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Anglicans and Sexual Contradictions

The Church strongly opposes contraception, in keeping with the historical position of Christianity. Openness to procreating life is one of the defining characteristics of marriage, which is primarily what makes homosexual “marriage” impossible. The Church also upholds the life-long commitment that is marriage. Contrast the Church’s beautiful teachings on all of this against the positions of Protestantism — those of Anglicanism, in particular.

Anglicans once agreed with the Church on these subjects, up until the 1930 Lambeth Conference that approved contraception in some cases (which, of course, had a snowball effect). Here’s the 15th resolution from the Conference:

“Where there is clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, the method must be decided on Christian principles. The primary and obvious method is complete abstinence from intercourse (as far as may be necessary) in a life of discipline and self-control lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles. The Conference records its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.”

There were still some restrictions, obviously, but since then, all practical barriers to contraception have fallen. That decision of that Conference is interesting, especially considering that it stated that “the primary purpose for which marriage exists is the procreation of children” in its 13th resolution and that “the duty of parenthood [is] the glory of married life” in its 14th resolution.

The Episcopal “Church” of the USA (the official American branch of Anglicanism) also now blesses homosexual relationships. (See their liturgy for it here.) The “Church” of England recently announced that it will follow the same route.

But what must be kept in mind is that, in 1991, the ECUSA officially barred homosexual couples from having sexual relations:

“..the 70th General Convention of the Episcopal Church affirms that the teaching of the Episcopal Church is that physical sexual expression is appropriate only within the lifelong monogamous ‘union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind’ ‘intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord’ as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer” [link]

And the 1930 Lambeth Conference addressed the subject, as well:

“[The Conference] reaffirms ‘as our Lord’s principle and standard of marriage a life-long and indissoluble union, for better or worse, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, and calls on all Christian people to maintain and bear witness to this standard.'” [from Resolution 11]

So, if openness to life is not required in marriage (which the acceptance of contraception would seem to indicate), then why are same-sex couples in the ECUSA mandated to practice sexual abstinence? And if it is required, then why are contraception and homosexual relationships now endorsed?

And I must say that I find it laughable (but not at all surprising) that Anglicanism, which was founded by a king that just wanted a few divorces, is so inconsistent on the subject of divorce, too. Its leaders have taught that marriage is to be a “life-long union” (Resolution 114 of the 1958 LC) and “no husband or wife has the right to contemplate even legal separation until every opportunity of reconciliation and forgiveness has been exhausted” (Resolution 116 of the 1958 LC), yet divorce and “remarriage” are now totally accepted.

The Anglican positions on marriage and sexuality are nonsensical. Would not God’s true Church be more consistent? If Anglicans really want to “secure a better education for the clergy in moral theology” (Resolution 12 of the 1930 LC), then they should tell them to become Catholic.

Judas betrays Christ with a kiss.

Judas betrays Christ with a kiss.

5 Problems with Lutheran Ecclesiology

The Lutheran Small Catechism with Explanation (ESV) provides a classic Protestant look at ecclesiology (how one views the Church), but I find it very unconvincing and full of problems. My conclusion is that the Lutheran alternative does not seem plausible, and it most certainly can not disprove the claims of the Church.

1. Under the question, “What is the holy Christian church?”, it answers:

“The holy Christian church is the communion of saints, the total number of those who believe in Christ. All believers in Christ, but only believers, are members of the church (invisible church).”

This is sort of true, but what if someone has faith and still intentionally separates themself from the Church by heresy? For example, are Arians members of the Church? They believe in Christ. Are Mormons also members of the Church? What about Jehovah’s Witnesses? This kind of vague, “invisible” membership leads to all sorts of problems, and it leads to the loss of absolute truth. (See the very varied views of Protestants.)

A single institutional Church is necessary, because some doctrines are “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16) and they need to be consistently preserved and articulated.

2. Under the question, “Why do you say ‘I believe’ in the church?”, it answers:

“A. Because faith, which makes people members of the church, is invisible, the church is invisible to human eyes.

