Monday, March 31, 2008

Call No Man “Father”? « Home2Rome: Exploring the Catholic Church

Vatican says - The Vatican repeatedly calls their pope "Holy Father."

God says - And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Matthew 23:9

This was Candy's entire case on this point. Frankly, if I were a Protestant apologist I would NEVER use this argument as it is so EASILY refuted. Rather than re-invent the wheel, may I direct the reader to these well written and wonderful articles that easily dispel the notion that on using the term "Father" the Vatican is against God!

Call No Man “Father”? « Home2Rome: Exploring the Catholic Church

Kiwi Catholic

This is a good example of rejecting a perfectly biblical Catholic practice by taking Scripture out of context. Jesus was simply using his customary hyperbole to emphasise the fact that no man is to take the place of God in our lives. The exaggeration is reminiscent of his exhortation to cut your hand off if it causes you to sin (Matt 5:29-30), or his saying that mountains can be moved with just a little faith (Matt 17:20) or his statement that one must hate one's father and mother to be his disciple (Luke 14:26).

Call no Man "Father" Catholic Answers
Father Richard Bellew
But is Christ's saying to be taken at face value? If so, several other passages in the Bible are immediately in conflict, including some statements by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. To the church at Corinth he wrote, "For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel".2 Does not Paul claim to be the spiritual father of the Corinthians--"Father Paul", if you please? Furthermore, he boldly refers to his spiritual ancestry as "our fathers".3 And he did address earthly fathers in Colosse in this way: "Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged".4 It would appear the Apostle Paul certainly did not interpret the Lord Jesus Christ's words to mean only One was to be called "father", that is, the heavenly Father. In addition to this, when the rich man saw Abraham in heaven with Lazarus in his bosom, and addressed him as "Father Abraham", Abraham's response was not, "Do you not realize that only God the Father is to be called `father?" Rather, he replied, "Son, remember..".5 Instances like the above could be multiplied from Scripture to show that a great many people are acknowledged to be "fathers".

Father Mitch Pacwa -This Rock Magazine.

AN EXAMINATION of the New Testament shows "father" is a title applied to God, to the ancestors of Israel, to fathers of families, to Jewish leaders, to Christian leaders, and even to the Devil (the Father of Lies). Every New Testament book except 3 John uses the word "father" at least once.

As the table illustrates, the New Testament usually (63% of the time) uses "father" as a reference to God the Father. Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, and 1 John account for 189 out of 252 occurrences with this meaning. The second most common use refers to human fathers, both from Israel's past and contemporary parents.

(Certainly Christians agree that Jesus' prohibition against calling anyone "father" does not preclude the honor due to natural parents, living or dead, even though that could be taken as the literal meaning of his command, though not even the most literalistic Fundamentalist takes it that way.)

Those Christians who are troubled by the title "father" being given to Catholic priests say it is an honorific that belongs only to human parents or to God, not to religious leaders. This objection can be answered from the Bible: We have six New Testament books which show us that Jewish or Christian leaders may be addressed by this title.

Nearly half the uses of "father" in the Acts of the Apostles appear in Stephen's speech in chapter 7 (17 out of 36 uses). He refers to the ancestors as fathers, both individually and collectively (16 times), and once he addresses his audience as "brothers and fathers." Paul addressed a crowd of angry Jews in the Temple as "brothers and fathers" (Acts 22:1). These are places in which "father" is given to Jewish religious leaders. The title is also given to Christian religious leaders.

THE FIRST New Testament book ever written, 1 Thessalonians, refers to Paul "as a father exhorting his own children" (1 Thess. 2:11). By this usage Paul places himself in the role of a spiritual father. In fact, he insists on being called the spiritual father of the Corinthians when he says, "You have in Christ ten thousand teachers, but not many fathers, because in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through announcing the gospel. Therefore I exhort you to become imitators of me" (1 Cor. 4:15).

Preaching the good news constituted Paul's fatherly begetting of children, making him their spiritual father. He requests they imitate him, not only in good behavior but in bringing others to spiritual rebirth.

In 1 John a group of Christian men are addressed as fathers: "I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning" (1 John 2:13-14). By themselves these verses give us warrant to address Church leaders as "father."

WE HAVE, then, a clear authorization from Scripture to call our parents and religious leaders father or mother. It is true Christ gives us an admonition not to let any human being become as important as God the Father or Christ our teacher and rabbi, yet neither should we deny that certain people in the Christian community are our spiritual parents.

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Kelly said...

Great job on your article!

I liked the audio portion of the video, but they could have done a bit more with the video. At least put a few more priest pictures up, ya know?

Blondie said...

I just love John Martignoni (the speaker on the video). He explains things so clearly. For anyone visiting here who may be interested, he has free mp3 downloads on almost any topic on Catholicism that you could think of here:
They are all FREE.

Tracy said...

Excellent job Elena!!!

Anonymous said...

I would take the passage she quoted to mean that you shouldn't be considering any man (except Jesus of course) to be God rather than that one should not use the word "father" to address anyone.

Anonymous said...

I always wondered how people would apply the call no man father thing to us dads? I mean if the fundies want to take everything so literal then they need to punish their kids for calling their dads father....

That said I am not comfy with calling ministers father..I am not sure "preacher" is right either though...

Kelly said...

I think that this passage is often misunderstood because we have lost so much of the 1st century context.

Jews had no tradition of calling God "father." That began with Jesus, through him teaching us to pray "Our Father, who art in heaven" and through this passage.

The radicalness of this passage isn't that Jesus is saying "call no man father" but that He is saying that we ought to be viewing God as our father.

What saved sinner has pointed out is another nuance of the passage. At that time, the pharisees had added so much to the law the law that healing a man on the Sabbath was not seen as a work of mercy, but as an offense against God's Law. In this way, men who were teachers, or spiritual fathers, were putting themselves in the place of God, as they felt they had the power to add to the Law, or interpret it in God's place.

It is only now that we are divorced from the 1st century context that you can read over it and say "call no man father . . . that must be about Catholic priests!" (Or Orthodox, or Anglican.)