Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Asherah an old goddess & the biblical text

The first comment on my posting Heretical evangelicalism merges with progressive goddess worship ended with, “I’m afraid there will soon be a new market for Asherah poles.” Yes, and only several links away from the Facebook site for Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns. After you click on their link “WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Rituals) and then click Feminism and Religion [1]in WATER’s link section you will see the article, “Where Did the Gods Come From?” by Barbara Ardinger. And there she explains, among other things, about the goddess Asherah. Ardinger writes:

Before Jehovah arrived in Abraham’s camp and spoke to him, the people at the eastern end of the Mediterranean worshipped Asherah, a Ugaritic mother goddess who gave birth to something like 70 gods. Asherah was, alas, conflated with Astarte, given a sex-change operation in the Old Testament, and turned into a demon named Ashteroth.[2] But Asherah was also worshipped in the temple in Jerusalem for many, many years.

Ardinger explains that tribes from the Russian Steppes and the Caucasus Mountains rode into the lands where the goddess had been worshiped and destroyed those civilizations bringing with them their male gods which included, according to Ardinger and most radical Feminist myth, the God Jehovah. Of Jehovah, Ardinger writes:
More recently, during the last two or three millennia, one of those gods has inspired his prophets and preachers to roar about sin and hell and idol-worship and punishment. The new gods and their carriers thus planted the seeds of warfare in society and its literature.
And there you have the most radical of feminist thinking and attitude toward Christianity. Most radical feminists know, (but not all), that this is all myth meant to undergird the radical view of some in the feminist movement.[3] And reading the article, one can see the likes and dislikes of radical feminism. The emphasis is on the worship of various goddesses minus any real ethic except that which bows to the world of nature. And even though nature is “red in tooth and claw,” the need to ignore words about sin or hell is important to the movement. Accordingly and supposedly all things peaceful belong to the goddess.

But returning to Asherah was she worshiped in the temple at Jerusalem? Yes, several times. The last time the reader of the biblical text is made aware of the Asherah in the temple is in Ezekiel when God takes Ezekiel and shows him all of the sins being committed in Jerusalem. Ezekiel begins this horrendous journey at the north gate of the inner court where “the seat of the idol of jealous, which provokes to jealousy, was located.” (Ezekiel 8: 3b-4) After showing Ezekiel the idol, the Lord explains that the idol is the cause of God’s absence from the Temple.

And John B. Taylor in his commentary points out that the idol was an insult to God, to the Temple and to the people of God. But the history of this idol is horrific. In 1 Kings 21: 7 one of the wickedest kings of Israel, Manasseh, had put a “wooden image of Asherah, the Canaanite goddess, in the house of the Lord.” Taylor points out that although Manasseh, undoubtedly when he repented, got rid of the Asherah idol; it reappeared again before Josiah’s reign and when he was king, he burnt the idol.

Manasseh combined idol worship with the killing of children and the bloodshed of many innocents. He practiced a black form of witchcraft which included setting up the Asherah idol in the Temple. The text states that Manasseh “shed very much innocent blood until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another…” and the greatest sin was that he caused Judah to sin.

The Asherah idol was not just connected to women; it was not a gender based deity. Asherah worship led to ruin, death and exile. It was ruinous to the people of God, both men and women. Jeremiah also deals with Asherah. In the 44th chapter of Jeremiah after Babylon has already captured Judah, the women left in Judea insisted on making cakes to the Queen of Heaven, the men gathered wood to bake the cakes. So in the midst of ruin and the unholy desire to run to Egypt, the people persist in idol worship.

Yes, it is but a link to a link—or is it a link to a site honored because it thinks lightly of the Lord Jehovah but thinks highly of those who worship false images of faith. On all these sites, abortion is upheld, same gender marriage and the ordination of LGBT person’s is encouraged. The worship of false goddesses and gods is a symptom of great spiritual brokenness.

Connecting purposely to those who push such deadly nonsense has extreme implications for the Christian organizations that are involved which would be both the Presbyterian Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns as well as WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Rituals). One either flees the darkness or proclaims winsomely but with a loud voice the wonderful news of a Savior.

And of course Feminism and Religion which is suppose to be a sophisticated woman’s organization connected to a well known university does not claim the name Christian but using modern feminist myth as a means of trashing a faith that has existed for thousands of years seems to me to be both a failure of intellect and integrity.

A cautionary tale might help. Many years ago, well maybe about 17 or 18, I took a class on the search for the historical Jesus by a professor who was a non-voting member of the Jesus Seminar. My paper for the class was on biblical women versus Gnostic ones. When I received my paper back with the words “Awesome,” written across the top I could only guess that this particular professor was weary of the women in his class who attempted to take every myth they could gather and apply it to the biblical text as a reality. Non-Christian women still must take the texts they work with seriously—even the Bible which they seem to despise.

[1]Feminism and Religion is affiliated with the Women’s Studies and Religion program at Claremont Graduate University.

[2] This is a mistake- the goddess Ashteroth is not the same as Asherah- See Dictionary of the Old Testament Historical Books, EDs. Bill T. Arnold & H.G.M. Williamson, "Canaanite Gods and Religion."A.H. W. Curtis.

[3]Two books that give the true history of the goddess religion, one by a history professor and one by a religion professor involved in women's spirituality Are:

Ronald Hutton, The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft (Oxford University Press 1999). & Cynthia Eller. Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America (Boston: Boston Press 1993, 1995).


Sherry L. Kirton said...

Funny, how I mentioned, "the Queen of Heaven" in my lesson on Friday Heaven and Hell.

I was at a non-denominational church study years ago where a leader said his mom was catholic and she called Mary, Queen of Heaven. We were in the middle of a different lesson altogether and I couldn't remember where to find what God says about that demon, and when I spoke up was chastised. I attempted to show it to him from Scripture later, but was not feeling welcome there after that.

There was more info. on Asherah in a book written by a friend of Derek's, Steve Gallagher (sp.?), "Intoxicated with Babylon." Interesting and very telling about our sexual desires being twisted in connection to the worship of Asherah, Astarte, and Aphrodite.


Viola Larson said...

Queen of heaven when used by Catholics doesn't usually mean the same as a goddess.Instead she would be something like a real queen say Queen Elizabeth of England. Only Catholic radical feminists make her a goddess. (And I'm not saying I agree with the Catholics on the term queen of heaven but it just isn't the same thing. as goddess.)

The goddess thing is deadly though.