Geoffrey C. Bingham dies – (goes home!)

3 06 2009

Geoffrey Bingham – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Today Geoff Bingham died. He is one of the dearest of men, that I know. He has been a friend, a mentor, a joyful preacher and teacher of the Christian faith, a doctor of theology, a missionary to Pakistan, a former POW in Changi in WW2, and a prolific and notable Australian author – and one to whom many, many people are grateful for his help and encouragement.

In particular Geoffrey has taught the heart of the Cross of Jesus Christ, and the grace of God known there, he has taught the hope and joy of creation redeemed through Jesus resurrection, and he has – perhaps as well as any – taught the Fatherhood of God.

Geoffrey has been a theologian and preacher of the heart! He has left a rich legacy in New Creation Teaching Ministries. 

May the Lord comfort Laurel—his dear wife, and his family, and the many, many people who will miss him. Much will be written about him. As the years roll on, many will undoubtedly discover his writings, and do so with great joy.

That is my small comment, for now.  … thanks dear Geoff, thank you!





a prayer for me, and for you…

2 06 2009

Dear Father, 

It seems a long time since we have had a proper talk. As Jesus has taught us to pray, so it is good to say, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name—your name! 

It is good to be able to pray to you. Thanks for short simple prayers. Thanks for little silent groans that you hear and answer. Thank you too, for the sanity that a longer, more framed, and almost formal prayer, brings to one’s mind.  (No wonder people—Anglicans—have for years, loved their book of common prayer). And then the Psalms are so good to read too. 

But it is time just for a slightly theological, prayer-full of the Spirit, rejoicing:

Thank you for sending your dear Son into the world, to become one with us – your beloved, yet sinful humanity.

Thank you Jesus for bearing our sins, in your body on the Tree, once, for all, to redeem this lost world of cities, towns, homes, lonely ones, and powerful nations.

Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to us, to open our minds and hearts to know you, and love you, and to bring us insight and understanding of the gospel, and its centrality for all creation, for all of eternity.

Help my family and friends, Lord. Comfort, encourage, heal, humble, strengthen, quieten, forgive them, reconcile, and cheer them—all those good things!

Help me to encourage them. Help my life to be a small blessing to lots of people here and there.

(Even if it is simply talking kindly, and thankfully and thoughtfully, while appreciating the service and work, of the lady in the chicken shop, hot, tired, frustrated with things, greasy, and just serving one person after another—all of them hungry and in a hurry—and her in need of a cheerful moment. Bless your servants Lord, that this world may rejoice in hope now, and one day in full voice!). 

And now unto you O Lord, who by the power at work within us (the resurrection power) is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think, to you be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.





Praying Hyde and the Father

1 11 2008

Praying Hyde and the Father (an extract, by G. C. Bingham)

“Early in the twentieth century the famous missionary John Hyde, later known as ‘Praying Hyde’, was one of the founders of the Sialkot Convention—then in North India, now in Pakistan. This Convention is still held annually, and I myself have preached in it many times, often to audiences of 6,000.

Praying Hyde was a man who knew what it was to be quiet and with God. Often he would separate himself from work, from others, and remain for days in prayer. At one of the first Conventions he was in his prayer tent, and it came time for him to speak at a session. Someone approached the tent to call him to speak, but silence met him. When he entered the tent it seemed that Hyde was in a trance. Certainly nothing could bring him to a conscious state. Time and again he was approached, but without success. Finally someone managed to impress him that he must come to the Convention Tent.

He arrived, on its edge. All eyes were fixed on him. He seemed not to see the crowd. He appeared still to be in his trance. Then he lifted eyes upward and said three times in English, and three times in Urdu, ‘Oh Father!’ There was a great hush over the congregation, but the effect of the prayer was electric. Some began to weep, some went into serene silence. Others, we are told, fell to the ground in deep emotion. Others began prayer as though it were a new and wonderful exercise.