B. The Scriptures assure us that the Holy Spirit continues to gather and preserve the church.”

On the second part of this answer, I have no complaints. The Holy Spirit certainly does guide the Church. However, on the first point, it cites Luke 17:20-21 and 2 Timothy 2:19 for support, taking both passages out of context. The first passage actually refers to the “end times” and people wondering about when they will be and what they will entail, and this is made clear by the rest of the chapter. The second passage simply points out that, despite heresy being almost everywhere, “the firm foundation of God stands” and “the Lord knows those who are His”.

The Church is not invisible.

3. This Lutheran Catechism also makes the points that the Church’s “one and only head is Christ” and the Church “belongs to Christ and is built on Him alone”, but this is misleading and an intentional jab at the Church.

Christ is the now-invisible head of the Church, in that He fills Her with grace and protects Her from grave error, but the Church must have a visible head to represent Him: the Vicar (representative) of Christ, the Successor of St. Peter — the Pope.

It is true that only Christ could lay the foundation for His Church (1 Corinthians 3:11) and that He is the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), and the Church absolutely recognizes this. He laid the foundation when He appointed Peter as the visible head of the Church (Matthew 16:18-19) and He is still the cornerstone — without Christ, the Church would crumble.

Because only Christ can lay the foundation of a Church, Martin Luther had no authority to start his own sect — unless, of course, there is some sort of evidence that definitively shows that Christ transferred His authority to him. Naturally, this evidence does not exist.

Also, remember that not everyone is “called” to Church leadership (Hebrews 5:1-4).

4. Additionally, this Catechism teaches that “the holy Christian church is to be found where ‘the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are correctly administered’ (Augsburg Confession VII 1)”.

I absolutely agree with this point, because only an organization that distributes the sacraments is a “Church” in the proper sense, though it may not be in communion with the Church. “Christ’s Spirit uses [them] as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #819)

However, even after taking this into account, I also realize that the Lutheran understanding of both the Gospel and the sacraments is distorted.

Lutherans typically believe that there are only two sacraments (Baptism and Communion). Catholics, meanwhile, recognize a total of seven: Baptism, Communion (the Eucharist), Confession (Penance), Confirmation (or Chrismation), Marriage, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders. Lutherans usually think of these other five as rites that do not necessarily contain God’s grace, but are still historically practiced.

Just one example of the Lutheran sacramental problem is that they hold to sacramental union (Christ is “in, with, and under” the bread and wine), while the Church holds to transubstantiation (the bread and wine become the literal Body and Blood of Christ), which is the traditional view. The Lutheran departure from the historical view seems to reveal “a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words” (1 Timothy 6:3-5). Is their emphasis here more important than unity?

Meanwhile, Lutherans also debate over whether or not Confession is a sacrament. Martin Luther said one thing, but the official Defense of the Augsburg Confession says another.

“Nevertheless, it has seemed best to restrict the name of sacrament to such promises as have signs attached to them. The remainder, not being bound to signs, are bare promises. Hence there are, strictly speaking, but two sacraments in the Church of God – baptism and bread; for only in these two do we find both the divinely instituted sign and the promise of forgiveness of sins.” – Martin Luther [link]

“If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments. For rites instituted by men will not in this way be Sacraments properly so called. For it does not belong to human authority to promise grace. Therefore signs instituted without God’s command are not sure signs of grace, even though they perhaps instruct the rude [children or the uncultivated], or admonish as to something [as a painted cross]. Therefore Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God’s command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament.” – Article XIII of the Defense of the Augsburg Confession [link]

With disagreements over the fundamental natures of the sacraments and their generally invalid claims to apostolic succession (which is necessary for the validity of the sacraments), Lutherans do not have a “Church” in the proper sense.

5. Protestant ecclesiology has wrecked the doctrinal and visible unity that God demands.

In Galatians 5:16-21, St. Paul condemns “dissensions” and “factions” as “deeds of the flesh” that will result in the causers “not inherit[ing] the kingdom of God,” and in Romans 16:17, he teaches that Christians should “turn away from” them. Protestants have, unfortunately, disobeyed this command.

Unity is Christ’s prayer for us (John 17:11), so let us become unified again, visibly and invisibly.

