Friday, December 28, 2007

How is Jesus a Father?

Sam Storms has written a fine piece on Isaiah 9:6 which demonstrates Six Gifts God has given us in the Person of Jesus Christ. The whole thing is worth reading, but I was especially drawn to his analysis of the title "Everlasting Father." It seems lately that I have been confronted a lot with the ancient heresy of modalism (that God is not three distinct Persons but just one Person appearing in different forms at different times). Does Isaiah 9:6, clearly a prophecy about Jesus, suggest that the Son is the same Person as the Father? Storms explains:

Why this word to describe Jesus as "Eternal Father"? First, the term "father" is not used here in the Trinitarian sense, as if depicting relationships within the Godhead. The prophet is not saying that the Son is also the Father (a heresy denounced in the early church councils).

The word "Father" is a descriptive analogy pointing to Christ's character. What does a "father" do? What image is evoked by the word? I suggest he has in mind the tenderness and sensitivity of a compassionate and affectionate father. It is the security and love he provides, as well as protection and provision. Jesus, therefore, is fatherly, father-like, in his treatment of us. This is similar to what the psalmist had in mind when he said, "as a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him" (Ps. 103:13).
As Storms points out earlier in his article, the six titles given to Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 are not literal names that he has but are descriptions of his character and personality. Jesus is a father in the sense that he is compassionate and sensitive to us his followers, as an ideal father is to his children.

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