Presenting God as father creates a few problems in modern conversation. What seems like a blanket of comfort to some, feels more like a wet blanket to others.
The most obvious issue with the idea of God as father is the negative connotation that the title “father” often carries. For many, father is the sperm donor who disappeared when the pregnancy test results came in. He is the man who was always on his way but never showed up—plenty of promises, no delivery. Perhaps he is the tough guy who likes to talk with his fists. The workaholic who put food on the table but never spent much time there. The sloppy drunk. The disgusting pervert.
With so many broken homes and horrible fathers, presenting God as Dad doesn’t always warm people’s hearts.
King of Never Neverland
More complex, and harder to wade through, is the Overbearing Dad narrative made famous by the late Christopher Hitchens, well-known writer and proponent of atheism.
Nobody but a lugubrious serf can possibly wish for a father that never goes away. - Hitchens
God, then, is like an immortal leach sucking every drop of independence out of humanity, an insecure father who refuses to let his children move out, the eternal king of Never Neverland.
Admittedly, this sounds awful. As a new father, I understand my infant son’s need for his parents; he is hopeless without us. But I also understand that as he grows he will gain independence and no longer rely on his parents for anything. In fact—fingers crossed—one day he may be the one feeding us and changing our diapers as we fade into our twilight years. Complete role reversal.
It’s pathetic, and frankly awkward, when a parent perpetuates adolescence and childish dependence in a teen or adult.
For this reason, Hitchens’ analogy deserves consideration. If God is just an overbearing deity who derives worth from stunting the growth of humans, then yes, let’s move out of his basement immediately.
But the God Hitchens aimed to dismantle is described in the scriptures as the omnipotent Creator of all things, the first and the last, the author of life. The Apostle Paul writes of Jesus, “…he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” In other words, without Jesus everything falls apart.
If this God exists, how does one outgrow a need for Him? The very concept is foolish, like a starving baby refusing a bottle, or a terminal patient declaring independence from life support.
If the eternal God of the Bible truly upholds the cosmos and is the ultimate source of human sustenance, of course he “never goes away.” And of course we remain dependent on Him. There is no other response.
So, have we outgrown God?
Have our enlightened scientific minds finally freed us from the oppressive chains of pesky religion, thereby allowing us to become better people?
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Photo Credit: Andrew Mitchell Photography
I had a root canal the other day.
*hangs head in shame*
I’m not proud of it. Honestly, I hesitated to write this post.
Root canals should be kept secret, like an addiction to coffee enemas or collecting belly button lint.
People look at you differently when they find out. One minute you’re a lovely human being, and the next you’re the guy who doesn’t brush his teeth. People assume that you gargle with Mountain Dew and eat candy for every meal, that you seldom brush. I understand.
But that’s not me. I hate Mountain Dew, and while I enjoy candy as much as the next person, I brush and floss daily. I never go to bed with food in my teeth. I like to think I have good oral hygiene. In fact, at my last appointment—the one where they made this orally damning discovery—the dental assistant commented on how well I brush.
Yes I do, thank you very much.
So why the bad tooth? Perhaps because it has been a while since my last professional cleaning. Or perhaps I’m a sleep eater; maybe I wander into the kitchen in the middle of the night and snack out on peanut butter Oreo’s and grape soda.
Who knows? Does it matter? You are still probably judging me right now. So, why am I telling you this? Read More…
Whoever said money can’t buy happiness wasn’t there the day I opened my Macbook Pro for the first time. They could not have been on my flight to Maui a few years back, and they have most certainly never watched the scene in Jerry Maguire where shirtless Cuba Gooding Jr. emphatically screams “Show me the money!” while dancing around his kitchen like a lunatic.
From what I can tell, cash is accepted wherever happiness is sold. Unfortunately, happiness, like money, is a limited resource. It’s circumstantial.
On any given day, an individual can start out in the best of moods and end in the worst, laughing one minute and crying the next.
Life doesn’t review your checking account balance before deciding to fall apart. It doesn’t consult your accountant or read through your five-year-plan. Trouble drives through the ghetto and the gated community, and when it shows up it doesn’t ask for your checkbook.
Sadly, you can’t buy your way out of a heartbreaking phone call at 2 a.m. You can’t pay for mental health or stability, and while money can definitely start a relationship, it can never sustain one. Just ask a Hollywood divorce lawyer.
Happiness, like the thin sheets of paper we exchange for goods and services, is fragile. And like money, it can disappear without warning. Read More…
Do you watch the news? If so, question: How do you usually feel afterwards?
Exhilarated? Peaceful? Chock-full of unbridled hope and restored faith in humanity?
Probably not, right?
If you’re like me, you probably just turn off your TV, lock the doors, google “cancer-preventing foods”, and vow to never watch the news again.
If you don’t watch the news, why is that? Probably because, like my wife, you “hate the news. It’s so depressing.” And it is. Sure, there are bright spots, but they are quickly eclipsed by one crisis or another.
Last night, in our student service, Transit, we did a mock newscast before the message, complete with sad stories and sensationalized journalism.
Tommy Tommerson (Tommy Pride) presented the following news:
Three young men were gunned down on the city’s east side. The killer is still at large. Hide your kids.
This season, Michigan is on the list of states with the highest influenza outbreaks. Avoid human beings.
The forecast shows at least two feet of snow over the next 48 hours. Power outages expected.
I then handed out tissues and told the students how hard it was going to be for them to ever find a job in our economy. Not really. I used the stories to contrast the bad news we are so accustomed to with the hope presented in The Gospel. Read More…
“That cemetery is really small, isn’t it?” my wife asked, gesturing toward the right of the busy intersection.
She was right; the space was very cramped, almost as if the cemetery were an afterthought. Looking over the lot, I noticed something else. Just past the fence that surrounds the property, glowing through the gaps between the headstones of the deceased, was a big red sign that said, Donut Delight.
A donut shop stands less than twenty feet from the perimeter of a grave yard. I have driven past this for years and have never considered the juxtaposition. It’s bizarre.
I picture a group of old men getting together every week for breakfast. They sit by the window sipping coffee. They split a box of chocolate-frosted eclairs and stare out into the field of death, trying not to number their days.
That is what you call an existential breakfast. It sounds like a Samuel Beckett play.
So, why would anyone surround an old cemetery with restaurants and small businesses?