“Since Christ suffered for the Church and since the Church is the body of Christ, without doubt the person who divides the Church is convicted of lacerating the body of Christ.” – Council of Florence, Session 9 (23 March 1440) [link]

(All verses are from the NASB translation.)

TULIP and Protestants

(This is the second part of my series on TULIP. The first part, based on the writings of the Church Fathers, is available here.)

Many of the great historical Protestant leaders have opposed some or all of  “T.U.L.I.P.” — an acronym that summarizes the core beliefs of Calvinists. Here are some quotes about their conclusions. This list is not comprehensive.

Total Depravity – “..as a consequence of the Fall of man, every person born into the world is morally corrupt, enslaved to sin and is, apart from the grace of God, utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to turn to Christ in faith for salvation.”

(NOTE: Catholics believe in this, to an extent — after all, our faith and our works only have meaning because of God’s grace — but the concept of Total Depravity is often taken to an extreme.)

“That which makes him [Man] a human being is not his body but his spirit, in which the image of God originally lay. … From man’s standpoint the most tragic loss suffered in the Fall was the vacating of this inner sanctum by the Spirit of God. Man by his sin forfeited this indescribable wonderful privilege. Christ will enter only by the invitation of faith.” – A.W. Tozer [1]

“Human beings are endowed by nature with both selfish and unselfish impulses. … Man is the only creature which is fully self-conscious. His reason endows him with a capacity for self-transcendence.” – Reinhold Niebuhr [2]

Unconditional Election – “God chose some individuals from the mass of fallen humanity unto salvation without regard to any merit or foreseen faith in them, but solely based on His sovereign intentions.”

“Whether therefore we can account for it or not (which indeed we cannot in a thousand cases), we must absolutely maintain that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. But He cannot reward the sun shining because the sun is not a free agent. Neither could He reward us for letting our light shine before men if we acted from necessity as the sun does. All reward, as well as all punishment, presupposes free-agency; and whatever creature is incapable of choice is incapable of either one or the other. Whenever, therefore, God acts as a Governor, as a rewarder or punisher, He no longer acts as mere Sovereign by His own sole will and pleasure, but as [sic] a impartial Judge guided in all things by invariable justice.” – John Wesley [3]

Limited Atonement – “..God’s design and intent in sending Christ to die on the cross was to pay for the sins and secure the redemption of those whom God has predetermined to save, namely the elect. Therefore, the primary benefits of his death were designed for and accrue only to believers.”

“For by his [Christ’s] own oblation he satisfied his Father for all men’s sins, and reconciled mankind unto his grace and favour.” – Thomas Cranmer [4]

“‘I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who suffered, was crucified, and died for us.’ This is the most joyous of all doctrines and the one that contains the most comfort. It teaches that we have the indescribable and inestimable mercy and love of God. ..He sent His Son into the world, heaped all the sins of all men upon Him, and said to Him: ‘Be Peter the denier; Paul the persecutor, blasphemer, and assaulter; David the adulterer; the sinner who ate the apple in Paradise; the thief on the cross. In short, be the person of all men. And see to it that You pay and make satisfaction for them.’ … And so it [the Law] attacks Him and kills Him. By this deed the whole world is purged and expiated from all sins, and thus it is set free from death and from every evil.” – Martin Luther [5]

Irresistible Grace – “..the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save, whereby in God’s timing, he overcomes their resistance to the call of the gospel and irresistibly brings them to a saving faith in Christ.”

“It may be allowed that God acts as Sovereign in convincing some souls of sin, arresting them in their mid career, by His resistless power. It seems also that, at the moment of our conversion, He acts irresistibly. There may likewise be many irresistible touches during the course of Christian warfare, with regard to which every believer may say, ‘In the time of my distress, Thou hast my succor been, In my utter helplessness, Restraining me from sin.’ But still, as St. Paul might have been either obedient or disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19), so every individual may, after all that God has done, either improve His grace or make it of none effect (Gal. 2:21).” – John Wesley [3]

“God has made it a rule for Himself that He won’t alter people’s character by force. He can and will alter them — but only if the people will let Him. In that way He has really and truly limited His power. Sometimes we wonder why He has done so, or even wish that He hadn’t. But apparently He thinks it worth doing. He would rather have a world of free beings, with all its risks, than a world of people who did right like machines because they couldn’t do anything else. The more we succeed in imagining what a world of perfect automatic beings would be like, the more, I think, we shall see His wisdom.” – C.S. Lewis [6]

Perseverance of the saints – “..those who are truly saved [those who truly believe] will persevere to the end and cannot lose their salvation.”

