Monday, June 2, 2008

Critique of Bill Mouser's "Five Aspects" Teaching

From the Patriarchy Discussion Group on Yahoo

Information posted by "Light" regarding Bill Mouser's Five Aspects Teachings:

Connie asked about the Five Aspects of Woman Bible study, and asked me to explain what I meant by the pagan concepts and eisegesis in this study. This study is long, and the problems are numerous. I am just going to summarize some of them here; otherwise, I'd have to write a book.
In this post, I'll explain the pagan concepts that are so sneakily inserted into these so-called Biblical materials.
Mouser asserts that God is masculine and Creation is feminine. I don't want to spend much time on the masculinity of God, since that could be a book in and of itself. Suffice it to say that if God is masculine, and not feminine, then human males are more like God than women. First, let's look at basic meanings. In Merrian Webster, masculine is defined as 1 a: male b: having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man.¦ Problem with Mouser's claim: God is not a male (except in the Incarnation), God is Spirit.
Let's move on to the even more problematic claim that Creation is feminine. Open your dictionaries, folks. Merriam Webster defines the word feminine thusly: 1: female 2: characteristic of or appropriate or unique to women. Creation = that is all that is created. The universe, the stars, the planets, earth, trees, rocks, oceans, people, animals, bugs, yada yada yada. So stars, planets, all people, bugs, rocks¦ are feminine? This claim is so bizarre, and completely unsupported scripturally. It is, in fact, a pagan concept. (Example: The concept of Mother Nature is traced back to ancient Pagan Greek thought.)

First, how can a male (human or animal), as part of Creation, be feminine? It's an oxymoron. Males are masculine, females are feminine. Consider next the stars, rocks, bugs, trees, etc. “ they are inanimate objects. When Mouser attributes femininity to them, he (wrongly) imbues these objects with a quality associated only with animate things. (From Merriam Webster:animate- 1 : possessing or characterized by life : alive 2 : full of life : animated 3 : of or relating to animal life as opposed to plant life 4 : referring to a living thing )

Anyone see the problem here? I looked up animism on wikipedia, and here's what it says:
Animism is the belief that souls inhabit all or most objects; it attributes personalized souls to animals, vegetables, and minerals wherein the material object is "to some degree" governed by the qualities which comprise its particular soul. Religions that are animistic in this more restrictive sense generally do not accept a sharp distinction between spirit and matter, and they generally assume that this unification of matter and spirit plays a role in daily life

animismâ may refer to a specific group of religions “specifically, religions that attribute souls to non-human entities. This is a popular belief in the majority of African religions and thus animism is often associated with Africa. The term also contains negative connotations, like the word primitive, and is used primarily to group non Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions, particularly in Africa, and to mark them as less sophisticated in concept because they lack the anthropocentrism found in Judeo-Christian-Islamic dogma.

Many Pagans and Neopagans believe that there are spirits of nature and place, and that these spirits can sometimes be as powerful as minor deities.

I find this infection of pagan thought into so-called "Christian" Bible study materials to be very very alarming. I hope I am not alone in this.
More later on the blatant eisegesis (the interpretation of Scripture by reading into it one's own ideas) found in these materials.

"This is a continuation of my reply to Connie’s question earlier in this thread about the problems with the Five Aspects of Woman study.

It’s most helpful to see the men’s study and the women’s study materials side by side. According to Mouser, men should pattern their lives after the following “righteous masculine archetypes: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, Christ the God/Man and the last Adam, and Created Adam, the first man.” Women should pattern their lives after the following“righteous feminine archetypes: Wisdom the first feminine, Eve the first woman, Israel the wife of God, The Virgin Mary mother of Christ, The church the bride of Christ, and Jerusalem our mother above.” (page 300)
This is quite interesting. All of the masculine archetypes are actual beings – including God. Of the six feminine archetypes, only two are real beings, and four are metaphorical constructions! None of them are God. By dividing the archetypes into two distinct groups, one that men should emulate, and one that women should emulate, this abnormal division leads us away from what the scripture actually teaches. The Bible calls all people, men and women, to a single standard of Christlikeness. In this study, by arranging it in this manner with a separate list of archetypes divided by gender, Christlikeness is articulated as the sole domain of the man. In comparison, women are encouraged to look to ametaphor as their model of holiness. Can’t we have the real thing as our model? Or do only men get access to that?
Mouser believes that men are made more in God’s image than women are. It’s right there in black and white on page 334 in the Five Aspects bible study materials.
“Man can picture God more fully in his roles than woman can. But he can also picture Satan more fully than woman can.”
So I pulled out my Merriam Webster’s again to look up the verb “picture” as it’s used in Mouser’s claim above.
picture, vt
1: to paint or draw a representation, image, or visual conception of; depict; also, illustrate
2: to describe graphically in words
3: to form a mental image of; to imagine

Picture = image. So men image God more fully than women do. That’s what he’s saying. Mouser may give lip service to men and women both being made in the image of God, but by making a statement like this one, above, he contradicts himself. As for the statement about men imaging Satan more fully than women – very strange. Where would he come up with a bizarre idea like that? There aren’t any scriptures to support it, that’s for sure.
Here is another installment by Light on the 5 Aspects course:

Light Says:

Connie, here are some more strange snippets from the Five Aspects materials. I have put Mouser’s material in italics. Note that very little here, if any of it, can be supported scripturally – to the point where I don’t think you could even call it a Bible study. Much of what Mouser says here is simply opinion, cultural stereotyping with a little psychobabble thrown in to make it sound important. Much of what Mouser says about women also describes men, and vice versa, but Mouser makes it sound as if they are completely separate species.
“Woman, by created design, is fashioned especially to keep and maintain the civilization that has been attained. Man, by design, goes and tries to push the boundaries out farther.” p. 76
“Another pattern of work is that man starts work, and woman completes it.”
“Adam alone was given the garden mandate.” P. 94
Does Mouser’s Bible have a different Genesis 1:28 than mine?
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

“Strong, leading women can be tempted to challenge or undermine the authority of God-ordained male leadership.” P 100.
Just as strong, leading men can be tempted to challenge and undermine authority?

