Call No Man “Father”

images-5STEVE: The practice of calling your priest “father” is not Scriptural, no matter how you spin it.

(Mat 23:9) And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”

BREAD FROM HEAVEN: Please see my post–> Scripture vs. the Catholic Church: Call No Man Father

I always find it interesting that Protestants become indignant that we call our Priests “Father” supposedly in direct opposition to the very words of Jesus. Then they quote only part of the verse, just as you have quoted it, because the rest of the verse reveals that they are not truly zealous to obey the very words of Jesus but only use part of the verse as a stick to beat on the Catholic Church. Because Protestants use all of the titles, that Jesus, according to their interpretation, prohibits.

Mt.23:8 But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.

They call their fathers …”father”, their teachers “teacher”, and leaders “leader”. You have no objection to Jews calling their teacher Rabbi.

They try to give themselves permission to do this by asserting that Jesus was prohibiting spiritual fathers, teachers, leaders, Rabbis. And yet St. Paul clearly referred to himself as a father “in the Lord” to some of his spiritual children. So this argument falls apart. I also know for a fact, that many Protestants refer to their pastor as a teacher and/or leader. And many laymen are “Leaders” of this group or that in the church and therefore spiritual leaders.

Besides there is no qualifyier in the scripture about fathers, teachers, leaders, rabbis in the flesh or worldly sense vs spiritual etc. This is just an attempt to legitimize their use of these terms while still criticizing Catholicism. But it all falls apart when we look at all of scripture. They hate to give this one up b/c it is so effective to quote the verse to an unsuspecting Catholic that may fall for the deception.

14 Responses

  1. The term Father when used to address a priest is not just an assertion of his higher status within the community of believers but it is also a term of endearment, of intimacy and love as Paul uses it (1cor)(1thess)….Also the word Father is based on the priests role in our second birth: our birth in the Gospel and our Baptism.. Our biological Father certainly has an important role in our first birth-likewise- the priest through his ordination acts as a loving Father in our second birth of baptism “from above-of water and the spirit (jn3:3-5)…..Br. Richard

  2. It’s so ironic when Protestant at times name their minister ‘Doctor’ because the word ‘Doctor’ originated from the Latin word ‘Docere’ which means TO TEACH. O’ God have mercy on them for they call their ministers Teacher! When there’s only one Teacher.

  3. I am a father to my children, and they call me so and , of course, it´s no problem. And also Paul looked upon himself as a spiritual father of his converts. But he didn´t go around calling himself ” holy Father ” for that reason.What is addressed in this text is that no mere man or human should have a authorative position before others in an absolute manner when it comes to religion or belief. There should be teachers in the church( not many as Paul says ), this is clearly a function in the body. And also leaders/elders. And it is no problem to use the title bible teacher as a sign of a function. What is the meaning in the text, is that no one should be allowed to use such titles in an exalted or totalitarian manner. That is in fact what the pope is doing. He: a mere human is calling himself the Vicar of christ, pretending to have the ability to teach infallible doctrine and have absolute power and authority in questions on religion and belief. Therefore he violates not only the “Father part ” of the verse, but also “the leader and teacher part ” of it. But of course, this can be applied to every person, also protestant, who tries to exalt himself and suppress others and lead them after himself and not christ. But nowhere is this grave misunderstanding put into system as in the catholic church.

    • Dear Arne,
      Thank you for your opinion. But your view of the pope is not accurate. He is not an absolute ruler or dictator. He is, in each generation, God’s appointee to keep the Church in truth; to protect the Church from false teaching. But it is not only him by himself but all the bishops in union with him. He can act alone but rarely does. It has been this way since the birth of the Church. The faithful need a sure guide to right doctrine. Men, when left to themselves to be their own “pope” end up dividing in to thousands of factions as the Protestant denominations prove. The designation “Holy Father” is merely a title of honor.

      Catholic Christian culture is very different than Protestant Christian culture. Protestants who make a superficial observation of Catholicism jump to extremely negative conclusions based solely on their own experience of their own Protestant culture. They make no attempt to enquire and truly understand why Catholics believe and practice their faith the way they do. It reminds me of English Protestant missionaries who came to the Pacific Islands to bring the gospel. When they observed women, in that tropical culture, without clothing they jumped to the conclusion that it meant they were sluts of some kind because that is what they would be back in England if they paraded around without clothing. They made no attempt to understand the whys or wherefores of this culture, and they were completely wrong. Therefore they lost credibility.

