Banned: Call No Man Father

Father’s Day is quickly approaching. It reminds me how churches across the countryside spend considerable time preparing for Father’s Day Sunday.  Special sermons are prepared. Gifts are purchased. And the service will be planned. Down. To. The. Tee. 

There will be special PowerPoint presentations and a short video.  The pastor will ask all the fathers to stand. There will be some presentation, perhaps a gift or a salutation, followed by a round of applause. There will be some handshaking along with other ruminations as they slowly settle back to their seats. 

The Sunday school teachers will be sent off, and the father-targeted sermon will follow.  This is the way it is all across the land. I have participated in more of these than I’d like to count, both on the receiving and the giving side of things. Well, of course, they celebrate fatherhood here on earth. Why wouldn’t they? 

But, if a Catholic calls a priest spiritual father just as the Apostle Paul and others did during their ministries, that’s when everything explodes.  How dare those Catholics use the word father? It’s against the bible! Rut. Roh.  Those darned Catholics are sooo unbiblical.  Really?   Umm, No.   Just no. 

There is a plethora of reasons that Catholics call their priest, father, and apologists fill millions of pages as to why. Anyone with an open mind could spend a little time checking into it prior to the ‘chicken little’ episode. There are 2 of those reasons I’d like to cover here. The first is that Jesus was talking to the Jews…and not to you. Believe it or not. 

Call No Man Father 

He was speaking to the Pharisees and the Scribes; those that sat on Moses’ seat. And, that’s NOT you. He told them to call no man father on earth. He told them to call no man teacher.  Why?  Throughout the entire earthly ministry of Christ, they harassed Him, and challenged Him. They clung to the old. The old kept them in power. 

They called Abraham father. They called other Patriarchs of the Israelite nation father.  Our father Abraham. Abraham our father. They called Moses teacher. Moses our teacher. Our teacher Moses.  Google it. Or, wiki it. They were clinging to the Torah; to the faith of their ancestors, to the teachers of the law and the fathers of the nation (family).  

During the exchange, Christ explained that they like the recognition and accolades while they made it difficult on others they lorded over. Christ made a direct statement of differentiation; a differentiation between the old and the new. There was more than one time that the Pharisees hurled the claim, “Our father Abraham” or “Moses our teacher” in Jesus direction.  He told them…”Our father who art in heaven… 

It’s as simple as that. He was talking to the Pharisees and scribes. Not. You. Not. me. And, you’ve read about the exchange. It was about the Old Testament, the Torah, and the Law. They controlled the Law.  On to the second point. 


Throughout history we have been taught to honor our mother and father. We’re taught to respect our elders. Priests are our spiritual fathers. And, that makes them our elders. That’s where the word presbyter comes from. Catholic apologists like to say that presbyter directly translates to priest. That’s not exactly true. 

The word ‘ hiereús ‘  does ( those that ministered at the temple). The word ‘ hierarchy’ comes from it. It directly translates to ‘priestly-rule’. The elder would have been a priest who would have officiated. They regularly had ordination ceremonies for all types of offices under the law. 

The laity of old, couldn’t partake of the sacrificial lamb. It was only the priests, the hiereus, or the presbyters .  Today, we are a royal priesthood; the new laity. We enter the sanctuary. The curtain was torn.  We partake of the ‘once and for all’ offering. They partook of an offering that had no effect. 

And, we’re not officiating. Today’s liturgy is critical, just as it was then. We respect our elders; the presbyter, the hiereus, and the priest…they are the same thing. Our spiritual fathers. 


Catholic apologists have discussed the ‘call no man father’ attack ad nauseam. The simple answer is that, Jesus wasn’t talking to you. He was talking to the Pharisees and scribes. He contrasted to old with the new; the New Covenant with the Old Covenant. Those with a lot to lose, debated Him throughout the Gospels. 

The Holy Spirit has not asked anyone to ridicule or mock a Catholic for calling a priest father. It sounds a lot like the Pharisees. Wrap your head around that. 

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