God as Father?

Mendalla

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So, it's Father's Day, at least in North America (a Kiwi on my other board tells me they celebrate in Sept. there to keep it in spring). And one of the defining images and doctrines of God in the Christian tradition is "God the Father" from the Trinity. It is a problematic one these days, with clear roots in a more patriarchal time. Still, it is not entirely a bad image. Us fathers do do some good in the world so a paternal (as opposed to patriarchal or paternalistic) Father God could still have some virtue.

So how is God a Father? Is God, in your opinion, a good Father? What does God do as Father that is paternal as opposed to patriarchal? Is this image even appropriate today, or should we be focussing on God as a "Parent" or "Creator" rather than "Father"?
 

chansen

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My father has considered having me killed, so I can see the similarities between my father and God. My dad just hasn't gone through with it. Yet.
 

DaisyJane

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For me, God is never Father. I stick to terms like Creator, Divine, and so on. I do not find God as Father image at all helpful. Indeed, it is alienating.
 

Jae

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The image of God as Father is one I'm quite comfortable with. "Father" was often a term used for God in the UCCanada congregation I grew up in, and in the Baptist churches I was a part of.

 

Seeler

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While I appreciate the imagery that Jesus used for God as a loving, guiding father - it didn't speak to me. I never had much of a relationship with my father - from the time I was a small child it seemed that he ignored me and I learned to ignore him. He died when I was in my 20s and I didn't miss him (I was living in another province by then).
I never really related to God as shepherd either - I love the 23rd psalm and the parable of the Good Shepherd, and an old hymn about the Ninety and Nine that we used to sing at YPU meetings. But real shepherds and sheep are not familiar images to me. I've never been around them.
On the other hand I do miss my mother who died when I was 14. Even 60 years later I sometimes find that 'I want my Mommy', to hold and comfort me, to guide me and advise me, and to share my life. I can relate to a Mommy and child relationship with God. - but 'Mother' seems almost as artificial as Father, if that makes any sense.
 

Jae

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am like @DaisyJane . Creator God is my favorite.
Creator God is one I like. Especially since it emphasizes that God is the Creator.

That said, I personally dislike it when people choose to use terms such as "Creator God" where "God the Father" has traditionally been used - in songs and such.
 

Luce NDs

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When I think of the fathers of Rome affiliated with Caesars ... seems brutish to me!

Thus the MOG way ... in essence ... a stinker to those stuck with the paddy arches ...
 

Carolla

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to me God is divine mystery, amorphous. So placing the "father" title on God then makes the spirit somehow into our own image, which I do find problematic.
 

Luce NDs

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to me God is divine mystery, amorphous. So placing the "father" title on God then makes the spirit somehow into our own image, which I do find problematic.
We discussed that in church today ... the mystery of word and how little we know of it ...

A parallel to the human sol ... not known well either as they are isolated and individual and without Sharon ... like a flower in the mountains ... eid eL vise? Kind of a flower that thrives in high cold environments?

The we discussed what was in between the two mysteries ... the pariah tale lobe? Tis like a veil ... vale or whatever else is enigmatic ... supports Heisenberg and uncertainty ... tossed out by those institutionalized without Murphy's Law ... then you get the evil eye from the nurse ... many stories erupt around this scheme (metaphor of conspiracy that occurs)!

Then there's the god's sol thing another mystery ... supporting that myth!
 

BetteTheRed

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I loved my father very much, and had as good a relationship as one could have with him (he'd served in WW2 from age 17-24 and had, in retrospect, a considerable level of PTSD). He was often very helpful, had good advice on a large number of topics, and more than occasionally rescued me, particularly from car troubles.

However, conflating my father image with divinity is more than a little problematic to me. If my personal father god is busy trying to rescue me, usually from my own idiocy, why isn't he worrying about things a lot bigger than me? (Like murdering babies by drone in the Middle East, by famine in Africa, by bad water and suicide in our indigenous communities.)
 

Mendalla

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I find the term limiting as much as I find the trinity limits God.
Any image of God can only limit God if we insist on being stuck with that image. The Trinity is no more limiting than any other. Same with God as Father. It is only as limiting as we make it. If it is one image of God rather the only image of God, then other images/understandings are possible and the limitation is removed.

IOW, I don't think it's the term or image that limit God. It is how we use the term/image that is the limiter.
 

revjohn

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Mendalla said:
So how is God a Father?


