Thursday, May 21, 2009

Goddess Spirituality: from a Christian perspective 3

The Christian Answer:
Those involved in goddess spirituality hold some views that should be commended. They value nature and find goodness in the created world. They also attempt to give significance and wholeness to the lives of women. The adherents of goddess spirituality seek out the good experiences of women and attempt to affirm those experiences with ritual; they also provide ritual for the tragedies of life. Unlike many New Age adherents they do not deny the dark side of life, rather they attempt to embrace or make room for the darkness.

But here lies the problem. They do not understand that without the One true Light the darkness overwhelms all of life and in the end brings the creature down into the depths of its darkness.

Nature versus Jesus Christ: Those involved in goddess spirituality see all of nature as deity and envision deity in terms of nature, but Jesus Christ is the final, and complete revelation of God. “In these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He [Jesus] is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:2,3b) Nature reminds humanity of God's “eternal power and divine nature,”(Romans 1:20) but only Jesus Christ can reveal the very personal loving sacrifice of God for humanity.

The adherents of goddess spirituality seek for the divine in nature, rejecting a transcendent God. They do this because they believe a God who is separate from nature is uninvolved with creation. But scripture teaches that God is both transcendent and immanent. Although, not a part of nature, God is both beyond and involved with creation. The God of Scripture is personal and loves the world, which is His creation.

More then this Jesus Christ is the incarnate one. That is, God came to dwell in human flesh for the sake of humanity. Jesus Christ, fully God, and fully human, came to live and die for humanity. He experienced the darkness that is in the world, by suffering the abuse of others and dying on the cross. In the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ death is not denied but it is overcome. Jesus tells Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” (John 11: 25b)

As the poet John Donne so aptly put it, “Death, thou shalt die.” 27 Nature can give some joy, a glimpse of God and finally death. Jesus Christ gives eternal joy and a relationship with God forever.

Christian Ethics Versus The Ethics of Experience: Because goddess spirituality sees all of creation as deity it holds a place for darkness in deity, but in Jesus Christ there is no darkness. (John 1:4,5,9) The Christian's ethical view is to be formed within a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Christian's ethical priority list is based, not on what is experienced in nature nor what is best for nature, but on what the will of God is in Christ. This is set in scripture, the Old and New Testament and has to do with God's will for both humanity and all of creation.

Intertwined over and over in Psalm 119 is both the goodness and mercy of God and the importance of keeping His commandments. And this is the reality of living in Christ; He brings salvation by His death on the cross and we are to live in obedience to Him because of such mercy.

Nature is not left out of Christian ethics, but since it is creation just as humanity is, it is subject to the will of God and waiting also for redemption. (Romans 8:20-24) The biblical mandate is to tend and care for nature, neither worshipping it nor using it as a source of spiritual power. In the same manner men and women in the Christian faith are called to care for one another, not elevating one gender over another but respecting each other. (Ephesians 5:12) Paul touches on this when he tells Timothy to appeal to older men as fathers and younger men as brothers, and also to treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters. (I Timothy 5:1,2.)

The Christian adhering to scripture is led to absolute truth allowing them to see with clarity the division between light and darkness. Those who elevate nature to the status of deity will fail to find ethical answers for contemporary problems and in the end may find themselves honoring some present day evil that will shatter their world-view.

27 John Donne, “Holy Sonnets,” in The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Alexander W. Allison, et al., eds. Revised, (New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 1970), 250.


OnlyEd said...

Jesus was a soldier of patriarchy and destruction -- look at what his adherents have unleashed upon the world. Can you deny the genocides in the name of Christ? Can you deny the damnations in the name of Christ? Can you deny the destruction of the global environment in the name of Christ? Can you deny the subjugation of women in the name of Christ? Can you deny the persecutions in the name of Christ? Can you deny the hate in the name of Christ? Can you deny the doublespeak in the name of Christ? Can you deny the wars in the name of Christ? Can you deny the sexual abuse in the name of Christ?

Viola Larson said...


First let me say you will have to give your full name and city to post here again. But I did want to respond to your words.

It is true that there have been those who call themselves Christians who have committed great evil. But a lot of what you have written was not done in the name of Christ but in the name of their own evil nature. And all peoples have been involved in this.

But on the other hand how do you explain such people as Mother Teresa who gave her life to help the poor of India. Or Bonheoffer who gave his life trying to help others in Nazi Germany. Have you ever heard of Corrie ten Boon whose whole family participated in hiding Jews during those years? Corrie lost her whole family in concentration camps. And that was all in the name of Jesus Christ. Have you read of the monks of the medieval ages who stayed with those dying of the plague when no one else would? Do you know that it was mainly Christians who first cried out against the genocide in Darfur?

And all of us come up against our own sinfulness. Only the death and life of Jesus Christ can meet the awfulness of sin in our own lives.

Viola Larson
Sacramento, Ca

David Murdoch (Toronto, Canada) said...

The christian God took the form of a human being, was birthed like a human being, raised as a child like a human being, ate food like a human being, slept like a human being, talked like a human being, laughed like a human being, suffered like a human being and died like a human being.... if anything, christianity offers a God who is much closer to us than any kind of divine force working in creation. We have a God who knows what it is like to be one of us from personal experience... the same is not true of pantheism.

St Augustine wrote much about the pagan beliefs in his time, and I reference his arguments for those who wouldn't mind seeing a harsh treatment of pagan spirituality:

"Ought not men of intelligence, and indeed men of every kind, to be stirred up to examine the nature of this opinion? For there is no need of excellent capacity for this task, that putting away the desire of contention, they may observe that if God is the soul of the world, and the world is as a body to Him, who is the soul, He must be one living being consisting of soul and body, and that this same God is a kind of womb of nature containing all things in Himself, so that the lives and souls of all living things are taken, according to the manner of each one’s birth, out of His soul which vivifies that whole mass, and therefore nothing at all remains which is not a part of God. And if this is so, who cannot see what impious and irreligious consequences follow, such as that whatever one may trample, he must trample a part of God, and in slaying any living creature, a part of God must be slaughtered? But I am unwilling to utter all that may occur to those who think of it, yet cannot be spoken without irreverence." - St Augustine of Hippo, City of God, Book IV, chapter 12

God Bless,

Viola Larson said...

I appreciate your comments and the quote from St Augustine. But I am a little concerned about what you mean by "harsh treatment of pagan spirituality." I wouldn't want anyone to be treated harshly but would pray they come to know Jesus Christ and love him. Now I don’t mind, as you can tell, writing that pagan spirituality is very flawed.
Sacramento, Ca