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Sunday, January 8, 2012

"Call no man Pastor" - a fresh look at Our Lord's prohibition.

In seeking to 'refute' the naive Protestant attack of appealing to Our Lord's instructions to "call no man father" (Matthew 23:9) as a prohibition of calling a priest "father," most Catholics have fallen into an entirely 'defensive mindset' and thus failed to apply this teaching at all. Typically, a Catholic will point out how this instruction cannot literally mean don't use the term "father" in reference to biological (Mt 15:4) or adoptive (John 6:42) or spiritual fatherhood (Rom 4:11-12; 1 Cor. 4:15), but once they've 'disarmed' the Protestant they feel their duty towards this verse is finished. In reality, the lesson from this verse is as important as ever, particularly with the rise of Protestantism.

I have become increasingly disturbed over the past few years as I stop and realize how much sway Protestant "pastors" have within the culture at large. This is disturbing because of the nature of their authority: it's ultimately self-appointed. I cannot think of any (functional) system in which the human authorities are self-appointed, and yet this is precisely a cornerstone of Protestant ecclesiology. Millions of people, including Catholics, have the mindset that just because someone is a "pastor" that they are entitled respect and even some level of submission. I write this having had that mentality until recently, only now realizing how dangerous and anti-Christian it is. And I realize now this is the true context in which Our Lord said "call no man father," meaning do not bestow titles of religious authority upon usurpers and detractors from God's true leaders.

 Just to be clear: I am not saying all Protestant "pastors" are evil or anything like that, and in fact most became "pastors" because they had a strong devotion to Christ and Scripture and felt called to "preach". The problem is far more subtle, and that's why it's so dangerous. As soon as you see it - if you do not already - you will be compelled to share this information with others.

For authority to mean anything, it must come from an intrinsically authoritative source. The Greek term for "Apostle" literally means "Sent," meaning some higher authority ultimately sends, which is how it's always been throughout the Scriptures and Church history. If you're not Sent or Appointed, then really you have no business assuming such a role. But most people don't realize this, which results in a society of illusion and chaos. Really, what is stopping anyone from declaring themself a pastor, setting up their own "church" and peddling their own version of the Gospel? Once people ask this question, then they see the danger. 

The more 'academic' Protestant denominations have 'accreditation' systems in place to establish certain 'standards' for candidates before they are 'ordained'. But even this is a hoax, since these 'standards' are subjective and all boil down to self-appointed authorities at the end of the day. For example, who says you need a Degree in Theology or need to know Biblical Greek to be a pastor? Certainly not the Bible! And who established these 'seminaries' anyway? They were "established" according to the whims and tastes of someone or group who appointed themselves to the task. What of the subjects and depth of the courses? Again, all are done according to whatever level the self-appointed 'board of trustees' decides. In the end, at most you have the equivalent of a secular diploma, which is infinitely short of true, Biblical Pastoral authority. You'll even notice how many "pastors" today like to tout their 'credentials', even preferring the title "Doctor" (PhD) to "Pastor" in their public discourse.

This is not to suggest Pastors should be uneducated - quite the opposite - but rather that ecclesial authority isn't dependent upon education level (or any other personal qualities for that manner). Ultimately, ecclesial authority comes by appointment from a true authority. This is why Catholics speak of the Gospel being "handed down," because it's not up to any of us to 'recover' or 'derive' the Gospel, only to pass on what has been passed onto us. 

*        *        *

Even the most "historical" Protestant denominations ultimately admit their original leaders were self-appointed. And how could they say otherwise? The Lutheran Book of Concord boldly admits:
...the Pope assumes to himself divine authority in a threefold manner. First, because he takes to himself the right to change the doctrine of Christ and services instituted by God, and wants his own doctrine and his own services to be observed as divine; secondly, because he takes to himself the power not only of binding and loosing in this life, but also the jurisdiction over souls after this life; thirdly, because the Pope does not want to be judged by the Church or by any one, and puts his own authority ahead of the decision of Councils and the entire Church. But to be unwilling to be judged by the Church or by any one is to make oneself God. Lastly, these errors so horrible, and this impiety, he defends with the greatest cruelty, and puts to death those dissenting.
Is this not what a church leader is supposed to have the authority to do? And, moreover, are these not perogatives Protestant leaders claim for themself? This is a naked double-standard. And there's more:
Therefore, even though the bishop of Rome had the primacy by divine right, yet since he defends godless services and doctrine conflicting with the Gospel, obedience is not due him; yea, it is necessary to resist him as Antichrist. The errors of the Pope are manifest and not trifling. 
No Protestant who has any academic integrity would deny the Bishop of Rome (i.e. Papacy) is a historic institution, existing long before Protestantism. And astonishingly, the Lutherans admit this was "primacy by divine right". So the question is, how can they really get around this logically? By setting up a parallel, self-appointed church authority? That's their only option:
Since, therefore, bishops have tyrannically transferred this jurisdiction to themselves alone, and have basely abused it, there is no need, because of this jurisdiction, to obey bishops. But since there are just reasons why we do not obey, it is right also to restore this jurisdiction to godly pastors [to whom, by Christ's command, it belongs], and to see to it that it is legitimately exercised for the reformation of morals and the glory of God.
In other words, the "correct" approach to church authority is to revoke it and transfer it to your own self-appointed "pastors" the moment the existing leadership doesn't act or teach the way you want. The absurdity and insanity of this approach is plain though, and ultimately destroys any concrete idea of ecclesial office. 