“For God both within and without does impress very aweful fears upon our souls; in the history of the Bible and in those around us, and on our own consciences, in His sudden visitations or enduring chastisements of sin; in the aweful change in the soul following upon a single sin, the sudden falls of those who once seemed faithful, the strange mystery that some who began to live in that ‘faith which worketh by love,’ and lived for a while faithfully and righteously, were not removed before they fell into the sin in which they died.” – E.B. Pusey [7]

“When men weary of a good course which long they have holden, for a little ease or wealth, or I wot not what other secular respect, fall away in the end; so losing the praise and fruit of their former perseverance, and relapsing into the danger and destruction, from which they had so near escaped.” – Lancelot Andrewes [8]

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calvinism

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References:

1. from Man: The Dwelling Place of God [link]

2. from Moral Man and Immoral Society [link]

3. John Wesley, Thoughts Upon God’s Sovereignty (taken from The Essential Works of John Wesley, p. 1167-1169)

4. Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) on Death of Christ: Unlimited Expiation, Redemption and Universal Reconciliation [link]

5. Concordia Theological Quarterly, Volume 61:Number 4, October 1997, p. 251 (taken from Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, 1535) [link]

6. from “The Trouble with ‘X’,” God in the Dock [link 1] [link 2]

7. The Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost. A sermon preached at Margaret Chapel, on the Feast of S. Peter, 1845. [link]

8. A sermon preached before Queen Elizabeth, at Hampton Court. 6 March 1594. [link]

TULIP and the Church Fathers

(This is the first part of my series on TULIP. The second part, based on the writings of historical Protestant leaders, is available here.)

Calvinists occasionally claim that their beliefs — commonly expressed with the acronym “T.U.L.I.P.” — are totally in line with historical Christianity, but below are some quotes from the Church Fathers that disprove the claim. This list is certainly not comprehensive, but I think it best summarizes the Church’s points.

Total Depravity – “..as a consequence of the Fall of man, every person born into the world is morally corrupt, enslaved to sin and is, apart from the grace of God, utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to turn to Christ in faith for salvation.”

(NOTE: Catholics believe in this, to an extent — after all, our faith and our works only have meaning because of God’s grace — but the concept of Total Depravity is often taken to an extreme.)

“If any one is truly religious, he is a man of God; but if he is irreligious, he is a man of the devil, made such, not by nature, but by his own choice.” – St. Ignatius of Antioch [1]

“‘But unto them that are contentious,’ he [St. Paul] says [in Romans 2:8]. Again, he deprives of excuse those that live in wickedness, and shows that it is from a kind of disputatiousness and carelessness that they fall into unrighteousness. ‘And do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness.’ See, here is another accusation again. For what defense can he set up, who flees from the light and chooses the dark? And he does not say, who are ‘compelled by,’ ‘lorded over by,’ but who ‘obey unrighteousness,’ that one may learn that the fall is one of free choice, the crime not of necessity.” – St. John Chrysostom [2]

Unconditional Election – “God chose some individuals from the mass of fallen humanity unto salvation without regard to any merit or foreseen faith in them, but solely based on His sovereign intentions.”

“There is not a class of souls sinning by nature and a class of souls [practicing] righteousness by nature; but both act from choice, the substance of their souls being of one kind only and alike in all.” – St. Cyril of Jerusalem [3]

“For God made man free, and with power over himself. That, then, which man brought upon himself through carelessness and disobedience, this God now vouchsafes to him as a gift through His own philanthropy and pity, when men obey Him. For as man, disobeying, drew death upon himself; so, obeying the will of God, he who desires is able to procure for himself life everlasting.” – St. Theophilus of Antioch [4]

Limited Atonement – “..God’s design and intent in sending Christ to die on the cross was to pay for the sins and secure the redemption of those whom God has predetermined to save, namely the elect. Therefore, the primary benefits of his death were designed for and accrue only to believers.”

