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Lutha Mahtin
Oct 10, 2010

Your brokebrain sin is absolved...go and shitpost no more!


Thirteen Orphans posted:

If you want a basic overview of Christianity especially how itís practiced overall then eco-theology or liberation theology, what have you, shouldnít be the first thing you jump into. Thatís all I meant.

this is also not true. it is completely possible for an overview-style text about christianity to be both (a) written from a particular school of theology, and (b) fair and accessible to a newcomer

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Captain von Trapp
Jan 22, 2006

I don't like it, and I'm sorry I ever had anything to do with it.

Lutha Mahtin posted:

nope nope nope nope nope. we're gonna stop this right now. forums user thirteen orphans does not speak for all of christianity

You're quite right. In orthodox Christianity it's neither normative nor valid.

Thirteen Orphans
Dec 2, 2012

The principles expressed in the martial arts make up the backbone of my philosophy.

Lutha Mahtin posted:

this is also not true. it is completely possible for an overview-style text about christianity to be both (a) written from a particular school of theology, and (b) fair and accessible to a newcomer

This is true, but from my time in campus ministry I realized most of the people I was ministering with/to donít avail themselves of that kind of literature. Encountering them where they were meant using those concepts but not necessarily jargon or anything like that; making it accessible to them. If you get too specialized early on it can alienate you if you arenít careful.

Perhaps Iím just worried a new Christian is gonna do what I did and take a hard dive early on and have to take extra time to catch up to actually understand what his fellow Christians think and feel.

Bar Ran Dun
Jan 21, 2006

When there were five in the bed and we all rolled over I said nothing, because I would not fall off.

I could have suggested way more radical authors. Johnsonís methods are very much in the mainline Protestant .

Zazz Razzamatazz
Apr 19, 2016

No hunks allowed, ya dangus

Lutha Mahtin posted:

nope nope nope nope nope. we're gonna stop this right now. forums user thirteen orphans does not speak for all of christianity

That book does seem quite out of the mainstream of Christian thought on the issue.

There are well established reasons why God is referred to as He for all but the last few decades of Christian history.

Bar Ran Dun
Jan 21, 2006

When there were five in the bed and we all rolled over I said nothing, because I would not fall off.

Zazz Razzamatazz posted:

There are well established reasons why God is referred to as He for all but the last few decades of Christian history.

Lol. Like do you even Hagia Sophia?

No but seriously you are very much wrong and harmfully wrong.

Zazz Razzamatazz
Apr 19, 2016

No hunks allowed, ya dangus

Bar Ran Dun posted:

Lol. Like do you even Hagia Sophia?

No but seriously you are very much wrong and harmfully wrong.

Jesus Himself referred to God as His Father... Iíd consider the guy who Christianity is founded on to know best on the topic.

And harmfully wrong? How so exactly?

Bar Ran Dun
Jan 21, 2006

When there were five in the bed and we all rolled over I said nothing, because I would not fall off.

Zazz Razzamatazz posted:

Jesus Himself referred to God as His Father... Iíd consider the guy who Christianity is founded on to know best on the topic.

And harmfully wrong? How so exactly?

People leave the religion because of the way you think.

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment




If you check your catechism it says that:

ďBy calling God ĎFatherí, the language of Faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. Godís parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasises Godís immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man.Ē

And that God "transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God."

So there's room even within strict Catholicism to consider these things, I think.

Bar Ran Dun
Jan 21, 2006

When there were five in the bed and we all rolled over I said nothing, because I would not fall off.

There were many early communities that talked about Jesus in terms of both Logos and Sophia. Godís reason and wisdom made flesh. This tradition continued for like over a thousand plus years ( eg. The Hagia Sophia).

Gaius Marius
Oct 9, 2012



White Coke posted:

Thereís a difference between saying that Easter has clearly pagan elements as practiced, and claiming that the entire holiday is derived from Germanic paganism, when most Christians donít even call it Easter but Pascha or some kind of variation. Anyone trying to de-emphasize something that clearly draws on Christianityís origins in Judaism should be challenged, especially when theyíre trying to impugn Nordic-Aryan characteristics on the religion where there arenít.

