Is God only manifested in a male Jesus?

My understanding of Jesus being 'paramount expression of God' is at odds with those who would have no problem saying 'God is Jesus'. Jesus life might have offered a definition of Love/God but it didn’t limit it or constrict it. His life didn’t fence Love in, although some would dearly have liked it to. Saying ‘God is Jesus’ can be understood as limiting the vast, boundless, mysterious, energy of Love that courses through the universe and beyond to one man, in one place, at one time in history with all his particular male Jewish 1st century prejudices intact. This understanding shackles God to the texts and understandings of a period in time.

I can believe that after Jesus’ death the Love that flowed through him co-mingled with that great universal source of Love, and still does. I can understand too how the Church used pictorial anthropomorphic kingly language – ‘forever sitting at the right hand of God’ – to describe this mingling of love. I can understand it, but I wish they hadn’t.

I don’t think however that the limitless Love called God is solely manifested in Jesus. Surely the whole notion of sacred or holy Spirit is saying that the seeds of divinity are thriving within many people, including many who would not call themselves Christian. When the author of the 4th Gospel talks about the Spirit leading us into all truth, I understand that as an unshackling of God out of the cultural particularity of any person, age, gender, sexual orientation, knowledge, and politics and allow that transformative Love to re-emerge, to incarnate, in every time, culture, gender, orientation, and circumstance. Even to incarnate in non-human form.

In the 1980s Rosemary Radford Ruether asked a great unshackling question: “Can a male saviour save women?” Rosemary’s contemporary, Mary Daly, put it more provocatively: ‘If God is male, male is God’. For those who wish to eternally elevate, or beget, a 1st century male into the heart of God, is there any space for women? If the Godhead is masculine then those who worship will elevate the masculine, preferring even oppressive male leadership to female alternatives. If the Godhead is masculine it also becomes oppressive for all who don’t fit masculine hierarchical categories, including many men.

The transformative Love called God is not only known in the male Jesus. God is bigger than that. Love of course is manifest in women too, and a great many others beside. If we allow Love to be only sculptured by the words and actions of men, then the Love that is good news for all genders becomes distorted and misshapen. If Love is locked into the historical Jesus there is little liberation for any one who wants change.

The divinity of Jesus depends on your definition of divine. If you wish to consider Jesus as more than human – and therefore non-human - transforming him into a cosmic superman in the sky, then there are considerable flow-on effects including monotheistic integrity, solidarity with humanity, and the gender/culture of God. If however you understand the divine as transformative Love that is both transcendent and immanent, and Jesus’ life and actions as paramount expression of that Love - but not the boundaries of that Love - then Jesus is not more or less human than anyone else, God is not a Palestinian 1st century male, and we have the seeds of divinity within us.

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