Father knows best?

By Simon Barrow
June 4, 2007

One of the many important life-issues raised by traditional Christian language about God is that of gender and paternity - human and divine.

It seems to me that there is good reason why we should both honour the biblical language and welcome its development and expansion in different directions. It isn't an 'either-or' choice. There's much more to be said on this. But here's a taster from Three ways to make sense of one God:

"Jesus calls God Father. And in Matthew’s Gospel (23.9) he tells us to call no-one else on earth ‘father’, not even our biological fathers. In Jesus’ day, we need understand, fatherhood alone was seen as being able to donate the seed of life. These days that biological assumption is not sustainable, but that’s what it means in the symbolic, participative language of the New Testament. As several women scholars point out, by removing ‘fatherhood’ (loving generativity) from the exclusive preserve and control of men, and preserving it in God alone, it is transformed, and so invites us to transformation beyond the limits of biology and culture - including an adoption of the variety of gendered and non-gendered images of God made available to us in the Bible and after."

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