So much for the experience. What was the outcome? The answer is, ‘Revival!’ From that moment a wave of reality swept across the crowd at the Convention. It spread into the district. The days that followed saw a rich and useful revival. Some claim that after eighty years the waves are still flowing. This may well be true. In three utterances Hyde had preached a magnificent sermon. He had unconsciously revealed the Father in all His glory, His compassion, His beauty and His saving grace. Hyde himself was a magnificent evangelist. He must have constantly communicated the filial nature of Christ, and the paternal nature of the God of the Scriptures.”

This story is in the book: ‘I love the Father’ (downloadable free on charge), on the New Creation Teaching Ministries web site: http://www.newcreation.org.au/books/covers/242.html





Pateriology: Study 3

1 11 2008

Pateriology: The Person and Work of the Father 

Introduction

A favourite story told by Jesus is found in Luke 15:

  11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.

  14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’

  20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe–the best one–and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

  25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.

  29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

  31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

The story is hauntingly familiar. It resonates. This is the story humanity is made of, the world over – with mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, husbands, wives, grandparents and in-laws and cousins. It is brilliantly told by the master storyteller himself; it gets into our hearts, and minds. We think of dear ones, estranged or reconciled. It connects with prayers issuing from the depths of our hearts. Tears and sorrow are near to the surface, or anger and disappointment is concealed deeply below. Why so poignant, so stirring, so disturbing?

Kenneth Bailey says:

‘… the prodigal …planning to work as a servant …intends to save himself, [but]…on his return …is shattered by the offer of grace… the older son launches into a bitter tirade against the father. The parable closes with a final appeal for reconciliation. Both sons are seen as rebels needing a visible demonstration of love to win them from servanthood to sonship.’

We should note of this story:

1.     It echoes the human predicament – rebellion, loneliness, and folly.

2.     It echoes the gospel appeal from the Father through His son to the world: For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life (Romans 5:10). And, ‘…we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin…we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain (2Corinthians 5:20–­­­­6:1).

3.     It echoes lavish grace, new possibilities, and stubborn wills.

This story is there in all of humanity. And it is there in humanity, primarily because it is there between Our Father in heaven and his children in rebellion. As someone said ‘we are rebels with weapons in our hands’.

What is it that wins rebels, like these 2, ‘from servanthood to sonship’?

Seemingly absent from the story, is the action of atonement that takes people, sin, guilt scheming and rebellion seriously; that takes the Father and the Son of God, and the eternal family seriously. However, the storyteller himself, Jesus, is all too well aware, amidst all the failure of the human race, of what it will take to effect true forgiveness and reconciliation, namely, a cross. Nothing less.

When the State becomes your father…

1.     I once spoke with a worker, who described some failures in the Youth detention centre system, saying, ‘Young Aboriginal men come to the centre, until they are 18 yrs old. Most continue their ways and proceed to State Prison. Sadly, we are not allowed into their home lives to work on helping whole families. “When the State becomes Your Father, your Home becomes the Prison”.

2.     I am a friend of a man who has been out to prove himself, all his life. He never met his father. He knew he was adopted, and was grateful for that… but does he have a deep longing in this…

O Lord, all my longing is known to you; my sighing is not hidden from you (Psalm 38:9)

3.     I know a man who grew up in orphanages. He never knew his parents. He believes Jesus promise below, and is very moved by Christian messages of the Father. How beautiful is Jesus promise:

 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you… On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you….those who love me will be loved by my Father…we will come to them and make our home with them’ (John 14:18-23 selected verses)

4.     My Dream: I shared that God is Father, with a tough bikie. I said he had an inbuilt resistance to this, but that if he really heard me, he would know this to be true.  I thought he would bash me… but he heard me, and believed me, and his anger was gone! He softened.

The Male-Female Duality

The Christian revelation is that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The substitution of Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer as such, is not the Christian revelation. (Indeed, all work together in these 3 works)

‘Man’ (male-female) is made in the image and likeness of God. The word ‘Man’ is chosen here in preference to the word ‘Humanity’, because it is a single syllable and as such, conveys the sense of a single ‘block’ of human people. (God is One). The word – humanity – with the “–ity” ending, suggests a multiplicity (2 or more groups, not 1). It conveys the one-ness in creation prior to the entry of sin. It does not here, suggest ‘maleness’, but rather one-ness.