You could also say that Christianity had Pagan elements added to it, but only because the Pagans were able to grasp at the fringes of the "True" religion. Like how Plato had a better understanding of God than most the lads and lass's I talk to now a days

White Coke
May 29, 2015


I think I brought this up earlier in the thread, but werenít there Gnostics who thought women couldnít be saved? How do you get from that to talking about Godís feminine side?

Bar Ran Dun
Jan 21, 2006

When there were five in the bed and we all rolled over I said nothing, because I would not fall off.

White Coke posted:

I think I brought this up earlier in the thread, but werenít there Gnostics who thought women couldnít be saved? How do you get from that to talking about Godís feminine side?

A broad bunch of beliefs were Gnostic it wasnít one thing.

The big thing with them is initiation into a community that told one the secret knowledge

Paladinus
Jan 11, 2014






Since the whole thing started with an inquiry about hesychasm, I thought I'd chime in. I'm in no way particularly knowledgeable about the practice beyond surface understanding, but 'I know a guy'. I can tell you with certainty that if your end goal is to learn about hesychasm specifically, and maybe adopt some of its elements, you are better off looking up your closest Orthodox monastery, and live there for some time with the monks who practice it, even if your knowledge about Christianity is limited to catching 20 minutes of Ben-Hur when it woke you up in the middle of the night on your sofa. The practice is ultimately rooted in dozens of other Orthodox practices, and no amount of reading (especially of books that come from a completely different tradition) without experiencing them first hand can give you much of an insight into it.

Even if you're just interested in getting a sense of the Orthodox Christian spirituality, signing up for Sunday school or catechism courses, attending services, interacting with the community, etc. is the way to go. For just learning basic facts about Christianity, you might as well read a bunch of articles in an encyclopaedia of your choice, to be honest.

Thirteen Orphans
Dec 2, 2012

The principles expressed in the martial arts make up the backbone of my philosophy.

Bar Ran Dun posted:

I could have suggested way more radical authors. Johnsonís methods are very much in the mainline Protestant .

Just to throw it out there, sheís a Roman Catholic religious sister writing from a Catholic perspective.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





My impression had always been that "God the Father" was being assigned a male gender status more or less arbitrarily or perhaps in some counterpoint to Mary, while Jesus was himself a historical person who was male. (The Holy Spirit, who knows what's up with that guy.)

Zazz Razzamatazz posted:

Jesus Himself referred to God as His Father... I’d consider the guy who Christianity is founded on to know best on the topic.

And harmfully wrong? How so exactly?
To loop back to my own religion: It seems arguable that Christ was articulating extremely complex, mind-blowing ideas in relatable language, which might not give a completely specific and comprehensively accurate answer, but which were expedient means towards completing his mission of salvation.

The harm comes from taking this articulation of an idea and making it a specific absolute - that the creator of the universe is explicitly male (as understood, implicitly, by the person promulgating this doctrine, with the various assumptions baked into that), for instance, as opposed to "by long practice we use the same terms or expressions Christ did, however God the Father transcends all categories."

Bar Ran Dun
Jan 21, 2006

When there were five in the bed and we all rolled over I said nothing, because I would not fall off.

Thirteen Orphans posted:

Just to throw it out there, sheís a Roman Catholic religious sister writing from a Catholic perspective.

Yes but her thinking and methodology is very much taken from the work of Paul Tillich which is Lutheran and Protestant.

zonohedron
Aug 14, 2006




Lutha Mahtin posted:

this is also not true. it is completely possible for an overview-style text about christianity to be both (a) written from a particular school of theology, and (b) fair and accessible to a newcomer

I'm unsure that this is true if one's goal is "in general I want to learn about Christianity". Like, you can definitely get a good understanding of, I don't know, Oneness Pentecostalism, from a text narrowly focused on that, but you're unlikely to figure out what about that school of theology is actually unique to it, and what it shares with other formulations of Christianity. This seems like it would be true with any school of theology that's in reaction to, or sees itself as a correction of, some denomination's generally held beliefs.