“Now if all have sinned, how come some to be saved, and some to perish? It is because all were not minded to come to Him, since for His part all were saved, for all were called. … Whence then are some vessels of wrath, and some of mercy? Of their own free choice. God, however, being very good, shows the same kindness to both. For it was not those in a state of salvation only to whom He showed mercy, but also Pharaoh, as far as His part went. For of the same long-suffering, both they and he had the advantage. And if he was not saved, it was quite owing to his own will: since, as for what concerns God, he had as much done for him as they who were saved.” – St. John Chrysostom [5]

Irresistible Grace – “..the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save, whereby in God’s timing, he overcomes their resistance to the call of the gospel and irresistibly brings them to a saving faith in Christ.”

“This expression [of our Lord], ‘How often would I have gathered your children together, and you would not,’ [Matthew 23:37] set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually.” – St. Irenaeus [6]

Perseverance of the saints – “..those who are truly saved [those who truly believe] will persevere to the end and cannot lose their salvation.”

“And I hold, further, that such as have confessed and known this man to be Christ, yet who have gone back from some cause to the legal dispensation, and have denied that this man is Christ, and have repented not before death, shall by no means be saved.” – St. Justin Martyr [7]

“Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come. But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time.” – The Didache [8]

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John Calvin

John Calvin

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References:

1. The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians (Chapter 5) [link 1] [link 2]

2. Homily 5 on Romans

3. Catechetical Lecture 4

4. Theophilus to Autolycus (Book 2, Chapter 27) [link 1] [link 2] [link 3]

5. Homily 16 on Romans

6. Against Heresies (Book 4, Chapter 37)

7. Dialogue with Trypho (Chapter 47)

8. The Didache (Chapter 16)

Polygamy and Mormonism

In defiance of Deuteronomy 17:17, Matthew 19:4-6, and other Biblical passages, the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, endorsed the practice of polygamy. However, the largest Mormon church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), later outlawed the practice. This presents a problem for LDS theology.

In verses 61-63 of Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith reveals a “revelation” about polygamy supposedly given to him by God. The verses teach that a man “cannot commit adultery” — even if “he have ten virgins given unto him by this law” of polygamy — as long as his women are “vowed to no other man”.

So, polygamy was allowed in the first 46 years after Joseph Smith’s death. But in 1890, due to Official Declaration 1 — which is “authoritative and binding” — polygamy was banned by the LDS church.

While the Declaration says that the church never “inculcate[d] or encourage[d]” the practice, it at least never claims that it did not allow or officiate it.

In the “Excerpts” section at the bottom of the online Declaration, it quotes LDS President Wilford Woodruff as saying that it would have been unwise “to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage,” because “adherence to this principle” of polygamy resulted in “suffering” for the church’s members, due to strong U.S. federal laws against it. Woodruff bluntly said that it was time to “cease the practice and submit to the law”.

All of this, taken together, shows that the church did accept polygamy, and it only backed down on the issue so that it could continue to exist and thrive. Basically, it changed its religious teachings to suit the secular laws of the government, which would obviously go against Biblical teachings, because God’s laws are not subject to the State. In the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), one verse reads: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

What makes this all even more interesting is that even the Book of Mormon seems to oppose polygamy. Jacob 2:27 reads: “Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none..

This all leads to the big question: Do you think that an organization could be so wishy-washy with its teachings if it were really “The Church of Jesus Christ”? I do not think so, and I must therefore conclude that this Mormon magisterium (teaching authority) is invalid.

Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism.

Answers to 5 Lutheran Statements

Martin Luther said and wrote many heretical things, but here are a mere five quotes, along with Biblical passages that disprove them.

