Dave Black makes some excellent points in his latest blog post about how Systematic Theologies rarely if ever talk about the Fatherhood of God. They emphasize Jesus and his two natures, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity and God – but, never concentrate on him being a father. It’s a great observation as so much of the Scriptures talk about this aspect of God.
This morning I want to talk with you about systematic theology and why I probably could never be a systematic theologian. As I understand things, the goal of systematic theology is to induce from the verses of Scripture certain facts about God and then arrange these facts into an organized and balanced whole. I see at least two areas of systematic theology that seem to be glaringly inadequate by this definition. The first has to do with the very Godhead. For a long time I have had a concern that our theology has been sorely imbalanced in this area. There simply seems to be a lack of balance. The area of doctrine to which I am referring is the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God. It is significant that many of our leading theology textbooks seem to preserve the status quo in this regard rather than the propagation of a balanced faith.
- Grudem has a section on the doctrine of God and on the doctrines of Christ and the Holy Spirit but nothing on the doctrine of the Father.
- Erickson has four chapters on “God,” two on “Christ,” and one on the “Holy Spirit.”
- McGrath has chapters on “God” and “the Person of Christ” but nothing per se on the Holy Spirit.
- Ryrie has sections on “God,” “Jesus Christ Our Lord,” and “The Holy Spirit.”
Its incredibly important that Christians today have a revelation of God being their father.A kind father. A listening father. A seeing father. A accessible father. A longing father. A yearning father. A searching father. A rejoicing father. A kind father. A giving father. A loving father. A forgiving father. A father who dares train us up in the ways we should go. A hearing father. A healing father. An encouraging father. A inspiring father.
I don’t believe that there is any section of scripture that nails this more than Luke does in the chapters of Luke 15:1 – 16:31. Though all of Scripture points towards God’s character and nature. The story of the prodigal son, is an example of God’s fathering kindness.
In 2001, we were walking renting a house on a few acres, and I was walking through the back paddock holding my young son’s left hand with my right. We were talking about the grass, the clouds, the grass hoppers and the other bugs and insects we could see. I became aware of how much I loved my son. Suddenly, I had a vision, my own left arm lifted up and I felt God holding my hand as we walked through that paddock. I felt God say, “Craig, just as you love your son, I love you – only more so!” Wow, is an understatement. While the moment probably only lasted a few seconds, the encounter seemed to last much longer.
Fast forward to 2009. The doo doo had hit the fan. I was separated from my family. I was in a joyless and virtually friendless situation. I had been blackbanned by my previous church. I had been told I was back slidden and perhaps had lost my salvation. A friend rings me. He says to me, “Craig, I feel I have a word from God for you. I am sorry its such a simple word. I have been fighting the Lord, thinking its not really from him. But, after 3 days, I have to share it with you.” He then said, “Craig, the Lord would say to you, he still has you by the hand, walking down the paddock of life with you!” I instantly started to cry, told Steve I would call him back, hung up and just cried before the Lord. Such is the kindness of the Lord.
God the father tenderly cares for his children. He nurtures us. He strengthens us. And he is for us and not against us. I believe the reason why systematic theologians leave the fathering aspects of God alone, is because the sheer nature of the fathering of God, is a real, tangible and experiential experience – one that we cannot relegate soley within an academic understanding.