Given that Man (male-female) is the image of God then it follows, surely, that the male-female duality exists within God. There is certainly motherhood in God; this needs clarifying. Geoff Bingham says:

The male-female of God is called ‘Father’, given that God is often likened to a mother but is never as such called mother. Yet the word Father embraces both.

The Father is Love – Love is Flowing

Students of the Bible are often surprised to learn that nowhere in Scripture does it teach that ‘Jesus is Love’. Neither does Scripture speak of love as being the glue that holds the Trinity together. This would suggest a fourth action (or hypostasis), within the Triune God.

When John teaches that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8, 16), he means ‘the Father is love’; in and from this love creation and redemption flow!

Paul supports this conclusion, when he speaks of Jesus, as being ‘the beloved Son’ (Colossians 1:13), or the alternatively phrase is ‘The Son of his Love’. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father, and Spirit of the Son (Rom. 8:11; Matthew 10:20; 2Cor. 3:17; 1Peter 1:11).

Love flows from the fountainhead of love: the Fons Divinitatis.

(Psalm 36); this steadfast love flows out to the world to deal with sin, cleanse and reconcile, that the Father’s true family be formed.The Son is sent (incarnated), and the Spirit is spirated (breathed).  And we are incorporated into that flow of love (John 17:20-25).


Kenneth E. Bailey Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes (Eerdmans, 1976), p. 206

Geoffrey C. Bingham, I love the Father, (NCPI 1990), p. 20; See references Isaiah 66:13; Psalm 131:2; cf. Psalm 27:10

Geoffrey C. Bingham, Ah, Strong, Strong Love! (NCPI ,1993), p. 66





Pateriology: Study 2

22 10 2008

STUDY 2
Pateriology: The Person and Work of the Father

Available Studies

Last week we saw the general absence of studies in the Person and Work of the Father. A curiosity for sure! We noted that Christology, and Pneumatology were both readily available as topics for study. However to study Pateriology seems to be rarely done, within the church. The importance of Jesus words, concerning the Father, and his relating to the Father, as well as his Post-resurrection teaching to Mary Magdalene – My Father and Your Father – suggest this needs redressing. Sources of study can be found particularly in John’s Gospel, but also in the Sermon on the Mount. Add to this the witness of Paul, Luke, and others, to the Father, and we have much material. We also have the riches and insights of theologians, who love the Father.

What is to be done?

There is a story of a famous huntsman who, when asked about the best way of trapping a fox, replied: ‘Start trapping – the fox will teach you!’

We could say – start studying, The Person and Work of the Father, Pateriology – and the Father will teach you. Indeed, it is even better than that – surely. If the elusive fox can be our teacher, how much will our Heavenly Father, teach us the good things we need to know.

Jesus said: “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone. 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)

Covenant Father; Covenant Son

In the Old Testament, we note that Israel knew God as Covenant Father, and Israel was the Covenant Son.

Some 700 years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah wrote of their God:

For you are our father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our father; our Redeemer from of old is your name. (Isaiah 63:16)

Also Hosea 11:1

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

We can say that the One who had redeemed his people from Egypt had a close relationship of which the full revelation was yet to come.

The Incarnation – in these last days

The Father speaks and reveals himself by a Son, the Son:

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Jesus came, yet still people missed the Father – The Forgotten Father.

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

(John 14:9)

Even the close disciples failed to grasp the fullness of Jesus relationship with the Father, until after the crucifixion and resurrection. Indeed, it took the terrible cross, and the subsequent teaching concerning the Kingdom of God from the Risen Lord – during forty days – and then the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, for the new believers to be able to understand, that, God is … truly Father:

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6).

The revelation of the love and unity, and purpose at the heart of the crucifixion of Jesus, revealed the love of the Father, for his people.

Patripassionism

Now, we ask: Is there a grain of truth in that heresy Patripassionism?

Patripassionism confuses the Persons and Work of the Father and that of the Son. It claims that the Father suffered on the cross. However, it was Jesus, the Son who was nailed to the cross. The Father and Son are not the same Person. They speak to one another and have separate wills to engage, even when wholly united, as One in the work of the cross, and in all things. Heresy is usually going too far – an overstating of some point – in teaching to the detriment of other matters.

