The Forgotten Father?

Thomas’ Smail’s provocatively titled book, The Forgotten Father, claims that both the Jesus movement and the charismatic movement eclipse a theology of God the Father, thus, he is forgotten. T.F. Torrance believes Smail is correct and seeks to correct this forgetting by offering deep reflection on God the Father. As helpful as Torrance is, his historicized metaphysic leads him to equate the Father made known in Christ and the Father in and of himself. God is Father for us eternally. In Torrance, then, there is a conflation of ontology and economy that risks conflating the Father and the Son.

While the resurgence of classical theism has not forgotten God the Father, a theology of the Father’s paternity remains needed within the tradition. To that end, this essay will present Torrance’s theology of God the Father and then turn back to Thomas Aquinas and ask if his more metaphysically driven theology better aligns with Holy Scripture and Trinitarian dogma. This work of retrieval will lead to a final section in which a constructive account of God the Father is given. The conclusion will be that a metaphysically robust account of God’s paternity honors Scripture and avoids the conflation at work in Torrance. The result will show that our Trinitarian doctrine is only as good as our theology of God the Father and that he, indeed, most not be forgotten.