Scripture vs. the Catholic Church: Call No Man Father

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:


Matthew 23:8-12

“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 22:1Brothers 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.

13 Responses

  1. Two types of father:
    1) Father as in “Dad” = ok
    2) Father as in “God the father” = not ok
    Which do you use to call your priests?

    • @ Mark: You’ve got it all so mixed up …

      According to Matt 23:9 (as in text proofing):
      1) Father as in “Dad” = not ok
      2) Father as in “God the father” = ok

      Let’s do it again, now according to the bible …
      1) Father as in “Dad” = ok (like in the 4th Commandment)
      2) Father as in “God the father” = ok (like in Matt 23:9)
      3) Priest as in “Spiritual father” = ok (like in 1 Cor. 4:14–15)

    • When we call our priests “Father” it is as a spiritual father not as a god or anything like that.

      Here is the Scripture from which the Church Imitates St. Paul just as he asked us to do.

      1 Corinthians 4:14-16 14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 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. 16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.

      • You are using a catholic bible, The text should read… 14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

        15 For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

        A priest called father is a “spiritual father”. Catholics adopted this from paganism. Catholicism is a mixture of biblical principles and sun worship traditions. They fought to destroy the true church in the middle ages by burning Christians and received text bibles. The Douay-Rheims is a corrupted text from the Alexandria line of bibles. The pope wears a fish miter indicating he is the high priest of the ancient pagan religions. Catholics in Rome are encouraged to bow to idols, pray to the dead saints, believe in transubstantiation, say repetitive prayers, worship Mary, and believe in purgatory; all of which are pagan, not biblical teachings. The above “father” issue is small compared to the latter teachings I have mentioned.

      • But no where in the Bible did anyone call Paul “Father”…they called him Paul……

        • True, as far as we know in Scripture but the practice of referring to spiritual forebears as father was well established in the Jewish Faith and not surprisingly carried right over into Christianity. However, Jesus did refer to FATHER Abraham. So, however you want to interpret, MT 23, it just is not historical or logical to think it was an absolute prohibition of referring to spiritual leaders as FATHER.

          Here are some references for your perusal–> Father Abraham

  2. Dear revelation:
    You are incorrect. I looked up the passage in my old Protestant interlinear and Vine’s Expository Dictionary. The word in v 14 is not
    adelphos (son) it is tekna (children). Calling our priest Father is not pagan in origin, it is scriptural in imitation of St. Paul who gave birth to spiritual children in Christ through the gospel.

    Just because some pagans did things similar to what is in our faith or the Protestant faith does not therefore make them pagan. That is a very judgmental and uncharitable method of analysis.

  3. When he referred to Father Abraham, it was in a physical sense, since israel is descended from him. It is very clear that God does not want any man to be exalted above his station , Spiritually.. Therefore, follow the most humble servants of God, who have read the Word of God and live by it. The humble shall inherit the earth. Do Not be misled , God is not one to be mocked..

    • So what did Jesus mean and who was he refering to when he said, do not call anyone on earth father?

    • That is the problem. The Catholics revere priests and the Pope….The Pope is called the Vicar, in place of Christ….No one is in place of Christ…..

      • Dear Rose,

        We honor our priests, most of the time, but you would be surprised at the way some people treat them. They only wish they were actually treated civilly all the time. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ and he in no way takes the place of Christ. Protestants are the only ones who believe this myth. However, we see in

        Mt 16: 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Rock and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death[d] shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

        that Jesus appointed Peter to lead the Church that He would build. All the popes are merely the earthly servant of the servants of Christ. Jesus is the head and we are the body.

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