    • Dear Arne,
      You were quoted as saying the following: “What is the meaning in the text, is that no one should be allowed to use such titles in an exalted or totalitarian manner. That is in fact what the pope is doing. He: a mere human is calling himself the Vicar of christ, pretending to have the ability to teach infallible doctrine and have absolute power and authority in questions on religion and belief”. Please take time to learne the truth of what really happens in the church before making accusations. I’d to help you on this one. Firstly, the Pope is ellected into his role as “Vicar of Christ”. It is not he that calls himself “Vicar of Christ” but the demograghic body of the Church which chooses to do so. So it’s clearly democratic NOT totalitarian as you asserted. Secondly: Most protestant pastors, leaders etc… place themselves in these exalted positions and by the thousands of Christian communities who call themselves “churches” these days (which they are not), it is clear to see that a lot of them have started thier own “churches”, placing themselves in thier own little dictatorships over thier followers and sometimes with catestrophic results as in the cases of Jim Jones of Guianna and David Curesh of the branch dividians. Hope that helps you. God Bles, Anno D

      • I am aware that the pope is elected, but I don´t know if he can be dismissed. In a historical context, you cannot deny that Popes in general has been involved in worldly affairs and politics and have sought and used worldly power and even have been involved directly in wars. During the many hundred years with the dreadful inquisition, they were responsible for torturing and murdering innocent people, the popes themselves giving direct instructions on how to torture in the most horrific manner. don´t you know anything about this , Anno Domine?

        I have quoted below from the Catholic Canon law 752: ” a religious submission of intellect and will must be given to a doctrine the supreme pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals …”
        This is the language of a cult, and is clearly totalitarian. If you are a catholic ,you are bound to submit your intellect and will under whatever this human decides for you. Do you feel this is in accordance with genuine respect for you as an individual? Is it even in accordance with human rights?Today the RCC do not have real power, so its totalitarian structure is held in balance. During the middle ages it showed it´s true colors and even dominated the kings of the world, anathematizing whoever it wanted.

        This language of power and domination is totally foreign to the saviour. who learnt that the greatest among us would be the one who gives his life, not the one who submit others or take their life. The pope, or papal office is the diametrically opposite of the saviour. How much do you think the pope with his gold and diamonds and kingly appearance and political influence resembles the one who did´t have as much as a pillow to lay his head on and who boldly declared that his kingdom was not of this world?

        • Dear Arne,
          Yes there have been bad popes but not that have bothered to teach and therefore God protected His Church from error. Despite the mythology of the inquisition the purpose was to restore the Children of God to Life in Christ. The state actually considered heresy equal to treason. The Church was put in charge of determining if a person believed in heresy. Then the state executed them and/or tortured them. It was not the Church. What rogue Catholics did or did not do is not the same as what the CHURCH did. But since everyone was Catholic back then people accuse the Catholic Church of horrors actually done by “Catholics”.

          It may sound totalitarian to you but the power of the Pope/Church is spiritual not civil authority. Look around, no Catholic is scared of the Pope. His authority is one of loving fatherhood.Our submission to those sent by Christ is submission to Christ. Very many of our popes have been martyred for the Faith. We love our Pope and he loves us. The treasures of the Vatican do not belong to the pope but to everyone. All the pomp and circumstance is just our way of honoring our Lord through His ambassador to us in time.

