Theology has been my passion since seventeen years of age when I memorized the book of Romans. I began collecting theological books in high school and later worked diligently on learning Greek and Hebrew while studying business and finance at Baylor. In 1982, when I was a poor twenty-year-old kid, I entered a pawn shop in Waco for the first time to get some much needed cash. I brought my prized collection of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones books to sell to the shop--fifty books in all. It was a sad day for me. I needed money and my hard cover Jones' books were worth over $500 even back then. It made me sick to have to sell them because of my love for Jones' writings. My favorite Christian authors are John Calvin (16th century), John Owen (17th century), John Gill (18th century), Charles Spurgeon (19th century), and D. Martyn Lloyd Jones (20th century). I now own everything these men have ever written, but back in 1982 my largest collection, by far, was Lloyd-Jones. The pawn shop owner told me he would give me $2.00. Disappointment rose within me and I asked, "Just $2.00 per book?" He looked at me with a quizzical expression and said, "No, $2.00 for the whole lot!" I left that pawn shop and kept my Jones' books, which now form a portion of my library of over 10,000 antiquarian, historical and theological works. Everytime my eyes fall on the colorful dust jackets of the D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones books, I remember my pawn shop experience and I have reinforced within me the biblical truth that "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:14).
the biography of Steve Jobs and author Walter Isaacson writes that Steve firmly believed you can know a person by looking at the songs kept on that person's I-Pod. That's the modern application for the old axiom "you can know a man by his books." I am a conservative inerrantist who values and treasures the Word of God. In 2010 I publicly described my theological views as "Calvinistic in soteroiology, partial-preterist in eschatology, open communion in ecclesiology, and continuationist in pneumatology." To some that sounds like a medical diagnosis, but to those in the theological know, it describes a very conservative biblical framework. Using easier to understand words, I believe that "God saves sinners through Christ, the prophecies of the Bible are fulfilled precisely and completely, the church of Jesus Christ is universal and extends far beyond the walls of any one local assembly, and the Spirit of God continues to work in God's people today as He did in New Testament days." Theological liberals would not agree with my views on the nature of Scripture or the interpretations of the Bible that I hold which flow from my high esteem of the Word of God. Because I belief in the authority of Scripture, I must accept the truth of the Bible. Because I accept the truth of the Bible, I must accept that the invisible, immortal and omnipotent God has female characteristics, and that females were created in the image of God to be co-regents, co-equals, and co-leaders with men over creation,
A Conservative, Bible-Believing Christian Should View God as the Bible Portrays God
This leads me to the reason why I chose the particular title for my post today. Read the title again. "God Has Chosen to Liken Himself to a Female and We are the Fruit of His Womb." I found this quote in my theological library, in a book that was originally written nearly 500 years ago by a conservative, Bible-believing Protestant evangelical named John Calvin. That's right, THAT John Calvin.
In Isaiah 46:3 God says, "Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, you who have been borne by Me from birth and have been carried from My womb." John Calvin comments on this verse by writing "God has manifested himself to be both Father and Mother so that we might be more aware of God’s constant presence and willingness to assist us" (Volume VIII, Isaiah 33-66, page 436). Later in Isaiah, God says to His people: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" (Isaiah 49:15). In Calvin's commentary on this verse, the great orthodox theologian writes, "God did not satisfy himself with proposing the example of a father, but in order to express his very strong affection, he chose to liken himself to a mother, and calls His people not merely children, but the fruit of the womb, towards which there is usually a warmer affection.” John Owen and John Gill are just as graphic in their expositions. These men, all of whom lived centuries ago in England and Europe and were considered the greatest Hebrew and Greek linguists in their day, felt no qualms and gave no caveats when presenting the feminine qualities of our ominipotent and sovereign God. Why should they? They believed the Bible.
In Genesis 1:27 it is said, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." The male and the female were created by God. The male and the female both bear the image of God. The male and the female are both included in the Hebrew word adam (man) - "So God created adam ... He created them." Notice what God says about them ... "and let them rule.…” The male and the female were both designed to rule. Men and women are created by God in His image as co-regents of the world He created. Any system, any society, any organization that places one gender as an authority over the other, whether it be patriarchal or matriarchal in nature, is a direct violation of the command and design of the Creator God. Why can women rule in God's creation? Why can women lead in God's creation? Why can women be equal to men in God's creation? Women are created in the image of God, just like men, and when the omnipotent, sovereign and invisible Creator God determined to create man in His image, He created a male and a female, reflecting the very nature of God Himself. This is why there is nothing wrong with considering God as both Father and Mother, as the invisible and all-powerful Ruler of the universe who reflects Himself in both males and females--God is Spirit and the perfections of each gender are seen in God.
