God, Creation and me

John R has asked me to link to a thread on fulcrum where we had a discussion about a year ago - here it is - if you go to 4 September 2006, you will see the start of the discussion. He asked me to link to it because of the conversation we were having regarding my recent post 'for all eves' .

the summary of the discussion for me was that John was suggesting that God was male and that Creation was therefore necessary for God, being the 'female' relational partner, but John thinks that I misunderstood his argument - you'll have to see for yourselves, just to whet your appetite, here is one of the interactions that gave me the impression that he thinks what I thought he thunk:

Tuesday 5 September 3.55pm

Jody says:
Hi John

A couple of questions:

I am slightly struggling to untangle what you are trying to say about God in all that you are writing. I think that this is probably because what I think you are trying to say is something which makes me think 'he can't be saying what I think he's saying', if you get my meaning. Also, as you are working through an argument I can't particularly tell which part of the 'dialogue' you are taking to be your own point of view and which is the point of view of the 'correspondent'.

This is all to say that if I have misunderstood what you are trying to say, forgive me.

1. Are you trying to say that God is, in fact, gendered?
2. If God is gendered, are you saying that humanity was necessary for God to be recognised as gendered?

thanks Jody

Tuesday 5 September 7.33pm

John says:
Hi Jody!
The short answer [ ;-) ] is 1. Yes and 2. Yes. But hopefully you and others will find it helpful to follow through my working on this. It is a shame posts take so long to post!


So, you will understand why I came to the conclusion that, for John, God is male and Creation is necessary for God - something which I have suggested is, well, ridiculous.

so, on the thread that I've linked you to you will see a detailed thesis of John's on why it is not ridiculous and my, sometimes less than reverent, responses.



dave williams said...


First glance -and its late on in the afternoon so my brain is not at its best. I think I will have to reread it again. My first pass understanding is that John R is saying that there is something about God's character that involves creation -not that he becomes Creator-God but that it is in his nature. That when we talk about him as "He" we are expressing something about his relationship -otherness to us. He does say that we are not to confuse what he is saying with being about "sex" and that this means that his relationship to us is one of husband that is how he is often revealed in the Old Testament -as the husband of Israel.

I'm not sure it is that "ridiculous" -he has to be careful that he is not defining God in terms of creation -and that is a risk here but I don't think that is what he is doing-although it is right to say that there is something disclosed about God in creation.

jody said...

I guess I happen to think that it is ridiculous and that most theologians worth their salt would not try to ascribe gender to God.

If we say that God is male, then we are saying that male is the 'norm' and that female is something 'less than' or that female is something that is not known within God. So which is it?

My point is that you cannot define male without female, and this is something that John seems to say initially when he talks about male and female being relational terms - you can only be relational if there is the 'other' to be relational with. In this John quite clearly says that God is male and the counterpart to God's maleness is Creation which is female. For God's maleness to be evident, for John, God needs Creation.

This is very bad theology. My understanding of God means that he is fully defined within himself. God is Love - Father Son Spirit.

Dave Williams said...


John will have to answer for himself I guess -my impression was that he had said that you had interpreted him incorrectly.

Ascribing gender to God if we mean God is like a man -sharing men's physical attributes, character limitations -no I'm assuming John would not mean that -maybe Im being over generous and John has become a heretic! So I'm trying to work out what he is getting at.

There are some things we have to run with. God chooses to reveal himself essentially in masculine terms. He talks about us his church in essentially femine terms as he did Israel. This contrasts sharply with pagan goddesses and some attempts at Christian Feminism. It is important there to say that amazingly where false religion needs a goddess as the consort of the god, Jdae-Christianty says tha tisn't needed because God makes his church his consort.

To say that God is complete in himself and is not dependent upon any other is one thing and we need to tread carefully on this -but there is still an aspect of saying that if God is Creator God, and if he is the God who saves -then we do define him in respect to his creation.

So I think John has some high risks with what he is saying -and I'm not sure he's explaining it at his own best nor is he neccessarily correct in everything but to call it "ridiculous" well that's an interest choice of language especially from an "Open Evangelical"

Revd John P Richardson said...

Just to say, I've extracted all the material I posted from the Fulcrum website and hope to go over it and repost it to the Ugley Vicar blog at some stage. However, I am flat out working at the moment and have a trip to Kenya coming up, so I can't promise when I will get round to it.

Dave - I think you grasped pretty well what I was trying to say. I accept it is high risk! I don't believe theology always has to be 'safe' - a bit like Aslan, maybe (if you know the reference).

jody said...

what I find amazing is that the outworking of saying that God is male is to say that female is something from within male ( a point which Paul is quick to equalise in 1 Corinthians)

but if you are persistent in this thesis then it confirms for me that this line of thinking ends in a line of thought which has woman as less then man and all the evil that comes out of that which we see in most of the rest of the world.

I don't wish for a 'safe' God, a God that allows me to wallow in my safe world view and continue down a line of thought which perpetuates violence and oppression towards any vulnerable group.

I name it as ridiculous because this is the kindest thing that I can say about this theology. If I name it as 'ridiculous' then perhaps people won't take it seriously - this is my hope anyway.