To get around the disastrous ramifications of such an insane and unbiblical policy, the more 'refined' Protestants will insist that such 'drastic measures' should not be done according to one's whim, but only in extreme circumstances. This attempt to save face amounts to nothing though when one realizes the principle at work has not changed (i.e. it's still a self-appointment), and the application is purely subjective (since what is 'grave circumstances' depend on the one making the judgment). This is precisely why Protestantism has collapsed into a myriad of denominations with 'essentials' being watered down more and more, because each man will end up dividing and setting up his own store as soon as he gets fed up. 

With this in mind, we can see that all Protestant "pastors" are ultimately usurping Christ's authority and the authority of His Church, while parading around the impression that they are not. This is no small matter. Even if the Protestant pastor's conscience is free of malicious intent, the fact remains they have no ecclesial authority and should cease their function. They are not to give religious instruction, rebuke, or even lead worship in any official capacity. As soon as you grant them any 'standing', they are given the green light to oppose the Truth and continue in schism. Why should a Protestant pastor listen to the "opinions" of a Catholic telling him to join the Catholic Church when the Catholic has been implicitly or explicitly giving signs that the Protestant really is a pastor?

If we want to change things, we need to make it clear we will not refer to Protestant "pastors" as pastors, nor will we allow them to lead us in prayer, nor will we sit quietly in their 'services' while they pontificate, nor will we allow them any sway in political matters. Likewise, we should cease from calling their meeting places or denominations "churches," as a recent Catholic document re-emphasizes the traditional stance. This is the only way to get them to see the futility in their unlawful office and get them thinking about the implications of what they are doing; only then will they be open to looking to the Catholic Church as the only true alternative.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lutheran pastors are not "self-appointed"; they are called by their congregations to preach and administer sacraments.

It would help if you quoted your opponents' documents according to an accurate translation. The two most recent versions of the Christian Book of Concord read, "Even IF the bishop of Rome should possess primacy by divine right..." We do not in fact concede that his office is by divine right, as the rest of the Book of Concord clearly states.

Nick said...

Hello Anonymous,

Lutheran pastors are self-appointed in that the original chain began with self appointed leaders. As congregations later began to be established, this only masks the fact the original chain never had true authority. And the fact a lutheran leader has no real authority over any other protestant leader (many of whom are immediately self-appointed) shows the dilemma even clearer.

As for quoting an "accurate translation," I happen to be quoting from the translation found on:
www.BookOfConcord.com
If that's not accurate, then blame them. It sounds official/legit to me.

The wording of the paragraph actually supports the "even though" translation (note the appeal to the Levitical priests which had authority by divine right).
http://bookofconcord.org/treatise.php

Miguel Sastre said...

Nick,

That's an awfully long post just to say you think Protestant leadership is illegitimate because it is ultimately self-appointed. Somewhere in all that I lost the reason for taking the focus off the rather infelicitous fact that Roman, Anglican and Orthodox priests are called by a title that Jesus tells us to call no man. Nor did Jesus qualify these words as you do: "Call no illegitimate, self-appointed leader "father," but feel free to call validly ordained priests "father." That's essentially your argument, isn't it?

That said, it is one thing to use the word "father" by way of analogy. Paul speaks of himself this way. But it is quite another to use it as a "title," when we have the specific command to avoid that specific word.

In any event, would the principle also carry over to the word "teacher" and "pastor?" That's a good question. Certainly we ought to be careful about them. I'm thinking that if Jesus had a problem with "father," he would likewise have a problem with "eminence" and "reverend." But might he also have a problem with "Doctor?" After all, "Doctor" derives from the Latin word "docere," which means to show or teach. But then again the word "magisterium" comes from the Latin, "magister," which also means teacher. So does that mean we can't call anyone "teacher" (and all etymologically related words) as titles either?

Still--I wouldn't want to push the reductio ad absurdam too far lest we miss Jesus's point: "Call no man your father or teacher" occurs in the context of exalting someone above their station. Such honorific titles should be shunned. "Pastor" isn't honorific. It's a job description that accurately describes what an elder of the church is supposed to do--namely, shepherd the flock.

