Skip to comments.Essays for Lent: Call No Man Father
Posted on 03/30/2012 8:43:28 PM PDT by Salvation
Call No Man Father
by Sebastian R. Fama
"Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Matthew 23:9-12).
This passage is often quoted in opposition to the practice of calling priests father. However, Jesus is dealing with a much different issue. He is pointing out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law. In verses 6 and 7 which immediately precede the rejection of the titles of honor, Jesus explains in what sense His rejection is meant: "And they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the Synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi." Here Jesus is commenting on their superiority complexes. They have effectively set God aside and put themselves in His place; thus the comments on being humbled and being exalted (see also verses 12-36).
Many times in the Gospels Jesus refers to our earthly fathers as well as our Heavenly Father. If the command to call no one on earth father were in the strict literal sense, He would not have done so. See Matthew 10:37, 15:4, 19:5, 19:19 and 19:29; also Luke 12:53 and 14:26. Similarly, we would not be commanded to "Honor your father and mother" (Exodus 20:12).
Jesus didn't object to titles, but to the way they were used. Paul calls himself the father of the Corinthians. "I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel" (1 Corinthians 4:14-15).
Father Mitch Pacwa points out that "There are 144 occasions in the New Testament when the title of father is used for someone other than God. It is applied to the patriarchs of Israel, the fathers of families, to Jewish leaders and to Christian leaders" (Call no Man Father, This Rock January 1991).
Bible Christians call their ministers "Pastor." Pastor means shepherd. In John 10:14-16 Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd." If we reason that we cannot call a priest Father because we "have one Father who is in heaven," then can we not also reason that we cannot call a minister Pastor because there is only "one Shepherd?"
God is Father and Jesus is Shepherd in the ultimate sense. Church leaders are shepherds and fathers in a lesser sense. Why else would Peter say in 1 Peter 5:2-4, "Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory." The term "Chief Shepherd" indicates that there are subordinate shepherds. One scripture verse clarifies another, and so it is with the different verses pertaining to the title of father.
When assuming these titles in the proper sense we share, in a subordinate way, in the priesthood of Jesus, working for the furtherance of God's kingdom. As practiced by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, however, it was a way of exalting self while pretending to serve God.
Isolating and grabbing hold of one scripture verse is risky. It can be misleading or even dangerous. Even an honest and well-intentioned Christian can subconsciously bend a verse to suit his or her own needs. It is vitally important to understand the Bible as God intended. St. Augustine once said, "Not what one scripture says, but what all of Scripture says." We can take it a step further and say, not what Scripture says but what Scripture means.
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Essays for Lent: The Assumption
Essays for Lent: The Immaculate Conception
Essays for Lent: Mary Ever-Virgin
Essays for Lent: Praying to Saints
Essays for Lent: Indulgences
Essays for Lent: Purgatory
Essays for Lent: Confession
Essays for Lent: The Eucharist
Essays for Lent: The Mass
Essays for Lent: Baptism
Essays for Lent: Justification
Essays for Lent: Tradition
Essays for Lent: Scripture Alone
Essays for Lent: The Canon of Scripture
Essays for Lent: Papal Infallibility
Essays for Lent: The Pope
Essays for Lent: The Church
Essays for Lent: The Bible
Essays for Lent: The Trinity
Essays for Lent: Creationism or Evolution?
Yeah, people keep thinking for themselves. It's a drag, innit?
As opposed to Catholics, who never personally chose Catholicism.
So they simply are not personally responsible for Catholicism's position on any issue.
“We can take it a step further and say, not what Scripture says but what Scripture means”.
Then let us honestly take that next step forward and admit that there was no office or title of priest in the Christian church.
There were overseers, the more general servants of the congregation and the much broader term, minister, all described functions, none were titles anymore than carpenter or fisherman was.
Christ alone was called a high priest but no one in the congregation was a priest/king and would not be while on earth.
That was explained above. Christ was talking to the Pharisees about seeking honors. I’ll take Christ’s words and interpretation.
This is about Christ’s teaching about seeking honors and places of respect at a table. He was talking to the Pharisees.
Did you read all of that in the article>
Uh...No it wasn’t and it appears no you won’t.
And apparently the author is engaged in the redefinition of words to justify a practice Christ forbade.
Read the entire section of scripture there. Christ WAS talking to the Pharisees.
Are you saying that I won’t take Christ’s words seriously? Are you trying to “mind=read”? That’s against the rules.
Matt. 23:1-12 was addressed to the “crowds and to his disciples” (NASB), only at vs. 13 does Jesus single out the Pharisees and scribes.
A footnote in the NASB on these verses (8-12) says, in part, “These verses, warning against the use of various titles, are addressed to the disciples alone.”
