The Mother God

If the experiences of the Holy Spirit are grasped as being a ‘rebirth’ or a ‘being born anew’, this suggests an image for the Holy Spirit which was quite familiar in the early years of Christianity, especially in Syria, but got lost in the patriarchal empire of Rome: the image of the mother. If believers are ‘born’ of the Holy Spirit, then we have to think of the Spirit as the ‘mother’ of believers, and in this sense as a feminine Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, as the Gospel of John understands the Paraclete to be, then she comforts ‘as a mother comforts’ (John 14:26 with Isa 66:13). In this case the Spirit is the motherly comforter of her Children. Linguistically this brings out the feminine form of Yahweh’s ruach in Hebrew. Spirit is feminine in Hebrew, neuter in Greek, and masculine in Latin and German,

AS a vivid, pictorial way of explaining the Tri-unity, Zizendorf liked to use the image of the family, ‘since the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in our Father and the Spirit of Jesus Christ is our true Mother, because the Son of the Living God is our true Brother’. The Father must love us and can do no other. The Mother must guide us through the world and can do no other. The Son, our Brother, must love souls as his soul, as the body of his body, because we are the flesh of his flesh and the bone of his bone and he can do no other.

Of course the picture of the family of God Father, God Mother and God Child is no more than an image for the God to whom no image can approximate. But it is much better than the ancient patriarchal picture of God the Father with two hands, the Son and the Spirit. For there God is a solitary, ruling and determining subject, whereas here the Tri-Unity is God is a wonderful community. There the reflection of the triune God is a hierarchical Church. Here the reflection of the triune God is a community of women and men without privileges, a community of free and equal people, sisters and brothers. For the building of this new congregational structure, the motherly ministry of the Spirit, and the Tri-unity as a community, are important.

Jurgen Moltmann, The Source Of Life (35-37)

My hope for all of us reading this is that we can move beyond the power games and move towards equality. Not only between men and women but with all forms of unequal social structures. And, my hope is to bless women and mothers by sharing your unique ability to reveal to men and children everywhere your ability to reflect the image of God and a side of God that has been largely cut out.

Hope everyone has a great day.


9 thoughts on “The Mother God

  1. This is interesting. I was only thinking along these lines this morning when meditating on Proverbs 8:23-29, where wisdom seems to be the Spirit and a she!

  2. Berna says:

    Very good insight. God made man and woman in “their” image. He did not specify a hierarchy at the time. We construct hierarchy and separation because we do not have the capacity to fully grasp his purpose. Anytime we reach towards him, however, he will give us a mere glimpses. Glimpses are good! 🙂 Thanks!

  3. Mollye says:

    I first heard this concept while reading Dance Of The Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kid. It was like the tumblers had all clicked and the safe door swung wide. I have NEVER been able to connect with the “trinity” as it was taught to me. THIS makes so much more sense. God is family.

  4. blissphil says:

    Can I just say, you ROCK! Thank you for this post and for your continued wisdom and open hearted sharing. God bless you and bless you and bless you!

  5. I like this idea quite a bit, especially in thinking about being ‘born again’ or ‘born of the Spirit.’

    However, the first thought that came into my mind was John 15:26: “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me…” NASB

    Is Jesus just being patriarchal? Thoughts?

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Thanks for your reply Josh,
      I think what I appreciate about Moltmann in this passage is this thought, “Of course the picture of the family of God Father, God Mother and God Child is no more than an image for the God to whom no image can approximate.”

      I think that the language game of that time would not have allowed much for anything other than a patriarchal understanding. Jewish culture had women sometimes as low as the dogs. I think what the Bible teaches is something that not only includes gender but more importantly it transcends it. After all, humans were made in God’s image (both male and female) or you could use the example when God speaks to Job in Job 28:29, “From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens.”

      • I don’t know. I agree with what you and Moltmann say (and I also appreciated the line you quote). Jesus said a lot of heretical things to the Jews, especially equating Himself with God, and several times they wanted to stone him. I don’t see why he would have to be bound by culture when it comes to gender.

        I realize that I’m probably coming off as misogynistic by saying these things, but I am not. Nor do I think God is “male” (or any gender), and I agree with you when you say that God encompasses and expresses traits from both genders as we are made in his image.

        I’ve been thinking about this topic in relation to a class I’m taking – 16th C. Reformations, and wondering why the reformers (or even the Anabaptists) didn’t go all the way in their rejection of the abuses of the Catholic church, and embrace Galatians 3:28 in a more holistic way. But I think that’s probably just naivety or wistful thinking on my part.

  6. Phil says:

    From the start, I would like you to forgive the quality of my English. It is not my mother tongue … After reading your text, I noticed that in John 14.26 the Greek Text refers to the Holy Spirit using a masculine demonstrative pronoun. If the author wanted us to believe that the Holy Spirit should be preceived as the mother of believers, why did he use the masculine form of this pronoun instead of the feminine form of the pronoun demonstrative? Other examples can be found in John 15.26; 16.8; 16.13-14.

  7. […] The Mother God Here the reflection of the triune God is a community of women and men without privileges, a […]

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