Is God male?

17 May

Dr Mimi Haddad

Is God Male? Part 3


How many of us are left wondering whether some Christians today suffer from a similar condition we might call “gender-blindness”? Christian faith may have a masculine feel because those with gender-blindness do not see the many female leaders in the Bible. Nor do they perceive related concepts such as God is “spirit,” and that the work of Christ is inseparable from the work of the Church. Our rebirth in Christ opens doors to service in the church regardless of gender because it was Christ’s humanity, not his gender that made him a sacrifice for all people. Gender-blindness, if not recognized, can lead some to believe that the man they see in the mirror each day corresponds to the leaders they observe in Scripture. Like my father (K+M: who was colour blind), we all need a little help, so we can overcome our blind spots and perceive the fullness of God’s Kingdom.

Read more of this article from Dr Mimi Haddad, President of Christians for Biblical Equity.


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35 responses to “Is God male?

  1. Barney

    May 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Of course God is male, c.f. Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6. In Mk 14:36 we learn Jesus’ very own words “Abba, Father.” Jesus said this, thus it must be true – “I am the way the TRUTH and the life.” Those who deny this make God a liar.

    • Mimi Haddad

      May 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      God is never referred to as Mother is Scripture because it was one’s “Father” who, in a patriarchal culture, extended both identity and inheritance. And, only sons were heirs in the ancient world, and also in many countries today. That is why it is significant that Christ identifies females as “daughters of Abraham” (Luke 13:16). He is the first to do so, yet Paul follows Christ’s example by making clear that all who are baptized in Christ are also Abraham’s seed and heirs of the kingdom, including Gentiles, slaves, and women (Gal 3: 27-29).

      • Katie and Martin

        May 22, 2012 at 1:53 am

        Mimi, we want to apologise that we did not respond earlier to your comment. Sometimes things get away from us and we miss important things in front of us.
        Thanks so much for your original blog but also: Your comment that the patriarchal ancient world cultures only included sons as heirs, indicates why gender language can seem male biased in Scripture.
        Your “daughters of Abraham” comment indicates just how radically inclusive Jesus was towards women.
        “27 for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:27-29) NIV
        The Good News brings tears of joy once again.
        Women must be brought into pastoral leadership if we are to honour Jesus’ inclusive declaration.

        • Morven R. Baker

          May 22, 2012 at 1:58 am

          Mimi, We love you, and thank God for you and the rest of the team at Christians for Biblical Equality as often as we remember you. You are a much respected voice. Preach it, sister!

  2. Morven R. Baker

    May 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I’m sorry, because I really shouldn’t be laughing, but I’m wondering just how serious Barney has to be regarding his comments? Has he done any exegesis lately? Does he know that that God created men & women in “our” own image (Genesis 1:26)? That means TWO genders, not one, as last time I checked men and women were definitely different.

    The Hebrew word for spirit, as in “Holy Spirit” is RUAH, a feminine term (Ruether 1996). The term SHEKINAH, which means the presence of God among the people that is in the cloud of light and the burning bush, is feminine gender (Bennett, 1994). The Hebrew for God’s compassion, RAHUM, and the word for mercies, RAHAMIN, literally mean “womb love” (Cooper-White 1995(. It is appropriate, therefore, when God is described as a woman in labor (Isaiah 42:14) and a nursing mother, loving the child to whom she has given birth and whose name is written on her hand (Isaiah 49:15-16). Hosea describes God as a bear robbed of HER cubs (Hosea 13:8). God provides sanctuary to us just as a mother who comforts her small child (Psalm 131:2). God longs to protect us, just as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings (Luke 14:34).

    You might also be interested to learn that Scripture talks about God as having feet, eyes, a nose, arms, hands and a womb – everything but genitals (Sherwin 1991).

    Goldingay, a well respected Biblical scholar, suggests that only when men and women are together do we have God imaged.

    Barney, you are putting God in a box made of human hands. Men do not have wombs, they do not give birth and they do not nurse babies. God is so much bigger than any of us mere humans could ever imagine. We are ALL made in God’s image.

  3. Barney

    May 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I do not laugh about the above, sadness is a closer feeling. Read John 14 and then tell me if God is not THE FATHER. Tell me if the Holy Scriptures are a box made by human hands.

    • Morven R. Baker

      May 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      When God is referred to as “Father” by Jesus or by us, is that a biological term, necessitating a mother? No, our relationship with God and Jesus’ relationship with God is using the term metaphorically, not biologically, just as all the other anthropomorphic descriptions of God are metaphorical. God is not a physical being, so has no literal hands, feet, etc. When Scripture describes God in these terms, it is also metaphorical.

