In yesterday’s Briefing, Al Mohler was describing an excessively liberal church that had been featured in The New York Times, and among the interesting elements in that congregation’s worship was the removal of masculine names for God. They still wish to call on God, but not to call Him Father.
This is not an isolated or surprising feature for a liberal church. Masculine language for God is increasingly regarded by the left as an artifact of oppressive patriarchy. For a more direct example, near the beginning of last year the Washington D.C. Episcopal diocese decided to remove such masculine references to God when they update their Book of Common Prayer.
There’s a lot that could be said about this move: the basic irreverence towards God, the self-reflective idolatry, the studied disregard for Scripture, and so on. But I want to draw attention to the tragic way in which this undermines one of the most precious blessings of salvation–adoption as a child of God.
We have a strange capacity for regarding blessings as curses. A comparatively trivial example is our ability to twist the gift of freedom and leisure into boredom. But the present case is far more serious. God’s Fatherhood is not a curse, a relic of oppression to be thrown off by those sufficiently enlightened through feminist theory. Fatherhood is a facet of the divine identity, and it marks a relationship into which we are wondrously invited.
For Jesus Christ, the one and only son of the Father, has given Himself for us; united with Him by faith, we are offered adoption as children of God. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 Jn. 3:1). We may call on God as our Father, as Jesus instructed His disciples to do (Matt. 6:9). God the Father becomes our Father. We come to know His Fatherly love and care, we come to have that priceless privilege of adoptive sonship in the Son.
The desire to be free of the Fatherhood of God leads, like the way of the prodigal son (Lk. 15), into the far country of disappointment and loss. Freedom from God is slavery to sin. But the gospel remains; for those prodigals who wish to come home, the loving welcome of the heavenly Father waits.