First: Happy birthday to my sister, Alexa. Now to our day’s post: Is God a “father” or a “mother”? How should we talk about God? And is the word “Father” fixed or flexible? This is discussed in Sarah Sumner’s book, Men and Women in the Church, chp. 9.
I really do want to know your answer to the following question, and that means that we have to be especially respectful today. I believe some will answer this question in ways some of us may not like — but let’s listen and learn from one another — and it is OK to disagree with one another — as long as we behave. So, here it is:
Is “Father” just a metaphor? Or, is “Father” a fixed term for our understanding of God?
What we think about God, so says Sumner (borrowing from AW Tozer), is the most important thing about us. So, how do we think about God? What do we think about God?
Picture-making and idol-making were prohibited, but some have done nearly the same with language. So, let’s be careful. All language about God, since God is Spirit, is analogical; she even says “No one can describe God adequately” (116). And, “Biblical metaphors are statements of truth. But they are true metaphorically, not literally” (117).
Or this: “God is our Father in the very same sense that Jeus Christ really is the door” (118).
God is likened to a mother (Isa 66:13; Luke 15:8-10), but God is not Mother the way God is Father. God is motherly, but not Mother (119). Deut 32:18 has God being both fatherly and motherly.
And, God is Father, but God is not male; God is not masculine. As Carl Henry puts it: “The God of the Bible is a sexless God” (121). To call God “he” is to speak of his personhood, not his sex/gender.