      The term “Father” used by Jesus is a relational term, rather than a physical descriptor. When Scripture talks about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34) as a mother hen who longs to gather her chicks under her wings, it is also metaphorical. He is not a mother hen. So, when Jesus calls God “Father”, he does so metaphorically/relationally, not physically. Just as when God is metaphorically described as a “mother,” he is a mother only metaphorically/relationally, not physically.

      How can one deny the Biblical metaphorical mother characteristics of God (quoted from Scripture in my previous response to yours) unless one also logically denies the metaphorical father characteristics of God? God is Father, but God is also Mother. The problem is calling God “only” Father.

      When you make a comment …. “Of course God is male, c.f. Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6. In Mk 14:36 we learn Jesus’ very own words “Abba, Father.” Jesus said this, thus it must be true – “I am the way the TRUTH and the life.” Those who deny this make God a liar …. you may not mean to do so, but denying God Biblical motherly characteristics is making both Scripture and God himself a liar, since in Scripture God uses these terms of himself. This is demeaning to women and raising men to the status of God, if they are the ONLY ones created in God’s image, and that IS putting Holy Scriptures in a box. God created people in the image of God – “our image” – that of the Trinity.

      You might want to do some reading of the Old Testament passages and other references I referred to as well. These are made by scholars well respected in the Christian community, well educated men and women who dearly love Jesus.

  4. Katie and Martin

    May 20, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Thanks for your scholarship Morven. It seems that Barney would not accept any notion of metaphor in Scripture. Perhaps we can accept that from one whose hermeneutic is so different. What we can’t accept is the side-stepping of any challenges, the rejection of scholarship and the anti-intellectualism. The proffering of proof-texts rather than engaging with serious scholarship does him a disservice.

    • Morven R. Baker

      May 20, 2012 at 2:18 am

      Thank you for this, Katie and Martin. I am new to your blog and was so impressed by everything I was reading until I saw Barney’s comments insisting that we were liars if we called God anything but male and then read his blog entry with the misogynist descriptions of women … when there were no responses to these apart from Adam B (and Barney’s responses to his made no sense at all), I was really in prayer for those reading these particular blogs. I am happy to be a part of your little community, far away across the sea, but still one in the ONE who loves us.

      My blog is
      My website is

      • Katie and Martin

        May 21, 2012 at 1:47 am

        This little community has been living in fear for quite some time. While it may be a legacy of being an antipodean Germanic church, it is weighed down with apathy. While the majority of membership wants women’s ordination, very few are willing to raise their voice, holding that “it will happen”. We’ve learnt that it won’t happen unless people and congregations stand to witness against the manipulation that goes on at the heart of power in our Church.
        Thankyou so much for standing with us as we stand on our wobbly knees to bring about change in this synod, which came into being in 1966, but has not yet come of age.
        We are thankful for St Stephen’s Lutheran Church (in Adelaide) and their bravery in holding a conference on the need for women’s ordination. The President is not happy about it but the filibuster has gone on for too long. It is time!

        • Morven R. Baker

          May 21, 2012 at 2:11 am

          I will be in prayer for you as, yes, it is time!

          Yesterday I was asked to preach twice at a local church on the subject of – now wait for it – sex, and how God it intended it to be and how to get back to the Garden, where men and women were in partnership/companionship together.

          Well, the bit in the middle was tough to talk about … how patriarchy was a consequence of the fall. I reminded the congregation that it was NEVER God’s plan for his children to leave the Garden and suffer the results of BOTH their sin. Remember, Adam was told about not eating from the tree before Eve was even created! Talked about some of the results of patriarchy …. abuse of women, pornography & it’s effect on the family, domestic abuse. Then the “second Adam”, Jesus, came and liberated women – “We are all ONE in Christ Jesus – as Jesus wants us to return to the Garden his Father created. The response to both services was incredible. Men came to me and confessed things they had done, two elderly women came and shared they had been molested and felt too ashamed to talk about it before, people asked for help …. they want to change. They are hurting.

          The amazing thing is that I am a female and was asked to do this by a male pastor. I was raised in a strongly patriarchal denomination in Canada, and my very elderly father is still very upset at me for “being disobedient to Scripture”. I told him that I loved him, but I believe that his interpretation of Scripture is wrong, and I am just doing what God has called me to do.

