Name That Glory!!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 November 2011 03:05 Written by Father Bill Tuesday, 22 November 2011 03:05


What is the glory of Paris? The Eiffel Tower, you say? Good answer! Oh, I see. This other fellow says it’s the Arc de Triomphe. Well, okay. There’s no law that says Paris can’t have two glories.

And, so, what is the glory of Athens? The Parthenon! There you go. See? This isn’t such a hard game after all!

What is the glory of Rome? Most folks will say the Coliseum. Or the Seven Hills (though they’re harder to actually see than the Coliseum). No biggie. If Paris can have more than one glory, so can Rome.

How about the glory of Vienna (I used to live there; eat your heart out)? People who’ve never been to Austria might say the Blue Danube. Folks who live there might easily say it’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral smack dab in the center of the city.

You see, when we’re talking about places (at least in English), it is easy to understand “A is the glory of B.” “A” is what comes to mind when we’re speaking of “B.” The glory of a place is what always comes to mind when that place is mentioned. That’s why, in the Old Testament, we find several examples of the cedar tree as the glory of Lebanon.

When we’re speaking of people, however, English speakers don’t often use the formula “A is the glory of B.” However, we have seen that this formula is easily used in the Bible when speaking of people. And, so “strength” is the glory of young men, because strength is what comes to mind when young men are mentioned. Gray heads are the glory of old men, for the same reason – when old men are mentioned, we think immediately of men with gray hair. And, as we’ve seen, skill at psalmistry (composing/singing songs to a plucked instrument such as a lyre or a harp) is the glory of King David in the Old Testament.

Now here is an amazing thing …

I have often presented the subject matter of this and previous blogs in this series, at seminars held in churches or at men’s retreats or similar venues. My students have been able to follow the inductive steps that let them see what “A is the glory of B” means. They can play “Name that Glory!” with complete accuracy.

And then I say, “Okay. We come to 1 Corinthians 11 and Paul tosses off the statement that men are the glory of God and woman is the glory of man. What does each of these phrases mean? Any hands?

No hands!

I wait. Still no one raises his hand. Many puzzled faces look back at me. A few of the faces are not puzzled, but they are suddenly very wary. Many faces go completely blank and unreadable; and long experience has taught me that when this happens in men’s faces, it is because they are alarmed or angry or terrified, and they instinctively grab hold of their emotions and hold them with a very tight rein, refusing to let what’s going on in their hearts show on their faces. It’s a sort of social defensive maneuver, deployed to keep one’s options open.

Why do you suppose this happens? Why does “man [the male, that is] is the glory of God” produce these reactions?

One hundred years ago, I doubt I’d see such reactions. Since the ascendency of feminism beginning in the 1950s through the 1970s, since the dominion of feminist values in politics, economics, academia, and cultural media was consolidated in the 1980s and codified in law and court decisions ever since then, and – most importantly – since evangelicals have more or less made their peace with religious feminism within their own ranks (and, this includes the so-called complementarians), on this side of all these developments over the past 70 years, evangelical men either cannot or will not acknowledge the meaning of “man is the glory of God.”

If they cannot acknowledge the meaning of “man is the glory of God,” it is usually because they are so conditioned against the meaning of that phrase that they are simply incapable of attaching that meaning to the words which convey it.

If they will not acknowledge the meaning of “man is the glory of God,” it is because they know better than to own up to what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 11:7. They know very well how powerful are the deterrents against such an idea, how punitive are the consequences for candidly owning up to Paul’s meaning.

So, let’s put it out on the table and look at it in all its modern scandal: “man is the glory of God.” What this means is this: when God is the subject of our speech or thought, a man comes to mind. A woman does not come to mind (at least not in the Biblical faith!). That is why woman is not the glory of God.

No, it’s a man who comes to mind when Christians speak of God.

When Jesus ministered for three years before He was crucified, the awareness steadily grew in the minds of the religious authorities that this rabbi was saying and doing things that lead inexorably to the conclusion that He was God. And, it because a mere man claimed to be God that Jesus was crucified.

Today, Jesus would be crucified for exactly the opposite claim – that God is a man, not a woman. And, of course, the Apostle Paul would be crucified right alongside him.

We’ll begin to unpack this scandalous meaning of “man is the glory of God” in subsequent blogs. Stay tuned!

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Why A Male Messiah?

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 October 2011 08:00 Written by Father Bill Saturday, 29 October 2011 08:00

It’s almost blasé these days to find depictions of Christ as a woman. The saucy edginess of such a thing fomented frisson in feminist hearts 40 years ago, but one can now purchase artsy-fartsy greeting cards depicting female nudes affixed to a cross, complete with crown of thorns on their heads. I decline to give you links to them, though.

