Editor’s Introduction Reformation And The Forgotten Father -- By: John H. Armstrong

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 07:2 (Spring 1998)
Article: Editor’s Introduction Reformation And The Forgotten Father
Author: John H. Armstrong


Editor’s Introduction
Reformation And The Forgotten Father

John H. Armstrong

One of the most emphasized doctrines of the Bible during the first half of the twentieth century was the fatherhood of God. In scores of contexts, both religious and political, the fatherhood of God was both promoted and preached.

Former United States Secretary of Commerce, Henry A. Wallace, once observed, “We cannot understand either this war or the peace to come, unless we have some knowledge of the Bible and the history of the United States. Expressed in the fewest words possible, the meaning of the Bible is: All men are brothers because God is their Father.” And the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), during the same era, declared in its General Assembly that “The heart of the gospel is the faith that all men are the sons of God.”1

When religious leaders promote ideas such as these it is no small wonder that confessional orthodox Christians are put off by talk regarding the fatherhood of God. At the same time the tragic downside was the virtual neglect of the biblical doctrine of God’s fatherhood by confessionally orthodox believers. Over the last half century the church has experienced a widescale remembrance of the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit. In the process we have believed and preached a gospel in which the Father has been all but “forgotten.”2

The Apostles’ Creed begins with the significant words, “I believe in God, the Father almighty.” What is most significant

about these historic words is how the two words “Father” and “almighty” are coupled. The early church sought to keep these two concepts together, always held in a kind of biblical tension. In modern theology the fatherhood of God is quite often positioned over against God’s might, or divine sovereignty. It was no accident that liberal theology pushed Jesus forward in such a way that the Father was viewed only as the loving head of the family, not as the sovereign ruler over His subjects. Evangelical theologian Carl Henry noted fifty years ago that in this modern theological direction “A proper emphasis on divine fatherhood ... [always] sends the aspect of divine sovereignty into the background.”3

The tendency of the human heart is always the same—to move to the extremes, to settle all the tensions which allow mystery for believing minds. Greek and Oriental religions regard personality as incompatible with a God who is almighty. Neither Judaism nor Islam, the two great monotheistic ...

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