          As it is with all the women who are longing to follow the call of God on their hearts. World wide. It is happening,

          Yes, I will definitely be praying. God bless that little church in Adelaide. That’s my grand daughter’s name, and I will always remember them with fondness now. Blessings.

          • Katie and Martin

            May 22, 2012 at 1:20 am

            This is stunning!
            “The response to both services was incredible. Men came to me and confessed things they had done, two elderly women came and shared they had been molested and felt too ashamed to talk about it before, people asked for help …. they want to change. They are hurting.”
            Oh! My! We are all hurting.
            Thanks be to God for your words and ministry. That is about as clear a message as we will ever hear for the need of the Good News to be told from the perspective of a woman. Also it is witness to the fact that many of us feel safer when talking to a woman – perhaps feeling less likely to be judged or condemned. Even though male clergy may be compassionate, warm, accepting and able to convey God’s grace, that is not necessarily reflected in other’s perceptions of them.
            Would you mind if we posted your comment as a post on our blog? You are welcome to add/change/delete/modify/refuse. 🙂
            It is a most powerful message of our need for reconciliation and redemption across genders, within relationships, within church councils and leaderships, and between those who have been abused and those who have done the abusing. Of course, there are times when we fit into different camps.
            We also want to give thanks for the man who asked you to preach in that local church. Without his vision God’s word, through you, would not have been heard.

          • Morven R. Baker

            May 22, 2012 at 1:34 am

            Of course you have my permission! Blessings to you, and I’ll pass on your kind words to the pastor who invited me. Please just delete the personal part at the end about my wee grand daughter’s name. Thank you!

          • Katie and Martin

            May 22, 2012 at 1:58 am

            Many thanks. It is the sort of reminder that we need to hear all the time.

    • Barney

      May 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      Is God male?
      A condensed version of my comments as displayed on

      A recent blog [K&M 2012-05-16] on this started with:
      Tell a girl she CAN’T have it… Ohhhhh… Watch how she gets it!

      Notice how it says: “Watch how she gets it!” Now watch the picture that came with it.
      Does a woman really have to get down to bra and panties to get what she wants?
      What an example!

      I replied to that blog [K&M 2012-05-17]: “Tell a girl that she cannot be a father, a brother, an uncle etc … “ But then again, I cannot be a mother, a sister, an aunt, a nun, or a prioress.
      Then the K&M blog continues [on 2012-05-17] with my statement; “Of course God is male … , Those who deny this make God a liar.” Please note that I did not call any participant in K&M’s blog a liar! I stated my belief that God is male and that Christ Jesus – Who calls God FATHER – said; “I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.” God does not lie, nor does the Son of God!!! It is outright heresy to say that any person of the Holy Trinity could be or is a liar.
      Then, on 2012-05-18, M.R. Baker [MRB] joins in; firstly doubting my seriousness regarding my comments and secondly asking if I have done any exegesis lately. The answer is; “Yes, thanks also to checking up on statements and references on K&M’s blog I have indeed; yet, I have NOT done any ‘eisegesis’, I leave that to those whose agenda is not based on the very Word of God.
      MRB states later in her comment that God created mankind in two genders, she is right in that; however, can MRB not see that God had a reason for that? Can she not read from Gen 2 that woman was created from man’s rib to be a help suitable to him? Would God not have created mankind [anthropos] as being of one gender if male and female were to be equal/identical with identical vocations?
      MRB states; “God is described as a woman in labour (Isa. 42:14)”; now let us have a look at what the Holy Scripture really says in the quoted verse:
      “I have held My peace a long time,
      I have been still and restrained Myself.
      Now I will cry like a woman in labor,
      I will pant and gasp at once.
      This does NOT say that God is a woman, it says that He cries like a woman.

      Furthermore MRB states; “and as a nursing mother, loving the child to whom she has given birth … (Isa. 49:15-16); again let us have a look at what the Word really says;
      15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
      And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
      Surely they may forget,
      Yet I will not forget you.
      16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
      Here God is comparing Himself to a woman in compassion for her son, He says women may forget but He will NOT forget because “I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands” note God’s hands not the woman’s hands, as MRB writes!!!
      C.f. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, look it up, Isa 49:23.
      The above is only a small example that MRB shows signs of feminist creativity and eisegesis to suit her agenda. This combined with MRB’s false statement that you [the contributors to this blog and/or supporters of female ordination] were liars if you called God anything but male shows further her misrepresentation of what I wrote and the deliberate bias against the Word of God.
      K&M in their blog dd. 2012-05-21 say; “a legacy of an antipodean Germanic church … “ K&M do you realise that this [Lutheran] denomination in its purest form arose as a response to the errors that had crept into the church of the day [Western Christianity], it arose to combat the scourge of the claimed ability to monetarily pay for the sins of self and for those who had died some time ago, by the inventions of ‘indulgences’ and other evil errors, whilst Christ Jesus has already paid for all our sins in FULL on the cross.

