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.
Copyright © 2001 StayCatholic.com
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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
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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.
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