Since the advent of Scholasticism in the West, beginning with Augustine and reaching its highest in Thomas Aquinas, there have been attempts to define God by what we humans see in the “natural order”. This method says if we look around and find what is common to all fathers we can deduce what God’s fatherhood is like. This method, used by both the Roman and Protestant churches, I bound to produce error. How can a world fallen into imperfections and sin accurately portray, in any meaningful way, the perfect and righteous God? True we all have fathers and they all do certain things in common, but all of this is colored by the fallen world. This is why Christ says, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” God is the example to be imitated not us.
The correct model, the Orthodox model, is to look into Scripture, the Word of God which reveals Him to us, and see how God acts as a father and then say, “This is what human fathers should do.” Our examples abound in the Bible: the compassionate father of the prodigal son, Abraham in his sacrifice, Jacob and his wisdom. Yes, God in scripture is stern, but He is also fair; He is loving, but He commands respect. God demands that we strive toward Him not out of a misapplied ego, but because, in this case, “Father knows best.” We human fathers make mistakes, we correct too harshly, we dote too readily. Our fatherhood is affected by the world around us which seeks individuality instead of community. Fathers should sacrifice for their offspring and be heeded by their offspring because they have sacrificed. They should love their children and the children should obey the fathers because of that love. The rules and disciplines should be evident and not of whimsy. This is perfect fatherhood, the fatherhood of God: love without measure, expectation without limitation. This is the heavenly revelation not an earthly concept.