      Further to MRB’s response [2012-0521]
      Eve KNEW that she should not eat from THAT tree, otherwise the evil one would not have said; “Did God really say … ? She knew and made problems for her husband by offering him a bite of the proscribed fruit. As a husband of 50+ years, I know what it is like to go along with my wife’s wishes to keep the peace, even at times when we do not agree; and I think that Adam unfortunately did the same. Now we have the same evil words coming up again “Does God really say … ?” E.g. does God really say that women cannot be leading a Divine Service? I believe He does. God has clearly spoken on this through His Prophets and Apostles; however, this does not suit every one’s agenda; deviations from His Word have been known for millennia with examples of the results clearly shown throughout the Holy Bible.
      MRB also states that “patriarchy was a CONSEQUENCE of the fall.” I do not argue that, but MRB what was the CAUSE of the fall? Was it not Eve’s seduction?
      MRB do not be amazed that you are a female, gender is not a personal choice, serve God in ways appropriate to how He caused you to be created, serve Him, His way not your way.

      May God have mercy on that congregation in Adelaide, and may God grant the understanding of His Word to you all.

      Christian P.J. Bahnerth
      GradDipTh., MTh., PhD.

      • Morven R. Baker

        May 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm

        Dear brother Barney, because in all reality we are part of the same family of God. Even in birth families, we do not always agree on everything. The important thing is not God’s gender, but that God IS. God does not look at our gender either, as God made us male and female to enjoy our differences – because we are definitely different. Much to our spouse’s delight! The truth is that God looks at our GIFTING, and in that God sees equality.

        It is evident to me that the basic root of your unwillingness to consider the possibility or have discussion regarding metaphor, to listen and respond instead of reacting in anger, quite obviously indicating that the thoughts of everyone else are wrong and yours is the only way, is all summed up in your comment to me, “serve God in ways appropriate to how He caused you to be created, serve Him, His way not your way.” Does this mean my place is in the kitchen, or in working in the quilting circle? How dare you challenge any woman to keep silent when they have a clear call on their life from God to speak truth from the pulpit.

        The words “Patriarchy”, “Misogynist”, “Narcissist” come to mind. My heart aches for the women in your home, in your congregation and in your denomination.

        I think you will be very surprised when you get to Heaven and see the women around our Lord who have spoken the truth from pulpits on different continents and over centuries and led millions to learn of God’s love.

        • Christian P.J. Bahnerth

          May 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm

          Dear Dr. Baker
          Again you are changing my writings and assigning characteristics to me that are not there.
          1. Unwillingness to consider … ; I did address the notion you have regarding the metaphor(s), compare this to someone looking at a presentation of water on a painting, it may be very realistic, but water it is not; hence, if a male cries like a woman does not make that man a woman, nor does it make God a woman if He cries like a woman.
          2. Reacting in anger … ; I have not become angry YET; however, I am sad that educated writers like you cannot read. C.f. your statement in a previous post that I made you a liar.
          3. Serve God His way, not your way … ; As a Lutheran I am bound by my promises on installation as a Chaplain that the Prophetical and Apostolic writings of the Old and the New Testaments are the only rule and norm to be used in judging teachers and doctrines alike. I am bound to serve my Lord HIS way, based on HIS Word.
          4. No, you are not confined to the kitchen, not barefoot or otherwise. Think of Nuns, nurses and many other females that serve God without breaking the Holy Scriptures.
          5. It is not me who prescribes that you are to be silent during the Divine Service, it is the Word of God that prescribes that.
          6. Your statement that they [women] have a clear call on their life to speak from the pulpit, is diametrically opposed to the Apostolic Instructions in Paul’s Epistles. How can you preach in silence?
          7. I must doubt your statement that women … have spoken … from pulpits … OVER CENTURIES. From pulpits and over Centuries? That statement begs proof.
          8. May be in your denomination there is a different interpretation of the Holy Bible that states that women are to preach from the Bible, or perhaps an entirely different religious understanding. My Bible says they are NOT to.
          9. May be YOU will be surprised when you come to your final judgement and hear the words of Matthew 7:21-23.
          10. That the words, “Patriarchy”, “Misogynist”, and “Narcissist” come to YOUR mind, is a consequence of your mindset.
          11. The woman (sgl) in my home has been my wife for 51 years, and she is the most honoured member in my extended family and loved by all in the family.
          Christian P.J. Bahnerth
          GradDipTh., MTh., PhD