All Things Are Yours

But Paul writes: “For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God”. (1Corinthians 1:21-23) Heresies are ours, to learn of error; they are also there, sometimes, because hovering nearby is a great question, looking for an answer. It is probably this: Did/does the Father suffer?

The Initiative in the Sending

The Father is not the Son; they are discrete persons. The Son has come down from heaven, and the Father has sent him. (A work!)

37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent. (John 5:37-38)

28 Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” (John 7:28-29)

The Motive of the Sending is Love

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1John 4:10).

God is willing to go to the length of suffering and dying to enter into fellowship with man. There is a misunderstanding of the Christian doctrine of atonement that goes something like this: God is an angry God, angry at men because men have sinned, and he decides to condemn mankind; but Christ intercedes for man, and God’s vengeance is sated by punishing Christ instead. Although this is a travesty of the Christian position it has unfortunately been too often suggested by interpreters of the atonement as well as by their critics. But Forsyth, who said, “The doctrine of grace and the doctrine of the atonement are identical,” the true interpretation is that the atonement flows from grace, it does not “procure” grace. This extremely important insight means that our reading of the atonement is more like this: Because God loves men, he suffers on their behalf, bears himself the weight of their wrongdoing, and this restores fellowship, or reconciles. Grace is not something Christ earned for us from God; grace is rather something God gave us in Christ. “Do not say: ‘God is love. Why atone?’ Say: ‘God has atoned. What love!’[1]

Note then, that the Father atoned – what sending love!

And in this sending, atoning love did and does the Father suffer?

Father and Son Carry and Suffer the Misery of Ages

Jesus said: the Father and I are one (John 10:3). He also said, the Father is in me and I am in the Father (John 14:10). When we see the Cruciality of the Cross we see the action of the Father giving up his Son in love, and the Son honoring the Father. God, the Father, was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. We are often made aware of the sufferings of Christ. However, P.T. Forsyth draws our attention to the depth of the Father’s suffering too, saying: ‘And the Father suffered in His Son even more than the Son did’.[2]

There is an Eye, a Mind, a Heart, before whom the whole bloody and tortured stream of evolutionary growth has flowed. We are horrified, beyond word or conception, by the agony and devilry of war, but, after all, it only discharges upon us, as it were from a nozzle, a far vaster accumulation of such things, permeating the total career of history since ever a sensitive organism and a heartless egoism appeared.[3]

World War 1 was an occasion, to turn anew to the sufferings of God, the Father, throughout human history:

This misery of the ages, I have said, vanishes from human thought or feeling, till some experience like war carries some idea of it home. But there is a consciousness to which it is all and always present. And in the full view of it He has spoken. As it might be thus: ‘Do you stumble at the cost? It has cost Me more than you—Me who see and feel it all more than you who feel it but as atoms might. “Groanings all and moanings, none of it I lose.” Yea, it has cost Me more than if the price paid were all Mankind. For it cost Me My only and beloved Son to justify My name of righteousness, and to realise the destiny of My creature in holy love.[4]

P.T. Forsyth spotlights the love of the Father, for the Son, and calls us to consider this. (We are often very self-centred when we ask questions concerning the unfairness of life, and of our sufferings). He continues, along the lines that the Father, might say, concerning his Son, Jesus:

And all mankind is not so great and dear as He. Nor is its suffering the enormity in a moral world that His Cross is. I am no spectator of the course of things, and no speculator on the result. I spared not My own Son. We carried the load that crushed you. It bowed Him into the ground. [5]

The Father Takes the Initiative in Dealing with Sin

In 1 Peter 2:24 we read of Jesus that:

‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross…’.

There is a footnote to the text where other manuscripts include the words: ‘carried up our sins in his body to the tree’.

This is the action, or work of Jesus. But what of the Father’s work?

Isaiah 53:6 says of the crushing load of the suffering servant:

‘The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’.

This seems to indicate the Father’s action, of laying the sin upon his son, as Abraham took the knife to kill his son Isaac (Gen. 22:10). Only this time, there is not another ram in the thicket.

