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Should we call God “Father” or “Daddy”?

By Jim Barringer

A couple of weeks ago, I sat in on a Bible study taught by an Israeli fellow named Baruch. The study itself was an exposition of Joel, which was very interesting in its own right, but one of the things that stuck with me was actually a side note that Baruch mentioned offhandedly.

The theme of Joel, says Baruch, is the worship of a high and holy God. Baruch shared a story of a church conference he was at where another pastor addressed God as “Daddy,” which offended Baruch, as it seemed to be a gross lack of reverence toward God. Is Baruch right to feel that way? Should God be referred to as father or daddy?

In a way, both, and in a way, neither. We’ve just come up against one of the great paradoxes of faith in God. God is indeed infinitely high and holy, meaning that we should address him with all the respect and reverence we can muster – which will still not be enough. However, God is infinitely near, and intimate with us, so it is also appropriate to address him intimately, without the formal distance that an authority figure usually demands.

To put the question in human terms, how would you address your father if he was the President of the United States? His position demands that you refer to him as Mr. President. Yet your familial relationship allows you to refer to him as daddy. So what do you actually call him? Both choices are correct, in their own way, and each is a faux pas in its own way as well.

I think one of the great lies that we are fed is that something has to be one way or another way, either/or. This is a logical fallacy, a flaw in reasoning, referred to as a “false dilemma.” For example, “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?” Many people are neither. So if we start asking whether it’s appropriate to refer to God as father or daddy, then we’re already making a mistake, by ruling out the possibility of “equally and infinitely both” – which I think is the right answer.

God is quite worthy of all the formal respect and reverence we could give him, and more. His position as king of the universe is unspeakably more prestigious than that of president or prime minister. It’s quite humbling to think that we could never respect him as much as he deserves to be respected; we can never utter the right words, or even think the right thoughts, that would enable us to fully appreciate the grandeur of his majesty, the power that enabled him effortlessly to create millions of galaxies and trillions of stars and planets, his holiness and perfection, his faithfulness and steadfastness. We cannot even respect God enough or love him enough to do justice to how infinitely amazing he is. His greatness transcends all boundaries, including our mind‘s very ability to comprehend.

On the other hand, God is also quite worthy of being called daddy. Indeed, the Bible uses that very word (“Abba,” its Hebrew equivalent) to refer to God in Romans 8 and Galatians 4. God’s great love compelled him to ignore the offense we caused him and disrespect we gave him, and he chose instead to send his son to bridge the gap of our rebellion. Clearly he is interested in an intimacy with us that far transcends the detached, formal relationship that we have with the authority figures in our lives. Hebrews 12 says that he addresses us as his children, sons and daughters. Quoting 2 Samuel, Paul also adds in 2 Corinthians 6, “I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord God Almighty.” So it would seem that it is also appropriate to approach him with intimacy.

So, should we call him father, or daddy? The correct answer is not “either.” Either means that you could pick or choose whichever one you wanted to call him. The answer is that it is appropriate to refer to him as infinitely both. He is infinitely our father, the high and holy authority figure to whom we have no right to do anything other than bow the knee. However he is also infinitely our daddy, the one who bent space and time to take the form of a man solely because he wanted to call us his own sons and daughters.

Thinking about these things for too long will probably give us all a headache, because we’ve encountered the limits of our own human ability to understand things. Faced with a God who is infinite in any way, we find that we very quickly run out of words to describe him, or even thoughts to conceive of him. Yet even though we cannot even understand how holy he is or how loving he is, even though we can’t even address him properly as father or daddy because he is so much more than either of those, he still hears us, still embraces us, still calls us his sons and daughters.

How unbelievable that such a God should give us the opportunity to know him.

Jim Barringer is a 26-year-old writer, musician, and teacher serving at The Church of Life (.com) in Orlando, FL. More of his work can be found at facebook.com/jmbarringer and ExtantMagazine.com. This work may be reprinted for any purpose so long as this bio and statement of copyright is included.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERSMAKE A WEBSITE

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