Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Call No Man 'Father' or 'Teacher'"

One reader of this blog (coming from a Roman perspective, I believe) wrote: "Never mind the fact that Jesus also commands His followers to abstain from calling men "teacher," yet Paul often refers to himself as such. Did the Spirit forget the instructions of the Son? You see, the Lord was not speaking literally. Imagine that!"

The problem with that response is that it only gets you half way.  The other half is, "what did Jesus mean by his saying?" One answer could be, Jesus meant not to have teachers endowed with the kind of authority that the Roman bishop claims for himself.

Same thing for "call no man Father."  One answer could be that Jesus meant we should not have someone that we treat the way that Roman Catholics treat their "Holy Father" in Rome.

In fact, of course, the kinds of abuses in 1st century Judea were probably far less grand than Rome's claims.  But certainly if anyone could violate the spirit of what Jesus' words mean, then Rome is it.  If Rome's treatment does not qualify, what possibly could?

Earlier in the thread, in response to a comment about not calling any man father, the same commenter had pointed to a tract published at the "Catholic Answers" site (link).  This tract makes the mistake of actually trying to go the rest of the way.

The tract is not far off when it states:
He was using hyperbole (exaggeration to make a point) to show the scribes and Pharisees how sinful and proud they were for not looking humbly to God as the source of all authority and fatherhood and teaching, and instead setting themselves up as the ultimate authorities, father figures, and teachers.

But which one of those scribes or Pharisees ever claimed to be the head of the whole church and father to all believers?  Which one of those scribes or Pharisees ever claimed to teach infallibly?  Their abuse pales in comparison to the abuse that Rome offers.  If what the scribes and Pharisees did is to be condemned, how much more what Rome has done and continues to do!



Philip Jude said...

None of the pharisees or scribes were given the Keys of the Kingdom, nor granted the Champion which allows for greater deeds than those performed by Jesus Himself. The pope is called father because he is a model after which we form ourselves. He is our model only inasmuch as he is a servant of God. Such "spiritual fatherhood" was known already in apostolic times and has been refined since. It has also, sadly, been betrayed numerous times by those popes who fail their office and their God.

turretinfan said...

I think you are mostly reinforcing my point, Mr. Jude.

And Jesus did famously complain:

Luke 11:52
Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

Of course, that doesn't correspond to the Roman conception of the keys, but it does fit with what Jesus actually said in Matthew 16. Jesus gave the apostles revelation that went beyond even that which the Jewish lawyers kept from the people, and that revelation was the revelation that lets people into the kingdom of heaven, namely the gospel.

I'm not sure what "Champion" you have in mind, or whose works you seriously think were greater than Jesus' own self-resurrection. I shudder to ask, but what are thinking of?

- TurretinFan

Philip Jude said...


The Champion is the Spirit, the Comforter, the Paraclete, the Ghost.

As for doing greater works: "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12).

I don't see how I reinforce your point. The pope is a spiritual father. Spiritual fatherhood is a discipline of apostolic origin. It has its foundations in Scripture and Tradition.

Saint Paul wrote: "For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me" (I Cor 4:15-16).

This is the function of the pope, as well as every bishop and priest (indeed, every Christian, though in diverse ways): To be "guides in Christ" and examples worthy of imitation, so that young believers might prosper and unbelievers might see the light of the glory of Christ.

Philip Jude said...

Spiritual fatherhood among men is not a usurpation of the supreme paternity of the Eternal Father. Rather, our human spiritual fathers are analogues by which we come to better appreciate and more intimately understand the Divine Father.

turretinfan said...

"Spiritual fatherhood among men is not a usurpation of the supreme paternity of the Eternal Father."

So, Jesus was wrong?

turretinfan said...

"Greater than these" would seem to be limited to a class.

But also note - what pope in 500 years has (during his life) performed any notable miracle?

As for the teaching function of ordinary people, that's not what the pope claims. He claims a special, superior authority. In fact, no one makes greater claims except someone who literally claims to be God himself. And that cannot be what Jesus was referring to, in either of Jesus' warnings.

Philip Jude said...

"So, Jesus was wrong?"

No, you simply misunderstand what He meant. You cannot break through the letter to the spirit. The words of Saint Paul and Saint John make that plain enough.

turretinfan said...

I thought your initial argument was that the Pharisees practiced a spiritual fatherhood that was inappropriate. Surely you don't think that Jesus was referring to physical fatherhood. If, as you claim, "Spiritual fatherhood among men is not a usurpation of the supreme paternity of the Eternal Father," then why did Jesus complain?

I'm certainly not suggesting that all kinds of spiritual fatherhood are wrong, just those that usurp. But if none can usurp, then you seem to have either contradicted Jesus or made his criticism of the Pharisees meaningless (which is a contradiction of a less obvious kind).

Philip Jude said...

I agree that spiritual fatherhood can be abused. However, I do not think that the Chair of Peter -- in and of itself -- constitutes such an abuse. There have indeed been sinful popes who hurt the flock of God, but such instances are the fault of individuals, not the office.

turretinfan said...

The primary problem is the claimed office, alleging universal jurisdiction and infallibility. None of the Pharisees abused their spiritual fatherhood that badly. If their abuse was bad, Rome's is worse.

Of course, if Jesus was instituting the papacy, he would have said, "for one is your Father in heaven, and one is your pope on earth."