Further, Matthew 26:31 has it written of the action coming upon Jesus, and of the deserting flight of the disciples:

‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’.

It is the Father, surely, who takes the initiative here, to deal with sin, once for all, laying the burden, and its horrendous judgment upon the Son. This is a love-action, for the whole of creation, and it is also a severe action – that sin is dealt with. It must happen. The Father brings such complete judgment upon evil, that His dear Son is abandoned up for us all. He is utterly forsaken. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22) – the essence of these words really must be grasped. Geoffrey Bingham has written:

If he were not separated, then would sin have been really dealt with? If this alienation of the human spirit from God is the very essence of wrath, then was God’s wrath really poured out on the Cross upon sin, and was it borne by Christ, if he were not forsaken? The answer must surely be, ‘The wrath was poured out upon sin, and for man’s sake he was forsaken’… What we fail to understand is the utter desolation that is indicated by the cry. If to be forsaken is the utterness of suffering (and it is), then he actually has to suffer this. If some special knowledge tells him he is not essentially forsaken, then he does not suffer to the full. Let us understand this: he did suffer to the full. Failure to understand this cry is failure to understand the terrible nature of sin and the high wrath of the eternal God, who must destroy evil by His burning action of holiness.[6]

Jesus must know and bear the dreadful anger of God upon all sin, once, for all. It is only as a person by the Spirit, sees these facts that they can be truly at peace.

He must, as man, be taken from the Holy Presence and go out into the place of the damned. He must suffer it all, or not at all.[7]

Leon Morris concurs regarding this actual fact of forsaken-ness. The meaning of Jesus words, are that he was cut off from the Father.[8]

Another scholar, R. W. Dale would never allow that Christ only felt forsaken. He said,

‘I shrink from saying that even in my calmest and brightest hours I have a knowledge of God and the ways of God which is truer than Christ had, even in His agony. I dare not stand before His cross and tell Him that even for a moment He imagines something concerning God which is not a fact and cannot be a fact’.[9]

Forsyth alerts us to the wrecked world, where the mending requires something very deep:

Things are so profoundly out of joint that only something deeper than the wrecked world can mend them, only a God of love and power infinite, making his sovereignty good once for all, though mountains are cast into the sea. The only theodicy is not a system, but a salvation; it is God’s own saving Act and final judgment, incarnate historically and personally. The Cross of Christ, eternal and universal, immutable and invincible, is the moral goal and principle of nations and affairs.

If it seem ridiculous to say that a riot and devilry of wickedness like war is still not out of the providence of Christ’s holy love, it is because we are victims of a prior unfaith. It is because we have come to think it a theological absurdity to say that the Cross of Christ outweighs for God in awful tragedy, historic moment, and eternal effect a whole world ranged in inhuman arms. We do not really believe that it is Christ, ‘crucified to the end of the world’ (as Pascal says), that pays the last cost of war. That God spared not His own Son is a greater shock to the natural conscience than the collapse of civilisation in blood would be.

Again, Forsyth has nailed it. We too, in our day, have come to think it a theological absurdity to say that the Cross of Christ outweighs for God in awful tragedy, historic moment, and eternal effect a whole world ranged in inhuman arms. Theologians, preachers and churches – we have all too often failed to declare the whole counsel of God in this matter. We have been slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.

For civilisation may deserve to collapse, if only because it crucified the Son of God, and crucifies Him afresh. But if God spared not His own Son, He will spare no historic convulsion needful for His kingdom. And if the unspared Son neither complained nor challenged, but praised and hallowed the Father’s name, we may worship and bow the head.[10]

Hallowing the Father’s Name [Matthew 6:9]

We may worship and bow the head, before our Father, who has so spent everything – to redeem his renegade people. All this glorifies the Son, and he in turn, the Father. No length is spared. Creation rejoices.

‘Behold – see what love the Father has given us…’ (1John 3:1)

That we – the rebels – should be judged, healed, forgiven, sanctified, brought home, and called sons and daughters of the Father!

