Objections to a Masculine God, Part Two

Written by Father Bill No Comments

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Before more completely unpacking Paul’s contention that God is masculine in 1 Corinthians 11:7, we are first examining the most common objections to this idea, beginning with objections lodged even by committed patriarchalists. One of the most common objections from their quarter goes like this:

“Masculinity” is not in the Bible’s lexicon. We should, therefore, defer from speaking terms that the Bible does not.

The fact that the lexicon of Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek cannot be mapped word for word to the lexicons of any other language has never hindered anyone from undertaking a translation of the Bible. Masculinity is not the only word in modern English, for example, that has no equivalent in Biblical languages. In fact, most of the Bible’s vocabulary (in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) is only approximated by vocabulary in modern English! Nevertheless, translators have inevitably resorted to “work-arounds” of various sorts (including paraphrase in the target language).

But, this critique of God’s masculinity goes beyond mere lexical equivalents. Because the words masculine or feminine do not exist as such in any Biblical lexicon, some will ruge that the concepts themselves have no meaning within a Biblical mode of expression. This is not true; but before showing this, we must note that these critics’ concern for the primacy of Biblical lexicons does not extend to other terms commonly used by them, terms which also never appear in any Biblical lexicon.

An obvious example, of course, is the word trinity and its related terms (trinitarian, Holy Trinity, triune, and so forth) These are wholly manufactured words, purely theological terms, technical terms if you will, terms applied to a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. Yet none of these trinitarian terms ever appear in the Bible. This fact is sometimes raised by unitarians or any who would repudiate Trinitarian doctrine. By appeal to what the Biblical lexicons do not contain, heretics score rhetorical points against their orthodox opponents.

Another word missing from the Bible is evangelize. Nor evangelism. But an entire Christian industry arises from these terms! Indeed, name any sub-group of Christendom and you can find within the parlance of that group any number of terms and expressions never found in the Biblical text.

To see this point, try to name each Christian subgroup which is known for using the following terms: (a) sacred heart; (b) move of God; (c) soul competency; (d) supralapsarian; (e) entire sanctification; (f) tight meeting; (g) Kingdom of the Left Hand and Kingdom of the Right Hand; (h) evensong; (i) Theotokos. The answers are given at the end of this blog post.

But, if there is no term within the Biblical lexicons for our term masculine, does this make it unwise or even impossible to affirm that God is masculine? For such an affirmation to be possible and credible does not, in fact, rest on a specific entry in a lexicon, but rather upon equivalent concepts in both the Biblical writings and extra-Biblical languages. And that is precisely what we find various parts of the Bible.

But, before examining these, let us first engage other criticisms of the statement “God is masculine” in the next two blogs.

(a) Roman Catholics; (b) modern charismatics; (c) Baptists; (d) strict Calvinists or the “Truly Reformed;” (e) Wesleyan Methodists; (f) Brethren; (g) Lutherans; (h) Anglicans; (i) Eastern Orthodox.

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