Methodists Conduct Survey on Whether God is “He”, “She” or “It”.

One of the problems with Christianity is no one can tell us, or will be able to tell us, what the god/Christ/spirit will look like when it returns.  Thus, we can’t be certain there will be much agreement on whether or not it has returned.  Now, we are realizing “he” might be a “she”.

Methodists are surveying membership and clergy for a second time on what gender they use when they talk to or refer to the deity.   Apparently, there is a lot of support for a more gender neutral deity.

I was trying to remember when the idea first was raised that the god figure might be female.  Perhaps I first read it in Ms. Magazine in the 1970′s. Now, there are Bibles which tone down the male assumption and ceremonial changes with the same goal in mind.

While the schism brought about by gays in the ranks of clergy has been big, my own theory is the gender issue eventually will surpass it in controversy.  There is no Biblical basis for referring to the god as male except the preferences of the unknown ancient writers.  Domination in some branches of Christianity by males can be attributed to nothing except power.

While Methodists have lagged behind mainline denominations in gay acceptance, they have move more quickly to approving gender nueteral hymes and other ceremonial language.  Good for Methodists.

If it wants to remain relevant, the Christian religion in general needs to ramp up its identification with modern social values.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/united-methodist-church-holds-survey-on-gender-names-for-god-thousands-take-part-107917/

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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48 Responses to Methodists Conduct Survey on Whether God is “He”, “She” or “It”.

  1. entech says:

    I was always taught that god was gender neutral, but for a long time thought that he/she/it was in fact reality neutral.

  2. eric haugen says:

    I do not see this as a major issue in the future. Yes, there are more “conservative” churches which continue with a traditional biblical interpretation of gender roles (it is interesting to note that many social science studies on human gender roles support the complementary ideas of the bible; there was an article in star tribune today which describes some of the problems when gender roles are mixed up). However, for those that this represents a problem there are other denominations which they can join. This is not a fundamental salvation issue and it does not demean the meaning of the gospel. It is interesting to note that because of these denominational differences many people somehow mock the Christian faith as being untrustworthy or unbelievable. If that is the case then they must demand the same of science and other academic fields. In the field of physics, is string theory valid or not? Since all physicists do not agree with this then all of physics must be wrong. Do all economists believe in the same principles? Since they do not and different economists have different theories then we must throw out all of it. Do all geneticists believe in Dawkins concept of the meme? If you hold Christianity to the standard of only one interpretation then all fields must be held accountable to the same standard. In regards to issues of God the problem that sometimes occurs is that we are using human terms and human understanding to try and describe something that cannot be understood or explained. This is going to bring about different interpretations and different theologies but that points to the richness of the text, not a weakness. The weakness and the problems start when humans mess it up.

    • entech says:

      It is interesting to note that because of these denominational differences many people somehow mock the Christian faith as being untrustworthy or unbelievable.
      I don’t think you can say that all people that have problems with the credibility of Christianity “mock” because of there being so many denominations. Indeed not that many actually “mock”, there are the “confrontationists” Jerry Coyne, PZ Myer and so on but the majority that are interested in discussing the issue do try to have a serious conversation about it. It is difficult to have a serious conversation with the young earth creationists, the Ken Hams (were you there? what a stupid question deserving only the mocking reply about was he witness to Adam’s birth/creation) and other people who say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God or that the KJV is the only true and reliable version.

      That it is possible to interpret so wildly different views of what the word is that you do have so many different denominations goes far deeper than the gender designation used. When you talk of an entity that is beyond time and space, not part of the known universe, as this entity must be to have created it all. When you ask for a description you cannot get a consistent definition, some theologies will list things that God is not, that the being is eternal and unchanging (but in book one changes his mind from seeing that it is good to it is awful and must all be destroyed by inundation). So, as you say, it is not a matter of salvation if you use an anthropic designation to describe the entity that you have turned into an anthropomorphic god. Man being in the image of, is pretty close to anthropomorphic, pretty close to describing your god as the image of man.

