I’m doing a paper for my Contemporary Theology on Adolf von Harnack‘s view of the Fatherhood of God. A few semesters ago I wrote a paper on Calvin’s conception of God as Father. During my reading/research it became increasingly clear that God as Father was a fundamentally important idea for Calvin’s theology (though it has been largely overlooked). One of the comments I got on that paper was that it would be interesting to compare Calvin’s idea of the Fatherhood of God with that of liberal theology. Both place it as a fundamental emphasis, though with very different starting points and both meaning something very different when they say that “God is our Father.”
Nowhwere is the liberal idea of God as Father more clear than in the theology of Harnack. Alister McGrath says of Harnack’s theology: “The gospel is thus not a Christology as such, but a soteriology, concerned with the realization of the Fatherhood of God…. [it] “is ‘doctrine’ only to the extent that it proclaims the reality of God as Father” (The Making of Modern German Christology, 95).