Pope Francis: Calling God, God Could Limit Prayer and Fellowship. Really?
Pope Francis, the 266th pope, bishop of Rome and head of the Vatican is a rare kind of pope. He is the first pope to come from the male religious order of the Catholic Church known as the society of Jesus-, which is from Latin, Societas lesu. These are some of the best of the Catholic Church priests worldwide. Their call is to evangelization and apostolic ministries. They are incredible in founding schools, colleges, universities and seminaries: Fulfilling Christ’s great commission to make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them.
Recently at the Vatican the pope engaged in a theological reconstruction by encouraging believers not to call God, God. There has been a historical progression that has withdrawn the personalization of God. This has been developing given the social and cultural changes in the world. The pope suggested that Calling God, God alienates the believer from a personal God.
There are three notable drivers within the realm of theological arguments on a personal God. The first one arises from cultural psychology that suggests that God cannot be personal. The process philosopher Charles Hartshorne argued that there is no evidence that God can be personal. He argued that natural historical evidence does not support a personal God. His theory emanated from his observation that a person always has sympathy, empathy and emotions about events. He concluded that because there is suffering in the world and God lets people suffer, He cannot be personal: If he was personal, he would act to eliminate suffering.
Psychologists and therapists bring about the other argument. This argument revolves around the biblical call by Jesus to call God our Father who is in heaven! Many have argued that calling God, father, is insensitive to those people who grew up in abusive homes where fathers abused both the mother and children. The argument is that these human events make the title father prone to disqualification. Therefore those who have gone through these events cannot appreciate the FATHER figure because it brings back bad memories and experiences.
The other argument is brought about by feminists and feminist theory which believes that women must be emancipated from male domination and the figure of a father is in fact historically oppressive to the women: Men as fathers have used this title to subjugate women at home and in society. In fact the whole madness about transgender, gay and lesbian is driven in part by the feminist theory, which seeks to eliminate gender category. They believe the elimination of gender distinctions liberate women! This argument ignores natural and scientific facts of the anatomy and physiology of humans.
What the pope was advocating is however consistent with the bible and therefore a welcome analysis. He said, “Calling God by the name ‘Father’ is not something that can be taken for granted. We are tempted to use the highest titles, which are respectful of his transcendence. But calling him ‘Father’ puts us in his confidence, like a child talking to his dad, knowing that he is loved and cared for by him.”
The pope was not using the word FATHER within the human context of that which is EVIL, he was using the title FATHER as a divine measure of a creator who intentionally created man and put all things for him, calling it GOOD. That is why He is a Good Father.
The pope continued to say, “The mystery of God, which has always fascinated us and made us feel small, doesn’t scare us anymore, it doesn’t pressure us or anguish us,” the pope said. “God is a Father in his own way: good, helpless before man’s free will, only able to conjugate the verb to love. God is a father who does not apply human justice and is ready to forgive and embrace his long-lost son.” In other words, God’s door is always open for all his children to come back home!
This is clearly an evangelical perspective, just like a southern Baptist sermon!
The call is then for all men who are fathers to emulate this GOOD father!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)
Diaspora messenger senior columnist