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How disrespectful to call God “Papa”!!!

We received this comment recently:

“How disrespectful to call God papa….Jesus said in his prayer  Our Father Hallow Be THY Name….they called God Father…..Holy…to be respected, to be in reverance…not to be brought down to earthy man and called papa….it is wrong your book is wrong.  And Abba means Father, not papa as well.”

Is this commenter right?  Does “Papa” imply a relation too familiar, too intimate?  Is such intimacy unworthy of a dignified Deity who deserves more respect than that?


21 Responses

  1. What is “abba” but a similar primary word to “papa”? They are both a child’s protoword. It is one of those first words that infants can make because of the simplistic sounds that they can make. Papa, Dada, Mama, and (cringe!) Buhbuh, are some of the most intimate names for our family because they are those protowords. So Jesus and Paul use the term “abba” which is a infant protoword, which is MORE directly translatable to “papa” as it is to “daddy”. Daddy is less of a child’s protoword. Now Barr disputes this (c.f. Barr, James. Abba Isn’t “Daddy”. Journal of Theological Studies (1988) pp. 28-47.) But IMHO, he doesn’t debunk the protoword nature of “ab” and “abba”.

    • Good points, Steve! I hadn’t heard the word “protoword” before, but that makes loads of sense. When last we met, you were but the student. Now, YOU are the Master.

  2. I was always told Abba meant Daddy, the intimate name of a little child for his Father . Jesus was the first Jew to portray God as Father and not only that, but someone with whom we can have an intimate relationship , one of the most intimate earthly relationships you can have. I would say Papa portrays this perfectly and is entirely biblical

  3. Why do we ever think we can decide how another person’s relationship with God should look? If it bothers your conscience to call God a certain name, don’t do it. But that doesn’t mean someone else should follow your conscience. We were all given one individually for a reason. And if someone, in their heart, respects God and still calls him Papa, who is anyone to tell them that is wrong? God looks at the heart. So, it can bother you all day long. But what really matters is what God sees in a person’s heart. I understand the poll idea and I voted, but it is each person’s relationship with God that matters, not a poll that determines what the majority thinks.
    Also, according to dictionary.com, we do translate Abba as Father, but there is no perfect equivalent in English to this word. It is not used to define respect, but to show a ‘relation of personal intimacy’ and ‘warm affection.’

  4. For the record, laughterforsleep, ShackBible polls are legally binding. 🙂

  5. Yeah, I’ve had people say that “Papa,” as well as much of “The Shack” is disrespectful to God.
    Maybe it is to THEIR God; the god of religion that is abusive, controlling, mean-spirited and vengeful.
    It’s not at all disrespectful to the true Daddy with Whom we have a real and living relationship.

  6. Maybe thr is smthng here. It might be presmptus to call a stranger ,”Papa.” If I let God become a strangr, I may hv 2 get “real” about my situation 1st.

    • Excellent point, tgreen! The Bible says we were “alienated from God…enemies in your minds” (Colossians 1.21). This is why calling God “Papa” feels weird even to ME. What I’m suggesting is that this is precisely THE problem. Our minds are so twisted and darkened by sin, that we don’t even know our Daddy’s face anymore; He’s a stranger to us. But the gospel is that our Daddy knows US and has eternally rejected our estrangement from him. And the gospel calls us to repent (metanoia – “Re-think your thinking”), to turn our backs on this crazy idea that our we are capable of making our Daddy reject us.

  7. Would one of the “royal family” always call The King “Your Highness ” or would it be appropriate to cry “Daddy” once and a while?

    • Excellent point! Every relationship has several “modes” it works in. There are times when I am in awe of my wife, but other times I just feel close and comfortable. It would make sense to be like that with God too, and a variety of ‘titles’ would be natural. Thanks, Mary Dawn!

  8. I think it’s a beautiful way to refer to God our Father. I sometimes call out to him as “daddy” myself.

    • Using such intimate names for God is actually rather difficult for me. Writing the name “Papa” in my paraphrases is actually kind of therapy for me. I’m slowly but surely learning to repent of my false visions of God as a distant father.