“Men were created to be leaders, providers, and protectors. Women are to be helpers, nurturers, and completers.” P. 111
“Sinful Imbalance
Sinful cross type occurs when members of one sex choose to reject their created nature and adopt the behavior or roles of the other sex. … feminism … pushes girls in the direction of careerism, seriously hampering their ability to focus on relationships.”
P 326 & 327
Watch out, women. If you have a career, you are in sinful imbalance.

“Women should pattern their teaching, reproving, and the hostessing of their inner domains after Lady Wisdom. Men should pattern their wisdom after Christ the Sage. Neither man nor woman is inherently wiser than the other, but the pattern and purpose of their wisdom is inherently different.”P. 333
Note that in this study, men get Christ as their role model, while women don’t.

“In many ways, wisdom will look the same in a man and a woman – careful speech, prudent financial policies, moral purity, etc. But in general, man pursues wisdom to possess it, in order to rule with it. Woman grows in wisdom to embody it, in order to fulfill all her feminine aspects. P 333
Is anybody else cracking up here at this psychobabble?

“The earth is the dust from which our Father God created us; it nurtures us, and is our home. The earth also teaches us about God through “general revelation.” Civilizations all over the world have seen and understood this truth. That some have gone into the error of goddess-worship does not negate the validity of the earth’s femininity, as can be seen in Psalm 139:13, 15, where David compares his mother’s womb to the earth itself. It is noteworthy that the earth was the only mother Adam had. For all these reasons, the earth is a mother to us, and there is nothing wrong with speaking of her as such, as long as we are careful not to embrace or communicate an idolatrous concept.” P 333,334
Mouser can’t have it both ways. If David comparing his mother’s womb to the earth proves the earth is feminine, then using the same measuring stick, Mouser cannot claim that God is masculine only, according to Job 38:29“From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens?” (NIV)
Then we move on to the just plain ridiculous:
“If the man becomes much more nurturing and still stays in touch with all his other basic masculine aspects, then he will be a man with a very strong husbandman aspect. If, in his efforts to nurture his children, he becomes feminine, [how? by injecting estrogen?] letting key elements of his masculine nature slide, his wife and his children will probably be worse off for his efforts.” P 328
So many of these hyperpatriarchalists seem to be terrified of the “effeminate” and “feminization”. What’s up with that? Are they that insecure?

“Upper-class women have usually employed all manner of lower-class men – butlers, gardeners, chauffeurs, etc. That the women are the leaders did not make the women masculine, nor the men effeminate [perhaps it’s only nurturing the children too much that make a man effeminate]. It has often been noted that men have fought and ruled very well for great queens.” p. 328
But that quote above is then contradicted by this statement, on p 245:
“When righteously performed, these roles contain a consistent pattern of activities: men should be initiating lovers, leaders, protectors, providers, saviors and husbandmen.”
I guess butlers and chauffeurs, then, since they aren’t consistently leaders but rather answer to a woman employer, are not righteously performing their manly activities.

“Ultimately, all power and authority reside in God. He granted to men the honor of displaying these characteristics in their physical bodies and bearing.” p. 245
We have talked about the patriarchalist teaching that says that men image God more than women. This is an example of that.

“There are only two areas where a man can earn his glory and affirm his manhood. One is the world of work or combat (whether it is academics, sports, war, or business), where he goes out into nature to conquer, rule, and subdue. The other is the world of relationships and love, where he wins the response of woman.” p. 247
Hey, maybe this is where David Bayly is getting his “wooing as warfare” ideas.

When God glorified the woman, he made that delicate, transitory, needy, dependent nature beautiful and resplendent. p. 248
I wonder if Mouser ever did a word study on ezer, which is how the Bible describes the woman at Creation. Ezers are not delicate, transitory, need, or dependent – ezer is used to describe a rescuer or helper, as of God (almost all the times ezer is used in the OT, it is used to describe God as our helper.)

Men are not built physically or soulishly to be responders. P. 248
Let’s take a poll. Raise your hand if you know any men who are responsive. You do? Perhaps your man is built wrong.

“If she only wants to be like the man, by his side in the world, she will never be a beautiful garden for him, and he will never fulfill his husbandman role.”
I direct your attention again to Genesis 1:26-28, where man and woman, side by side, are given the same task – to subdue and rule over the earth.

“Man is the leader, woman is the helper. Man is strong, woman is beautiful. Man is brave, woman is merciful. Man is aggressive, women is conciliatory. Man is logical, woman is intuitive.” P 249
Any one here know any leading women? Helpful men? Strong women? Beautiful men? Brave women? Merciful men? Aggressive women? Conciliatory men? Logical women? Intuitive men? Yep. Thought so.

Can you see how damaging all these things could be to non-discerning Christian women in this Bible study? They will struggle with much anguish to be things they are not, go against the way God has uniquely created them, perhaps even ignore God’s calling on their lives – because Mouser says they must fit into a certain nice, neat, little box. It could also foster discontent in their marriage, if their husbands don’t measure up.