So it’s not my interpretation at all but rather the totality of what the Scriptures say. And that totality shows the author to be mistaken and that you are repeating his error.
Some of us Catholics prayed and thought our way into Catholicism.
Yeah, people keep thinking for themselves.
Paul says "some" are teachers. Two things follow: (1) Not all are teachers. (2)Some are students.
It is proper to students to let their thinking be guided by their teachers.
Talisker, meet c-y-c. Discuss thinking for yourself.
Well the old arguments and misunderstandings persist.
"Priest" of course, derives from πρεσβυτερος, but translates "ιερευς", and from this equivocation a lot of problems have arisen. Presbyters are mentioned in Paul. And IHS is THE priest, as Hebrews, which some of us read this time of year, makes abundantly clear.
I'm guessing that so far we are together. Where we part would be that we would say more or less, that the Church has a priestly function which is exercised first by the whole Church together. A clear example of this is found in part of our Good Friday service. We pray, at length, for the whole world, "applying", so to speak, the sacrifice of Christ to the world's need. Clergy and laity together intercede, in and through Christ's self-oblation.
And we further differ in that, as I see it, we take seriously the Pauline division of parts and functions within the body. So within the priestly function of the entire Church there are "members" who uniquely exercise the priestly function.
Chief among these is the "overseer," the επι-σκοπος. Simply because the episkopos can't be everywhere at once, bishops delegated some of their functions to presbyteroi, in particular their functions of preaching, teaching, and presiding at sacramental worship.
But the priesthood is first Christ's and therefore the Church's. So we would say a "priest" in the modern usage is a priest NOT instead of Christ but because of Christ and his priesthood and "in" Christ.
James himself suggests a limitation of sacramental function when he says, "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord...". So I sent a friend who has a concussion to an "elder" for anointing yesterday.
I happen to know this particular friar pretty well, and he would be the first to deny loudly that HE himself has any healing powers of his own. It's not about him. It's about the KIND of member of the body which he is.
I get that that is not your view. And I am not arguing so much as sketching the sort of thinking from which our view arises. And I'll further cop to some (many?) in the Catholic Church (including some priests) failing to keep in mind that priestly function is theirs only the way sunlight belongs to a window -- except that this sun is always shining.
As for "titles", I don't know what to say. I call the friar whose office is across the hall "Your Luminosity" and he calls me "Dog-boy." And then we laugh.
If it proper for a priest to titled “father” then it must first be shown that anyone in the Christian church of the NT was a priest. None are so termed. None had the title of “father” nor any other title.
No Reverend Peter or Elder Timothy or Deacon or Most Holy Father....
If it proper for a priest to titled father then it must first be shown that anyone in the Christian church of the NT was a priest.
Only if the process of development which is shown in the NT must have stopped when the last book of the NT was was written. I find nothing in the NT to say that it did.
Paul certainly spoke of a development of apostasy that was at work even in his day. When those who restrained it, like Paul himself, were gone this development could and did proceed rapidly. (2 Thess. 2). And as Jesus parable of the wheat and tares showed the apostate tares were to grow with the wheat til the harvest.
So, no, the process of development didn't stop.
|1||Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples,|
|2||"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat;|
|3||so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.|
|4||They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.|
|5||They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,|
|6||and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues,|
|7||and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men.|
|8||But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren.|
|9||And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.|
|10||Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ.|
|11||He who is greatest among you shall be your servant;|
|12||whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.|
|13||"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.|
|15||Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.|
|16||"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, `If any one swears by the temple, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.'|
|17||You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?|
|18||And you say, `If any one swears by the altar, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.'|
|19||You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?|
|20||So he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it;|
|21||and he who swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it;|
|22||and he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.|
|23||"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.|
|24||You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!|
|25||"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity.|
|26||You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.|
|27||"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.|
|28||So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.|
|29||"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,|
|30||saying, `If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'|
|31||Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.|
|32||Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.|
|33||You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?|
|34||Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town,|
|35||that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechari'ah the son of Barachi'ah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.|
|36||Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation.|
|37||"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!|
|38||Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate.|
|39||For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"|
(1) Is the NASB the same thing as the NAB?
(2) Is there a difference in your mind between quoting a text and quoting a note to the text? There is a difference in my mind.
Paul certainly spoke of a development of apostasy that was at work even in his day.
It seems to me that to make your point conclusively and based on the text alone you would need to find a quote that said any development (or "unfolding" if you prefer) whatsoever would be bad. Clearly some changes are bad. But that does not mean all changes are bad.
Don't we see development in the NT itself? Acts 6 tells of the development of deacons. In denominations which profess the Solas, do deacons tend to the needs of widows? Acts 15 and the events that led up tell of a major development, an unfolding of the meaning and extent of Christ's saving work. And it appears that Paul, an apostle, gives Timothy authority to somehow appoint or approve deacons and bishops.
