The apostle Paul tells TItus to rebuke and exhort with all authority (Tit. 2:15). In short, Titus is called to a fatherly role. There is the possibility of tyranny in the church, like what Diotrophes did (3 Jn. 9-11), and there is also the possibility of leaders getting walked on (1 Tim. 4:12). What is needed in the church today is a true fatherly voice. Many of our ecclesiastical troubles can be attributed to our rebellious anxieties over fathers, coupled with a desperate need for them.
I have a new book coming out this May entitled Father Hunger. I will be leaving for the Desiring God pastors’ conference shortly, where I will be addressing some of these same issues. Our elders at Christ Church have approved a series of sermons on fatherhood for this spring, and we are going to have an outreach campaign revolving around that basic issue. We must never forget that Jesus came to bring us to the Father, and this is why, incidentally, the recent dust-up over the soft modalism/modalism in transition/not-quite-sure-what-it-is-exactly of T.D. Jakes was not over a bunch of nothing. Those who raised the issue, and those who are pressing it now, are quite right. We need to be brought in repentance to the Father, and surely it should matter whether or not there is one to be brought to. It is a big deal.
In Father Hunger, I describe fatherlessness as the central malady of our time. It gets into everything. A thirty-second perusal of presidential politics should make that point in the civil realm.
And here the post might take what appears to be an odd turn, but I really don’t think so. One of the reasons that Nate’s fiction is selling so well in the secular market is that it consistently addresses this point so pointedly.
In the midst of a bunch or other adventures, Leepike Ridge is about a fatherless boy coming to a father. The 100 Cupboards trilogy — here, here, and here — tells the story of a boy who (technically) has a father, but not really, coming to find his real father. And of course that theme weaves throughout the other multiple adventures that are served up. But the restoration at the end is the restoration of fatherhood. And now, in the Ashtown series (a projected five volumes), the same thing is happening again.
The protagonists are fatherless children introduced to us in The Dragon’s Tooth. The second of the series — The Drowned Vault — is not released yet, but having read the manuscript, I am at liberty to tell you all that it is a hummer. And also that the father theme grows more pronounced, and in profound ways.
All of this is to say that one of the central ways we can speak to our generation is through our stories. Do you know any fatherless children? Do they have birthdays?
If you are convinced, as I am, that C.S. Lewis gave many tens of thousands their first taste of what Christ is really like through his Narnia stories, then this opportunity to speak of the Father through fathers to a rising and hurting generation is a prime opportunity. This is not a low-impact arena.