Nessus posted:

My impression had always been that "God the Father" was being assigned a male gender status more or less arbitrarily or perhaps in some counterpoint to Mary, while Jesus was himself a historical person who was male. (The Holy Spirit, who knows what's up with that guy.)

Not exactly arbitrarily. God the Father is Jesus's father rather than mother because Jesus's mom is Mary, yes, but the family nature of the Trinity existed before anything (including "before") was created; Father-Son-and-Holy-Spirit is who God actively is/has been/will be being. It isn't purely metaphorical like God as shepherd, fortress, vine, or the like, and it's not functional like creator or sanctifier are. (Before creation, God was not yet the creator; before there were people to make holy, God was not yet the sanctifier.)

Bar Ran Dun
Jan 21, 2006

When there were five in the bed and we all rolled over I said nothing, because I would not fall off.

Also on topic is The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels.

https://www.amazon.com/Gnostic-Gospels-Elaine-Pagels/dp/0679724532

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





zonohedron posted:

Not exactly arbitrarily. God the Father is Jesus's father rather than mother because Jesus's mom is Mary, yes, but the family nature of the Trinity existed before anything (including "before") was created; Father-Son-and-Holy-Spirit is who God actively is/has been/will be being. It isn't purely metaphorical like God as shepherd, fortress, vine, or the like, and it's not functional like creator or sanctifier are. (Before creation, God was not yet the creator; before there were people to make holy, God was not yet the sanctifier.)
From God's perspective, was not the Creation and the existence of people to sanctify something that had already happened? Or does God exist in some kind of second-level linear time while all of us knuckleheads live in a first-level linear time that is a unified eternity from God's perspective?

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment




Nessus posted:

From God's perspective, was not the Creation and the existence of people to sanctify something that had already happened? Or does God exist in some kind of second-level linear time while all of us knuckleheads live in a first-level linear time that is a unified eternity from God's perspective?

Like Augustine said, if you understand it, it isn't God

Thirteen Orphans
Dec 2, 2012

The principles expressed in the martial arts make up the backbone of my philosophy.

zonohedron posted:

I'm unsure that this is true if one's goal is "in general I want to learn about Christianity". Like, you can definitely get a good understanding of, I don't know, Oneness Pentecostalism, from a text narrowly focused on that, but you're unlikely to figure out what about that school of theology is actually unique to it, and what it shares with other formulations of Christianity. This seems like it would be true with any school of theology that's in reaction to, or sees itself as a correction of, some denomination's generally held beliefs.

This is what I was going for; you said it much better than I did.

BattyKiara
Mar 17, 2009


How much of "God is Father and Male!" theology is a quirk of language? A lot of languages have difficulty with genderneutral pronouns. Is there a way in Hebrew of saying "God, the Parent, who is neither male nor female but something more, which does not fit into human categories" summed up as easily as "Our Father"?

I don't like trying to fit God into simple human terms. It takes away from the magnitude and mystery of God.

Valiantman
Jun 25, 2011

Ways to circumvent the Compact #6: Find a dreaming god and affect his dreams so that they become reality. Hey, it's not like it's you who's affecting the world. Blame the other guy for irresponsibly falling asleep.

Bar Ran Dun posted:

People leave the religion because of the way you think.

I wish to comment, that this is not a very good or persuasive reason to do something (or not do it). People leave religion because of many reasons, good and bad. And religion is not inherently good or bad either.

This is not aimed at you, personally. I don't mean to snipe at you nor do I feel capable of taking part in the actual conversation going on. I just felt like pointing out that at least in Christianity, belonging to the club is not the end goal.

e: grammar

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



BattyKiara posted:

How much of "God is Father and Male!" theology is a quirk of language? A lot of languages have difficulty with genderneutral pronouns. Is there a way in Hebrew of saying "God, the Parent, who is neither male nor female but something more, which does not fit into human categories" summed up as easily as "Our Father"?