It is at least possible to see in these things first the apostles unfolding the meaning of the gospel into the organization, the "doctrine, discipline, and worship" of the church, and, in the case of Timothy what looks like the handing on of apostolic authority to agents.
So if we want to avoid petitio principii, it seems to me we have to at least be open to the idea that the process of development which appears in Acts and in some letters might possibly continue in some good ways as the Church responds to changing circumstances.
Consequently, if the above is granted, some thing's being a change does not logically imply that it is a change for the worse.
you jest, right? I assume that you have read how many of us have come to, or come home to, the Church. Unlike jumping from one Protestant community to another, embracing the Church is not a decision thT is entered into lightly.
That we disagree is grievous. Let's try not to make it worse.
Isolating, grabbing hold, and misquoting it is even riskier and damning.
The title intentionally misleads. Matthew 23:9 says call no man on earth YOUR father. It also goes on to say call no man master or teacher, yet Scripture uses all of these terms frequently.
That highlights an ongoing problem with a lot of the non-Catholic bumper sticker eisegesis on these threads. It is easy to quote, or in this case misquote, a single verse, but to get the context you need read at least four preceding and four following verses for an honest portrayal and typically the entire chapter in the context of the entire Word for an honest discussion.
No exccuses given. Time for confession, right?
No excuses given. Time for confession, right?
Well, I think it is safe to say that Jesus was quite angry here. Can’t you just hear him?
It has a whole ‘nother meaning of call no man Father, doesn’t it?
Thanks for posting all of it.
Unfolding, development, evolving...I think we have the same definition in view.
All bad, all good? No, of course not. But by what standard do we accept as useful or at least neutral a change? I submit that as Jesus said, we follow the pattern/model he set and that is described in the Scriptures.
Right now there are those who identify themselves as Catholics (no doubt you would say “misidentify”) calling for homosexual marriage and women priests as a progressive “unfolding” of Christian doctrine somehow.
But what is the pattern Christ set?
Even a long standing development is not made acceptable by long practice. Remember the wheat and weeds?
“Is there a difference in your mind between quoting a text and quoting a note to the text? There is a difference in my mind.”
Agreed, but the footnote of Catholic scholars whose work has the ‘nihil obstat’ would seem to agree more with my understanding than yours on titles and who Jesus addressed his comments to.
“Consequently, if the above is granted, some thing's being a change does not logically imply that it is a change for the worse.”
True, but what standard shall we use in deciding which change is acceptable?
I and countless other converts disagree.
LOL! That’s what Lent’s all about, right? We hold our sinful selves up to the healing light.
But evolution is turning out. IF the Darwinists are right,you got your grandma the lemur and she gets zapped with cosmic rays, and then Paw gets too close to something he should have stayed away from, and, blammo, a NEW thing evolves, the human you! (I don't care WHAT they say about you....)
So when I hear somebody talking about dogma "evolving" I slam on the brakes.
I wouldn't say the Obama-loving, baby-aborting, contracepting, women-ordaining (as IF), homosexual-act-approving Catholic aren't Catholics. They're just really bad Catholics, worse even than I! And they're the ones that talk about "evolving." Literally. I confronted someone who was preparing for confirmation because she was on Facebook supporting "gay marriage." Before I got far at all she went off in an eight-cylinder huff yapping about how she thought the Church was more "evolved."
Oh my yes I remember the wheat and weeds, Therefore I pray that I "wholesome grain and pure may be," and I tolerate a lot because I am waiting for the Lord of the harvest to give the command.
(Sorry to be so scatter-fire. I'm working down your post.) I read the notes in the NAB and consider them thoughtfully. I owe the bishops that much obedience and docility. But I don't take them (or too much of "the assured results of modern scientific criticism") as fixed truths.
True, but what standard shall we use in deciding which change is acceptable?
Well, I do want to catch my breath a little over reaching agreement that not all change is bad before I go trying to say how I evaluate stuff.
I think this is related to what "the fathers" mean to us. I see them making the rough cuts in doctrine, while later writers try to refine and organize and systematize. And it interests me that while some of what is written early on is very "technical," a lot is more poetic -- in the way that the writings of John are poetic, though not to the same mind-bogglingly lovely degree.
Oh darn, suddenly I'm tired. I'll think about this and try to say something coherent tomorrow PM. Thanks for sticking with the conversation.
Then how are we to evaluate their reasonings and conclusions? Were these men inspired with holy spirit as Peter was when he wrote? They don't claim so.
Were they free from error, somehow always led by holy spirit when they wrote? Acts 20:29,30, Paul warns that wolves would arise from those Christians and speak perverted things to draw disciples after themselves.
Just as he had warned the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 2:7) that the apostasy was already at work.