      The denominations go far beyond gender designations, differences that are fundamental salvation issues, good works or grace alone? Luther or Erasmus? and that is only the first protest, the first reform, (apologies to Eastern Orthodox and others that I am leaving out) then there is baptisism, is it valid if done as a child or must it be accepted as an adult with full knowledge? I believe people have died over the difference. So many issues in Christology, so many that are contradictory and even mutually exclusive. None of this word matter very much if it were not for the claim that it is an absolute truth and that your very soul depends on how you believe, how you act on your belief.

      To equate this with some scientists speculation is to be deliberately naive. Look or listen to anything on the web by Neil Turok or anyone else on string theory, even the most enthusiastic supporter will tell you it is hypothetical, some even admit to it being speculation. Cosmology admits it can only account for about 5% of the apparent universe, the rest is described as dark matter and dark energy. It is called dark because it cannot be seen or detected, it is only knowable by its effects, a bit like your God in that respect, another reason for the name is that they are completely “in the dark” about its composition or attributes, again a bit like your knowledge of God.

      Has anyone ever claimed that economy is an exact science, some try and introduce mathematics and such and pretend that it is, in the end they all finish up with a supernatural “invisible hand” to introduce correction factors into their equations.

      A meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Why would a geneticist have any relevance to a meme, no one ever suggested that “memes” are physical entities, only a description of the way ideas are propagated.

      If you hold Christianity to the standard of only one interpretation then all fields must be held accountable to the same standard.
      Holding Christianity to one interpretation is justifiable if it claims to be the absolute truth, if there are contradictions that are irreconcilable, such as the nature of Christ and the requirements for salvation.
      All the fields that you talk about are attempts, at describing or explaining the way things work. They are all open to examination and correction, even Einstein had to concede to a Catholic Priest that his idea of a steady state universe was wrong.

      … the problem that sometimes occurs is that we are using human terms and human understanding to try and describe something that cannot be understood or explained
      if this is true then Christianity needs to stop making extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence.

      • eric haugen says:

        A few random comments. Please do not let Ken Hamm be a spokesperson for the church. AS you are well aware in many situations (politics, society etc) the wrong people have the microphone. I am amazed at the damage he has done both in and out of the Church.
        Within the context of the bible there are absolutely no “fatal errors”. There is much room for debate and disagreement but there has never been an inconsistency which completely discredits it. Individuals, institutions and even state sponsored attempts (I have read this but do not have primary reference) have tried to discredit the bible based upon internal inconsistencies. Those attempts have not been successful and it remains the topic of incredible academic debate to this day based in part on its historical credibility. It is an amazing book which compared to other books of antiquity is amazingly accurate in its reproduction. I would caution against the use of individual verses which at face value contradict each other as being the basis for these accusations. It would take a much deeper conversation than allowed on these pages to give full credit to the conversation. I believe it is an academic disservice to do so.
        My biggest disagreement is that you state my post is “deliberately naïve”. My ignorance is neither intentional nor is it meant to deceive. It is simply ignorance. However, in the matter referenced, I still will make my claim. Even though the methodology of laboratory based science vs manuscript analytics are very different some of the principles of intellectual standards can be very similar. My only point is that if 100% concordance is expected of a manuscript in order to draw conclusions, than is it not reasonable to demand the same of the sciences? It is in fact not reasonable and you can still draw conclusions, continue debating and move forward with further analysis and to continue efforts to become better scholars.

      • entech says:

        But I love Ken Ham, and Ray Comfort, they practically make the opposition case for us. I am rather pleased that now that I live in the Australian part of the world, rather pleased that they had to emigrate to make a living. They would be laughed off the stage anywhere else. It never fails to amaze me that the most advanced country in the world, the forefront of technological innovation almost from its beginnings can be so in thrall to the answers in genesis type of thing. You know the statistics probably better than I do the percentages of people that deny evolution (beaten only by Turkey I believe), that believe in a literal 6 day creation and a young earth is beyond belief. Ok sorry for the rant, I have friends and relatives in America, I have been there for holidays and work related things and have nothing but admiration for the way you threw off the colonial chains. Ken Ham is probably the most egregious but is certainly not alone, on the other end of the scale you have the likes of William Lane Craig a professional debater and hustler beyond compare and quite dishonest with it. End of my random comments.