This suffering achieved the Father and the Son’s shared purpose for the world – together with all the Spirit’s help:

On the third day He rose with a new creation in His hand, and a regenerate world, and all things working together for good to love and the holy purpose in love. And what He did I did. How I did it? How I do it? This you know not how, and could not, but you shall know hereafter. There are things the Father must keep in His own hand. Be still and know that I am God, whose mercy is as His majesty, and His omnipotence is chiefly in forgiving, and redeeming, and settling all souls in worship in the temple of a new heaven and earth full of holiness. In that day the anguish will be forgotten for joy that a New Humanity is born into the world[11]

[1] Robert McAfee Brown, P. T. Forsyth: Prophet For Today, Westminster Press, 1952, p. 82-83

[2] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, NCPI, p. 169

[3] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, p. 164

[4] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, p. 164

[5] Ibid.

[6] Geoffrey C. Bingham, Christ’s Cross Over Man’s Abyss, NCPI p. 68

[7] Ibid, p. 70

[8] Leon Morris, The Cross in the New Testament, Eerdmans, 1965, p. 45

[9] R. W. Dale, The Atonement, 1902, p. xli

[10] I believe it was David Brainerd, 1718-1747 who was able to praise and hallow the Father’s name even as his own family members were murdered, as he was dragged in a tortuous manner across a prairie, for his testimony to Jesus; all in the service of bringing the gospel to the North American Indians in Delaware.

[11] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, p. 164­­–165





Pateriology: Study 1

15 10 2008

STUDY 1

I had very good parents! However, I recognise that many, many people have not had this privilege. 

At the core of the universe

C.S. Lewis says: ‘We have learned from Freud and others about the distortions in character and errors in thought which result from a man’s early conflicts with his father. Far the most important thing we can know about George MacDonald is that his whole life illustrates the opposite process. An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all his wisdom. From his own father, he said, he first learned that Fatherhood must be at the core of the universe. He was thus prepared in an unusual way to teach that religion in which the relation of the Father and the Son is of all relations the most central’.

Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as in fact there are many gods and many lords– yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1Corinthians 8:5-6).

…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him (John 4:23)

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord (Apostles Creed).

We sing the hymn: “O Come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, and give him the glory, great things he has done “(Fanny Crosby).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).

We can never arrive at a love for the Father, merely by reasoning. It takes our Elder Brother, to touch our hearts concerning the Father.

Our Lord Jesus, himself said: I love the Father (John 14:31). Do we? If so, do we say this, think this, study this way, minister this way? Is this reflected in our biblical, theological and pastoral studies?

 

A Strange Thing

Bible Colleges across the globe offer Christology, Pneumatology (even Trinitarian Theology), but not ‘Paterology’.

Googleit, and you get over 1,000,000 million articles on Christology; over 175,000 on Pneumatology, but a mere 17,000 on Paterology (the preferred word to ‘Pateriology’).

Observations from a Pentecostal Leader

In 1980, Thomas A. Smail wrote: ‘The Forgotten Father’. He said then:

The Father is in fact ‘forgotten’ today in pretty much the same way in which the Spirit was ‘forgotten’ twenty years ago. To ‘remember’ him is not so much to turn our intellectual interest in a new direction, but is much more like the remembering of the Lord’s Supper, where we are summoned to an opening of our hearts, a reorientation of our faith, a personal and corporate restoration of our relationship, so that we realise anew with praise and wonder that in Christ we have, not only forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit, but above all access to the Father.

Observations in Christian Libraries

Donald G. Bloesch: God the Almighty, in ‘Christian Foundations’ makes mention of God as Father, a mere 8 times – in 329 pages.

Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 12 major sections include, The Person of Christ, The Work of Christ, The Holy Spirit, (subsections of The Person and The Work of the Holy Spirit).  There is no place allotted to a study of, the Person and Work of the Father. Only a few quite useful, but brief mentions are made.

Bilquis Sheikh, former Muslim entitled her testimony: I Dared to Call him Father’. For Allah does not have a Son. Hear her witness to us!

