Names and the Name – 12

God has a name – 11

We ought to honour, use and hallow God’s name precisely because it is the source and means of our life in Christ. Katherine Sonderegger has reminded us that we call God Father not because we and all our ancestors grew up in a patriarchal culture, nor because the Roman father was the model and local authority of the Empire, but because Jesus of Nazareth called upon Israel’s God by that name. Indeed, only the enfleshed revelation of God could disclose a new name for YHWH and justify such a shocking and revolutionary renaming of ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’.

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer contended that it is an act of Christian boldness to call God Father, because by that name we refer immediately and without fear to the very God that the Son knew. In that spiritual calling upon the Father’s name, as Sonderegger asserts, ‘we stand where Christ stood: as adopted heirs, as the beloved’. When we call upon the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit we embrace both an epistemological and metaphysical truth: We both name God truly, and we stand in that divine judgement, grace, and presence that Christ knew, obeyed, and suffered, for our sake. From in that place, we pray. From that place, we stand in the One who prays for us. From that place we know our place in the world, and in God. That is the promise and surety of grace.

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