I don't like trying to fit God into simple human terms. It takes away from the magnitude and mystery of God.

For what it's worth, this Baptist agrees with these sentiments. We put human labels on God in our attempt to understand Him, but our labels are as limited as our language and ultimately we ourselves as human beings are.

https://i.imgur.com/rNDsE13.mp4

zonohedron
Aug 14, 2006




Nessus posted:

From God's perspective, was not the Creation and the existence of people to sanctify something that had already happened? Or does God exist in some kind of second-level linear time while all of us knuckleheads live in a first-level linear time that is a unified eternity from God's perspective?

God is completely outside of time, God is timeless, time doesn't affect God because it's a created thing and things don't affect God. God doesn't exist in a different kind of time because God doesn't exist, God simply is.

The angels and those humans who are in Heaven experience "aeviternity" - they have a past and a future, so they're not eternal or unchanging, but they share in God's timelessness. That's why Heaven can't get boring, because it's not ten thousand years' worth of singing praises, it's just... singing praises, constantly in the now. It's also why a million people can ask St. Jude for something in the same second, relative to someone stationary on Earth, but he can perceive those requests: he doesn't need time to hear them or time to consider them, because he participates in God's timelessness. There's a saint who, while alive, prayed constantly for her brother, who had committed suicide, and after some number of years, was told that because she had prayed for twenty years, her brother had repented of his sin in the moment between doing whatever it was that killed him and actually dying of it. That's the kind of... participating? experiencing? enjoying? timelessness that those already in Heaven have(? are?) all the time.

I don't know whether those in Hell experience time like we do or not. I have spent literally half an hour trying to write this paragraph. I think they participate in God's time-less-ness (i.e. they have aeviternity) in the same way that, by continuing to exist, they participate in God's is-more-ness. (I just invented "ismoreness", as far as I know. If I'd invented it half an hour ago I might not have had to write and rewrite this.)

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment




It's like trying to talk about what happened 'before' the Big Bang. That isn't even a question it makes sense to ask because time was created at that moment also so there isn't anything 'before' it any more than there's anything north of the North Pole. But our human experience is utterly tied up in the linear perception of time so we can't even get our heads round it.

zonohedron
Aug 14, 2006




HopperUK posted:

It's like trying to talk about what happened 'before' the Big Bang. That isn't even a question it makes sense to ask because time was created at that moment also so there isn't anything 'before' it any more than there's anything north of the North Pole. But our human experience is utterly tied up in the linear perception of time so we can't even get our heads round it.

Right. One of the books I read, and I wish I knew which one, said that people think of God in basically four different ways:

Level 1: "God is literally an old guy in a special place."
Level 2: "Well obviously God isn't literally a guy (old or otherwise), and I can't literally walk or fly to that place (because of its specialness), but God is like a guy in a place."
Level 3: "All guys are like God, to a greater or lesser extent, and all places are like Heaven, to a greater or lesser extent, but God doesn't know things or have things or be in places, God just is."
Level 4: {People who have experienced God directly. You'll notice there's no quotation marks.}

Lutha Mahtin
Oct 10, 2010

Your brokebrain sin is absolved...go and shitpost no more!


Zazz Razzamatazz posted:

That book does seem quite out of the mainstream of Christian thought on the issue.

There are well established reasons why God is referred to as He for all but the last few decades of Christian history.

the fact that you don't keep up with modern theology doesn't make something outside of the mainstream. and regarding female language for god, try uh opening the bible sometime

Bar Ran Dun
Jan 21, 2006

When there were five in the bed and we all rolled over I said nothing, because I would not fall off.

Valiantman posted:

I wish to comment, that this is not a very good or persuasive reason to do something (or not do it). People leave religion because of many reasons, good and bad. And religion is not inherently good or bad either.

But misogyny is bad. And asserting that our symbols to talk about God are only and have only been masculine is misogyny.

Our words and symbols are constructed tools. When we assert that they are Godís words, we put the end and means of humans from a particular context in the place of Godís ends and means. We privilege a male and Greek way of thinking from a particular context. Iím not saying to not think in that way, I mean I do for a large chunk of how I think. We should recognize that it wasnít the only way to think and that itís symbols arenít the only symbols we can use to talk about God.