That's not the case with Roman titles such as "father," and "your eminence" and "your holiness." When you kiss the ring of a bishop, that's honorific. That's exalting men. And that's exactly what Jesus said not to do in Matthew 23:9-12. By the way--you'll notice this occurs right before all the "woe" statements delivered to the pharisees--the "magisterium" of his day.

Along those lines, it takes little imagination to know what Jesus would say were we to call any man "Holy Father," as Rome does. Such would be blasphemy, plain and simple.

"Repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15)

Nick said...

Hi Miguel,

My argument is that people stumble over a word rather than the concept. The issue isn't about the word "father," it's deeper than that. (The title "father" is perfectly legitimate, as I showed clearly from Scripture.)

Of course Paul was using the word "father" by way of analogy, that's the whole point. There is a fatherly spiritual authority. To say this is distinct from a 'title' is a distinction without a difference.

Tradition and history further vindicate this fact, for the Early Church Fathers and Councils refer to the holy saints as "fathers". If this is a blatant contradiction to Christ's teaching, then you must claim the Church went into apostasy pretty early on.

The deeper issue is that Protestantism has no ecclesial authorities, contrary to Scripture and history. This is because being a pastor is strictly a self-imposed title, with any pastor moving in and claiming authority whenever he feels like it. And yes, the term "pastor" is a title corresponding to an office. Anything else is semantics.

Miguel Sastre said...

>>My argument is that people stumble over a word rather than the concept. The issue isn't about the word "father," it's deeper than that. (The title "father" is perfectly legitimate, as I showed clearly from Scripture.)<<

You're wrong, Nick. Jesus did not randomly pick the word "father" out of the hat as a representative of all honorific titles; rather he chose that specific word because either he foresaw how it would be abused or, more likely, it was already being misused in his day. He tells us why we're not supposed to use it: "For you have one Father who is in heaven." Ditto for "teacher" or "instructor." No doubt the Pharisees--upon whom he is about to pronounce the covenant curses (the "woes" of Matthew 23)--loved to be called "rabbi" and "father." Jesus is rebuking this error.

Let us, therefore, not repeat it! Right? But this is precisely what RCs and EOs and many Anglicans have done. And to the extent that Protestants ministers say, "It's *Doctor*--I didn't go to four years of seminary to be called mister," shame on them as well.

>>Of course Paul was using the word "father" by way of analogy, that's the whole point. There is a fatherly spiritual authority. To say this is distinct from a 'title' is a distinction without a difference.<<

But there's every difference in the world, Nick. Can't you see the difference between a comparison and a title? Scripture compares God to a mother hen. But only feminists would use this as a reason to call God "mother" (as a title). So there is absolutely no biblical justification for using "father" as a title for our spiritual leaders simply because an analogy can be drawn between earthly fatherhood and spiritual fatherhood.

>>Tradition and history further vindicate this fact, for the Early Church Fathers and Councils refer to the holy saints as "fathers". If this is a blatant contradiction to Christ's teaching, then you must claim the Church went into apostasy pretty early on.<<

That's not what apostasy means. Apostasy isn't simply a matter of making a doctrinal error; rather it's a matter of forsaking Christ himself. The church fathers did make mistakes. That doesn't mean they committed apostasy. But--there--I said it: "Church fathers." Can we call certain men "church fathers?" Can we call George Washington "the father of our country?" My intuition is that we can--because that's not what is at issue in Matthew 23:9-12. Insofar as the word "father" is descriptive of a job or function, it seems like an apt word. But Christ seems to have had something else in mind. Context makes that perfectly clear. The prohibition against "father" and "teacher" is set within the context of rebuking the clergy in his day who were desirous of honor and who used their status as clergy to claim certain privileges over the common person. Just read the context to see that hypocrisy looms large as one of Jesus' concerns.

After all, Jesus can tell a story in which "father Abraham" is mentioned as one of his chief characters (Luke 16:24). So obviously Jesus is not making a blanket prohibition here.

So then, there is a real distinction to be made--a distinction with a huge difference. Unfortunately for you, the practice of calling priests "father," is exactly the way "father" is not to be used.

Miguel Sastre said...

Nick,

Just a bit more of a response to the rest of what you said:

>>And yes, the term "pastor" is a title corresponding to an office. Anything else is semantics.<<

No, Nick. Even Catholic priests can be "pastors." The "pastor" of a parish is the head priest. But he is not typically called "pastor" as a title.

Consider: If Jesus is saying that we are not allowed to use titles at all for our clergy, then "pastor" would come under the same prohibition as "father." But I don't think that's the issue: Rather it is using a title that is properly only used of God that is the problem, along with the desire to heap honor upon oneself. Matthew 23:9 read in context seems to bear that out.

It takes a great deal of obfuscation (and that's what your article is) to miss this obvious fact.

