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
The other day, I was discussing art with a few people, and my painter friend, Erik said something that resonated with me.
We were talking about the creative process, how people come up with the most amazing ideas, seemingly out thin air. He said something like,
Sometimes when I sit down to paint, looking at a white canvas is like staring into the infinite abyss. So many possibilities and I don’t know where to start.
It made me think about writing. So many nights I sit in front of my computer, staring at a white screen. Sometimes I come to the table feeling inspired, ready to flood the page with ideas. More often, I come empty-handed. I spend hours in silence as the blinking cursor taunts me from the top left corner of the screen. Write something. I’m just waiting for a spark.
A Genesis moment.
Suddenly, one word makes two, three, a sentence. Sentences become paragraphs, and so on. It’s remarkable, the creative process.
This is true of the arts, but really for all of life. Creativity is a part of the human construct, and we are all creators, in a way.
Like the artist with the blank canvas, the scientist works with the elements. Teachers create methods for delivering complex information. Business owners develop systems for greater efficiency. Parents not only participate in the creation of their children, they establish environments conducive to child growth and development.
Everywhere, all the time, culture is being created. It’s fascinating. Read More…
Much of everyday life is about compartmentalizing, juggling. We talk about a work/life balance, though many of us see the scales tipping more towards the work side of the equation. But this is how we cope with the busyness of life. Trying to tackle all the responsibility we are shouldered with is more than cumbersome, it’s almost impossible. So we divide our lives into bite-sized pieces.
We have the professional life, the personal life (chock full of romance and mystery, no doubt), the social life, and finally, and most important, I’m sure, we have the spiritual life. This is the compartment dedicated to worship, church attendance, prayer and the like.
God gets a whole category all the to himself. He must be so happy!
On the surface, this seems like a healthy way to live. We can work, play, spend time with our loved ones and round it all out with a focused walk with God. It’s nice. The only problem is it’s not biblical. At all. Not even a bit. Read More…