Robert Jenson, Canon and Creed
As has often been observed, while Israel — as notably documented at Isaiah 63:16 — and Judaism — with, for that matter, much of antiquity — could indeed think of God as a Father, individuals in Judaism did not claim his paternity in the first-person singular, or presume directly to address him as “my/our Father.” Even in the passage from Isaiah, “our Father” is an appellative and not the term of address. Notoriously, Jesus did both, and this point holds even if one wholly distrusts John’s Gospel as a provider of historical information. In giving the church the prayer he did, Jesus permitted and invited us to, if one may so speak, piggyback on his relation to the Father and attach our prayer to his address to his Father.
Thus we have the classic pattern of Christian prayer: for most occasions and purposes, Christians pray to the one Jesus called Father, with Jesus the Son, who has the intrinsic right to do this, and as we thus enter the relation between them, we pray in the Spirit, who is that relation of mutual love. When I am asked to explain the Trinity, I often ask, “Do you know how to pray the Lord’s Prayer?” If the answer is “Yes,” I then reply, “Then you do understand the Trinity.”
This is my commonplace book and sometime-journal.
I blog at SpiritualFriendship.org.
I'm on Twitter.
My book is here: Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.
Subscribe via RSS.