Some Relevant Questions

Does the Father really come near to humanity? Do people have an experience of the Father?  If so, where, when and how? Who is the Father? And what does the Father actually do?  Is his work primarily hidden? If so, is it unavailable as a topic of study?  Is this Divine Person somewhat removed from us, as human beings, and so attracting of little attention from Christians?  Then again, is the person and work of the Holy Spirit any more visible or measurable, or knowable, than that of the Father? Is the current lack of discussion of the Father, a modern day by-product of feminist theology?  Or has feminist theology in part proceeded apace, and resonated with many, because, in part, there is a vacuum of a rich and adequate Pateriology, (or Paterology)?  Does the church in some way fail to proclaim … one third of the gospel? Can we proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) without giving due attention to the person and work of the Father?

Abba! Father! The Deepest Cry of the Human Heart

It is my growing conviction that the Scriptures are teaching us what the Lord Jesus Christ himself knew, with wonderful intimacy, namely that God is Father, that God is our Father, and that God is my Father and your Father (John 20:17). And that this knowledge is not a mere notion, or concept, or metaphor, or idea, or theological formulation, or even merely the correct Trinitarian grammar when speaking of God; rather, to know God as Father, is a very deep, very tender, very true cry.  It is a direct cry calling upon our Father.

Serenity and Profound Love

Not only is it a unified corporate invocation of true sons and daughters, calling upon the One who loves us through Christ Jesus, calling upon Our Father in prayer; it is also a very gentle cry of joy and serenity and profound love:

… God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba!* Father!’ (Galatians 4:6)

This new cry, is indeed that of Jesus himself, who spoke to the Father, in times of rejoicing (Luke 10:21-22) and of great suffering (Luke 22:42) often using the tender words ‘Abba, Father’ (Mark 14:36), the best English translation meaning ‘Dear Father’.

Invoking the Father – Not a Shot in the Dark!

In a volume published posthumously, entitled The Christian Life, Karl Barth gives to us a seriously good essay on  ‘The Children and their Father’ (p. 49-109). He says,

When God’s children invoke him as Father, this is in no sense a venture, a mere gesture, a shot in the dark, an experiment, or a gamble. They do this as those who have a part in the history in which God is their partner and they are his partners, in which they are liberated for this action and summoned to it, in which there is also given to them the promise of his corresponding action and therefore of his hearing. The dealings he has opened up with them and into which they enter when they call upon him as their Father can take no other course than to show the he for his part, in both word and deed, is in fact their Father.

Of this essay, by Karl Barth, Geoffrey Bingham – who has written numerous titles exploring the vast matter of God as Father – says:

The gentle, simple words of this famous theologian brought tears to my eyes. Having read much of his Church Dogmatics I thought, ‘He has kept the good wine until last!’ In this sixty-page treatment he shares what the Father means to him, and it is deeply moving. From the simple peasant then, to the erudite theologian, the human heart witnesses to restlessness until it finds the Father.

To Study the Person and Work of the Father

Many things the Father does, uniquely. He sends his Son (John 5:37-38); Scripture shows the Father, from before Creation, in Creation and Redemption, through to the new Home! Hear them: Jesus – in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18); Jesus prays: As you Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us (John 17:21). To know the Father and Jesus Christ, whom the Father has sent, is eternal life (John 17:3). The Father loves us too, and shows us, all he is doing (John 5:12); The Father raises the dead and gives life (John 5:21).

Q. Next time: Is there a grain of truth in the heresy Patripassionism?


C. S. Lewis, in George MacDonald, Phantastes and Lilith, (Eerdmans, 1975)

The Forgotten Father (Paternoster Press, 1980, 1996), p. 22

Donald G. Bloesch, God the Almighty, (Paternoster Press, 1995).

Other volumes in the series include: Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit.

Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, (Baker Book House 1988).

C. F. D. Moule, The Holy Spirit, (Mowbrays 1978), p. 29

Karl Barth, The Christian Life, Church Dogmatics, IV, 4, (Eerdmans, 1981) Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromily, p. 104

New Creation Teaching Ministries http://www.newcreation.org.au/

Geoffrey C. Bingham, Oh, Father! Our Father! (NCPI, 1985), p. viii








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