“We never talked about belief, we just shared our lives and spoke of the divine feminine in ourselves and in the world. The goddess we spoke of never felt to me like a substitute for God, but simply another aspect of the divine. Just like God’s aunt.
When I tell other Christians of my time with the goddess, I think they expect me to characterize it as a period in my life when I was misguided, and that I have now thankfully come back to both Jesus and my senses. But it’s not like that. I can’t imagine that the God of the universe is limited to our ideas of God. I can’t imagine that God doesn’t reveal God’s self in countless ways outside of the symbol system of Christianity.
In a way, I need a God who is bigger and more nimble and mysterious than what I could understand and contrive. Otherwise it can feel like I am worshiping nothing more than my own ability to understand the divine.
In fact, I felt guided by God the whole time I sojourned outside of the church. The divine source of my life and my identity perhaps knew that I needed to bask in a female face of God for a good long while outside the church before I ever could return to it whole and be able see the divine feminine in my own tradition. If feminist scholar Mary Daly was right, that “If God is male, then male is God,” then there was some undoing to be done inside of myself after a childhood of being told that God is male and I am not (but sixth grade Jimmy over there is!).” ~ (From the book Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber writing about the goddess of Wicca)
A couple days ago I received the following quote on a Facebook post of my last article from a United Methodist, who considers himself a centrist. He sent the quote above to me, thinking it should alleviate any concerns about heresy! Here’s what he said:
“A bit unexpected and shocking but not really heretical. God has been described in a multitude of images over the years.”
Many United Methodists are not very discerning. In fact discernment has fallen on very hard times, along with biblical literacy and trust in the reliability and veracity of the Bible. Thus, it’s no surprise that Nadia also believes the Bible is vague and ambiguous; as she would put it, “It’s not clear about sh&#.” But let’s just do a little thought experiment here.
Imagine part of the above as a conversation between Jezebel and Elijah (1 Kings 18ff).
Jezebel: “Baal never felt to me like a substitute for God, but simply another aspect of the divine. Just like Yahweh’s uncle.”
“Why can’t Israel worship Yahweh AND Baal?”
Elijah: “Yahweh has revealed to us that he is the one, true God, and all other gods are pretenders and deceivers!”
Jezebel: “But it’s not like that. I can’t imagine that the God of the universe is limited to our ideas of God. I can’t imagine that God doesn’t reveal God’s self in countless ways outside of the symbol system of [Israel].”
Elijah: “God has revealed the truth in his written word. We must be faithful to what God has revealed. We are to worship no other gods and make idols to bow down to them.”
Jezebel: “How can we really be sure that the your covenant with Yahweh is really from God? And even if it is, how can we know what it really means? It’s so vague and confusing. There are countless gods and goddesses worshiped among the nations. Who are you to say they and their ways of life are wrong? You are so narrow-minded Elijah!”
“Israel can worship Yahweh without disparaging the beliefs of other people!”
Elijah: “God has revealed himself and his will. I believe it is clear and true. I trust the word of Yahweh!”
So the issue is not whether the One true God has feminine characteristics. One of my favorite passages of Scripture is in Isaiah 49:14-16, where the Lord, Yahweh, promises Israel that he will not forget them and abandon in spite of their rebellion. There Yahweh compares himself to a nursing mother and the compassion she has for her child. Yet in Isaiah 46:5-9 (ESV) Yahweh also says:
“To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? Those who lavish gold from the purse, and weigh out silver in the scales, hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; then they fall down and worship! They lift it to their shoulders, they carry it, they set it in its place, and it stands there; it cannot move from its place. If one cries to it, it does not answer or save him from his trouble. “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me”
It’s one thing to speak of the feminine aspects of God’s nature; its quite another to say
other gods/goddesses, whose followers engage in practices such as ancient rituals of sorcery and sexual practices specifically forbidden in the Bible, are also legitimate expressions of the same God. This is just a pagan way of thinking. And this is the end result of refusing to believe that the Creator has revealed his nature, character, and will in a reasonably clear way in Scripture and in his Son, Jesus. Dare I say, it is the end result of being more committed to the idea of “theological diversity” than the biblically defined Lordship of Jesus Christ!
The Son, by the way, did say he was the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Biblically speaking, this should not be a great surprise as it is a direct corollary of the First Commandment. Generally speaking the pagan worldview begins with experience; the Judeo-Christian worldview begins with revelation (for more on this listen to RC Bishop Robert Barron discuss “The Return of Paganism HERE; I also recommend John Oswalt’s book, The Bible Among the Myths, for more depth).
When a person doubts the possibility of a clear revelation from God the Father in Scripture and in the Son, and when they exalt their own experience and reason above that revelation, the result will be idolatry. Idolatry and the licentious practices that go along with it are the end result of this kind of confusion of the divine. That’s why it is not far-fetched to compare Nadia Bolz-Weber’s melting down purity rings to turn them into a statue of a golden vagina to the Israelites’ making a golden calf (Ex 32). It’s also not surprising that this stature is directly associated with unfettered sexuality and the child sacrifice that takes place in abortion.
Despite those that have tried to dismiss all this because Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran and not a Methodist, the fact is she remains incredibly popular among progressive United Methodists. She is a frequent and very popular speaker in progressive United Methodist circles. I shared my experience in the previous article. The following messages were shared by other United Methodists in response to my article and objections to it.
One person in another conference, whom I do not know, sent the following private message:
“Thanks for the follow back. I’m embarrassed to say I doubted the seriousness of your article and Nadia Bolz-Weber. I did what I always encourage people to do and did my own research. She is scheduled to speak at several UMC churches (and strongly embraced and promoted) in my area. Churches that are lobbying hard for One Church Plan. I have been more blind than I believed. We have a lot of praying to do. Thanks for your strength and courage. I’m still in shock that the denomination I’ve known since my UMYF days has let this unspeakable debauchery into our churches. Peace and God bless.”
You certainly can’t say she’s running around rogue promoting her false doctrine without the sanction of leaders in our denomination or her own. Her own Bishop praised her profusely, compares her sexual reformation to Martin Luther’s, and says her teaching is much needed in the Church!
A UM pastor in another conference wrote the following in reply to someone trying the downplay and dismiss any concerns by saying Bolz-Weber is not Methodist.
FYI, Nadia was the lead speaker at a preaching workshop in the NCCUMC last year and I had to watch a video of her thoughts assigned subject in RIOM (residency in ordained ministry). They also had us read some of her writings. She seems to be a Rock star for many in leadership in my conference. Just sayin… ~ Rev. Dusty Sprouse
Our problems run much, much deeper than differences over sexuality. In spite of all those who will continue to try to downplay the seriousness of all this, I would highly recommend we heed the grave warning of Jesus.
… I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. ~ Rev 2:20
There is a limit to what Jesus will tolerate!
May God be merciful, and grant wisdom and discernment.