        Not quite sure what you mean by “within the context of the Bible”, first thing that comes up with Google is:
        context noun :=the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.
        The Bible is surely its own context, I would contend that the events and ideas given in the Bible can only be understood in a Biblical framework, there is no confirmation outside of the Bible of anything within it.
        It does not get away to a good start Chapter 1, verse 1, sentence 1.
        In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
        Who and or what is God. You are trying to start the story of everything with an assumption, assuming that there is such an entity and that the reader knows all about. You can’t tell the details in flashback form because this is the beginning there was nothing before it, it was without form and void.
        What can we assume about God the creator:
        necessarily exists outside of time and space as we know it.
        eternal and unchanging? (WL Craig says this)
        So with just two, no discussion of other possibilities of all knowing all loving etc.
        First two chapters have different versions of the creation, OK different people writing for different levels of understanding, trying to make it understandable. But difficult to make a case for consistency. But assume it all happened within the general context, everything was created time, matter, flora and fauna, including humans and as it says at the end of chapter 1. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” We have a few trials and tribulations with talking snakes etc and then by Chapter 6. All kinds of illicit activity, giving birth to giants and so on. “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” So this unchanging being, within a few years changes his mind, the humans he at first saw as being very good when he created them (in his own image) he now
        “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth”.
        That there may have been a creator and creation is possible, however unlikely I think it is, but the first few things in there Bible are not at all convincing I know there are many learned works explaining and analysing what it all means. But to me the more you introduce to explain something the wider the possibilities that go with that explanation, the convoluted explaining of everything explains nothing with any certainty.
        The historical credibility you speak about has been shown to be doubtful, by the people that have the most interest in it, the Jews themselves. Since the foundation of the modern state of Israel they have been looking for the “title deeds”, for confirmation of the Exodus, to no avail. The Jewish Bible was committed to print about 5 or 600 years BCE many of the landmarks and places that were known at the time of writing did not exist at the time they were supposed to have writing about.

        You still contend that science writing should be treated in the same way as Biblical writing, this is what I meant by “deliberately naive”.
        Writing about science describes the best explanation for the world around us that we have to date, it does not include any supernatural aspects because it is only about what can be seen and measured.
        Biblical writing purports to give an exact description of the creation of everything.
        If you make a positive claim you must be held to a higher standard of proof than a claim that it is the best we know at the moment. The best we know description admits to incompleteness of its theories and hypotheses, even Einstein had to give up his beloved steady state universe in face of the mathematics of a Belgian Priest, a priest not working Biblically but scientifically, a priest who said Please, please do not conflate the big bang with creation.

        Yes you can draw conclusions from your Biblical studies, but other sacred writings just as old and just as valid make different conclusions. You may be correct, I simply cannot believe it, find it unconvincing.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Eric 5:02 The problem with religion, at least Christianity, is there is no starting point. With gravity, we know things fall at a certain rate. It’s not something made up by ancient writers without any identify whatsoever.

      We don’t know if/why Jesus lived. Christians have disagreed since day one on whether he was a god, man or some combination of each. He committed civil crimes, was a political threat to the powers of the time and it was logical he be executed. But, there is a belief he died for “our sins”, instead of the obvious reasons they executed him.

      This idea that science has the same problems of inconsistency as religion just doesn’t seem even close to me.

      • pqbd says:

        Jon 2:19 To add a bit to your comment, it may be safe to say that Jesus did not ‘invent’ Christianity, St. Paul can probably take credit for that. So can we legitimately say Jesus was a Christian? Religion and science are in a sense adventures of human ideas and not without peril in any case. I’m for goddesses. ;-)

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          pqbd 3:19 “Reigion and science are in a sense adventure of human ideas and not without peril in any case. I’m for goddesses. ;)

          Good thoughts. Beautiful goddesses would be an improvement over the pictures we see of a God with an unkept beard.

        • Wolfy32 says:

          I thought Christ was a jew? I find that comically amuzing though.. He couldn’t believe in himself. ;)

        • entech says:

          I have to agree there, Yeshua the Rabbi and Jesus the Christ do not have a lot in common. Just as we are often told of the difference between the old and the new covenants we are not reminded of difference between the Abrahamic God and Jews still waiting for the saviour and the Pauline God and Christians still waiting for the second coming.

