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Call no man father.

De Maria's picture

Hello all,

On another topic, the Esteemed Julabee Jones is castigating Catholics roundly for calling priests, father.

She bases that opinion on Jesus' injunction, "call no man father". Now I don't see any qualifications there. Jesus didn't say, don't call priests father. He said
And call no man your father upon the earth.... Matthew 23:9

Yet, I've met no one, Protestant or Catholic, who doesn't call their dad, father. Except a few disrespectful children.

So I was wondering, what do you call your father? A question, by the way, which the sweet Julabee, has yet to answer.


De Maria

De Maria's picture

re: spirit behind the words



First, I do agree with you that we have to look for the meaning behind the words.
Words are used to convey an idea, right? The word 'father' conveys the idea of one who begets a child, and the word 'teacher' conveys the idea of one who teaches. Infact the common usages of these terms, and the ideas conveyed by them are the reference points by which humanity can understand what God means when He calls Himself our Father, and Christ our Teacher. So why would God want to eliminate the normal usages of these terms?

Here's your logic as I see it.

To you, a father can only be a person who begets a child.
A teacher one who teaches. And so, why would God want to change eliminate these words?

And your logic fails in its premise. These words have multiple meanings and have always had multiple meanings from the beginning. A father can be my direct father, my father in law, my grand father, my step father, my adopted father or even my uncle whom I call father out of love.

And even Scripture ties the word priest to fatherhood:
Judges 17:10
And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me afather and a priest, and I will give thee ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the Levite went in.

A father can also be an older man whom anyone addresses thus in a kindly manner. It is a Spanish custom to call even elderly strangers, "papa". That happens also to be what they call the "Pope".

As for teacher, a father is one of the premier teachers of their children, as is the mother, brothers and sisters, friends and strangers can all teach. And can be recognized as teachers.

So, what you call the "normal" usage of these words, is normal only to you.

Therefore you begin with a false premise. That the usage you proclaim as normal is normal.

And your second premise is also false. You ask me "why would God want to eliminate the normal usage of these terms." As though I'm putting forth this argument.

It isn't I who is putting forth this argument. I am asking you and the others to be consistent. If Jesus is eliminating the usage of "father", then He is also eliminating the usage of the other terms mentioned in that vese.

Note that He doesn't just eliminate the term "father", but "your father".

But let's reflect on Jesus's meaning here - Just as only one biological father begets us physically, same way, only one Spiritual Father, ie, God begets us spiritually. No one else should take that honour upon himself, casting aside God and the work of the Holy spirit, by whose grace alone each one of us is able to recieve the word of God.

Now you are contradicting Scripture.
1 Corinthians 4:15
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.

Apparently, St. Paul took that honour upon himself. Are you accusing him of casting God aside?

Do you agree with me there?


And yes I have noticed too the use of the word teachers by Paul. Obviously those who teach others even the Word of God can accurately be classified as teachers in a technical sense (as one who teaches). Just as long as they teach what they're taught by the ONE SUPREME TEACHER - and not their own doctrines for their own glory.
So it's back to the context, the meaning behind the words -and that is not to fall in the error of seeking glory and honour for ourselves, nor of following men for our ultimate guidance, thus honouring them above God or placing them at the same level as Him.

With that I can agree. When you find a Catholic that puts the priests above God, let me know.

And that includes not issuing decrees that people in certain positions 'must be' addressed as Father or Holy Father.

Those are titles. But we, the laity, use them because we love our Priests. Because there are other titles we could use, like Pastor, Reverend and Minister.

BTW, does the RCC issue such decrees, or is it just the usual practice, and people within the church are free to address the priests or the pope by their names as well?

I would seriously like to know

I'm not aware of any such decree. But there is a doctrine which few Protestants know about or understand if they do. It is called "sense of the faithful (senseis fidelis)".

You see, most Protestants assume that the Pope is a tyrant who makes up doctrine and impose it on the little people. But in the Catholic Church, doctrine frequently flows up to the top.

Here's an example: Assumption of Mary

7. Actually it was seen that not only individual Catholics, but also those who could speak for nations or ecclesiastical provinces, and even a considerable number of the Fathers of the Vatican Council, urgently petitioned the Apostolic See to this effect.

I suspect that the custom of calling Priests "Father" probably started with the people. But I have no proof of that.

De Maria