I believe in God the Father

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I believe in God the Father

By Dr Christine Wood, Director of the Office of Evangelisation & Catechesis

The Courier-Mail recently reported that, “Some Catholic schoolgirls in Brisbane are being taught that God is gender-neutral, with prayers that dump male terms like Lord or Father.” Some figures in the Catholic community welcomed this as a positive development in our understanding about God.

Scripture uses different metaphors for God’s presence, like fire, wind, and water. Catholic Tradition teaches that God, as pure Spirit, is neither constrained nor defined by time, space, or gender. But since we are limited by these constraints, God has chosen for us to relate personally to him as Father. This fact we cannot ignore.

God revealed his Fatherhood in a particular time, with its own historical and cultural conditions, some of which are no longer relevant to our own. So are we now free to reject God’s Fatherhood as an out-of-date cultural model? No, this would only be possible if God revealed himself in the post-biblical era in another manner, which he has not done.

The Catechism explains: “Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father: ‘No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ (Matt 11:27)” (CCC240). The relations of Sonship and Fatherhood exist eternally in God. God’s Fatherhood is no metaphor. Indeed, the Catechism says, “no one is father as God is Father” (CCC239).

How does this affect us? Salvation is a multifaceted reality, but essentially involves being drawn out of sin and into the life of the Trinitarian God. The saved-person is one who participates in the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ, and can now call God ‘Father’ or ‘Abba’. This is why we baptise people, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

If we are not saved, we remain in our sin, and we simply refer to God as ‘Creator’, or nothing at all because we refuse to enter relationship with him. But salvation enables us to enter into the divine family. It begins the new relationship in which we call God, ‘Father’.

It’s ironic that gender theorists insist we refer to others according to their preferred pronouns, whether it be ‘he/she’, or ‘ze/zie’, etc., but when it comes to God, they insist we must remove the use of masculine terms, despite God clearly choosing to reveal these to be his preference.

There’s clearly a crisis of fatherhood in our modern culture. But as Christians we must reject any movement to remodel God in our own highly contested image, and cling to God’s self-revelation as loving Father who desires a familial relationship with each of us. Our salvation depends on it.