Discussion in 'Personal Advice, Care & Prayers' started by JayEhm, Mar 19, 2018.
Do you call your own father "father?" Paul calls himself a father to the early Christians.
I'm 72 years old. When my father was alive I never called him 'Father'. I always called him 'Dad'. Paul called himself a father to the churches he planted, but there is no evidence that they called him Father Paul and none that he expected them to call him Father either. As far as I know.
There is something else I would never call anyone. When in the RN I was once told to address the Master at Arms as "Master". I never did. I always used his full title "Master at Arms". I have only one Master, and only one Father.
I would say you are being more than overly literal. If we are to take your meaning then the command to "call no man father" would extend to Paul calling himself father. Calvin says this.
"While Paul claims for himself the appellation of father, he does it in such a manner as not to take away or diminish the smallest portion of the honor which is due to God. ... God alone is the Father of all in faith ... But they whom he is graciously pleased to employ as his ministers for that purpose, are likewise allowed to share with him in his honor, while, at the same time, He parts with nothing that belongs to himself."
This would have to extend to any modern word we have for father (dad included) as πατήρ as used in Matthew is simply defined as a male ancestor. Elsewhere St. Stephen and the Apostle Paul call various Hebrew patriarchs their father.
Our Lord is engaging in what was a typical Hebraic didactic tool; hyperbole. For instance He is not actually calling us to tear out our own eyes. Similarly He says call no man teacher yet calls others by this title (Nicodemus) and is called teacher Himself. Treating the relationship between church leaders and their flocks as a filial one goes back to the apostles and is found in the Word. From the earliest times, bishops and presbyters are called papa in Greek. I find it difficult to believe that the earliest Christians missed what the meaning of this text was.
Found this interesting article. Setting aside the positive comments to priestesses, the history of the use of "Father" for Protestant ministers is fairly interesting and seems to have declined largely due to Catholic immigration to the United States.
What is the link?
It is possible to get far too 'hot under the collar' over issues like what we call our 'overseers in Christ'. I served 10 years in the RN and was often amused at the fact that our very right wing protestant brethren would not entertain calling the ship's minister of religion, 'Father', but were, like myself, perfectly happy to call him "Padre". The tradition goes back to Alfred the Great's time, so that's OK then.
It really does not bother me too much what parishioners call me anymore. I was a Reader, now Emeritus, but my christian name was always acceptable. That is what Christian Names are for. As a 49 years old chorister, having sung in the same church since 7 and a half years old, I found it incongruous when a new young 23 year old Priest came to us and wanted everyone to call him Father . . . . . I was nearly old enough to be his Granddad. and here he was wanting me to address him as Father from the get go. After a couple of months however he got used to me addressing him personally by his christian name and only in public meetings as 'Father . . . .' He is now a Venerable Canon Arch Deacon and I would still feel able to address him as Michael.