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"A friend of mine is fond of saying that in the church today authority trumps theology every time. If this is true, it is clearly not a strategy for the long term. Is there a better way? Can authority and theology actually strengthen each other for the good of all the people of God?"

It seems that authority's trumping theology has existed since Paul invented Christianity. Theology wasn't available at all to hoi polloi until rebels like Bruno, Hus, Wyckliffe, Knox and Luther paid dearly to empower them. It was 100% authority for 1400 years!

Theology is still not available to Roman Catholic lay folks, as far as I can see. In the past couple of years, I've asked dozens of RC seniors to explain the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. I finally met one who could--a recent convert from Lutheranism!

Sue Foley-Currie

I am ordained as a woman as an Anglican priest. If I was a man - the Pope would welcome me with open arms. I am a holy person and a normal balanced wholesome mother, grandmother, with years of senior experience in the secular workplace and in the Church. I appreciate the catholic church very much and follow the Rule of St. Benedict daily. But I am a woman - heaven forbid - one of those second class citizens when it comes to the Roman Catholic Church - which I often feel would even reject Mary, the Mother of Jesus, if she was put forward as a suitable candidate.

John McKinlay

Ifound your letter of great interest . Perhaps the answer lies further back in our search for enlightenment.Some thoughts from a 90 yr old disciple.....................................................................................Discussions

Father God and the male and female principle 02/08/2011 12:22:10 PM

The making of the species “man”

(Gen. 1:26-27). "Let us make man in our image and after our likeness. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him"
Being an image/mirror of the Eternal the man God created was both male and female within. Then the woman was taken out of his side, being separated out and brought forth as a further unique expression [a1] of the human.
(Gen. 5:1-2 KJV). "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him; male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created"
Before the woman was separated from the man he did not know and was not in touch with his own female nature as a separate being.. When man was first brought forth from the hand of God he was created androgynous. (From the Greek, andros = male, gyne = female.)
There are still androgynous organisms in the plant & animal world. In one sense God could be described as androgynous; being able to bring forth out of Himself. He has no need for a partner. He is complete and whole within Himself.

In creation God brought forth everything out of Himself showing the pattern for man’s creation. Later when the man was asleep God removed[a2] the woman from him. In one sense the beginning of a husband-wife relationship began before the woman was separated from the man. The church has taught that when a couple becomes married they learn to grow together, that is, they begin to form a union. The creation story shows the opposite. The man/woman were one. The woman had to be separated from him, removed from him, so that they could fully understand the nature of the union. God not making the woman from the dust as He did the man supports this concept of oneness.

Just as the woman was part of the species man, so all the strengths of a Father and all the maternal love and tenderness of a Mother are combined in the word "Father.”, The understanding that man in the beginning was created male and female and that male and female is the image of God, reveals the glory, power and exalted place of the bride of Christ. When God formed the body of the first man from the dust of the ground, He did not make a separate man and woman; He made a complete image and likeness of Himself[a3] . (male and female created He them)
In the beginning there was only the God who is love — omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, holy, perfect who as a parent nature desired to bring forth sons on the earth'. In that beginning, before human flesh, God was both male and female nature and we the species man, although separated have been created to spiritually fulfill that image.
(Gen 1:27 NRSV) So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.[a4]

The Female Nature

As a father to His children, the Creator provides for their needs and wants, training and educating them in love and service as members of the family of humankind. Deeper again is a relationship like the tenderness of a mother in holding, nursing, nurturing, caring for, and when needed comforting the weary and wounded ones. There is in God that quality of the tender and compassionate feminine nature of which earthly feminine care and comfort is a reflection.

The Eternal has often spoken from this part of His nature.
(Isa 66:13 NRSV) As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
Genesis 1:2, "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
“moved”(in Hebrew)= "hovering" or "brooding" that began to take place upon the surface of the waters; a "fluttering” as the wings of a fowl. Perhaps an early hint of the maternal, or feminine, character of God.
In the Song of Moses God is portrayed as a disappointed Mother who bore us and brought us forth.
(Deut. 32:18, Amplified). "Of the Rock that bore you, you were unmindful; you forgot the God who travailed in your birth"
"Under His wings," an expression often used in scripture, is a mother figure.
(Mat 23:37 NRSV) "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
(Psa 91:4 NRSV) he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
The mother-bird gathers her brood under her wings to feel the heat of her body, and for protection.
The quality of fruitfulness and the blessings in the Torah give indications of motherhood.
"May God Almighty [El Shaddai] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers…" (Gen. 28:3).
"I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]: be fruitful and increase in number" (Gen. 35:11).
"By the Almighty [El Shaddai] who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts [shadayim] and of the womb [racham]" (Gen. 49:25).