        • Dear Arne,
          Sorry for the delay in my response as I’ve been flat out with personal things. First of all you would serve yourself well not to assume that I don’t know the mistakes that have been made by mere MORTALS in THE Church, of coarse I know the history of what humans got up to and yes it’s both beautiful and regretable. You use words like totalitarian and then you perform theological gymnastics by back flipping when you say that you know the Pope is elected, Gold eh! What about the Ark of the covenant? are you saying that God should have told the Israelites to make it of cardboard? And since God (Jesus) knows the future then should He have made the vise man NOT bring Gold to Himself as an infant too? There’s a hole in your argumentative bucket dear Arne. The Pope does not own any gold and after he passes on what ever wealth that was in the Church prior to him is kept in the Church and not passed to a decendant unlike the private wealth accumulated by protestant clergy through alms giving which they ram down the thoats of their followers and then handed down to their families as all good dictators do. you may want to check yourself on these matters in order to not lose credebility. What I’m seeing here is a focus on wars that HUMANS in the Church were involved in. Equaly historical accusation can be made against protestants and all the war attrocities they have committed in the name of God, even those committed against inocent Catholics laity such as what happened to innocent Catholics after Henry the 8th made his “church”. Or the Salem wich hunts by the (protestants) or what the Orthodox Serbs did to the Bosnian muslims more recently and the list goes on and on. Also it was the protestants that instituted the concept of compound interest and look at where that has left the world economicaly. Jesus was on the Alpha and Omega which means He was there at the beginning and the end, this means He was present as part of the trinity even in the Old Testiment so one can accurately conclude that He gave Israel it’s orders to wage war and ordered the angels to destroy the soddom and gamora etc….. Jesus is the prince of peace but was never a passifist, He even says this in the Gospels about not comming to bring peace but a sword. The love He preached was how we are to interact an a daly basis but He fortold of wars. We can spend ages with this useless volley of finger pointing but to be blunt it’s a waste of my time and yours. This does not in anyway justify what happened by saying “well if protestants did it also so in some way justifies what our leaders did”, I’m not saying that at all. If you look at the human errors of all groups, all faiths, all nations and use that as an argument (as you’ve been doing) to not be a part of any of them then sorry, you’ve been born on the wrong planet but then you’ve nowhere else to go. So I ask for fairness from you in this subject. For example walk into a dark room with a torch and in one corner you have the beauty of Church history and in an opposite corner you have the mistakes of it’s leaders, Shine your torch on the mistakes and that’s all you will see and miss all the good in the other and also miss the good and bad that protestants made in the other two corners. Take a look the life of Christ and you will see this occuring even in scripture itself. For example Jesus tells Peter that He will build his Church on him and gives him the keys to the Heaven and later he calls him satan. Is Christ a hypocrite? Not at all. Or when Peter takes his first communion and deinies Jesus on the night of the betrayal but then after the resurection Jesus tells him to guide and feed His flock. Hypocracy? No way. Also lets look at Saint Paul who was a murderer of Chritians and then becomes a great Apostle and this my friend is the beauty of Chritianity that we make terrible mistakes and can still be saved and forgiven and even be apointed to lead, these are some of the first equal opportunity laws, awsome init mate. I think from what I’m reading from you are points that you have negated in stating. Don’t worry though and rest assuered that everything you’ve posted has been seen here before, you are bringing nothing new this forum and everything you say just fortifies our beliefs. The Church is an easy target and it is En Vogue to flogg the Church and it’s followers and in this you are a true fashionista. Judge not lest ye be judged and I welcome you to join us or return to us if you were one of us, we’d love to have you with us. please respond and give me time to retort but you go on with all this finger pointing on wars and stuff in the past and not theological matters then don’t expect a response from me it’s a waste of my time. God bless Anno D

  4. I am sorry to say that the pope is in fact absolute ruler, and if he wants to , can be a dictator, which he traditionally have been in history. So much so, that he has dominated even the wordly rulers. Let me cite for you from the writings of the catholic church itself: 331″ The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.
    §3. No appeal or recourse is permitted against a sentence or decree of the Roman Pontiff.

    ‘Can. 752 Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.

    As far as I can see, this is totalitarian language of force and power, so very much different from Jesus. Especially when you interpret it in a historical context. Unity is something to desire, but nowhere does it imply ” a submission of intellect and will ” This is the lanuage of a cult, and is no alternative for the person that cherishes freedom of thought and religion according to human rights.
    The teaching of the Vicar of christ is the most fundamental heresy ever thought up. And how can a normal thinking person give consent to the opinion that this man is able to speak infallibly on matters concerning morality and religion? Peter erred, and was corrected by Paul severely. Will you have me believe this man who dares to call himself ” his holiness ” shall be any better. The first pope Peter( he was not ) , even had problems with understanding the letters of Paul
    ( 2. pet 3:16 ).