  9. I lived without my earthly father and by that, I hungered for that ‘father figure’ ever since. I became His child not through any person who preach the gospel but He came to me Himself, it was like there was this voice inside me that just held me CAPTIVE and since then I am His. I committed myself.

    At first I know to call Him Lord, GOD… But then, I TRIED calling Him ‘DADDY’. I prayed and asked Him if it will offend Him, but He showed no sign of disgust. LOL. I even felt His presence better when I called Him DADDY. Then out of nowhere, as I was talking to Him (praying) I just felt this joy and happiness because of something, a personal thing between us that some would call COINCIDENCE but I call it God’s gifts.. (James 1:17)

    Then, I just exclaimed, “THANK YOU, PAPA!”
    Then I got used to saying PAPA than DADDY now.. And believe me.. My relationship with Him is on FIRE!

    If He wanted REVERENCE AND OBEDIENCE only, from us, Papa is too powerful. He could just say the word. But no. He wanted LOVE too. He wanted RELATIONSHIP. That is something religion cannot achieve.

    He gave us our FIRST LOVE JESUS, not because He just woke up one day and thought of it… He wanted us to know the DEPTH of His love.
    A GOD WHO DESIRES TO BE LOVED BY US! It’s insane, I know!

    He wanted us to TRUST Him and not fear Him. And trust is only achieved through security made by LOVE! Ever heard of PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT FEAR?

    Fear can motivate one to obey but not for long. It is very much incomplete.
    We now show our respect, trust and LOVE for Papa, by obeying HIS WILL. By trusting His will.

    We don’t do it to EARN Him, nor because we FEAR Him. Those are not of LOVE. God is love!

    We do it because WE LOVE HIM.

    “If ye love me, ye will obey my commandments.”

    We should also remember that Papa’s first gift to us is our FREE-WILL.
    He does not need us but rather He wants us.
    He loves us so much to let us GO.

    Hahaha. SO I kind of went out the topic! OOPS!

    But my point is that, what will you feel if you are the president of a country and your children comes to you, says they love you, but calls you, Mr/Mrs. President?

    Papa wants to embrace you right now and yet you hesitate because He is GOD!
    The more intimate you get with Papa, the easier it is to know and follow His will. Because in that closeness you will realize how amazing He is and His ways that YOU will freely abandon your will and take His.

    Also, calling Him Papa, just made my life millions of times LIGHTER and JOYFUL! His presence is addictive!

    Sorry if I make no sense… 🙂

    • Dear Celina, Thank you for your wonderful remarks. My experience is about to be the same as yours, as I now go about singing His name Papa and seing in my heart that He loves it! How is your experience about this now, some time later?
      By the way, for me the turningpoint was at “The Fatherheart-school A” a week in october.
      God bless you and use you to share your heartknowledge with many.
      Brotherly love, Knut

  10. Celina, you sound pretty dang sensible to me. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story! I love what you say about God desiring to be loved by us. It’s so shocking to me how vulnerable Papa makes himself to us. To desire love is to be vulnerable to rejection, to pain. The cross shows us how far he’s willing to take that vulnerability.

  11. I personally like “Momma God” when ministering to friends of mind who don’t have close relationship with the mother and they lacked the nurturing of a mother.
    Since God is the image of both male and female, he can be all things for us at the time that we need Him to be to minister to our hearts.

    I love calling Him “Daddy” or “Papa”, though Daddy is my preference.

    He is a relational God who desires the deepest of intimacy. There is nothing more intimate than saying, “Daddy, I’m hurting and I need You to comfort me.”

    The Shack was a GREAT book! It helped so many get out of the box they were long put in. That is why God gave him that revelation to share – because the author himself had issues within his own home life as a child (The Shack: Revisted). God chose to meet him where He was.

    He is so GOOD! Praise HIM!!!

    Grace, Mercy, and Peace,

  12. “Momma God” — I like that! Mindy, I hope you have a blessed day living outside the box. I looked at your blog and loved the post about the Japanese characters of your grandmother’s name being “The Sword over the Heart of Christ in a field.” How cool is that!!

  13. I loved that god was called papa.
    For me I felt he close and safer.

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