          • pqbd says:

            entech you are indeed a polymath. I always enjoy and learn from your posts. Jesus of Nazareth the Rabbi and Jesus Christ the Pauline messiah. I have visited with Christians that wonder if on the second coming, Jesus the Christ will recognize them as Christians or just as another group of idolaters and look beyond them, pass them over as it were. After 2000 years maybe a better question is, will they recognize their Savior.

      • eric haugen says:

        Based upon vigorous historical study it is in fact very possible to conclude that Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus referenced in the bible did in fact live as described and die on the cross. I would encourage a book called “The Historical Jesus: Five Views” edited by James K. Bielby and Paul Rhodes Eddy. You can study the evidence and make your conclusion but to indicate that belief in historical Jesus is fantasy and without historical support is academically inaccurate. If any Christian states that Jesus is not God, is that person really a Christian? I do not think so.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          eric 3:41 “Based upon vigorous historical study it is in fact very possible to conclude that Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus referenced in the Bible did in fact live as described and die on the cross.”

          I like it that you included the disclaimer, “very possible to conclude..” Many do not do that.

          I would agree there is evidence a Jew named Jesus traveled about the little region where the story takes place preaching his version of things. I’ve read there might have been more than one. That one was “Jesus of Nazarath” becomes less certain, especially when there seems no credible record of a “Nazarath” at that time.

          The opponets of the “real Jesus theory” state their case in a different way. The scientific method requires a null hypothesis. That would be (if I’m doing this correctly), “There was no Jesus of Nazarath.” The task, then, would be to disprove that hypothesis. I’m not convinced this has ever been done.

          • eric haugen says:

            It would seem that is a circular argument since the absence of God has not been proven either.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            eric 2:18 “since the absense of God has not been proven either.”

            We can’t prove there is or is not a god. But, we do know some individuals existed during the time the Jesus of the Bible was supposed to have lived. That is to say, we have cooroberating records. So far as I know, we have no such thing for someone named “Jesus of Nazarath”. There is a reference in Josephus, but as understand, most scholars conclude it was added by someone long after Josephus was dead. Josephus did not mention Nazarath.

          • entech says:

            The circular argument doesn’t work.
            Neither Jon nor I say there is no God only that it is highly improbable and that we do not believe.
            You are starting to sound a little like Bill Craig extending a reasonable argument beyond its relevance.

          • entech says:

            Thinking further about it. Even if we were to say there is no God it would still not be circular reasoning, circular reasoning is assuming the conclusion as part of the proposition. So you say God exists I say it doesn’t is simply a disagreement.
            A circular argument would be:
            God exists.
            prove it
            It says so in the Bible.
            why should we accept what is in the Bible
            The Bible is the inspired word of God!

            The circularity here would be in to say “God exists because God says so”

            Also known as the informal fallacy “begging the question”

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 5:35 “A circular argument would be:”

            Yes, you stated it better. A circular argument is “God exists because Gods says he exists.” Saying there is not evidence for a god is not a circular argument per se.

    • Wolfy32 says:

      A very succint and well said statement. I like the intelligence you bring to topics! It’s not just the usual dogmatic rhetoric that others have brought in the past.. But instead, embracing that Christianity has differences in interpretation, and that’s o.k.

      You forgot something though. Not only is String theory true or not, but which string theory is true or not. :)

      Will time travel ever be achieved by humanity, will planetary colonization be achieved, if so, how does this impact religion? What if we found something on a planet we started colonizing that was not of human origin but was not natural? How would that change religious beliefs?

      What if aliens do exist, do they have Christian aliens? How does religion fit in to a universe potentially full of life? Especially if all the “religions” are as different as they are on earth!

      God, however, can exist outside of Christianity. Outside of Hinduism or Budhism, or islamism. And It’s possible humans have attempted to explain this phenomina, but, we fall quite short in our intellect to describe something that exists outside of our potential understanding!