          • Barbara Roberts

            May 27, 2012 at 12:58 am

            Dear Dr Bahnerth
            I don’t want to engage at length with you, but I would suggest you read Philip Payne’s book on Men and Women One in Christ, if you have not done so. He spent 37 years studying all the Pauline writings on men and women and I think you might find his work illuminating. I was not much persuaded by egalitarian theology, but when I read Payne I was greatly challenged. His work cannot be lightly dismissed, and I believe it needs to be most carefully considered by the church.

          • Katie and Martin

            May 27, 2012 at 2:25 am

            Barney, we would appreciate if you would engage with the points brought before you. Without engagement there is no purpose in continuing to participate on this blog.

            We, Katie and Martin, learnt not to respond, but we do today, to pass on an excellent piece of scholarship, from 1983, about this very issue. It conveys just how mainstream the use of female imagery for God is in Scripture.

            The Incomprehensibility of God and the Image of God Male and Female – by Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J. The Catholic University of America. Published in Theological Studies,vol.45, no.3, 1984, pp.441-465.

            Barney, you suggest that we need to agree with you if we are to be faithful to Lutheranism. We beg to differ. Lutheranism is not about fundamentalism, despite the forays into that realm by the LC-MS. We wonder if you would list a few LCA pastors or theologians who support your perspective?

          • Jean

            May 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm

            Dr. Bahnerth,

            Many of your points deserve a specific response.
            1. You make the point that the first person of the Trinity is referred to by Jesus as “Father”, yet you do not respond to Dr. Baker’s observations that the God of the Old Testament is named in both male and FEMALE nouns in the Hebrew (SHEKINAH, RAHUM, RAHMIN). Does the language of the New Testament trump over that of the Old Testament? Answer carefully, before you add to the spinning of poor Dr. Luther in his grave. Does not Dr. Luther, as well as other Lutheran scholars stress the importance of holding in tension the entire Scripture, both Old and New? Our understanding of who God is, to paraphrase St. Paul, is as seen through a mirror, darkly. As Dr. Haddad points out, inheritance at this time in history comes through the male lineage; calling the first person of the Trinity “Mother” would have a much different meaning and image, not only to the first century Jews, but to us today.

            Secondly, much of what is communicated in Scripture is through the use of imagery and metaphors. Jesus’ use of parables, Paul’s comparison to the life of faith as a runner in a race is one of many examples that describe QUALITIES present. If one, for the point of discussion, would be willing to look at the premise that the Triune God is beyond both male and female (excepting of course the humanity of Jesus) the use of BOTH male and female imagery and metaphor would give credence to the argument that the first person of the Trinity is neither male or female. This of course, requires allowing Scripture to stand on its own merits, rather than following any particular tradition of interpretation.

            As this is getting quite long, I will respond separately to your other points.

          • Jean

            May 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm

            2. Dr. Bahnreth, you are correct that you did not accuse Dr. Baker and others of being liars, and for this I encourage Dr. Baker to review the previous postings and acknowledge the error.
            However, your statement, “Of course God is male…Those who deny this make God a liar!” is definitely inflammatory and is actually a worse accusation than to call an Christian a liar. It is your INTERPRETATION that, as Jesus in His humanity is male, and He refers to the first person of the trinity as ‘ABBA’, that ALL of the trinity, the entire Godhead must have a gender, which is male.

            3. By your promises on your ordination you are bound ONLY to the “Prophetical and Apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments as the only rule and norm to be used in judging teachers and doctrines alike”? What about the Pentateuch? What about Psalms, and Proverbs, and Lamentations? There is much that informs us contained therein.

            5. If women are to be silent in worship (not all traditions here know what is meant by Divine Service), then why does Paul instruct women to cover their head when they pray out loud (as this is the only tradition of the time and place) to separate her behavior from that at the pagan temples, and for men to not cover their heads during worship (1 Cor. 11:1-16). As Melanchthon and Luther taught, the Bible is to be interpreted by other passages in the Bible. 1 Tim 2 is unclear in light of much of the rest of the Bible, especially Paul’s other epistles.

