Carl F Henry, Church, community, Family, Father, God, individualism
The fact that divine paternity in the New Testament has individual believers in mind in a way not found in the Old Testament economy represents a remarkable spiritual advance. But it also constitutes a high risk, that of neglecting the parallel fact of God’s fatherhood of the family—not just the family of mankind on the ground of creation, but especially the family of believers on the ground of redemption. God’s interest in individuals is not at the expense of the entire community of believers, but for its good. The New Testament presents Jesus Christ the risen Lord as the head of the body of believers (1 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 4:15, 5:23; Col. 1:18); it declares also that the Father “gave him to be the head over all” (Eph. 1:22, kjv) and that “the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3, kjv). By God’s grace the regenerate brotherhood of the church is the new community, one that knows and communicates the only enduring hope of social order; this it does as an international, interracial and intercultural family. It remains for Christian churches, divided as they are by doctrinal and ecclesiastical disunity, to exhibit convincingly to the world just what adoption into the family of the redeemed truly means in terms of community concern. That many organized churches reflect little more than a Sunday morning regrouping of problem-ridden secular society is a great tragedy. But where churches proclaim new birth and new life in Christ, where they comprise a fellowship of love and peace and of moral power and joy and are concerned for personal and public integrity, there they will extend to the world a far better hope and way than that proffered by the status quo with its frustration-born revolutionary clamor for change.
Carl F. Henry
God, Revelation and Authority
Vol VI, The Fatherhood of God