Full Text for Dogmatics 1- Volume 32 - When we say that God is Father, is that analogy or metaphor? (Video)

Transcript of Dogmatics 32 Captioning provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 ******** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ******** >> So when we say that God is Father, is that analogy or metaphor? >> When we look at the term "Father" used for God, we see that it's, in a certain way, it's a unique term, because it is used in several different ways. God is called Father in his relationship to all of creation. He is the Father of all created things. In James 1:17: Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. God is called Father in his relationship to Israel. He is the Father of Israel. Isaiah 63:16: But you are our Father although Abraham does not know us or is willing to acknowledge us. You our Lord is our Father, our redeemer from of old is your name. Or Jeremiah 3:4, have you not just called me my Father, my friend from my youth? God is the Father of all his Spiritual children. He is the Father of all Christians. Jesus talks about God the Father in his sermon on the mount. But I tell you like your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. When He teaches His disciples to pray, He says: But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Your Father, and of course that culminates in the prayer He gives His disciples when He says: When you pray you shall say "our Father." St. John exclaims in His letter: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us. Then we should be called children of God. And that is what we are. There is still another, a fourth way in which God is called "Father, " And that is God as the Father in His relation to the Son. He talked about -- in some of these places already when we talked about the deity of the son. Remember John 1:14: The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the only begotten who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Same chapter, verse 18. No one has ever seen God, but God the one and only or the only begotten who is at the Father's side has made him known. And of course, again, John 3:16: God sends His son. What we see here is that the appellation of God as Father is really rooted in the interTrinitarian life of God. We mentioned Father as a term for the relationship between the Son and the Father last, but really of course that's the first way ontologically how God is called Father. So God is Father first and foremost, not because He relates in a certain metaphorical way, like a Father to creation, but He is first and foremost Father because He, in eternity, is the Father of the son. That's a language that is consistently used in the new testament. Christ himself always talks of His Father. He never calls God "mother," for example. At the end of the high Priestly prayer, Jesus says: Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you. And they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them, and that I myself may be in them. It is the Son who knows the Father and only through the Son we know the Father. And we know him as Father. When we change that language, that would actually include a claim that we know God the Father better than Christ, that we can give God a better, a more appropriate way, that the way how Christ addresses the Father is in some way deficient, and that is of course a rather audacious or a really blasphemous claim. Another reason why we call God our Father and are bound to that language is that Christ himself taught His disciples to call on God as our Father. To change that prayer would also mean that we know better than Christ how to address God. Again, that would be a rather preposterous statement. Additionally, it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to address God as Father. Because you are sons, God sent the spirit of His son into our hearts, the spirit who calls out Abba, Father, St. Paul writes in Galacians 4. Here good, God himself, namely God the Holy Spirit, is the reason that we call upon the Father. It is not due to some limitation. It is not due to a patriarchal society or male chauvenism that the language of "Father" is used. It is taught by God the Son and it is taught by God the Holy Spirit. All that shows us is that Father is not a metaphor that can be replaced, but it is God's name. God is not like a Father; He truly is Father. Indeed, He is the only one who can be in the fullest sense be called Father, and all earthly fatherhood is only derived from him. And Paul writes in Ephesians 3: For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom all fAtherhood in heaven and on earth derives its name. Therefore, the name "Father" properly belongs only to God. Only in a derived sense we can call anybody on earth father. And it's the reason why Jesus says: I do not call anyone on earth father, for we have one Father and He is in heaven. From that understanding of the nature of the appellation Father, we see that it is also not arbitrary or meaning metaphorically when we call God Father. Or to say it the other way around, when God calls himself our Father. It is the greatest honor He can give us that He makes us His children and gives himself to be our Father. And, again, we are here at this point where we have this movement in the trinity that God the Father comes to us in the Son, and through the Holy Spirit adopts us and let's us participate in this relationship between the eternal son and the eternal Father, so that now that we are in Christ, adopted sons, and can call God our Father. To give up this language that all Christians are His sons, irrespective of their sex, would cloud the Christological foundation of our relationship to God. That we are sons of God reminds us that we are because of the one Son, the only begotten Son. Therefore, any change in the language of prayer and worship that tries to replace or complement "Father" with "Mother" or all kind of female appallations, some rather ridiculous, really tries to replace revolution with human inventions. What we find here is really a rejection of revelations, of God's revelation in Christ, and therefore idolatry. It is deplorable and a tragedy that some churches in Christianity have gone this way because such a prayer is no longer a prayer to the biblical God. Now, when we talk about God as Father, there is also one practical question. What do we do when Christians had a very abusive father, so that the term for them has such a negative connotation that the image of the horrible, earthly fAther overpowers the biblical content of Father, when they use it in prayer? We have to work with these people patiently that they can overcome their trauma and will be able to use the biblical language. We cannot capitulate to the effects of human sin and give up this same full biblical name of God. By that we would confess that horrible earthly fathers have more power over their earthly children than their heavenly Father has over His earthly children. Such healing might take time, but it is necessary so that everybody, irrespective of his or her personal history, learn to call God by His name and rayer of the church.