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Wolfy: I don’t have a problem with variances in ecclesiology, eschatology, and a few other not too important issues. That said, there are hazards in going too far in either direction with them. To each their own. However, there are doctrinal/dogmatic limits in Christology. To stray not too far from that removes one from being a Christian. Even if they claim to be a Christian, as a few do.

        • Wolfy32 says:

          I think that’s where you and I stray… I seek to apply something to the whole universe. and so many Christians just care about what applies to “me” and my little bubble…

          If God is who we say he is, the god and creator of all the universe, then we’re not alone. God created all life.. At least, that’s my assumption. the bible admits there are over 100 billion angels in existence. If God created them too… And revelations describes alien beasts and beings not of earth… That too, implies that God Created them. So, IF GOd is the God of all things (biblically) speaking, it must apply to all beings.. right? If God answers to someone else, that to me, would remove his God hood….And the bible is quite clear on God not answering to anything or anyone else.

          God must be the God of all creation of all things in the universe.. Not just humans or earth. That’s a pretty large claim the bible makes.

          My problem with it is there’s no explanation for those that never new of Christ (pre christ or at the time of Christ) and there’s no explanation for those that died in the thousands and/or millions of years prior to Christ.
          That all they knew of was Roman and/or greek gods. Maybe some Egyptian Gods, but, no one really knew of any thing about the Christian God. So, were people saved then or were they sentenced to hell even though they couldn’t know God in their “when”.

          Doctrin and dogma are one thing. However, no one cares to try to explain the past. All we do is focus on the dogma and rhetorical liturgy of now. Hoping that people remain controlled by the religions so the governments don’t have to impose their form of (thought) control.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            You “seek to apply something to the whole universe”. Sounds like universalism to me. I’m an old man. I don’t have all the answers, and I have many questions, but speculation is not an answer. When one speculates on who is controlling who, one, will lean towards some kind of conspiracy, science fiction, or a combination of both. That and a nickel will get you a five cent cup of coffee. There is a lot of that going around.
            I have observed that those who speculate the most actually know little about the subject of doctrine, dogma, or liturgy. A few years ago, I met an individual that had a devout hatred of “dogma”. I asked him to define what he meant, or understood what dogma was, and he couldn’t. His only reference was the movie “Dogma”. I tried to explain what the terms: ‘doctrine, dogma, and dogmatics ” meant, but he got up in a huff and walked away. I don’t know his back story, but I’m sure he had some history. I did sense unresolved anger. (not at me), but the topic.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I have thought a movie or book entitled: “Dogma”, (rather the manifest evil abuse of dogma ), would make an excellent fictional horror movie, along the lines of “The Exorcist”. But then, I fear most people would come away with a terribly uninformed opinion/understanding of it, without taking the time to actually know the subject.

          • entech says:

            There was a hilarious film (movie) called dogma. Stroke of genius having George Carlin as a cardinal, and, Chris Rock as the thirteenth apostle left out of the main story for being black.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Haven’t seen it, but yes, I’m sure it is funny. must look it up on U-tube if available.

      • entech says:

        God, however, can exist outside of Christianity. Outside of Hinduism or Budhism, or islamism. And It’s possible humans have attempted to explain this phenomina, but, we fall quite short in our intellect to describe something that exists outside of our potential understanding.

        Wolfy, consider that there is a vast universe out there, it is huge, it is beyond our understanding. Even with the advances made through observation over the last few centuries, speculations and hypotheses that are proved wrong or confirmed to the best of knowledge available at the time. All this takes imagination and wonder, it is possible that humans in the youth of the species had a failure of imagination and used the creator hypothesis to explain phenomena that was incomprehensible at the time. Phenomena that is still largely incomprehensible but becoming less so all the time. We know a lot about the known universe, a lot that can be used to make confident and verifiable predictions – but there is still about 95% we know nothing about, remains “dark”.
        Perhaps these other Gods and aliens of yours live in that dark universe. ;)

        • Wolfy32 says:

          Event Horizon explored the possibility.. That movie kinda scared the bejesus out of me. LOL, that and the fourth kind or something like that. Where a family in Alaska thought they were being haunted and they were actually being terrorized by tapping into extremely evil powers within the universe.

