“Why Do Christians Call God “Father”?
Why Do Christians Call God “Father?”
By: Rev. Geoff Hatley
Jesus calls God Father because that is how the Father reveals Himself to us. The God of the universe is all powerful or “omnipotent,” and to be all powerful He must be all knowing or “ominiscient” and to be all powerful and all knowing, He must be all presennt or “omnipresent.” Now that’s a loooooong discussion for another time. But suffice it to say that God is too great for us to comprehend. How do we fathom a being that creates out of will? A being who is eternal? How do we relate to Him? We can’t, He is too big and great for us. So, He must condescend to communicate with us.
And He condescends in a similar fashion to how we as adults speak to a 2 year old. They cannot possibly understand the depths of our conversation, so we speak in a voice that does not frighten them and use simple concepts that they can understand. We know that they will never understand deep concepts until they are adults, and sometimes not even then. And they know that we know much more than they. . .well most of the time they do!
It’s in this spirit that the Father reveals Himself as Father. You see in most of the religions of the Ancient Near East and Egypt the world was birthed by a goddess of some sort. And a birthed thing implies being of the same stuff as the mother. Meaning that creation is part of a god and therefore has some of their qualities. Other myths say that the goo of creation was eternal and that a god merely shaped it. But the God of the Bible is said to be a father not a mother.
Why? One reason is because creation is not part of Him. We are not the stuff of deity. We know this because Bible speaks of God as speaking creation into existence, so He is not co-eternal with it. Rather, He is the creator. We are other than God, and therefore He refers to Himself as Father and not mother as symbolically, the imagery of father is more separate from creation than that of a mother.
So, Jesus calls Him Father. And even more gloriously, He tells us to call Him Father. “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name’ ” (Matt 6:9). Which leads to the second reason. This name does not simply indicate otherness. It denotes affection. The God of the universe tells those who are abiding in Him to call Him “Father” meaning that those who are abiding in Him are His sons and daughters.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Matt 7:7-11). Notice the other characteristic of Fatherhood here. God cares about His creation and here encourages us to talk to Him. The term Father here denotes a relationship of extreme affection, as of that with a father who cares deeply about his children. This is why when we talk to God, we are called to address Him as our Father, because this is who He is to us!—Geoff+
Author~ Rev. Geoff Hatley
I married a woman that I had been best friends with for several years before it dawned on me, wait a minute maybe. . .just maybe. . .Ha! So I guess I’m grateful that God even works on the thick skulled ones.
My bride Kelly and I are both graduates of Virginia Tech where we met, fell in love and got married in 1991. We have three kids and are recent empty nesters. Needless to say, life has changed quite a bit over the last year!
I’m a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, and I’m the founding pastor at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church which was planted in 2004. I’ve been a Christian since I was 12 and active in evangelism and discipleship of some sort since I was 13. I’ve been in full-time ministry as a youth minister and then a pastor for 22 years. I love to do lots of things, but I guess primarily I love working out, martial arts, running, reading, and hanging out with friends.