Item description for Is It Okay to Call God "Mother"?: Considering the Feminine Face of God by Paul R. Smith...
Overview Smith, a Baptist pastor in Kansas City, boldly addresses one of the hottest Christian topics today: Is it okay to call God ''Mother?'' He asserts that the Bible uses feminine language for God, and that those of us who don't may be overlooking wonderful opportunities to expand our vision of both God and ourselves. This book includes a comprehensive bibliography and Scripture index.
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Southern Baptist minister Paul R. Smith has served Broadway Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, for thirty years. Leading the church toward spiritual renewal and innovation, Smith also teaches and ministers widely on church renewal.
Reviews - What do customers think about Is It Okay to Call God "Mother"?: Considering the Feminine Face of God?
Eye-opening even for women Christians Feb 21, 2006
In this book Paul R. Smith points out a number of places where Hebrew or Greek words that have a feminine origin have been translated as masculine rather than implying their origin. He also demonstrates some mistranslations in the Bible. For example, the word "ezer" which is used for woman as a "helpmate" or "helper" for Adam actually has the implication of one who is a life saver.
He builds a case for the actual masculine AND feminine nature of God based on qualities and meanings of the original Hebrew and Greek words. He also analyzes the meaning of the word "Abba" as being like "Daddy," meaning a nurturer and protector and educator, that is, not in a masculine disciplinary or simply authoritarian role but a role much like modern moms.
In addition he makes a case for the damage that can be done in presenting God only as masculine. Some people have been abused by their fathers, or males. Of course, some people have also been abused by their mothers and females. Therefore to limit the depiction of God as a male or a female is actually harmful to many. Also, it easily can both make females feel marginalized and may perpetuate an attitude of male superiority and values. He shows how these attitudes do not represent those of Jesus or Paul.
Naturally there is more to this book, but the above examples show some of the content of the book. He argues that using feminine language as well as masculine language to depict God allows men and women to change their attitude to God and women in a positive AND accurate way.
As a woman, I was glad to see such a book written by a male. My experience has been that when a woman makes the same type of arguments, her opinion is often devalued as coming from a strident feminist.
I think EVERY Christian pastor and person in a position of influence in a church should read this book, and I would hope they put Mr. Smith's recommendations into practice even if it feels uncomfortable or "unnatural" at first. Since generally more than 50% of churchgoers are women, why not use inclusive language wherever it can be used? (This does not imply that one should mis-translate the Bible, but truly translate it.)
Imma, Imma Mother Nov 10, 2003
Smith writes an excellent book that goes into great detail on how to understand God as female and Mother. He writes not with anger, but with great love and concern and sensitivity, coming from a background as I do of not originally believing this was appropriate. To do this, he goes through point by point in the Old and New Testament, and early church history, looking at how God was understood and referred to, and how Jesus saw God. How El Shaddai can be very easily read in the Hebrew as "The Breasted One"- She who provides us with the milk of mercy and compassion of the womb, as the early church mothers and fathers referred to her, and as is referred to countless times in metaphor in the Old Testament. Smith takes us through his own process of discernment and revelation, as the Holy Spirit revealed to him who She is (using the Hebrew gender case in the Old Testament), and the steps that one can take in their own church to assist in this revelation. Yet he always insists that, on a personal level, the feminine be used only if it is helpful for the individual. He shares the meanings and interpretations of Paul's writings on women, for Swift rightfully points out that our treatment of women is intimately connected to our treatment of God- whether or not we see God as also female. Through it all, Swift remains committed to orthodoxy, and has a strong commitment to scripture. He in no way rejects seeing God as male, or advocates that God is a person and has gender in the same way we do- but rather, that God encompasses both male and female, both being acceptable metaphors for understanding who He is.
The only thing I'd question in this book was Smith's extensive use of the argument that Father God was used at one time because Father represented power and compassion in a society, and Mother did not, and so, back in the day, it would have been inappropriate to use Mother in referring to God, but now, in this day and age, it is permissible. While the argument has some merit, it really refers only to the West. It would imply that, within the 2/3rds world, where the concept of Woman and Mother are still often denigrated, that God should not be spoken of as Mother. And I think the rest of the arguments and discussion Swift lays out belies this idea. There are simply too many other positives to being able to see God as Mother, even in a culture that does not value women in the same way as men. For the women in the culture learn that God is like them, for they also are in Her image, and the men in the culture learn to value the women much more, for they also are in His image.
Having gone through my own conversion experience to see the Gospel's call for he emancipation of women, I related with relish to much of what Swift wrote. This I think will be a further step on my own journey. I have often referred, in my most intimate of moments, to God as Girlfriend. God as Mother is a bit more difficult, a bit more jarring. As Swift points out, there is cognitive dissonance there to begin with. But often, dissonance can be good, in helping us appreciate new realities, and break open the box we've put God into, stripping us of idolatry. It can often be simply that we have for so long understood God in one way, it is difficult in the beginning to understand Her anew. But as I practice this, I also begin to see God anew, and feel Her presence as a Mother, in a new, and very intimate way, being born again, as Spirit gives birth to Spirit.
Easy to understand Aug 14, 2001
This book helped me to see the value of women in the eyes of God. Not just as a delicate flower but as a strong spiritual force in the body of Christ. This book is theologically sound and easy to understand. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in expaning their perception of God!
The Answer is Lovingly Yes Sep 20, 1998
Paul Smith lovingly and accurately shows that yes we can call God "Mother". This is not instead of Father, or the Good Shepherd, or the Rock, or any of the many words we use to describe God. Smith shows how the words used in the Bible are male based because of the culture of the times. Allowing ourselves to call God Mother opens up a whole new view and image of God, without destroying the Male image. If we here on earth believe that a child grows up best with a father and a mother - doesn't it also make sense that as a child of God we have a heavenly Father AND a heavenly Mother? Smith doesn't destroy the image of God he adds to it, and challenges us to use inclusive language in church messages and music. With single parent families ever increasing and mothers mostly doing the raising of the children, it is getting increasingly harder for people to conjur up the image of a loving heavenly Father. This book will help you see a bigger, clearer, and beautiful image of God. A strong recommend.