Where'd the Father Go?

I noticed something today that I’d never really noticed before. It was an obvious fact that had been staring me in the face for years, I’d just never made a concentrated effort to look before. You see, I thought it would be useful to see what a few systematic theologians had to say about God the Father. But where should I start? Off the top of my head I couldn’t think of a section on God the Father in any of the systematic theologies I’d read through, but I thought I’d check just in case. No. So then I moved on and worked systematically through all the systematic theologies on my bookshelf. 25 of them. And two huge books on the doctrine of God (both over 800 pages). And out of all those, 1 had five pages on God the Father (in an 8 volume work!), and a few had a paragraph or two. That was all I could find on the Father qua Father.

Now every single one of those had very large sections on the Godhead. All but one had a significant section on the Son (I say all but one, although Geisler does mention the Son, but he appallingly relegates Christology to an appendix and even then forgets the incarnation!). And most had significant sections on the Holy Spirit.

So what I’m seeing is this: Godhead and Son and Holy Spirit (and, oh yeah, there’s the Father as well). Which doesn’t sound all that much like a trinity. Now, don’t get me wrong – every single one of those books fully affirms the doctrine of the Trinity, and every single one has a section on the Trinity. But they virtually all work like this: large section on the one Godhead, rounded off with a chapter on the Trinity, large section on the Son, section on the Holy Spirit. So while the Trinity might be affirmed, it almost feels like there are four rather than three – the one Godhead, the Son, the Spirit and the (almost invisible Father).

Now, I know this is a common critique – that by starting with the One and moving to the Three it can almost make the one Godhead seem like a fourth member of the Trinity or like a mysterious God behind the Trinity (neither of which, of course, is intended) – but what I realised today is that the absence of the Father qua Father from so many systematic theologies plays right into that feeling.

The Son reveals the Father to us. That means we can know the Father. That means He wants us to know Him. So let’s not forget about the Father. And, as so many of the systematic theologies don’t seem to be much help at this point, here’s Mike Reeves speaking on the Father and His love to listen to instead. As Mike will remind you, the Father is truly lovely (and as you listen to Mike speak you’ll see that for yourself).