If God by His grace has given you a wonderful father and the love of a godly mother, He has given you something of Himself. All that is good in a father or a mother comes from God, from His nature and state of being. All loving fathers and mothers can know how God feels. God forms the fatherly heart and the balancing tender and loving heart of a mother so that children will understand more about their eternal Father[a5] .

Girt about the breasts

The one seen by John also has female indications.
(Rev. 1:13 KJV). clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle"
(Rev 1:13 NRSV) and in the midst of the lamp-stands I saw one like[a6] the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest.

The word "paps/breasts" the Greek “ mastos” used for the female breasts. Translators have written this as chest assuming a masculine intention.
(Lk. 11:27KJV). "And it came to pass, as He spoke these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said to Him, Blessed is the womb that bare You, and the paps (mastos) which You have sucked."
(Luke 11:27 NRSV) While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts (mastos) that nursed you!"
The female word for breast’s is used yet the person is like a Son of Man. This is consistent with a portrayal of the dual nature of the Creator as both male and female. The strong and mighty One, our Father, is also our Mother, El Shaddai, the pourer-forth who pours Himself out for His offspring; who gives them His flesh and His blood; who satisfies them with milk from His own bosom; who sheds forth His Spirit, and says,
"Come to me and drink, open your mouth and I will fill it," who pours into them His nature and life that they may grow to become His sons and His daughters.

Husbands and wives

Husbands and wives, according to the ordinance of God, are one flesh, one unit, one person.
[a7] (Mk. 10:6-9, KJV & Amplified). "From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh[a8] , so that they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has united — joined together — let not man separate [a9] or divide"
It was not the burning self-desire of the man that caused the woman to come forth, but the purpose of God. It was God who initiated the process,
"And the Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make an help meet for him" (Gen. 2:18).
"Meet[a10] " is an old English word meaning "suitable, fit, proper, worthy." Essentially "meet" is to fit, join, combine, agree, be in union, and be together— fusion. This is true oneness.

When the woman had been made and presented to the man, he named her. Not by her given name, Eve, but her creative name, “isha”
(“Ish” Hebrew word for man; the man used “Isha” the feminine form of “ish”)
(Gen 2:23 NIV) The man said, "This is now bone of my bones [a11] and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, (isha) ' for she was taken out of man."
The man added a single letter to the word for himself, to define the quality of difference: He was a male man and she was a female man[a12] .
God confirmed the man’s understanding that they were both exactly alike despite the obvious outward differences. They were simply two parts of the same thing.
(Gen. 5:1-2)."In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him; male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created"
To God this was one creation in the image and likeness of God. The man’s name wasn’t Adam. The woman’s name wasn’t Adam. But their name was Adam.

Ish. Isha. Male. Female. Both Adam. Both man. Both in the image of God.
Isha points to a species, a quality of man-ness.
In Latin the word for man is vir---a male man, and the word for woman is vira — a female man. The English word "woman" also, a contraction of the old Anglo-Saxon term "womb-man" — a man with a womb.
God blessed the union of ish and isha, this one creation He called Adam.

God said, "Let us make man in our image," the word “image” is in the masculine gender. But in, "and after our likeness," the word “likeness” is in the feminine gender.. a Father-Mother God created both male and female out of "image and likeness." God is unity and union, He is not two individuals, a masculine person and a feminine person. For the correct balance God spiritually possesses both masculine and feminine characteristics within Himself. In the original creation man was both male and female within Himself. This androgynous state was called "him." He was male and female. God is called "He," for "Father" includes "Mother." We do not pray to "Our Father-Mother God," Jesus instructed us to pray, "Our “Father[a13] ” who is in heaven." The Mother is included in the Father. Jesus came to reveal the Father and in revealing Him He also revealed the Mother nature of God. But this God is called Father. The scriptures leave no question about this at all. To know God in the Spirit, and by the Spirit, discovers the deeper realization that God is both Father-Mother as ONE, not two separate entities.

A profound mystery

. God as a Father lovingly corrects, disciplines, teaches, instructs, and directs our steps. God as a Mother lovingly nourishes, comforts, soothes and cuddles the needy one. From such life every son of God may experience all the parental guidance, provision, and care needed to bring them to the full stature of God our Father. This man in the image of God is destined to have dominion over all the works of God's hands. Created in God’s image, male and female, sons and daughters, to be the revelation of both the strength and wisdom of God’s Fatherhood and the tenderness and sustaining life of God’s Motherhood to creation. God makes His sons and daughters partakers of His own nature, that they, the first-fruits of Himself, may make others partakers of the same nature. Separation to Him makes one fit for this work, as the Lord has said,
"Wherefore come out from among them[a14] , and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (II Cor. 6:17-18).
Sons and daughters. Male and female. Thus we may spiritually become "breasted ones" and "pourers-forth." In the sons and daughters of God is fulfilled the promise of Jerusalem,
(Isa. 66:10-11)."those who love her may suck and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that they may milk out and be delighted with the abundance of her glory"