In as much as God is the beginning of the human family that seems father enough. Apart from that the paternal leading of Abram out of Ur, Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt and the generalized work of grace as providence earns God the title of Father.

Mendalla said:
Is God, in your opinion, a good Father?
In my opinion God is solidly good in the role of Father.

Mendalla said:
What does God do as Father that is paternal as opposed to patriarchal?
God is paternal in that if you read the narratives he is constantly allowing firstborn sons to fail and allowing for second born sons to rise up where they ordinarily would not. Jacob wins the birthright Esau despises. Judah, as the fourth-born of Jacob, is considered the bearer of the promise rather than firstborn Reuben. And apart from that God, as Father, is willing and able to look past surface issues. Prostitution, something God does not approve of, is not counted against Rahab who harboured Israelite spies. Ruth, a Moabitess, is honoured and though elsewhere Moabites were forbidden from the Assembly of God Ruth is the great-grandmother of David.

When the Israelites are particularly disobedient God turns to their neighbours, calls them his servants, and blesses them as they exercise stewardship over the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Along the way the Samaritans are embraced and made welcome as are the gentiles. Then there is the movement from anything goes to eye for and eye to turn the other cheek. And it is hard to ignore the commandments which protect the widow and the orphan.

Mendalla said:
Is this image even appropriate today, or should we be focussing on God as a "Parent" or "Creator" rather than "Father"?
Pretending that a Parent is different from a Father doesn't cut it I think. Of course the power of the descriptor is not the embodiment of gender so much as it is the presences of loving care. Christianity loses sight of that from time to time and believes that the descriptors are about nothing more than gender and its embodiment rather than a quality of care.

Which is a pretty common mistake that gets repeated even as we apparently grow smarter than previous generations.

My dad is a disaster as a father figure. Doesn't mean that I must be a disaster as well or that all other dads must, of necessity, be a disaster. On one level we are dealing with individuals who succeed or fail on their own merits whereas a description of a role can only be used to differentiate the good from the bad.

Any argument that can be made against describing God as Father has an equally powerful argument against describing God as Mother. And if neither of those terms can be considered acceptable who are we trying to fool by appealing to "Parent?"

Certainly it is something to be aware of. I don't know if the common good is served by making minority experiences into universal norms. While at the same time there is nothing pastoral by forcing universal norms into places where there has been tremendous damage done.

I tend to addressing God as Master and Lord more so than Father/Mother/Parent. Ancient of Days is a personal favourite descriptor for God, Redeemer is a personal favourite descriptor for Jesus, Holy Spirit is well, self-explanatory.

I don't think that the Church is best served by limiting understanding and experience of God to any one title. Nor do I think that the Church serves itself well by refusing to differentiate between those who are good examples and those who are bad. A good father is a good father no matter how many bad father there have ever been.
 

Mendalla

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If God has chosen to limit himself as Trinity, should we not then be content with that?
But when we choose to only accept one image of God, is it truly God limiting Godself or are we trying to limit God (see my response to Waterfall)?
 

Jae

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But when we choose to only accept one image of God, is it truly God limiting Godself or are we trying to limit God (see my response to Waterfall)?
God is, I believe, that which God shall be. Further, I hold that He has chosen to reveal Himself truly in the Holy Bible.
 

revjohn

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Jae said:
If God has chosen to limit himself as Trinity, should we not then be content with that?
I don't see, to be candid, how the Trinity limits God. The Doctrine itself appeals to mystery which forces adherents to acknowledge that there is more to God than we can ever claim to know. Reducing God to only what is known and refusing to search for more is theologically lazy.

Which is not me saying anything goes so much as it is me saying everything ought to be tested.

There are enough moments within the faith narrative where the faithful are encouraged to look for knowledge of God in the testimony of Creation instead of simply settling for the special revelation.

Part of the discernment we, as Christians , are called to undertake is to find the harmony between General and Special Revelation.
 

paradox3

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Over the years as we have stopped using the pronoun "he" for God. I seem to have substituted "Creator" for "Father" in my thinking. Not consciously but I am aware of a shift.
 

Jae

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Over the years as we have stopped using the pronoun "he" for God. I seem to have substituted "Creator" for "Father" in my thinking. Not consciously but I am aware of a shift.
Who is this "we" paradox3? Do you mean your church? Your family?
 
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