Iím comfortable saying that not doing that is bad and harmful and should be called such.

zonohedron
Aug 14, 2006




Lutha Mahtin posted:

the fact that you don't keep up with modern theology doesn't make something outside of the mainstream. and regarding female language for god, try uh opening the bible sometime

Leaving aside any question of validity, correctness, or liceity, a book describing "how [we can] rediscover the feminine God within the Christian tradition" is describing a non-typical process for the average Christian alive today, never mind the Christians alive before us. Not being in the mainstream of theological thought does not make something bad. A Protestant should not take "that's a novel approach to theology" as an insult!

That said, one of the reviews to the book on Amazon is

quote:

This should be taught in every theology course. It's not "bash the guys" feminism. It shows other dimensions of the "white bearded male and his long brown haired son" God. Not better or worse, but more.
and I think it is bad for any adult to think of God as "a white-bearded male and his son with long, brown hair"; I don't really think it's worse to think of God as an elderly woman and her blond son with a crewcut.

As far as "try uh opening the bible sometime" goes, we can go around all day, right? This is why Catholics think we need the Pope to be the final arbiter of what Catholics ought to believe (and in turn why he has to be unable to err when doing that arbitration), it's why it matters to the Eastern Orthodox whether a theological opinion is common or uncommon, new or ancient; it is not possible to say "the Bible says, and therefore," authoritatively for literally anything believed by any denomination of Christianity.

Someone can point to God as a nurturer, or point out, as my Women and the Hebrew Bible class did in college, that "El Shaddai" has been suggested to mean "the God with/of/having breasts", or quote Luke 13:34; someone else can point out that Jesus only says he wants to gather Jerusalem's children like a hen does, that "sophia" and "sapientia" just happen to be grammatically feminine, and that that grammatical distinction doesn't mean anything about gender any more than "socks" being animate in Plains Cree while "shoes" is inanimate suggests that socks are actually alive. (https://plainscree.atlas-ling.ca/grammar/words/nouns/gender-animate-and-inanimate/ is my source here; I was searching for animate/inanimate grammatical gender.)

Bar Ran Dun posted:

Our words and symbols are constructed tools. When we assert that they are God's words, we put the end and means of humans from a particular context in the place of God's ends and means. We privilege a male and Greek way of thinking from a particular context. I'm not saying to not think in that way, I mean I do for a large chunk of how I think. We should recognize that it wasn't the only way to think and that its symbols aren't the only symbols we can use to talk about God.
What if they are God's words? Like, what if God took a particular constructed tool and used it, specifically?

I mean, as far as "those symbols aren't the only ones", sure, if someone wants to use different pronouns or nouns or verbs or whatever in eir own private prayer, that's not really my business. If a Protestant denomination decides to change its liturgy, or a Protestant decides to pointedly say "Mother" instead of "Father" when eir congregation is reciting the Lord's Prayer, again, that's not my business, except of course that the hypothetical person is being rude. (I know a specific person who pointedly refused to use any male pronouns for God while praying in a church in the midst of a congregation, and I know that this person did that because it happened several times while I was standing right there, so this isn't a strawman!) When I care is a) when someone proposes altering the Catholic Church's communal prayers b) when someone proposes altering the Catholic Church's lectionary c) when it's a question of "what does the Catholic Church actually teach on such-and-such a topic".

Like, we know from several iterations of this thread that the Catholic Church opposes hepatomancy. If someone wants to talk about how deeply meaningful they find the examination of sheep livers, how kind and charitable it is to provide free lamb chops for the poor, that's fine, as long as they don't suggest that Catholics actually may practice hepatomancy.