            7. Dr. Bahnreth, I challenge you to look at the history of other traditions than our own for examples throughout the centuries of women preaching, teaching, and providing pastoral care. I would start within Roman Catholicism. The women in the Dominican order have, as part of their vows, are REQUIRED to teach and preach. Initially, groups of women would go from one tattered church to another, preaching, encouraging, teaching, and rebuilding the congregations. Eventually, they moved into a convent structure, but many, especially in northern Europe, what is now known as Russia, were charged by the local bishop as THE pastoral staff for surrounding congregations.

            Many missionaries, including solo Lutheran females, founded congregations and provided weekly services throughout the world. (Look into the missionary activity in the 1700’s and 1800’s in what is now known as India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan). Women were often the first missionaries on the western frontier in Canada, founding churches, teaching Sunday School, and preaching. They were not ordained, so they did baptize or give communion, but did indeed teach.

            Within the Eastern Church, there is also a tradition of educated women preaching and teaching during their Liturgy, especially when the priest was not fluent in the local language. The women also have historically been the primary teachers of both males and females, with some exceptions.
            I am counting on your ability to google to find readily available documentation of my assertions.

            As far as Dr. Baker’s reference to ‘Patriarchy” as a term that comes to her mind, from my understanding of your perspective, would be a word of complement, and one that would agree with your mindset.

            Jean Coleman, M.Div., MA

          • Barney

            May 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

            Re: Post 21

            Dear Jean
            Thank you for your response to my latest comment.
            I do not intend to respond any further to Dr. Baker’s comments, she has shown that what I write will be distorted by her, and she seems rather reluctant to withdraw her untruth. I have read that Dr. Baker does some valuable work with those who have been under unnecessary and often traumatic stress, but as a Hospital Chaplain I also come across these cases, Stress, PTSD and abused people alike; however, with male and female patients.
            I am happy for you to respond to my comments point-by-point; this will keep things in perspective for all of us. Your first nicely detailed comment is highly appreciated.

            However, I must remain with the words of my Lord, His apostles, and the three ecumenical Creeds, which all are in unison when they refer to the First person of the Holy Trinity. Not a bad example for a layman like me to follow; hence, I will stay with the gender of God being male.
            I will try not to make Dr. Martin of blessed memory “spin in his grave”, rather I will try to continue to follow the doctrines to which he was such a valuable contributor.
            Dr. Haddad comments in K&M’s blog of 2012-05-17 address colour blindness, your quote of seeing through a mirror, darkly, is understood, our human limits do not allow us to see all of God’s attributes and we can only see them through the Word of God, I may be accused of reading the Word of God through blue coloured glasses as others are using pink coloured ones. I agree that we all need help to perceive what God really wants from us. To do that we have been given the gift of prayer, the Holy Bible, the Creeds and for Lutherans the Book of Concord.
            Indeed Jesus used parables, but we learn from Mark 4:10-13, that it was given to the Twelve to understand the parables but not to ‘those who are outside’.
            “If one would be willing to look at the premise that the Triune God is both beyond male and female (excepting of course the humanity of Jesus) … “. One could look at that premise until blindness occurs, but on cannot re-write the words of Jesus, the remainder of Scripture and the Creeds.
            One cannot, and neither do I, overlook the sterling efforts of all missionaries (male and female alike), many of whom were not ordained [neither am I], these missionaries may have been authorised to administer Holy Communion and to Baptise. I do not administer Holy Communion, I merely assist when others are not available, I do not – nor have I – baptise(d), that emergency has not arisen in my Parish. However, I have been known to teach, and discuss theology with members of my Parish, from those who have had only primary school education through those who are studying for their Master’s degree in Theology or related subjects, to those with higher education in other fields.
            I agree that young children learn best at their mother’s feet, but mothers are not the only source of knowledge.
            PS. My surname is spelled B A H N E R T H.

