Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

"Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you.' " (John 20:21)

Today is Mother's Day [Note to self: hernewshoes' post.] and Pentecost.

The former got basically ignored at my churches -- which I'm okay with, as I'm not into the fetishization of motherhood.

CHPC had lots of hymns using Spirit, and the sermon was a bit about "What Is The Holy Spirit?"  I wore red and did the Scripture readings (Acts 2:1-21, and John 20:19-23).

CWM had A Service in Remembrance and Celebration of General Conference (though, as last year, it also had a blessing of the mothers, with a typically inclusive interpretation of "mothers" :) ).

One of the readings was Jeremiah 29:1-11 (the source of GC's theme this year: "A Future With Hope").  Tiffany changed some of the language (e.g. using "partners" and "children") but I'm just c&p-ing from oremus.
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the LORD.

For thus says the LORD: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

-Jeremiah 29:4-14 (NRSV)
***

When I was looking at Christianity Today online the other day, one of the links on the front page was: "Blessed Be the NAME of the Lord: Why 'Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier' is somewhere between heresy and idolatry" (A Christianity Today editorial - May 8, 2008). 
In the Gospels, Jesus refers to the Father and to himself as the Son. Yes, he also employs other metaphors for the Godhead, but never so consistently and starkly.
But Jesus is speaking out of his own relationship to God, right?  Yes he gives his disciples the "Our Father" as a template for how they should pray, but there is an entire Old Testament tradition of lots of metaphors for God.  There's a poster I left at my parents' house that I got when Ruthie was doing young adult Christian Ed at UCN that has lots of different names/metaphors/titles for God (or possibly Christ, or both, I honestly don't remember) found throughout Scripture, and I feel like we probably picked that up at some evangelical Christian store, not some crazy queer liberal place.  And honestly, the Good Shepherd is the idea of Jesus that immediately comes to my mind if I were to think of the primary image of Jesus in the Gospels -- for whatever that's worth.
Whenever God reveals his name, he reveals his character. We see in God's name his communal nature and desire for a personal relationship to his people. "I Am who I Am," he told Moses. "The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob … This is my name forever."
Leaving aside the fact that I'm weirded out by not capitalizing God's pronoun, doesn't this statement to Moses say that God's true revealed name is I AM?  Or LORD?  Or GOD?  Honestly, I read that Bible excerpt as saying, "I am the Lord the God of your ancestors, that is enough, you don't need a specific name to pin on me."  (I'm totally good with the "God's desire for a personal relationship with God's people," and I respect the communal thing, even as it's still not my default approach to Christianity.)
Almost all the recent alternatives to the Trinitarian formula undercut the personal significance of God's name by replacing it with words of function. As many have noted, "Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier" encourages modalism, the heretical teaching that God's threeness is more about his modes of operation, or our perception of him, rather than something intrinsic to the divine essence. Biblical Christianity teaches that all three persons of the Trinity are involved in creation, redemption, and sanctification.
I appreciate the reminder that all three persons of the Trinity are involved in all that God does, but is associating the distinct persons of the Trinity with different actions of God necessarily a bad thing?  I mean, if they were interchangeable then wouldn't we just talk about different aspects of a single God?

I think modalism has been largely how I understand the Trinity, and while I'm not terribly concerned about being a heretic, I'm also not sure how else I'm supposed to understand the Trinity.  If you wanna argue to me that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct entities ... I would totally be willing to listen, because that seems like it would be much more sense-making, but I don't see that as being the traditional orthodox understanding of the Trinity at all.
God is serious about his name—which is why he took the trouble to reveal it to us in Christ. To create an alternative according to our cultural sensibilities is at best parody and at worst idolatry, even if it is constructed from the good metaphors God has given us. Most idols, after all, are created from God's good gifts.
Okay, I think the reminder that we humans can create bad things from God's good gifts is neatly crafted here, but, um, didn't we already establish that the one time God specifically revealed God's name, God said, "I AM who I AM" (I have also heard it suggested that a more accurate translation is "I will be who I will be")?  Yes Jesus refers to God as "Father," but I AM is the actual answer to God being asked "What shall I tell the Israelites your name is?"  And okay, at this point I'm actually pulling out the exact citation.
Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

God said to Moses, "I am who I am. [Or I will be what I will be] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "

-Exodus 3:13-14 (NIV)
In Judaism, the name of God is super sacred and holy and not to be used lightly, so people mostly talk around it, using titles and metaphors and suchlike.  Do we need a personal name for God in order to have a personal relationship with God?  The article insists on "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," but I would argue that Father (and Son) isn't really a name, it's a mode.
Tags: holidays: mother's day, pentecost, religion: christianity
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