Lutha Mahtin
Oct 10, 2010

Your brokebrain sin is absolved...go and shitpost no more!


bud, the bible uses feminine language to describe god and aspects of god in several places. that's what im talking about. im not talking about sola scriptura or the pope or anything

zonohedron
Aug 14, 2006




Lutha Mahtin posted:

bud, the bible uses feminine language to describe god and aspects of god in several places. that's what im talking about. im not talking about sola scriptura or the pope or anything

zonohedron posted:

As far as "try uh opening the bible sometime" goes, we can go around all day, right? Someone can point to God as a nurturer, or point out, as my Women and the Hebrew Bible class did in college, that "El Shaddai" has been suggested to mean "the God with/of/having breasts", or quote Luke 13:34; someone else can point out that Jesus only says he wants to gather Jerusalem's children like a hen does, that "sophia" and "sapientia" just happen to be grammatically feminine, and that that grammatical distinction doesn't mean anything about gender any more than "socks" being animate in Plains Cree while "shoes" is inanimate suggests that socks are actually alive.

ThePopeOfFun
Feb 15, 2010



Lutha Mahtin posted:

bud, the bible uses feminine language to describe god and aspects of god in several places. that's what im talking about. im not talking about sola scriptura or the pope or anything

Does it use feminine pronouns though?

Edit: I really don't know enough to have a dog in this fight. But it seems significant if there aren't feminine pronouns in the text.

ThePopeOfFun fucked around with this message at 16:49 on Apr 14, 2021

Bar Ran Dun
Jan 21, 2006

When there were five in the bed and we all rolled over I said nothing, because I would not fall off.

zonohedron posted:

What if they are God's words? Like, what if God took a particular constructed tool and used it, specifically?

How does God reveal God to us? My first answer to that question is by the event of Jesus as the Christ. My second answer is by Godís reason, wisdom, and love in all of the rest of us.

Our scripture doesnít say the Word was a book. It asserts that the Word was flesh! What do I think God uses specifically to reveal God, the Word made flesh (Jesus) and the Word in humans, in all of us, given by God by the Spirit.

Truth is a whole not a part and all things serve God.

zonohedron
Aug 14, 2006




Bar Ran Dun posted:

How does God reveal God to us? My first answer to that question is by the event of Jesus as the Christ. My second answer is by Godís reason, wisdom, and love in all of the rest of us.

Our scripture doesnít say the Word was a book. It asserts that the Word was flesh! What do I think God uses specifically to reveal God, the Word made flesh (Jesus) and the Word in humans, in all of us, given by God by the Spirit.

Truth is a whole not a part and all things serve God.
On the other hand,

quote:

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
That suggests that God uses our words, rather than our words teaching us in spite of themselves. If God is okay with using "masculine plural noun, singular verb" as a tool, we can use it too.

Bar Ran Dun
Jan 21, 2006

When there were five in the bed and we all rolled over I said nothing, because I would not fall off.

zonohedron posted:

On the other hand,

That suggests that God uses our words, rather than our words teaching us in spite of themselves. If God is okay with using "masculine plural noun, singular verb" as a tool, we can use it too.

Iím objecting to the assertion that we should only use the masculine pronoun to refer to God combined with an assertion that we should not use feminine pronouns.

I am not saying to not use masculine pronouns.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





zonohedron posted:

God is completely outside of time, God is timeless, time doesn't affect God because it's a created thing and things don't affect God. God doesn't exist in a different kind of time because God doesn't exist, God simply is.

The angels and those humans who are in Heaven experience "aeviternity" - they have a past and a future, so they're not eternal or unchanging, but they share in God's timelessness. That's why Heaven can't get boring, because it's not ten thousand years' worth of singing praises, it's just... singing praises, constantly in the now. It's also why a million people can ask St. Jude for something in the same second, relative to someone stationary on Earth, but he can perceive those requests: he doesn't need time to hear them or time to consider them, because he participates in God's timelessness. There's a saint who, while alive, prayed constantly for her brother, who had committed suicide, and after some number of years, was told that because she had prayed for twenty years, her brother had repented of his sin in the moment between doing whatever it was that killed him and actually dying of it. That's the kind of... participating? experiencing? enjoying? timelessness that those already in Heaven have(? are?) all the time.