In the midst of God’s elect there is need to know the reality of bride-ship and son-ship. The Lord is concerned with what we are spiritually. Bride-ship and son-ship are both states of being in and by the Spirit, manifested in the sons and daughters, who in their individual beings and companies are the body of Christ
(Eph 4:15-16 NIV) Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. {16} From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
This growing up into Him who is the head is foreshadowed by the married state.
(Eph 5:22-32 NIV) Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. {23} For the husband is the head[a15] of the wife as Christ is the head of the Ecclesia, his body, of which he is the Savior. {24} Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. {25} Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her [a16] {26} to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word[a17] , {27} and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. {28} In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself[a18] . {29} After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the ecclesia-- {30} for we are members of his body. {31} "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the Ecclesia.

The birth of Children

From the one-ness of man and wife is produced the children. As the Creator was one in the beginning and from Himself created all things so also the “becoming one flesh” of the married state and the coming forth of children is continuing God’s creative pattern.
The spiritual state of marriage is part of a profound mystery and foreshadows the revealing of the glorious woman of the Revelation and the birth of the man-child company.
(Rev 12:1-5 NRSV) A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun[a19] , with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. {2} She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. {3} Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. {4} His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. {5} And she gave birth to a son, a male child[a20] , who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne;
. The Ecclesia as the bride is betrothed. The apostle writes of this theme as a great mystery. Isaiah the great prophet of Israel also speaks of a like theme. He begins, 'Hear the Word of the Lord'. His words were addressed to those who tremble at His Word and were cast out for His name's sake. A time is prophesied when the city and the temple will hear the sound of the Lord God in warfare against the wicked. During this time of great uproar who will be delivered of a man child? (or children?) Not Israel, not Mary, but Zion the fortress of God. i.e. the Ecclesia. She was delivered of a man child. ...who has heard such a thing? ....shall a nation be born at once? As soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children.' (i.e. the man child company; the sons of God.) A plurality.

Note:- From Vines 'An Expository Dictionary'
'Arsen' or 'Arren' is translated 'men' in Romans.1:27 (three times) as 'man child' in Rev 12:5 ; and as male in Matt.19:4.
The word arren may be seen as singular or plural. It can be an individual or a company of people. Note Isaiah 66:8. in this regard.

(Isa 66:5-8 KJV) Hear the word of the LORD, you that tremble at his word; Your brethren [a21] that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed. {6} A voice of noise from the city[a22] , a voice from the temple, [a23] a voice of the LORD that renders recompense to his enemies. {7} Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. {8} Who has heard such a thing? who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion [a24] travailed, she brought forth her children.
(2 Cor 11:2 KJV) For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

The cycle is completed

The Eternal began with a man in His own image, untested and untried and in the final purpose ends with a man in the revealing of the Christ of God, the many membered body. Christ the head of the manifested sons, the Son in the sons, the "man-child" who are to be judges, kings and priests of the Melchisedek order

(Eph 2:15 KJV) Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, the law of commandments contained in ordinances; to make in himself of both one new man, so making peace;

(Eph 4:24 KJV) And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

(Col 3:10 KJV) And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

(Rev 14:1 NIV) Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000[a25] who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.

© J McKinlay http://home.australiaonline.net.au/farquar

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Shaddai meanings-- fertility, nourishment, the breast
Harriet Lutzky has presented evidence that Shaddai was an attribute of a Semitic goddess, linking the epithet Shaddai with the Hebrew šad meaning "breast", giving the meaning "the one of the Breast", as Asherah at Ugarit is "the one of the Womb".[9] A similar theory proposed by Albright is that the name Shaddai is connected to shadayim, the Hebrew word for "breasts". It may thus be connected to the notion of God’s gifts of fertility to human race.

The All-Sufficient God

El Shaddai.
The All Sufficient God.
Shad means "breast" in Hebrew (Gen. 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; 49:25; Exod. 6:3; Num. 24:6; Ruth 1:20; Job (various references); Psa. 22:10; 68:15; 91:1; Ezek. 1:24; 10:5; 23:21 etc.). Occurs 48 times in the Tanakh.

In Genesis 17:1, YHVH said to Abram: "I am El Shaddai. Walk before me and be perfect." So why did the LORD choose to reveal Himself using this distinctive Name to Abram?

