Friday, September 9, 2016

Binary Sets and the Binary Worldview

A reader has asked what is meant by the terms "binary set" and  "binary worldview" of the Bible.

A binary set refers to a universally observed pattern in nature where two entities are naturally linked and complementary. One of the entities in the set is recognized empirically as greater in some observable way than its complement. Biblical theology hinges on this binary view of reality. We find the binary view expressed in the biblical assertions that 1) life is greater than death; 2) God is greater than Man; and 3) the heavenly realm is more glorious than the earthly realm.

Binary sets attest to the fact that there are some fixed patterns in Nature. The east-west axis of the solar arc is an example. The person of faith believes these patterns to be fixed by the Creator. They stand as a witness to the Creator's existence, divine nature, and eternal power. The Apostle Paul speaks of this in Romans 1:19, 20:
For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse.

Genesis 1:6 speaks of the Sun as the greater light that rules the day. This implies masculine because the male of the species is anatomically larger than the female. In the ancient world objects commonly were perceived as reflecting male or female attributes. This is evident in many languages even today. For example, the Spanish word for ship is el barco (masculine), but the Spanish word for boat is la barca (feminine). A pond is el charco (masculine), but a puddle is la charca (feminine). The Spanish word for Sun is el sol (masculine) and the Spanish word for Moon is la luna (feminine).

In terms of the biblical understanding of complementarity, the Sun and the Moon are not equals (dualism) because the Sun is the "greater light" and the Moon reflects the greater light (reflugence). This is the main distinction between the binary worldview of the Bible and the dualism of Asian religions that developed in the Axial Age.

In the book of Genesis the Sun - Shemesh - is masculine, as in Genesis 19:23. A later Hebrew word for the Sun is Chammah, and this is feminine. It is clear that the Sun was regarded as having masculine attributes among Abraham and his ancestors. The binary worldview of Genesis comes from them and is older than the Hebrew language.

Abraham’s ancestors were Nilotic peoples who regarded the Sun as the symbol of the Creator. Both the Creator and the Sun were called Ra, and Ra is said to be the "Father" of Horus. The masculine designation is emphatic.

The masculine terminology also is apparent in Psalm 19:4-6:
…the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The ancient Sumerians were culturally like the cattle-herding, Proto-Saharan Nilotes. In the Sumerian language, the word for the Sun was Utu and he is called a “son” of Nanna and Ningal.


Anonymous said...

I have a question on binary sets as they relate to the ordination of women as priests. If we all represent Christ, without taking gender into consideration. Then does this make us all Christ's but without Jesus Christ.

What are your thoughts on this?


Alice Linsley said...


The ordination of women to the historic priesthood is an innovation that breaks a pattern that points to Jesus Christ's identity. We can't generalize this to "Protestant" ordination which also departs from the pattern of the historic priesthood.

Jesus Christ is unique. He alone entered His creation as God-Man. He alone is able to restore Paradise, renew all things, and restore lost souls to the Father. It is nonsense to speak of us all being "Christs" because there is only one Christ.

Binary sets do not pertain to Jesus Christ. They are a feature of the order of creation. Close observance of the binary feature in the order of creation points the observer to the Triune Creator. You are present with this binary set: life/death. Which will you chose? You are presented with this binary set: Creator/creature. Which will you chose?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alice,

I am trying to respond to those who claim that Jesus had other features, so we should not be singling out his being male as essential to the priesthood.

Could you also point to early church sources that say a priest must be male because he symbolizes Jesus.


Alice Linsley said...

The maleness of Jesus is part of the received Tradition of Abraham and his Horite Hebrew ancestors. It is not a matter for negotiation. To set aside the historical reality of Jesus as the Son of the Father is to eviscerate the Messianic Tradition.

Feminist literature is agenda-driven, not drive by a desire to know the truth. It attempts to justify women priests by pointing to imagined examples of women who were priests. The only women of the ancient world who are called "priests" practiced pagan religions. They do not represent the ruler-priest caste of the ancient Horite Hebrew.

Feminists attempt to make the Virgin Mary a priest. She was not. Or Phoebe, Lydia, Juna (possibly not even a woman), etc. None of these were priests. The Christ-following priests of the early Apostolic period were associated with the Sanhedrin. Two are named in the Bible: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph and Jesus Christ were kin, both descendants of the ruler-priest line of Mathea (Matthew).

St. John Chrysostom wrote in his treatise on The Priesthood:

"For the priestly office is indeed discharged on earth, but it ranks among heavenly ordinances; and very naturally so: for neither man, nor angel, nor archangel, nor any other created power, but the Paraclete Himself, instituted this vocation, and persuaded men while still abiding in the flesh to represent the ministry of angels. Wherefore the consecrated priest ought to be as pure as if he were standing in the heavens themselves in the midst of those powers."

In his treatise On the Holy Spirit, St. Basil the Great wrote:

“Every man is a theologian; it does not matter that his soul is covered with more blemishes than can be counted. The result is that these innovators find an abundance of men to join their factions. So ambitious, self-elected men divide the government of the churches among themselves, and reject the authority of the Holy Spirit. The ordinances of the Gospel have been thrown into confusion everywhere for lack of discipline; the jostling for high positions is incredible, as every ambitious man tries to thrust himself into high office. The result of this lust for power is that wild anarchy prevails among the people; the exhortations of those in authority are rendered utterly void and unprofitable, since every man in his arrogant delusion thinks that it is more his business to give orders to others than to obey anyone himself."

Despite what feminists, politically-correct academics, and rights activists might say, the ministry of priests in the Church developed organically from the Horite priesthood of Abraham's people and was exclusively the work of a select group of men (a ruler-priest caste) whose devotion to the worship of the Creator involved, by today's standards, extreme asceticism and purity of life. That there were priestesses in the Greco-Roman world is irrelevant to the question of women priests in the Church because this practice has no connection to the priesthood known by Jesus Christ and his followers. Failure to make this distinction has led to much confusion and obfuscation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alice,

I understand the liturgy takes place in Kairos time, and we are transported in time to when these events are taking place,if so,
Christ is fully present in himself, so unless the priest blinks out of existence and is replaced by Christ, at that point, what difference would it make if the priest is male or female.

I am really trying to understand this issue.


Alice Linsley said...

Kairos... you have been reading modern eucharistic theology. You should speak to your priest about why the Church has no authority to ordain women to the priesthood.

The following are titles of articles on the Priesthood that are available to read at JUST GENESIS. You will find this list in the INDEX. Click on the ones that interest you in the Index and you will be taken to the article.

Why Women Were Never Priests
What's Lost When Women Serve as Priests?
Blood Guilt and Christ's Priesthood
Some Thoughts on Women Priests
What is a Priest?
Males as Spiritual Leaders: Two Patterns
Shamanic Practice and the Priesthood
Luther Was Wrong About the Priesthood
More Thoughts on the Priesthood
Rethinking "Biblical Equality"
The Messianic Priesthood of Jesus
The Royal Priest Lines of Matthew
The Priesthood and Genesis
The Priesthood as Heavenly Ordinance
The Horite Priesthood
What is a Presbyter?
Ideologies Opposed to Holy Tradition
What is Holy Tradition?
The Spread of the Afro-Asiatic Worldview
The Priestly Divisions
Genesis and the Eucharist
Passing Conversation with Priestess Kaeton