          I like how Wanna and even entec state my thoughts are fiction and science fiction… I’ve learned that science fiction, though an extreme, much of it has potential to come true in terms of advancements, concepts, and overall possibilities.

          Here’s a validation of what I speak of:
          http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/417358/

          8.8 billion planets in our known galaxy that meet the criteria for being similar to our planet. Additional research is needed to try to determine if the planets have the atmospheric conditions and water conditions of earth, but, 8.8 billion planets that are in the right temp and right size to be similar to Earth.

          What if just one of them had humans on it just like our planet? Maybe at a different stage of development, more in the bronze era or iron era than in the advancement era. But say they had similar intellect, and societal and cultural developments as us.

          How would clergy use the bible to deal with that? Would the “God created us and only us” mentality of clergy change and be open to Christ died for everyone including those on other planets?

          You see, how does one make sense to something that doesn’t make sense to everyone.

          As to the difference between, dogma and doctrine?

          Dogma is the act of going through religious beaurocratical hoops to be a good Christian citizen. Doctrine defines the hoops.

          I guess I’m confused as to why God would actually care if people go through these hoops. There’s only one hoop God asked for in the bible… That’s to believe in Christ. all other hoops were done away with.. (ritual sacrafices, etc.) In fact Christ made it quite clear that anyone that continued those old rituals was demeaning what christ did for humanity.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Looks like you are confusing Ecclesiology with Dogmatics. There’s a lot of that going around. A word of caution–don’t confuse what’s commonly understood today as dogma, with dogmatics, or apologetics. I believe if you actually studied dogmatics/apologetics, those “hoops” and meanie old clergy wouldn’t seem so threatening to you, and you could easily refute that which you resent. As it is, you are just using escapism and the blame game.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            You may also benefit from comparative theology. A vast field by itself.

          • entech says:

            Wolfy, the line between science fact and science fiction is sometimes quite narrow. Then there is science fantasy and adventure fiction. The line between fantasy and religion is also pretty narrow.

            As for alien life I think that the probability that there is life in other places is far greater than the possibility that there is a creator that created it.

          • entech says:

            Wolfy, a couple of random definitions I picked up in a quick troll around the net.
            This is all pretty esoteric stuff and one needs to wonder about the qualifications and experience needed to speak about them with such authority .

            Science fiction is sometimes called escapist literature but that doesn’t stop it being fun to read and, as you say, sometimes pointing towards real science. The blame game has been on for years, centuries, millennia even, we are all born in sin because of Eve (Adam was really just an innocent bystander). I sometimes wonder if life in some form or other is just a part of the evolution of the universe, from pure energy, to hydrogen/helium to stars to exploding stars to more stars and the heavier elements, eventually life and even more eventually sentience. Only to expand and keep expanding until even the atoms break apart and all we are left with is pure energy, ready for a fresh start. That sounds almost like some kind of Hindu idea, which reminds me, you would be better studying comparative religion rather than comparative theology, the theology route restricts you to one possibility and I am sure you are open to much more than that.
            Father George Coyne gives a good talk on “The fertile universe” , speaks about chance and necessity in a way that I think you would find interesting.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzRvEGxmHAQ

            Although in many contexts “dogma” and “doctrine” are used interchangeably, in technical theological contexts “dogma” has a narrower meaning: a doctrine which has been given official status by a religious body. Especially in the Catholic Church dogmas are required beliefs whereas many other less firmly established beliefs are only doctrines.
            Nonspecialists writing about religion often ignore the distinction, and call a doctrine which has not received such official status a “dogma.” Since only some doctrines are dogmas but all dogmas are doctrines and since “dogma” often has negative connotations, it’s safer in non-technical religious contexts to stick with “doctrine.”

            dogmatics n
            (Social Science / Education) (functioning as singular) the study of religious dogmas and doctrines. Also called: dogmatic (or doctrinal) theology

            The study of the Church is also known as ecclesiology. In general, ecclesiology addresses various issues, the most basic being a biblical definition of the “church” and its functions. Other issues involved in ecclesiology include forms of church government, leadership offices, ordinances, worship, and the relationship between the New Testament church and Israel, the Old Testament people of God. Therefore, a clear and biblical understanding is important to both Christian belief and practice.

