over other gods, and reiterates the divine promise to support and redeem. In short, God’s maternal bond of compassion and maternal power to protect guarantee Israel’s salvation.

    f. a mother who gave birth to the Israelites (Dt. 32:18) The biased translation of the Jerusalem Bible ("fathered you") obscures the feminine action of the verb, more accurately rendered "gave you birth":
    JB: You forget the Rock who begot you, unmindful now of the God who fathered you.
    NRSV: You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.
    The Hebrew word in the first line can be translated as either "begot" (male activity) or "bore" (female activity); the context must provide the key. The word in the second line can only refer to female activity. Scholars have taken these two lines either as a male and a female image of God back-to-back, or they take both of them as female, due to the way this verse is located in the overall poetic structure of Deuteronomy 32.

    g. a mother who calls, teaches, holds, heals and feeds her young (Hosea 11:1-4) This poem is in the first person, where in Hebrew there is no distinction between male and female forms; the speaker can be either male or female. The series of activities are those that a mother would be likely to do: "it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I was to them like those who lift infants [lit., suckling children] to their cheeks [OR: who ease the yoke on their jaws]; I bent down to them and fed them." (NRSV)
    Given the context, it is possible that Hosea is indirectly presenting Yahweh as the mother over against the fertility goddess mother figure of the Canaanite religion that he is challenging. The images belong in pairs. Israel is presented as a wife in ch. 2 and as a son in ch. 11, that is, as female and male in tandem. It may be that Hosea is making the point that Yahweh alone is God by presenting Yahweh as the husband in ch. 2 and as the mother in ch. 11.

    2. Other maternal references: Ps. 131:2; Job. 38:8, 29; Prov. 8:22-25; 1 Pet. 2:2-3, Acts 17:28.

    B: Feminine images for God (drawn from women’s cultural activity).

    1. God as a seamstress making clothes for Israel to wear (Neh. 9:21).

    2. God as a midwife attending a birth (Ps. 22:9-10a, 71:6; Isa. 66:9) (midwife was a role only for women in ancient Israel).

    3. God as a woman working leaven into bread (Lk. 13:18-21). This feminine image is equivalent to the image of God as masculine in the preceding parable of the mustard seed.

    4. God as a woman seeking a lost coin (Lk. 15:8-10).This feminine image is equivalent to the image of God as masculine in the preceding parable of the shepherd seeking a lost sheep. Both Luke 13 and 15 contain paired masculine and feminine images for God, drawn from activities of Galilean peasants.

    C: Additional examples of the divine feminine.

    1. Female bird imagery. Yahweh is described by an analogy to the action of a female bird protecting her young (Ps. 17:8, 36:7, 57:1, 91:1, 4; Isa. 31:5; Dt. 32:11-12).

    a. The eagle: Dt. 32:11-12: "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead Jacob ...." (KJV). The female eagle, both larger and stronger than the male, does the bulk of the incubation of the eggs as well as the hunting. She is the one who bears the eaglets on her wings when it is time for them to leave the nest. In a sudden movement, she swoops down to force them to fly alone, but always stays near enough to swoop back under them when they become too weary to fly on their own. It is a powerful image of God nurturing and supporting us when we are weak, yet always encouraging us to grow and mature. Cf. Ex. 19:4, "I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself," and Job 39:27-30.

    b. The hen: Mt. 23:37 (par. Lk. 13:34; cf. Ruth 2:12): "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not." In his lament over Jerusalem, Jesus employs feminine imagery. Whereas the magnificent eagle is associated with light, sun, height, mobility and exteriority, the lowly hen is "associated with the shadows and darkness of the henhouse, and with depth and stillness and interiority beneath the mothering wings" (V. Mollenkott, The Divine Feminine [Crossroad, 1987], 93). Each image illuminates a different, important aspect of God’s relation to us.

    2. God as Mother Bear (Hosea 13:8), a fierce image associated with the profound attachment of the mother to her cubs. God’s rage against those who withhold gratitude is that of a bear "robbed of her cubs."

    3. Holy Spirit (in Hebrew, feminine; in Greek, neuter) is often associated with women’s functions: the birthing process (Jn. 3:5; cf. Jn. 1:13, 1 Jn. 4:7b, 5:1, 4, 18), consoling, comforting, an eschatological groaning in travail of childbirth, emotional warmth, and inspiration. Some ancient church traditions refer to the Holy Spirit in feminine terms (the Syriac church used the feminine pronoun for the Holy Spirit until ca. 400 C.E.; a 14th c. fresco depicting the Trinity at a church near Munich, Germany images the Holy Spirit as feminine).

    As we seek to follow biblical inclusivity, let us also affirm the consistent witness of the church, namely, that God is neither feminine nor masculine (gender), neither male nor female (sex). God, who is transcendent Spirit, possesses no physical body, yet accommodates to human limitations by using physical, relational, gender-laden images for self-disclosure. Some of those are feminine. Inasmuch as God inspired the biblical authors to be inclusive, who are we not to be?"

    Amen. Full essay here

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