That a writer lived close to the time of the apostles or claimed to be a disciple of an apostle cannot be given mush weight. Even Judas could fit that description.
So just what do “the fathers” mean to us? and to what standard to measure their writing against?
**No Reverend Peter or Elder Timothy or Deacon or Most Holy Father....**
Paul spoke of elders and deacons, but I haven’t found any ‘cardinals’.
I don't think it's like that.
I spent a few happy days in January reading in Ephrem of Syria. When he was born, Xty was illegal. He lived through Constantine and Julian the Apostate. His city was for a while subject to Byzantium/Constantinople, then to Persia, then to Constantinople again. Yet he lived a long life and was a deacon.
He wrote hymns, poems really, but they were meant to be sung in worship.
I read him for the poetry of it, but what he reminded me of is that the Fathers read Scripture more in the way Peter, Paul, and even our Lord did than in the sort of almost mathematical or legalistic way that has come down to many of us. Just look at the "arguments" in Hebrews.
So the Fathers, to me, not only open Scripture but also demonstrate a way to read Scripture.
As to the reliability of the Fathers, Tertullian, who died a heretic, is a fine example of how the fathers can do err. My boy Ephrem is a major anti-Semite, as were many other early greats. I personally think his disapproval of philosophy foreshadowed his later Montanism, but his "apology" is still pretty good stuff.
I guess I agree with the Catholics that while revelation stopped with the last Apostle, the Holy Spirit's guidance of the Church did not. And even Peter could be both erratic and authoritative.
While I'm still not happy with the way I'm expressing this, I also think that the question of reliability and of a standard itself needs examining, though I scarcely know how to begin.
I'll be slow in responding this week.
Then what is it like? If the writings of the church fathers open the Scriptures and demonstrate a way of reading them then why would we not subject their writings to a careful scrutiny through the lens of the Scriptures? A process even the Bible writers were subjected to?
“While I'm still not happy with the way I'm expressing this, I also think that the question of reliability and of a standard itself needs examining, though I scarcely know how to begin.”
You're expressing yourself just fine. I only wonder if you mean to say that question of having a ruler or standard by which to measure what you are told or taught has not been more thoroughly examined.
CONSECRATION OF THE CHRISM 23. Then the bishop pours the balsam or perfume in the oil and mixes the chrism in silence, unless this was done beforehand.
INVITATION 24. After this he sings or says the invitation:
Let us pray that God our almighty Father will bless this oil so that all who are anointed with it may be inwardly transformed and come to share in eternal salvation.
25. Then the bishop may breathe over the opening of the vessel of chrism. With his hands extended, he sings or says one of the following consecratory prayers.
God our maker, source of all growth in holiness, accept the joyful thanks and praise we offer in the name of your Church.
In the beginning, at your command, the earth produced fruit-bearing trees. From the fruit of the olive tree you have provided us with oil for holy chrism.
The prophet David sang of the life and joy that the oil would bring us in the sacraments of your love.
After the avenging flood, the dove returning to Noah with an olive branch announced your gift of peace. This was a sign of a greater gift to come.
Now the waters of baptism wash away the sins of men, and by the anointing with olive oil you make us radiant with your joy.
At your command, Aaron was washed with water, and your servant Moses, his brother, anointed him priest. This too foreshadowed greater things to come.
After your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, asked John for baptism in the waters of Jordan, you sent the Spirit upon him in the form of a dove and by the witness of your own voice you declared him to be your only, well-beloved Son. In this you clearly fulfilled the prophecy of David, that Christ would be anointed with the oil of gladness beyond his fellow men.
All the celebrants extend their right hands toward the chrism, without saying anything, until the end of the prayer.
And so, Father, we ask you to bless this oil you have created. Fill it with the power of your Holy Spirit through Christ your Son. It is from him that chrism takes its name and with chrism you have anointed for yourself priests and kings, prophets and martyrs.
Make this chrism a sign of life and salvation for those who are to be born again in the waters of baptism. Wash away the evil they have inherited from sinful Adam, and when they are anointed with this holy oil make them temples of your glory, radiant with the goodness of life that has its source in you.
Through this sign of chrism grant them royal, priestly, and prophetic honor, and clothe them with incorruption. Let this be indeed the chrism of salvation for those who will be born again of water and the Holy Spirit. May they come to share eternal life in the glory of your kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Like the Pope and the Magestirium?
I know Pope Benedict is very humble. Have you read the book about him written by his brother?
Did you read the Peter Seewald interview of him in book form?
He is very humble.
“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.....” Acts 15:28
Coonciliar Magisterium in action.
I'm sure one who claims to be the Vicar of Christ is humble. ...very humble.
Acts 15:24 is more appropriate when referring to the conciliar magisterium in action. They're the one's that put trouble in the mind as being w/o authorization.