            Apologetics is the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith. Christian Apologetics is something every true believer should be involved in, even if it is only a little.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            One must wonder why our friend is challenged by someone who speaks with “authority”, then goes on to use the internet after the fact to describe the very subjects recommended. What he describes as “esoteric stuff” must more important than what he wants known. Of course, one must remember that anyone who disagrees with him has no “authority” in his opinion, and his “authority” is the only one that counts. Such arrogance.

          • entech says:

            Not exactly challenged, just curious as to what amount of formal study and experience in the field allows you to speak as an expert and give advice to all and sundry. My own qualifications are zero, just an interest and fascination with how the same subject can have so many different and opposing views and have them all as the revealed truth.

            adjective: esoteric
            intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.
            This pretty well sums up your use of technical jargon.

            Anyone is free to disagree, Unlike you I arrogate to myself and my views no particular value, I merely question what is going on around me. a search for truth, my current view is that organised religion is wrong in its basic assumptions and its source of authority is not credible enough to carry the weight.

            Finally your complete run away from even the slightest hint the source for your expertise can only confirm my long standing opinion, An autodidact with delusions of adequacy.

            Finally, finally OK you win …

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            To he who speaks from insecurity: I’m not going to do a: “you show me yours, and I’ll show you mine”. Your last paragraph reveals a couple “isms”, which I care not to feed, but there are counselors more qualified than me to help once recognized. I do accept your OK.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I do wish you well with those “isms”.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            I agree most any form of fiction is escapism. However, the counter point, that most literature has a theme …. moral of the story, indicates a desired attempt to use fiction to illustrate real life… In short… most fiction can be simplified to devil’s advocate… What if scenerios…

            Science fiction, just brings the what if to science. What if we discovered life on other planets.. What if we developed the ability to teleport people and objects? What if an advanced artifact was unearthed and had biblical writing contained in it.

            We don’t have any supporting facts since it’s fiction other than the human experience. However, it’s that human experience that people relate to.. why are zombie tv shoes so popular.. So popular that a second one is in the making? Strangely, the stories have things that people can relate to. Despite the zombie apocalypse there’s things we can identify with..

            I’d almost say that fiction offers more intelligence and realism than reality shows.

  3. Avatar of realist realist says:

    I’m surprised the Methodists haven’t had more push-back because of their movement toward gender neutrality. After all, there is all the “father” imagery people are used to. Interesting that the earth itself has always been referred to as a female, mother earth, Gaia. In some languages there is no gender-specific personal pronoun. No he/she, rather, “it” suffices. That convention takes gender out of the equation so it doesn’t take on the importance it has in English.

  4. Brad says:

    This is an interesting topic, because I don’t know of any religion on this planet that has a woman as their god.

    • Carr says:

      Yes, Brad, that is true in the Abrahamic religions. But, the Hindus have millions of female gods. Religious texts were written for control of the masses.

    • entech says:

      Greeks, Romans, Norsemen all had Gods and Goddesses, and they all seemed to know about gender differences as they came to “know” each other frequently, not only each other but humanity as well. Genesis started of well, all the sons of god in illicit cohabitation with the fairest of the daughters of man, leading to giants in the land – not tall enough to keep their heads above water though :roll: . There is quite a bit written about the early versions of the Jewish God having a wife, even lots of statues found.

      Makes you wonder, when did sex become dirty, couldn’t be that it is such a powerful drive towards the propagation of the species that some self interested, self appointed agents of God on earth made that decision as a means of control; could it?

  5. Wolfy32 says:

    It’s so funny that gender is so important… What if God is both? or neither. How would that change our perceptions of a God?

    I think of God as a Sun… There’s at least one verse (if not more) that reference that no human can be in the presence of God in the flesh without dieing… I compare that to being near a sun. No one can get close to a sun.. And like a ball of energy his power reaches everywhere. fueling life all over the universe. Revelations says when we go to be with him with our new bodies, and our new planet, That there will be no need for the sun for God himself will light the land day and night.

    confirmation that at least one of his forms is pure energy.