1. “For reason is directly opposed to faith. This is why you must let reason go. It must be killed and buried in believers.” [1]

(Answer: Proverbs 14:15, Colossians 1:9, Colossians 4:5-6, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)

2. “..[A Christian] could not lose his salvation, however much he sinned, unless he refused to believe. For no sin can condemn him save unbelief alone.” [2]

(Answer: Hebrews 10:26-27)

3. “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. …No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day.” [3]

(Answer: Psalm 4:4, Matthew 5:48, Hebrews 10:26-27)

4. “It is good that we have such a man [Jesus Christ], because God in himself is cruel and bad.” [4]

(Answer: Psalm 51:1, Jeremiah 9:24, Jeremiah 31:3)

5. “I miss more than one thing in this book [Revelation, aka Apocalypse], and this makes me hold it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic…and [I] can nohow detect that the Holy Spirit produced it. …My spirit cannot fit itself into this book.” [5]

(Answer: Revelation 22:19)

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References:

1. Luther’s Sermon on Matthew 19:13-15. “What Luther Says,” 1:485-486 (entry 1440). [link]

2. [link 1, link 2]

3. Let Your Sins Be Strong: A Letter From Luther to Melanchthon. Translated by Erika Bullmann Flores. [link]

4. [link 1, link 2]

5. M. Reu, Luther’s German Bible: An Historical Presentation Together with a collection of Sources (Ohio: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1934) 174-175 [link]

Yes, we call priests “Fathers,” but no, we are not violating Matthew 23:9.

A couple of years ago, before I became Catholic, I was listening to the radio on a Sunday morning, on my way to a Lutheran (LCMS) church service. The guy on the radio was the pastor of a local Assembly of God church. He proceeded to go on a tirade against the Church for labeling priests as “Fathers,” and cited Matthew 23:9 as proof that the practice was in violation of Jesus Christ’s teachings.

His accusation startled me. I had never thought of it like that before, and he sounded so sure of himself. I had just started learning about the Faith (albeit I was in the very, very early stages of the process), and this topic had never been brought up.

So, I asked Dylan, a Catholic friend of mine, about it. He had been studying Latin and Greek and about the translations of the Bible (not to mention the fact that he knew everything about Catholicism, in general). He explained it to me, and now, I will try to relay the good explanation to you.

Here’s the verse in question:

“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” – Matthew 23:9 (NASB)

But it’s important to note that the verse before that is…

“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.” – Matthew 23:8 (NASB)

And after that is…

“Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” – Matthew 23:10-13 (NASB)

“Rabbi” means “teacher,” and the Latin word for “teacher” is “doctor”. Is using the words “rabbi,” “teacher,” “doctor,” and “leader” evil? No. If they are, St. Paul (aka the guy that wrote, like, half of the New Testament) and some of Jesus Christ’s other disciples are in some serious trouble. Read the following verses:

“Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.” – Colossians 4:1 (NASB) (Some scholars question who wrote it, but most agree that it was written by St. Paul.)

“But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time.” – Acts 5:34 (NASB) (Written by St. Luke.)

“…for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.” – 2 Timothy 1:11 (NASB) (Written by St. Paul.)

“I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” – 1 John 2:13-14 (NASB) (Written by St. John.)

“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.” – 1 Corinthians 4:15 (NASB) (Written by St. Paul.)

It’s clear that when Jesus Christ forbade calling anyone “father” or “leader” or “teacher,” he was not speaking literally. He was correcting the Pharisees (who lacked humility and had elevated themselves above God as the ultimate authorities) and He was instructing us to always keep in mind that God is the ultimate Father, the ultimate Leader, and the ultimate Teacher.

Jesus Christ wants us to remember that God is the source of all authority. He wants us to be humble and to never think that we have any kind of our own authority that puts us on equal footing with God or any kind of our own special knowledge that is hidden from God, because God is omnipotent and omniscient, all-powerful and all-knowing.

When we call priests “Fathers,” it’s not that we see them as God’s equals, but that we see them as people that God has called to help us, to lead us, and to teach us about Him.

When we call priests “Fathers,” it’s no worse or more malicious than when you call your doctor “Doctor”.

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(Picture cropped from original image from here.)