BFHU: “And I can assure you NOTHING that the Church believes contradicts one thing in Sacred Scripture.” However, the teachings of the Catholic Church DO CONTRADICT Protestant interpretation of Scripture.
Constantine: Really? OK. Let’s compare Scripture to what the Catholic Church teaches.
“And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.” Matthew 23:9
400,000 “fathers” and one “holy father”, all to be addressed as “Father”.
BFHU:The Protestant use of the above passage in Matthew is taken out of the context of the whole NT. But first let us look at the context of just this verse in the Chapter 23 of Matthew to reveal a double standard of interpretation:
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.[a] 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted
From this we see that if we were to take these words literally no Christian should ever call anyone ON EARTH Rabbi, Father, or teacher. Now of course Rabbi is not used at all among Christians but not because of this verse in Matthew but because it is reserved for use of Jewish teachers. However, no one in all of Christendom seems to have any problem with calling a teacher a teacher or their dad Father. Why is this OK but calling a Catholic priest “father” is NOT OK? Protestants will explain that only religious leaders are not to be called Father. But this rationale contradicts scripture as we shall see.
Jesus is emphasizing in context that all legitimate authority and truth reside in God alone. And we must not let ourselves replace the authority of God with mere human authority. He could not possibly be prohibiting the use of the words father and teacher, as we shall see.
Jesus Himself referred to FATHER Abraham. Did Jesus break his own rule?
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
Luke 16:24 & 30 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire….’No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Also, in his speech to the Sanhedrin, Stephen addresses the Jewish religious leaders as fathers. Did Stephen break Jesus’ rule too?
Acts 7:1-2 Then the high priest asked him, “Are these charges true?”2To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me!
St. Paul also addresses the Jewish religious leaders as fathers.Did St. Paul also break Jesus’ rule?
Acts 22:1“Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
St. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians reminds them that they only have one father in Christ, himself. And he claims them as his spiritual children.
1 Corinthians 4:14-15 I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
St. Paul continues this father/child relationship in the following epistles. He identifies himself as their spiritual father either directly as in I Thess. or indirectly by calling Timothy and Titus his “true son in faith”.
1 Thessalonians 2:11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,
1 Timothy 1:2 To Timothy my true son in the faith(that makes Paul a father in the faithe): Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Titus 1:4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
St.Paul fathered those he brought to life through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And he had no problem with appropriating this title to himself.