Does it matter what name we use for God? In the book Speaking the Christian God: The Holy Trinity and the Challenge of Feminism (Eerdmans), Alvin F. Kimel talks about the name God has given Himself in the pages of Scripture and why it is important:

“Within Christian usage Father is not just one of many metaphors imported by fallen sinners onto the screen of eternity. It is a filial, denominating title of address revealed in the person of the eternal Son. ‘On the lips of Jesus,’ Wolfhart Pannenberg states, ‘Father became a proper name for God. It thus ceased to be simply one designation among others. It embraces every feature in the understanding of God which comes to light in the message of Jesus. It names the divine Other in terms of whom Jesus saw Himself and to whom he referred His disciples and hearers.’

“Jesus names the Holy God of Israel Abba, Father, thereby expressing, and indeed effectuating, the intimate inner communion between them, a unique relationship of knowing and love. ‘No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son’ (Matt. 11:27). By this historical address, God is acknowledged as the hope, joy, ultimate source and final authority in our Lord’s life; by this address, He is constituted as the Father. The dominical naming occurs within the being of the Godhead. It is an event of the divine biography, an eternal act of self-differentiation occurring in time.

“When uttered by the incarnate Word, Father (defined exclusively by Christ Himself in the totality of His filial existence) is a created, performative word of eschatological power—analogous, on a different level, to God’s speaking forth the universe in Genesis 1—which eternally calls into being the One who loves His Son beyond all imaginings, beyond all conditions and limits. The Father receives from Jesus, through the power of the Spirit, His hypostatic identity as Father.”

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