George Kwami Kumi, Ph.D. is an Akan Ghanaian Christian and the vicar general of the Diocese of Sunyani, Africa. Dr. Kumi says that the affectionate term Father-Mother God is used among his native people to denote the invisible God of the Bible. Dr. Kumi is himself accustomed to referring to God as Father-Mother God, and he found it surprising to discover a resistance among conservative evangelicals in the United States to acknowledge God in the way the sacred Scriptures present Yawheh. Dr. Kumi has wondered if western conservative evangelicals in the United States have succombed to creating a god in the image of western civilization culture. Dr. Kumi has even called "strange" the practice of some Christians to only view God in male terms. He explains that Akan African Christians have a fuller and more biblical understanding of God as both Father and Mother, precisely because both male and female characteristics are found in the nature of the invisible spirit God. Dr. Kumi also learned the Catholic catechism as a child which states "God is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the differences between the sexes. But the respective "perfections" of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother (Isaiah 49:14-15; 66:13; Psalm 131:2-3) and those of a father (Job 31:18; Jer. 3:4-20) and husband (Jer. 3:6-19)." [CCC 370]. Dr. Kumi is a modern day theologian and conservatives automatically call him a liberal because he dares acknowledge the feminine in God. Were Dr. Kumi to deny salvation by grace through faith, or were Dr. Kumi to deny the authority and infallibility of Scripture, or were Dr. Kumi to deny the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, you could rightly call him a liberal. However, if a bible-believing scholar holds to the equality of women based upon the belief that the Bible explicitly teaches the image of God in both the man and the woman, then that scholar is not a liberal.
The True Liberals Are Those Who Deny the Clear Teaching of God's Word Regarding Gender
The liberal scholar is the one who denies that both men and women are created in the image of God. Some liberal scholars are self-proclaimed conservative scholars who twist the Scriptures to purport that only man is created in God's image and the woman is the glory of man, not God. Sound strange? To me it sure does. Let me give you an example of this kind of teaching. Dr. Bruce Ware, in a long and bizarre article entitled Male and Female Complementarity and the Image of God writes, "I propose that it may be best to understand the original creation of male and female as one in which the male was made image of God first, in an unmediated fashion, as God formed him from the dust of the ground, while the female was made image of God second, in a mediated fashion, as God chose, not more earth, but the very rib of Adam ... The theology of this is clear ... Genesis 2 intends for us to understand the formation of the woman as both fully like the man in his humanity, while attributing the derivation of her very nature to God's formation of her, not from common dust of the ground, but specifically from the rib of Adam, and so from the man. Just as the man, created directly by God is the image and glory of God, so the woman, created out of the man, has her glory through the man. This much is clear: as God chose to create her, the woman was not formed to be the human that she is apart from the man but only through the man. Does it not stand to reason, then, that her humanity, including her being the image of God, occurs as God forms her from the man as "the glory of the man"? (emphasis mine).
I think this kind of teaching, promoted as the norm at the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, should be called out for what it is. It is liberal theology. It is a denial of the nature of God and the authority of Scripture. From this strange doctrine arise toxic problems within Christian churches and homes. For example, if the male (not the female) is created in the image of God in an unmediated fashion, and the female bears God's image only through the male, then females will be taught that their identity will only be found in a man, not God, and thus ...
(1). Females should always be under a 'protective covering' of a man, either a father or a husband just as men need God's protective covering.
(2). Females should never lead, rule or govern anything but only serve and support the males who were designed to rule as God rules.
(3). Females should be subordinate to the authority of men in the same manner Jesus is eternally subordinate to the authority of God the Father, and even if that authority is abusive at times, the woman should always remain compliant and submissive.
(4). Females should always find their identity and self-worth in the men that God has given to them (fathers and husbands), with home-making and child-rearing being their focus and never working toward any career or identity outside the man's home.
(5). Females were designed by God to be recipients of the leadership, service, and authority of males, and for females to view oneself as equals to males in the home or in the church is rebellion toward God.
I could continue with the toxic effects ad infinitum, but my oatmeal is getting cold and I'm getting a tad nauseated as I think about the damage being done to new church plants, Christian homes, and the kingdom of Christ at large over a very toxic and unbiblical view of men and women. The image of God is in both, and God intends for both males and females to work, serve and lead as His Spirit gifts. Our identity, whether single males or females, married males or females, widowed males or females, or even small male and female children, should be found in who we are as human beings made in the image of God, independent of our relation to the opposite sex. One of these days people will awake to the revelation that when cultures--whether they be religious or secular cultures--promote one gender over another in terms of authority, then the truth of God's Word is being denied. Scripture reveals that both genders reflect the nature of our sovereign, Ruling God. I use the pronouns Him, He, when speaking of God without apology, and I never hesitate to pray as Jesus taught, "Our Father who are in heaven." But when I consider my Father in heaven Who is the invisible, eternal, ruling God of the Universe, I see Him--like the prophet Isaiah, John Calvin, and all my theological heroes--as the God who chooses to reveal Himself as Father and Mother and reflect His image equally in the men and the women He creates. Therefore, I praise God when a gifted woman leads, teaches, prays or takes a position of authority in the presence of men. It's a reflection of God. So, men and women, let's get back to serving one another in the Spirit of Christ with all humility, knowing that our identity is found in our relationship to God.