Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, June 17, 2013

God as Father - Rector's Rambling, June 16, 2013

A blessed Father’s Day to the fathers in the congregation.  Although it is not a “Church” holiday, it is always good to be thankful for those who gave us life, and for those fathers (and father figures) who helped to raise us.
One of the names that we have for the first person of the Holy Trinity is Father.  It is how He has been revealed to us.  Jesus refers to Him as His father, and tells us we should even call him Abba – “Daddy”.
Some within the Church have tried to get away from the use of the male names and pronouns to refer to God.  Father and Son have been replaced with “Creator” and “Redeemer”.  The problem is that these are attributes of God (and can refer to all three persons individually as well).  It even leans toward the old heresy of Modalism – identifying God by his attributes or “modes” rather than Persons.  God is not an “it”, rather is three persons in one God.
One reason for the drive for this change is that not all of us have had positive role models for fathers.  But one should not be projecting our own father’s failings (or perceived failings) on our God, but rather realize that our Heavenly Father is the ultimate example of “Father”, not our own fathers who were certainly affected by Original Sin (everyone is) and perhaps tainted by Actual Sin.
Many years ago there was a movement in the Church for men called Promise Keepers.  An Evangelical para-church organization, one of the promises that a promise keeper made was to try to heal any relationship failings with their own fathers and sons.  This was cathartic and helpful to begin to grow in the spiritual life.
Interestingly, the media picked up on another attribute of the movement, and that was men being responsible heads of households.  Those outside the church saw it as oppression of women.  But those inside the life of faith saw it as men taking up their spiritual responsibilities within their families that so many had abdicated.  Mocked by the world, I know the women in my parish really wanted their husbands involved in this movement to be better dads and husbands!