God As Father, God The Father, And Human Fathers -- By: Bruce Ware
JBMW 21:1 (Spring 2016) p. 32
God As Father, God The Father, And Human Fathers
T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
When one considers biblical teaching on the Fatherhood of God, one finds two senses in which God is Father. First, as the one God, he is Father to his children, whether Israel or the Church. That is, as the God who created and redeemed his people, he relates to them as their Father, who cares, corrects, punishes, guides, and restores. Here, there is no specific Trinitarian distinction evident, per se, as the one God is acting, as one, toward his people as their Father. Second, when Trinitarian specificity has come more into play, Father is far more often reserved for the first Person of the Trinity who is the eternal Father of his eternal Son, who (Son) in the incarnation becomes none other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Here, while some references to “Father” refer more broadly to the one God who is Father of his children, more often than not, Father denotes specifically the Trinitarian person of the Father, who is Father precisely because he is eternal Father of his eternal Son, who likewise, through Christ, becomes also Father of those who are in Christ. Thus, as one considers both of these expressions, one might say that “God as Father of his people” and “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” are equally expressive of the biblical revelation of the Fatherhood of God.
In what follows, I hope to accomplish three goals: first, to consider some of the biblical teaching related to who God is as Father, second, some of the biblical teaching that depicts the Father as the Father of the Son, and third, to relate both sets of biblical teachings to the question of what human fathers can learn from this about what it means to be a father. Of course, what is assumed in this, which is best to be brought out into the open, is that the Fatherhood of God (in both senses) is more basic than, and instructive for, human fathering. God (both as the one God as Father and the first Person of the Trinity as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ) is the primal and perfect Father; we human fathers are those called fathers following the model of “the Father,” and hence we are made to bear resemblance to his fathering. If one wishes to dispute that the biblical revelation of the Fatherhood of
JBMW 21:1 (Spring 2016) p. 33
God is meant to convey something about human fathering, I would ask for some evidence why this would NOT be the case. The burden would be on the objector, not on the supporter, of this connection. After all, this is not a matter of seeking to mimic in our humanity some incommunicable aspe...
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