          • Barney

            May 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm

            Dear Jean et all,
            Please receive my response to your second instalment of your comment on my blog contributions.
            Re: “Those who deny this make God a liar” Those who deny the words of the Son of God do make the Son of God a liar, there is no escaping from that, no matter how creatively one words it. It may be inflammatory to you and others, but this was said to combat the blasphemous statements in the blog. If this is personally offensive to you, I am sorry.
            I referred in my previous answer to this blog to the Gospel, the rest of the Holy Scriptures, the Creeds and the doctrine of my denomination, the Book of Concord, and I stand by that. The Holy Scriptures and the Creeds refer to the Members of the Holy Trinity as male! Please refer to John 14:16, 15:26, 16:7, and to Romans 8:26.
            My promises before installation as a Chaplain [I am still a layman, not Rev.Dr.] are indeed based on the Prophetic and Apostolic writings of the Old and the New Testaments, and that includes the Ten Commandments and the Gospels, etc.
            Point 4 is missing
            Re: “women are to be silent.” Ref 1 Cor. 14 and 1 Tim 2. Note that, in 1 Tim. 2:12, St. Paul speaks as an Apostle under the direct commission of Jesus Christ. I accept the point that you made about “Divine Service” it is indeed unfortunate that not all traditions (denominations?) know the meaning of that term. IMHO the women are to be silent so that they can learn better how to teach other women and children which is described in other Epistles. For men NOT to cover their head during ‘worship’ is surprising in the Epistles, traditionally the men in the synagogue covered their heads and to this day Roman Catholic clergy still do so, have you ever seen a bare-headed Pope or Cardinal at prayer?
            Point 6 is missing
            Your reference to Roman Catholism is noted realising that they are post Biblical times; however, on further reflection the Roman Catholic Church is now strongly against the ordination of women. This is not to say that [Roman Catholic] women cannot provide Pastoral Care, my Director of Pastoral Care and Counselling, at the hospital where I minister as a Chaplain, is a Roman Catholic nun, and she is well respected in her work and environment. I have addressed the work that missionaries do in my previous comment, and I still respect the missionaries. I also addressed their service in administering Holy Communion, Baptism etc. In the same response I addressed the teaching of little children at their mother’s feet. I have no doubt that Mary of Nazareth taught her Son when He was little.

            PS. A copy of my Monograph “Public Office in the Household of God” is electronically available by request to

  5. Barbara Roberts

    May 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Dear Katie and Martin, thank you for coming in and moderating this post. I believe you are right in critiquing Barney’s approach as “the side-stepping of any challenges, the rejection of scholarship and the anti-intellectualism. The proffering of proof-texts rather than engaging with serious scholarship does him a disservice.”

    I am glad Morven brought her scholarly input to this post.

    I am a Bible believing Christian who works pretty much full time trying to address the horrendous consequences of domestic abuse in Christian circles.
    If any of your readers would like resources to address domestic abuse in a Christian context, they can visit:

  6. Barbara Roberts

    May 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    PS, I’m an Aussie, living in Ballarat. Happy to chat by phone with you if you wish.

    • Katie and Martin

      May 22, 2012 at 1:04 am

      Barbara, thanks for reminding us that this is still a reality in many homes. We would like to think that there is a general intolerance of domestic violence these days, however, there will always be those who need to discover that God does not expect us to stay in a violent relationship. I pray that those suffering emotional or physical violence find the courage to make good decisions to nurture and care for themselves.
      The Church has not been at the front of caring for victims of domestic violence, but today there are many safe congregations where they will be nurtured. If you’re not sure which congregations are safe, choose one where women are in leadership.

      • Barbara Roberts

        May 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm

        Dear Katie and Martin, thanks for your comment on mine, but I have to tell you that in my experience women pastors or elders do not necessarily treat victims of abuse any better than male leaders do.
        I speak from personal experience, having had a female pastor tell me that domestic abuse was not grounds for divorce, followed by some female elders (as well as male elders) judge me when I went to the court for a protection order against my abusive husband. They quoted 1 Cor. 6 – “Do not take a brother to court”. It was stuff like this that drove me to write my book.
        I have also heard from other women survivors of domestic abuse who have told me horrendous stories of being criticized and misjudged and insufficiently validated by female leaders or pastor’s wives. The gender of the person is not nearly as relevant as whether they really understand the dynamics of domestic abuse.

        I sometimes find that egalitarians think egalitarianism is going to be the answer to domestic abuse. It is not that simple, in my considered experience. I don’t think it helps to give the impression that the issue can be solved just by us all becoming egalitarian in our views on women in leadership.

  7. Katie and Martin

    May 23, 2012 at 3:06 am

    I don’t doubt any of these stories. There are plenty of women in the Lutheran Church of Australia who are happy to keep women out of ordained ministry. Sadly, the role of being servile matches very neatly with the role of lord and master.
    In our experience, with women ministers and priests in the Uniting Church of Australia and the Anglican Church of Australia, the quality of pastoral care is outstanding. We can’t think of any exceptions.

  8. Barbara Roberts

    May 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Following my comment on how women as well as men can be unhelpful when victims of domestic abuse seek help, I read this comment today on Morven Baker’s own post

    The comment is below; hope this is okay.