I don't know whether those in Hell experience time like we do or not. I have spent literally half an hour trying to write this paragraph. I think they participate in God's time-less-ness (i.e. they have aeviternity) in the same way that, by continuing to exist, they participate in God's is-more-ness. (I just invented "ismoreness", as far as I know. If I'd invented it half an hour ago I might not have had to write and rewrite this.)
This explains some topics more clearly. I had raised this question (if in a playful light) because if God did not have certain qualities before the creation or before the arisal of humans, and did have them after these things, then this suggests that the creation has also changed God. This suggests a mutable nature. However, it would make sense to me to say that these qualities existed but were only meaningful for God's relationship to the universe once the universe had certain traits, such as intelligent life. And that it is interesting to speculate if there are traits of God that we are as yet ignorant of, because they exist but do not hold direct meaning for humanity.

HopperUK posted:

It's like trying to talk about what happened 'before' the Big Bang. That isn't even a question it makes sense to ask because time was created at that moment also so there isn't anything 'before' it any more than there's anything north of the North Pole. But our human experience is utterly tied up in the linear perception of time so we can't even get our heads round it.
I don't think this is necessarily or fundamentally the case, but I am coming at these things from my own perspective, where there were 'universes' before this one and shall in time be universes after this one decays.

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment




Nessus posted:


I don't think this is necessarily or fundamentally the case, but I am coming at these things from my own perspective, where there were 'universes' before this one and shall in time be universes after this one decays.

Well it depends. From a physicist's standpoint time and space were both created with the Big Bang and you can't have anything 'before' time, that was my point. It's a metaphor.

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CrypticFox
Dec 19, 2019

"You are one of the most incompetent of tablet writers"

ThePopeOfFun posted:

Does it use feminine pronouns though?

That's a more complicated question then you might think (at least for the New Testament, I don't know Hebrew and can't comment on that issue in the Old Testament) since Greek pronoun usage is very different from English usage. In the case of Luke 13:34, which was cited earlier, there is no pronoun that is used to refer to God. In English, the relevant part of the passage reads:

"How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings"

In English we don't get any gender from this pronoun, since its singular, which does not convey gender in English. However, in Greek there is no pronoun here at all here. In the Greek passage, the verb "desired" included the pronoun in the word without it being written out explicitly. This is seen elsewhere a lot in Greek, pronouns are usually implied. There may be a passage in the New Testament with an expressed pronoun referring to God, but I couldn't find one in a cursory search. However, Greek does use the definite article a lot more than English does, and all articles in Greek carry gender. When New Testament writers say God (Greek: Θεός), they usually attach an article to it, that may or not end up being translated. However, they always use a masculine article for this purpose. For example in John 1:1, God is written as "τὸν θεόν" in Greek, and τὸν is a masculine article. Depending on context, the definite article can be used as a pronoun, so there's probably some cases of that happening somewhere in the New Testament that I didn't find in a quick look.

However, another thing worth noting about this, is the fact that a feminine article + Θεός in Greek specifically means goddess. There is no separate word for goddess in Greek, so if they had used a feminine article with Θεός, they would been understood by their readers to be referring to a goddess, like Aphrodite or Hera. Greek also has a neuter gender, which they could have used, but did not. I think this would have required inventing a whole new grammatical construct, since I have never seen any classical author use a neuter pronoun + Θεός. They probably just stuck with masculine articles since that was both clear (not a goddess like Hera), and familiar. The failure to use a neuter article here is probably the best argument you can find grammatically for claiming that God must be referred to in masculine terms. However, I don't think that is very convincing unless you are leaning very heavily into biblical literalism. Looking at the context they were writing in, the masculine articles make sense as a practical choice. In fact, they probably didn't think of it as a choice at all.

For my own sake, I don't think we want to read too much into the gender of these articles. Ultimately, trying to classify God into the category of "masculine," "feminine," or "neuter" is a fool's errand. It has to be done for writing in Greek since you would be grammatically incorrect not to, but that does not mean it is anything more then a ham-fisted model to make the complexity of God fit into the narrow bounds of human language.

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