“You sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.
For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. ‘Father’ is the Christian name for God. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.”
–J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973/1993), 201-202
6 responses to ““‘Father’ is the Christian name for God” by J.I. Packer”
This is a interesting entry. I’ve in most cases been a fan of this kind of thinking. I’m hoping that this sparks a revival of this style of thinking along the same lines.
This same point is made profoundly by Karl Barth in his unfinished exposition of the Lord’s Prayer (which of course begins with Jesus teaching his disciples to pray, ‘Our Father…’), published posthumously in The Christian Life: Church Dogmatics Volume IV:4 Lecture Fragments. It is a profound book, well worth reflecting on deeply (not a quick and easy read, but worth sticking with).
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Reblogged this on resolved and reforming and commented:
“Father” is the Christian name for God. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.”
Vert helpful comments by Packer, although his comments may convey a sense of the idea of adoption and sonship not being in the Old Testament. They clearly are, as seen in God’s promises to Abraham about his descendants, in Israel being described as sons and God’s words to David, “I will be to you a Father, and you shall be to me sons and daughters”. So rather than the Fatherhood of God being a “new” idea in the NT as Packer makes out, it is the fulfilment of an “old” idea that God had promised and been bringing about in his grand plan to save a people for his very own.
Amen! I agree with you.