Most English translations render El Shaddai as "God Almighty," probably because the translators of the Septuagint (i.e., the Greek translation of the Old Testament) thought Shaddai came from a root verb (shadad) that means "to overpower" or "to destroy." The Latin Vulgate likewise translated Shaddai as "Omnipotens" (from which we get our English word omnipotent). God is so overpowering that He is considered "Almighty."

According to some of the sages, Shaddai is a contraction of the phrase, "I said to the world, dai (enough)" (as in the famous word used in the Passover Haggadah, Dayeinu -- "it would have been sufficient"). God created the world but "stopped" at a certain point. He left creation "unfinished" because He wanted us to complete the job by means of exercising chesed (love) in repair of the world (tikkun olam).

Jacob's blessing given in Genesis 49:25, however, indicates that Shaddai might be related to the word for breasts (shadaim), indicating sufficiency and nourishment (i.e., "blessings of the breasts and of the womb" (בִּרְכת שָׁדַיִם וָרָחַם)). In this case, the Name might derive from the contraction of sha ("who") and dai ("enough") to indicate God's complete sufficiency to nurture the fledgling nation into fruitfulness. Indeed, God first uses this Name when He refers to multiplying Abraham's offspring (Gen. 17:2).

El Shaddai is used almost exclusively in reference to the three great patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and (according to Exodus 6:2-3) was the primary name by which God was known to the founders of Israel (the Name YHVH given to Moses suggests God's absolute self-sufficiency). The word "Shaddai" (by itself) was used later by the prophets (e.g., Num. 24:4; Isa. 13:6, Ezek. 1:24) as well as in the books of Job, Ruth, and in the Psalms. In modern Judaism, Shaddai is also thought to be an acronym for the phrase Shomer daltot Yisrael - "Guardian of the doors of Israel" - abbreviated as the letter Shin on most mezuzot:

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[a1]As life developed the principle of two forms of each species proved to be the most efficient in nurture of young and ,food gathering and protection.
[a2]The use of the rib as being the part removed is symbolic. Taking this whole story literally is a great foolishness. This dividing into two sexes could have taken aeons of time.
[a3]It will be so in the completed mystery of God. A new man upon the earth. This will be The body of Chris revealed in its completed form as the man-child. (male and female)
[a4]In one sense the first man was a “them” a plural being
[a5]This is the most important reason why “Gay” people should refrain from having families involving children There is need for the balanced parental role.
[a6]Similar tobut not nrcessarily the same as.
[a7]Herein is the great danger involved in promiscuous sex. The joining in this way distorts the picture of oneness and creates in the individual a double minded state .Peace becomes illusive. Finding a partner becomes more difficult.
[a8]This point is the spiritual answer to homosexuality. Two males or two females cannot become “one flesh” and conform to the pattern laid down from the beginning.
[a9]The point here is “God” has joined. There are many “joinings” that are clearly not God joined.
[a10]The word “meet” applies also to the man. He must also be suitable. proper, helpful to his partner also.
[a11](Eph 5:30 KJV) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

[a12]It is important to avoid the concept that man means male person. It is correct to say to a female person “You are man” as it is correct to say to a male person, “You are man” They both belong to the species,”MAN”
[a13](Luke 11:2 KJV) And he said to them, When you pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven,

[a14]Refers to any unrighteous behaviours or systems of man that grow out from the Adamic nature and the traditions of men.
[a15]Being the Head is not being the boss. Headship points to being responsible in all things and extending a covering of safety and protection over the family.
[a16]The giving up of all self interest and placing his wife in the position of first in all that he does.
[a17]Requires of the husband absolute obedience to the Word of God.
[a18]This relationship is the key to successful marriage. It comes from the essential truth that God is ONE and God IS love.
[a19]Scripturally the glory of the sun typifies God’ glory (Song 6:10 KJV) Who is she that looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?

[a20]Note:- From Vines 'An Expository Dictionary'
'Arsen' or 'Arren' is translated 'men' in Romans.1:27 (three times) as 'man child' in Rev 12:5 ; and as male in Matt.19:4.
The word arren may be seen as singular or plural. It can be an individual or a company of people. Note Isaiah 66:8. in this regard.

[a21]The ones who were brothers ?Christians, cast out this group. Notice they believed their actions were for the sake of the name of the Lord believing that this casting out glorified God.
[a22](Heb 12:22 NIV) But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels (messengers) in joyful assembly,

[a23](1 Cor 6:19 NIV) Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

[a24](Rev 3:12 KJV) Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

(Rev 21:2 KJV) And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Not a city of materials but a great number of sons and daughters having all the qualities of the Bride of the Lamb
[a25]12x12 a number implying the ultimate of God’s government in the day of the Lord.

Geelong College

This is a issue which provokes much debate in our modern world. But i think the answer should be no because it is incompatible with Christian faith.

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