    I know this is a big stretch, but that einstein proved that energy can equal matter and matter can equal energy, heh. it proves there’s a possibility that a being could exist as pure energy. Whether life is sustainable as pure energy we cannot prove. We assume all energy is non-living. To answer the gender question, does energy have a gender…. Or care about sex? If not, then, my perception of God is gener is a very animalistic consideration. Not imnportant to higher life forms that transcend physical existence.

  6. entech says:

    I guess this is related to gender. My daily paper today had a rather strange headline, about an Australian nun on the shortlist to become a Cardinal. It seems although never a priest the Pope could appoint a female Cardinal part of whose job would be to elect his successor.
    Stranger than fiction, even Dan Brown couldn’t have thought this one up. It seems Pope Joan is pure fantasy and there has never been a female Cardinal let alone Pope, first time for everything.

  7. Connor Haugen says:

    @ Jon Lindgren
    “We don’t know if/why Jesus lived. Christians have disagreed since day one on whether he was a god, man or some combination of each.”
    Sorry this comment is a little late. In the beginning, Christians did disagree on the nature of Jesus. Factions arose in the church such as the Apollinarians, Nestorians, and Monophysites. These groups said that Jesus was either all divine, all human, or a hybrid of each. However, when Constantine legalized Christianity, he called for the COuncil of Nicea in 325 AD. This was the first general council of Christian leaders, and they determined what was orthodox and what was heretical in the Christian faith. TO be a true follower of Christ, one has to believe that He was completely divine and completely human at the same time (Nicene Creed). They came to this conclusion through the Torah and through the writings of the apostles. Therefore, people that don’t believe this aren’t followers of Christ. I would say that the nature of Jesus is one of the things Christians do not disagree on today.
    @Wolfy
    “My problem with it is there’s no explanation for those that never new of Christ (pre christ or at the time of Christ) and there’s no explanation for those that died in the thousands and/or millions of years prior to Christ.”
    Actually, there are is an explanation for this question. In Genesis 5:24 and 2 Kings 2:11, Enoch and Elijah are taken from earth to be with God. “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away (Gen 5:24).” One can conclude that people who believed in the Lord and feared Him were allowed into heaven. Instead of Jesus’ sacrifice, people had to make sacrifices of their own to atone for their sins. This isn’t just limited to the Jews either. People like Ruth and Nebuchadnezzar who learned to honor the Lord were favored by Him as well.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Connor 7:06 Welcome to the discussion board.

      We have discussed often, here, the Council of Nicea, 325 AD. I know there was an adminstrative decree, but this makes it neither true nor false. People today read the Bible and see that in place in the gospels he was a god who became a man and in another place he was a man who became a god.

      I would agree that among people who take administrative decisions as the gospel truth, there may not be disagreement. Among people trying to figure it out for themselves, disagreement remains.

    • Wolfy32 says:

      Thank you for the post. Great information. My point is why would God change his mind? He is the divine. Knows the future of human development. So, why not provide a savior at the beginning if he knew people would need one.. If he didn’t know that people were going to sin, then, is he divine?

      If he knew people were going to sin, then why punish them? People worshipped many Gods prior to Christ. Volcano Gods, sun gods, and nature gods, etc. Many divine influences in early human development. So, to say that the God Elijah was taken by is the Christian God? Well, how do we know that this is the same God as thee God in the new testament. considering the change of heart of going from murdering and slaughtering men, women, and children to trying to save everyone, either God had a huge change of heart or the new testament God is a different God from the old testament?

      Or, man’s need of for what a God includes changed… So, who God is changed from the beginning to the end. Despite the insistance that God didn’t change at all.. Going from murdering innocent people all over the world… (The flood, sadom and gamorrah, the exodous, etc) to saving everyone including the ones deserving of death, well is a change… A pretty large change…. Contradicting that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

      Umm how he reacts to people has changed pretty significantly.

    • entech says:

      Wolfy, first paragraph. So, why not provide a savior at the beginning if he knew people would need one
      You might ask, why create human beings that were going to need a saviour?
      Why not create a better model?

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