“Abba” Is Not “Daddy” (Part 2)

Last week I quoted Philip Ryken’s helpful explanation of why the NT term “abba” should not be translated “papa” or “daddy” (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).  We received many comments and questions about that post.  From a different angle, but with the same conclusion, listen to what Eugene Peterson has to say about this.  Perhaps Peterson’s words will shed more light on the discussion in a helpful way – a way that has to do with the history of interpreting Matthew 6:9, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6.

“…The German scholar Joachim Jeremias…tried to provide a fresh appreciation of the childlike spontaneity conveyed by ‘Abba.’  Jeremias tried to make a case for ‘Abba’ meaning something on the order of “Daddy.”  His suggestion was welcomed with enthusiasm by many.  The cozy informality of the term found itself used in sermons and teachings everywhere.  It was made to order – and under such auspicious scholarly authority, the eminent Jeremias! – for a culture that was uneasy with authority, was anti-hierarchical, and wanted to be on a first-name, even nickname basis with everyone.  And now God.”

“Then the Oxford scholar James Barr threw cold water on what he discerned was nothing more than sentimentalizing coziness.  He convincingly demonstrated that Jeremias was embarrassingly mistaken.  But by then it was too late.  The horse was out of the barn.  The mistake, coziness displacing holiness, keeps showing up in both scholarly and popular writing.”

“There is, to be sure, a childlike intimacy and delight in the use of “Abba.”  But the word also continues to carry an element of awe and respect and reverence.  I don’t cease to be a child in the presence of my father.  Otherness is not diminished by affection.  Intimacy does not preclude reverence.  True intimacy does not eliminate a sacred awe: otherness, Otherness.”

“The ‘Daddy’ fad that is still sweeping through our churches is a case of premature intimacy.  We don’t begin by getting cozy with God.  We begin with solemn reverence: Holy.”

“In the first petition [of the Lord’s Prayer], Jesus leads off with a verb that gets us started off on the right foot and places us in a posture of reverent respect, standing in awe – an affectionate awe to be sure, but still awe.  ‘Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground’ (Ex. 3:5).  The first petition protects the third commandment: ‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain’ (Ex. 20:7 NASV).  ‘You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God’ (NRSV).”

Eugene Peterson, Tell It Slant, p. 172-3. 

shane lems

sunnyside wa


Salvation: All of God, All of Grace

  This is a great section from a great book:

“The doctrines of grace [a.k.a. TULIP] stand or fall together, and together they point to one central truth: salvation is all of grace because it is all of God; and because it is all of God, it is all for his glory.”

“To fully appreciate the glory of God in the doctrines of grace, it helps to recognize the role of each person of the Trinity in the Five Points of Calvinism.  Election is the choice of God the Father.  The atonement is the sacrifice of God the Son.  The grace that draws us to Christ and enables us to persevere to the very end is the work of God the Holy Spirit.  Thus salvation is all God’s work from beginning to end – the coordinated work of the triune God – as it must be, if we are to be saved.”

“Consider: if we are actually dead in ours sins (radical depravity), then only God could choose us in Christ (unconditional election), only Christ could atone for our sins (particular redemption), and only the Spirit could draw us to Christ (efficacious grace) and preserve us in him (persevering grace).  Therefore, all praise and glory belong to God alone: ‘For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever!’ (Rom. 11:36).

James M. Boice and Phillip Graham Ryken, The Doctrines of Grace (Wheaton: Crossway 2009), pages 32-33.

shane lems

sunnyside, wa

Reforming Worship: According to the Word

This is a great book.  I’m sorry I put off reading it for a few years!  Phil Ryken, Derek Thomas, and Ligon Duncan edited Give Praise to God together as a festschrift for J. M. Boice, as sort of a tribute to Boice’s emphasis on worship according to the Word.  The structure of the book is 4-fold:  1) The Bible and Worship, 2) Elements of Biblical Worship, 3) Preparing for Biblical Worship, and 4) Worship, History, and Culture.

I especially liked Duncan’s first two chapters, which is basically a two part essay on the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW).  Here’s Duncan: “True Christian worship is by the book.  It is according to Scripture.  The Bible alone ultimately directs the form and content of Christian worship” (p. 20).

He goes on.  “The key benefit of the regulative principle is that it helps to assure that God – not man – is the supreme authority for how corporate worship is to be conducted, by assuring that the Bible, God’s own special revelation (and not our opinions, tastes, likes, and theories), is the prime factor in our conduct of and approach to corporate worship” (p. 24).  Duncan explains the RPW from the OT and NT in the last part of this (his first) essay.

He also has a penetrating discussion of idolatry and the RPW.  You’ll have to read the full essay, especially the golden calf section (cf. Ex 32), but here’s where he goes:  “…there are two ways to commit idolatry: worship something other than the true God or worship the true God in the wrong way.

I’ll stop here, and post more about this essay (and Duncan’s other one), as well as a few parts of the fine essays by Ryken and Thomas as well as Terry Johnson.  I may not blog on it for awhile, but to increase your curiosity, Robert Godfrey has a great article on worship and the emotions, Nick Needham has a good one on the church’s worship through the ages, and Mike Horton closes the book with a great discussion of modernism and postmoderism (“Challenges and Opportunities for Ministry Today”).

You’ll want this book if you need more “training” on the whats and hows of worship according to the Word.  Also, for our RR friends not in the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition, I’m pretty confident it would wrestle you around as you consider what God-honoring worship is all about.  Enjoy!

shane lems

sunnyside wa