Catholic Dogma Answered Scripturally
All quotations come from the Authorized Version in English AKA the King James Version
The Title, "Father", applied to anyone but God
In answering the indictment that calling priests or church leaders by the title (honorific, office name, position, etc.), "father", the defenders of this practice immediately launch into a long list of verses where someone refers to their fleshly father. Refering to your biological father as "father" is not condemned by the Bible or even relevant to this indictment. This criticism comes from Matthew chapter 23. It includes the Judaic practice of calling teachers, rabbi (master) as well as giving the title "father" to a religious leader. This is not an interpretation by any stretch of the imagination. It is a direct quote of the scriptures.
You should read the warning given by Jesus yourself. He is speaking of the Pharisees which were the religious leaders of the church.
"For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." Matthew 23:4-15
This admonishment given by Jesus speaks plainly for itself. He even explains the definition of the subject of this teaching. He blatantly condemns the glory-seeking pretenses made by the religious leaders of the day and their use of titles, namely, "Rabbi" which meant "master" in Hebrew. He is explicitly dealing with terms of religious honor in Judaism. He thereby indicates the exact context for his statement which refers to religious or ecclesiastical titles. Jesus was a religious teacher speaking of religious titles. He goes on to explain that we have One Master and One Father, God. If that is not clear enough, He elaborates more by stating that the man wishing to be a leader or greater than the rest should, in fact, serve the others in humility. He even adds a warning that anyone that exalts himself would be degraded or reduced to a lowered state ("abased").
Here I must ask that constantly nagging question, "Who is taking the verse, out of context?" I present it here completely with the verses before it and those after it. Can anyone deny the clear meaning that Christ gave it? He explained and framed what practices He was speaking of (bestowing titles on church leaders, men), those who He was speaking of (church leaders or any believer seeking the glory of men), and what He wanted us to do (acknowledge the Paternity and Lordship of God alone over us). If you do not see this. Read it again. Then, if you reject His teaching, Jesus makes a statement in John about those who reject His teaching and call Him a liar. (This passage even uses the term, "father" in its spiritual sense used above making it a perfect quote to read in this instance.) This is another example of Jesus' teachings about church leaders that reject His teachings and seek power over the people.
Jesus said unto them, "If
God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and
came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye
not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will
do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the
truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he
speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And
because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you
convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
Ouch. There are other places He reiterates on the fact that we all will do the works of our father, whether of God or the devil. And what does He say of those that receive His Word?
Jesus answered and said unto him, "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:23-26
Technically, anyone who read the first passage which not only tells us not to call a church leader or teacher, master or rabbi, also instructs us not to call them, father or pater, should need no further proof of the disobedience to Jesus committed in calling a leader, father or rabbi. Jesus told us not to seek the glory of one another but to be humble knowing we are all equals having the same Master, the same Father, which dwells in heaven. That is why I see no need to launch into a lexical study of the Greek word, pater, and its usage in all the other places to which a father is referred. However, it does bring up the issue of authority and lordship.
Jesus gave that long exhortation at the beginning of
this article about the religious leaders that were putting unnecessary
burdens on the people. He spoke of those reveling in the praise
and servitude of men. He addresses authority among Christians
directly by telling us that no one should usurp spiritual lordship over
another. That Jesus has pointedly explained is blasphemous as
"One is your Father, which is in heaven"
and therefore anyone claiming for himself the title of "father" of any
of you is taking to himself the role of your God. I guess men are
more eager to be exalted than to have to wash our feet as Jesus did for
the disciples at the Last Supper to teach them to serve and not lead
each other (John 13:1-12).
I must cite here other teachings of Jesus on the
subject of ecclesial authority in the church. He is the one who
established the church in the Old Testament, and, He who came in the
flesh to establish the church under His new Testament which continues to
this day. He explained to the disciples how He wanted the church
to conduct itself. He further says,
Jesus said above that no Christian was to be venerated
or exalted. I have often wondered at how much more kneeling and
veneration is made before Catholic clergy and statues than was done
before the very God of the universe who came in the Son and walked
amongst us to bring us light and life. There is only ONE dominion, the
Dominion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Yet, He ALWAYS
humbled Himself though He above ALL others has the right to bear the
titles, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Bright and Morning Star, the
Prince of Peace and more (in Catholicism I only see these titles used
for Mary who was neither deity nor teacher but was the servant of God
found in high favor, though, equal to all believers. In fact, she
suffered less for the cause of Christ than the apostles and other
martyrs. Why is she worthy of the sacrilegious attributions of the
titles and the very nature of the Christ?