Seeking Sophia

god is male and female“Jesus and only Jesus.” For so many years that was the heartfelt saying of the evangelical scene I was part of. We needed only Jesus. We needed to speak about Jesus. Focus on Jesus. And praise Jesus. Yet, I knew this simple spiritual equation wasn’t completely accurate since the revelation of Jesus is not the end of the story. After all, there is also the revelation of the Spirit.

Of course, we all knew we needed the Spirit. Yet we seemed to take the Spirit for granted. We assumed the Spirit would lead us, guide us, correct us, bless us — as long as we focused entirely on the name of Jesus. But, surprisingly, the Bible tells of a different strategy:

Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you. –Prov. 4:5–9, NKJV

To get wisdom is to love oneself. –Prov. 19:8

Keep hold of instruction and do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. –Prov. 4:13

With a Bible that tells us to exalt, love, and embrace Wisdom in order to gain insight, safety, honor, glory and life you would think there would be tons of churches dedicated to Lady Wisdom. Yet the truth is, so few of us have fallen passionately in love with Her. At the best of times, She is the mighty invisible power who works through us IF we exalt Jesus enough. At the worst of times, She is not given even a head nod during a church service. Oftentimes, Jesus is mistakenly superimposed over Wisdom because he is the “source” from where Wisdom flows, subtly preventing us from viewing Wisdom as Her own person, deserving of praise, admiration, and most importantly relationship.  As I’ve said before, we’ve been taught to embrace and exalt the male manifestation of God — which is great — but in order to truly experience God in His/Her fullness we must also embrace the female manifestation — the Spirit of God whom the Bible calls Wisdom. (Sophia in Greek).

Over the summer, I came across a book called The Engendering God: Male and Female Faces of God by Carl A. Raschke and Susan Doughty Raschke and I read it in one quick sweep. The Engendering God (which I highly recommend) was for me, a breath of fresh air. It is both a theological work and a spiritual encouragement. What I loved about this book is the way it stirred memories for me regarding my love affair with the Spirit. The book reminded me of those first few years when I fell deeply in love with the Holy Spirit — She was literally all I could think about. She was my first waking thought (I would usually wake up at 5am so I could pray and talk with Her) and She was my last thought of the day as I lay down to sleep. I always asked and hoped that she would meet me in a dream. “Let me see you,” I would whisper as I drifted off to sleep. I sang songs for Her and wrote poetry about Her. I was hopelessly in love. And she responded to my adoration in much the same way that the book of Wisdom describes:

Wisdom is radiant and unfading,
and she is easily discerned by those who love her,
and is found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.
One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty,
for she will be found sitting at the gate.
To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding,
and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care,
because she goes about seeking those worthy of her,
and she graciously appears to them in their paths,
and meets them in every thought. –Wis. 6:12–16

Carl Raschke in his chapter called “The Divine Feminine” reminds us of the basic rule of courtly love, “Love is an inborn suffering which results from the sight of, and uncontrolled thinking about, the beauty of the other sex. This feeling makes a man desire before all else the embrace of the other sex…”

Being reminded of “courtly love” and how it relates to the female image of God stirred up all the feelings I once had for Sophia. I also felt the pain of loss. Am I still in love with Sophia, as I once had been? Or have I drifted away? Has my joy in knowing Her now turned to pure knowledge of Her?

And so I find myself, once again, embarking on a journey of seeking Sophia. What will this second journey look like? I don’t know. Perhaps I will start with a poem. Would you like to join me on this journey? Let me know.

The Engendering God: Male and Female Faces of God

“In this book, Carl Raschke and Susan Doughty Raschke argue that God’s own self-revelation is neither exclusively male nor female but both at once. With this self-revelation of the “two in one,” the authors contend that the Scriptures are actually a radical proclamation of gender equality. Basing their findings on historical, anthropological, and biblical scholarship, they make a compelling argument that this awareness of God’s dual nature was widely accepted and understood in the early years of Christianity but was intentionally obscured through the ages.”

What we find, ironically, through a linguistic and ideological analysis of much biblical literature is that despite both ancient and modern wording, the God of Israel is an engendering Deity who is revealed in both male and female guises.

Carl A. Raschke

-New Revised Standard Version used unless otherwise noted.
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