Still, is the sex of the Messiah as incidental to the Incarnation as the color of his eyes or the shape of his ears? If he would be no less the Messiah if he were an inch taller or an inch shorter, why could he not have been the daughter instead of the son of Mary? All these depictions of the Messiah as a woman, dying for the sins of the world, bluntly insist it might have been this way.

There are two answers to the sex of the Messiah arising out of the Bible, one factual, the other theological.

The Old Testament and a Male Messiah

The first mention of a savior of the world is found in the curse on the Serpent in Genesis 3:15:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

About the only thing one can learn about this promised serpent-crusher is that he is a human (seed of the woman) and a male (hence, he will crush …).

Without following all the references here, all additional prophecies of the Messiah reveal him to be male. To name one such prophecy, he is the male heir of King David (2 Samuel 7 and dozens of Psalms).

So, when it comes time to delineate the Messiah’s genealogy, he is “the son of ..” and “the son of …” and so forth (Luke 3; Matthew 1). From the factual forecasts of the Old Testament, Messiah could not be a female.

The Theology of Incarnation

The face of God in the Old Testament is fully and unambiguously masculine. No, God is not male in the Old Testament. For such a statement to be true would require God to have a whole raft of characteristics that constitute biological male sex. However, one could truthfully say “God is masculine.” Indeed, one would more or less be forced to say such a thing from His own revelation of Himself. Let God be true, and every man a liar.

After the Incarnation, however, one must say – in some sense – that God is male, meaning by this “humanly male” or “biologically male” as human males are male.

Jesus is male, not female. He is, obviously, masculine, not feminine (yeah, yeah, I know he’s supposed to be feminine via chickenness; but …sheesh!). He is the Bridegroom, never the Bride. He is our Brother, never our sister.

He is the King, never the queen. He is Lord of Lords, never lady of anything. He is the eternal and – since the Incarnation – human Son, never the Daughter.

And,He remains male and masculine, according to the Apostles’ reports in the Gospels, according to John’s visions on Patmos, according to author of Hebrews, according to the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and Athanasian Creed, and the Definition of Chalcedon. Orthodox Christianity has always, without reservation, confessed, taught, and defended Jesus’ eternal human maleness.

And, Jesus is God, too. Right?

A wise friend, whom I will not identify here, in a letter to me said it this way:

If we call what God is from eternity masculine, his Incarnation must be male. What we are focusing on [in this correspondence] is the nature of the event of Incarnation, which in one sense is something new and in another sense something old. God took maleness into himself at the Incarnation, but this maleness was a created expression of the eternal masculinity … from which it arose. If something arises as a wholly derivative expression of something prior, it may be called new, but in a qualified way. It is “taken up” into the Greater, but only as something that is, as its expression in another medium, already wholly its own.

Whether you approach the question from the standpoint of Old Testament prophecy or from the standpoint of Biblical theology, you arrive at the same place: the Messiah must be male.

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Is A Man the Head of His Household?

Last Updated on Friday, 28 October 2011 07:00 Written by Father Bill Friday, 28 October 2011 07:00

The   film Courageous  has gotten some religoius feminists in a tizzy over the whether or not husbands and fathers are the heads of their households. I haven’t seen the film (it hasn’t been booked into our small-town theater), but to judge by the eyes of the religious feminists who are commenting at the link above, I’d guess I would agree with the film’s fundamental premises about the responsibility married men have for the welfare of their wives and children.

Here’s how the blogger puts it:

  •  The movie implies (and explicitly states in at least one instance) that the Bible teaches fathers are to take full responsibility for their wives and children, but they do little to show where and how the Bible teaches it (actually nothing that I can remember, but correct me if I’m wrong) As egalitarians agree, there simply isn’t biblical justification for a view like this, and it is unfair to both men and women to place this extra burden on fathers alone.
  •  In encouraging men to be responsible, why does it have to be at the expense of women’s responsibility? Does the Bible not also call godly women to be engaged with their families, and to be prayerful, respectful, kind, and integrity-filled—all prominent ideas in the resolution the men sign? To me, these challenges seem to highlight the way all who follow Christ are to live—both female and male.

As usual, religious feminists can’t stand the notion that the Bible lays responsibilities on men greater than a women’s, that women and men relate in the family in an ordered way that makes the man responsible to God for the woman in a way that the woman is not responsible to God for the man. To the religious feminist, any wifely responsibility that is NOT identical to the man’s is no responsibility at all, rendering her “passive.” Such folk need to be warned against airing that sort of idea to a faithful wife and mother productively serving her family in a patriarchal marriage, lest she punch their lights out.

But, here’s the rub, something which shows how intractable the religious feminist’s plight is when he is firmly in its clutches: the religious feminist cannot see what is writ plain in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is patriarchal to the core, and at the heart of the Bible’s patriarchy is a responsibility of the husband/father for his family that is not shared with the wife.

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