    Jean says: May 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    “Indeed, thaks to both men and women, in pastoral ministry and those among the laity, that support and encourage women to follow their call. The truly sad part, in my experience, is that I have had more obstacles created by other females, than I have ever from men. Again, in my experience, men are generally willing to listen to well-thought out explanations, while the women are unopen to conversation–it’s a closed issue for them. This has never made sense to me, and in some ways, more discouraging.”

    • Katie and Martin

      May 24, 2012 at 1:10 am

      The level of pain is considerable, I don’t think there’s any need to contest that. However, the level of hope is high. Women who have trained theologically and have had to justify their call even more than men are very clear about their standing in God’s grace, not under or over men. That’s our experience and that’s our hope.

  9. Barney

    May 27, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Re: “We wonder if you would list a few LCA pastors or theologians who support your perspective?”

    To name individuals as requested would make them targets at your blog; however, all LCA Pastors, most LCA Theologians, and some Lutheran Chaplains have been asked:

    1. Do you believe and accept without reservation the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments, as a whole and in all their parts, as the divinely inspired, written and inerrant word of God, and as the only infallible source and norm for all matters of faith, doctrine and life?

    2. Do you acknowledge and accept as true expositions of the word of God and as your own confession of faith all the symbolic writings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church contained in the Book of Concord of 1580?

    To be installed or otherwise recognised all answered:

    I do, with the help of God

    To remain a Lutheran I also must remain true to my word and undertaking.


  10. Barney

    May 27, 2012 at 11:42 am

    “Dear Dr Bahnerth
    I don’t want to engage at length with you, but I would suggest you read Philip Payne’s book on Men and Women One in Christ, if you have not done so. He spent 37 years studying all the Pauline writings on men and women and I think you might find his work illuminating. I was not much persuaded by egalitarian theology, but when I read Payne I was greatly challenged. His work cannot be lightly dismissed, and I believe it needs to be most carefully considered by the church.”

    I do not want to engage with one who misquotes my words.
    As for reading the quoted book, studying the Holy Bible, my denomination’s doctrine and responding to various blogs take enough time to fill any empty gaps in my day.


  11. Katie and Martin

    May 28, 2012 at 2:40 am

    We have decided that it is no longer constructive to have Barney a part of this conversation, as he shows little genuine engagement with the arguments against his position.
    There simply is no point in carrying on a conversation with Barney. There is nothing to be gained.
    As such, Barney’s comments will be held for moderation, in order to promote the conversation and aims of this blog as stated on the ‘About’ page. We have been pleased that Barney has seen fit to comment but in the end, the wild logic, the reactionary stance, the silence or sidestepping in response to reasonable arguments, the accusations against those who disagree with him, the proof-texting, the inuendo all erode the conversation.

    We trust that this action is liberating for Barney and other contributors to this blog.

  12. Morven R. Baker

    May 28, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Thank you. While it has been of great interest to see Dr. Bahnerth interact with Rev. Coleman’s considerable knowledge of Lutheran theology, it has been sad to see him avoid the points she makes, or see him twist the truth of her words to suit his theology. She gave him the respect of the title of “Dr.” while he never acknowledged her degrees.

    I’ve been trying to sit back and watch all this from a psychological point of view, and I’ve learned long ago that one cannot convince a narcissist that they are wrong. It is a battle that only the Lord can win. Barney is a wounded soul, and my compassion is for him, but my “mother bear” heart hurts for those women he has wounded.

    My husband is a professor of Biblical Studies and is fluent in many of the ancient languages. He teaches Akkadian and knows Aramaic, as well as Hebrew and others. He sat alongside me as I blogged my responses to Barney, although the comments on the Hebrew feminine words came from my own research for my doctoral dissertation. He just shook his head at Barney’s theology, and wonders if he has ever looked at the Scriptures from the original languages.

    If Barney is typical of the mindset you are facing, my prayers are with you. They are anyway 😉 Morven

    p.s. I take it you couldn’t find me on FB, so you can email me at if you ever wish to contact me privately. I know Barbara Roberts, your fellow Aussie, and she would be a good local connection for you.

  13. colinsnow

    July 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Hi Mimi,

    I am not sexist but I feel you may be. I’m not concerned with his gender, I just know he revealed himself as a man. This doesn’t mean he is male. he had his reasons which I don’t know. He reveals himself as a father. Why do you have trouble relating to him as a father ?


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