    • Dear Arne,

      You wrote:
      “As far as I can see, this is totalitarian language of force and power, so very much different from Jesus”
      Luc 5,21: totalitarian language of force and power
      And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
      Jesus gives this force and power to his apostles (and their legal successors and not to everyone):
      John 20, 23
      Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
      You wrote:
      “And how can a normal thinking person give consent to the opinion that this man is able to speak infallibly on matters concerning morality and religion?”
      In Luke 22,32 Jesus says to Peter:
      But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
      You wrote:
      “Peter erred, and was corrected by Paul severely.”
      According to Paul in Galatians 2,11 Peter is not infallible in his church politics, but Paul does NOT say that Peter was infallible in his teachings.
      Keep ALWAYS in mind, that the Christianity of the early Church, the sacramental principle, the hierarchical principle and the authority of TRADITION are inextricably linked. The primacy of Peter is included. In Peter the TRADITION is founded ( he received the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven) and the Church is not possible without him. From there an unbroken line until this very day. It is a sacramental succession.
      Btw you read the New Testament as a protestant and not as a catholic.

  5. Thanks for your answer, Hoc est. But I can´t honestly be able to read into these verses what you seem to imply. Firstly, in my opinion there is no office of a priest at all due to the fact that all Gods children are spiritual priests and kings, and really spiritual stones in Gods temple, actually being both the temple and the priestal system. Every child of God has direct access directly to the father which we call “abba.” The institution of the priest is obsolete, and we don´t need anyone to give us forgiveness from God in an instituted fashion.
    I don´t see that the word you cite from John has anything to do with the institusion of absolution. The words are given to the apostles, and is not any clear command to this institution in the catholic sense. And I cannot see any evidence that this authority was passed on from the apostles to a group you call priests, which is in fact absent in NT. What we see in Acts is the apostles preaching forgiveness from God on conversion and baptism. Nowhere do I find any practical evidence that there were any priests you had to confess to. In james 5: 16: we are instructed to confess our sins to each other, there is no institution or priestal office for this. This means that also the priest would have to confess on an equal level with all the rest.
    The confession have , I think , been an important institution for the catholic church to gain control over people in earlier times, and also has led to much sin in itself. The glorious thing is that all of us now actually have access directly to the father, and can confess all our sins to him, and he will forgive(1. John 1:9 )
    Then to Peter. Call it whatever you like. Peter was corrected of Paul, for wrong practise. And this implies also wrong teaching v 14: ” when I saw that they didn´t go straight forward according to the gospel..”( translated from Norwegian ). Peter had clearly misunderstood some teaching and had to be severely corrected by Paul, right into his face…. There is no respect for Peter as some kind of holy Father figure, and he is on square footing with 2 others Jakob and John ( v 9 ) all of the 3 was ” held to be the supports “. In fact there is not much of a popal authority about him.

  6. In Matthew 23:8-12, “One” in verses 8 through 10 is referring to the Trinity in each instance. First, only the Holy Spirit is our teacher and should be referred to as “Teacher” with a capital letter. In the next verse, “One” refers to our “Father” in heaven, the only instance that we should use “Father” with a capital letter as part of the Trinity and thirdly, “One” in the next verse (10) completes the Trinity with Christ as our “Leader” also with a capital letter. Then verses 11 and 12 explains the reason why no one can be exalted over these titles of the Godhead in the Trinity. All of these verses are Jesus’ words. No one is greater than anyone else but the Godhead, three in “One”. No one is worthy of any of those titles as human beings. We were all born in sin, Romans 3:23 which includes the popes and priests and all clergy. However, we all have spiritual gifts per 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and 1 Corinthians 12:27-31. But in the primary verses cited, none of humanity should be exalted. In Colossians 1:18-20, Jesus is clearly the only One to be exalted as part of the Trinity. “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning , the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Fathet’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (NASB – the most literal of all the translations)

  7. Micki, If you notice the scriptures do not say one thing about capital letters for these nouns and the restricted and specialized use you are putting on the verse.

    You are interpreting this verse a certain way in order that you may still find fault with the Catholic Church’s practice of calling our priests “father” even though Jesus caledl Abraham, a spiritual leader btw, Father Abraham and St Paul refers to himself a s a father to his spiritual sons.

    Of course, no one can ever be exalted over the Trinity. Certainly not our priests.

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