So does that mean I can call the senior elder of my church "pastor" while you can't call your priest "father"? Yep. That's exactly what it means. But is that a "double standard?" Not at all. For "pastor" is a title (nowhere forbidden in scripture) that accurately describes the job that he is charged to do (1 Peter 5:2). "Father," however is forbidden in scripture and does not describe the job an elder is supposed to do; rather Jesus carefully reserves this title for God alone. To use it as a title for a clergy member is to usurp its proper use. "Pastor" simply doesn't run headlong into those problems in the way "father" does.

Jae said...

So What Did Jesus mean in Matt. 23:9? "Fathers and teachers".

A careful examination of the context of Matthew 23 shows that Jesus didn’t intend for his words here to be understood literally. The whole passage reads, "But you are not to be called ‘rabbi,’ for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called ‘masters,’ for you have one master, the Christ" (Matt. 23:8–10).

Jesus is not forbidding us to call men "fathers" He is only after to those who used the word "father* to usurp the Authority of the Only God the Father as shown in the Bible:

Even God commanded us to call our biological fathers as "fathers" in the 4th Commandment...."Honor thy Father and Mother..."

Even Jesus Christ called Abraham as *father* Abraham in John 8:56 , "Your **father** Abraham rejoiced to see my day.."

Apostle Paul referred to himself as *father* in the Bible eventhough he is not the biological father to Philemon and Timothy:

(Philem. 10), "I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose **father** I have become in my imprisonment". None of these men were Paul’s literal, biological sons. Rather, Paul is emphasizing his spiritual fatherhood with them.

(1 Cor. 4:14–15), "For I became your *father* in Christ Jesus through the gospel"
John said, "My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1); "No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth" (3 John 4). In fact, John also addresses men in his congregations as "fathers" (1 John 2:13–14).

By referring to these people as their spiritual sons and spiritual children, Peter, Paul, and John imply their own roles as spiritual fathers. Since the Bible frequently speaks of this spiritual fatherhood, we Catholics acknowledge it and follow the custom of the apostles by calling priests "father." Failure to acknowledge this is a failure to recognize and honor a great gift God has bestowed on the Church: the spiritual fatherhood of the priesthood.

From Old testament:

Job indicates he played a fatherly role with the less fortunate: "I was a *father * to the poor, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know" (Job 29:16).
For example, Elisha cries, "My father, my father!" to Elijah as the latter is carried up to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kgs. 2:12). Later, Elisha himself is called a father by the king of Israel (2 Kings. 6:21).

Catholics know that as members of a parish, they have been committed to a priest’s spiritual care, thus they have great filial affection for priests and call them "father." Priests, in turn, follow the apostles’ biblical example by referring to members of their flock as "my son" or "my child" (cf. Gal. 4:19; 1 Tim. 1:18; 2 Tim. 2:1; Philem. 10; 1 Pet. 5:13; 1 John 2:1; 3 John 4).

In Christ.

Miguel Sastre said...

Hello Jae

>>So What Did Jesus mean in Matt. 23:9? "Fathers and teachers".<<

I read your response. But I don't see that you ever gave a positive answer to this question; rather you went on to say what Jesus did not mean. Behold:

>>A careful examination of the context of Matthew 23 shows that Jesus didn’t intend for his words here to be understood literally.<<

Everything else you go on to say is in support of this premise, which you do admirably. I'm not sure, however, that "literally" is the right word here. I think Jesus was being "literal" (as opposed to metaphorical or symbolic or allegorical) when he said, "call no man your father, teacher, master, etc." But what did he "literally" mean by those words?

I agree with you that he was not talking about biological fatherhood. Nor was he talking about spiritual fatherhood. Now I think you would agree that "spiritual" fatherhood only makes sense in view of biological fatherhood. So what we have here is an analogy. (All language, of course, is analogical to some degree.) I have no problem with Paul calling himself a "father" or referring to the Patriarchs as "fathers" etc.

What I have a problem with is using this as a title of respect with the expectation that others will call you this. That seems to fit the context. Jesus obviously has the Pharisees in mind (given the context of Matthew 23) and clearly he wants his disciples not to imitate their practice. Notice that he says "you shall not be called teacher," which suggests strongly that he wanted his disciples to shun honorific titles and--if we may extrapolate--all pretensions to clerical privilege.

But it is interesting that "father" is the first thing he singles out for prohibition. Do not call anyone "father." Why? Because you only have one Father, in heaven.

Is there any evidence that anyone called Paul, or any of the other apostles, "Father" as a matter of course? I ask, because it seems to me that it is one thing to make a comparison, "I became your father," and quite another to expect to be addressed by that term or to use it as a formal title.

So this issue isn't so much about "literal" vs. "non-literal" uses of the word "father," but rather the *context* in which Jesus' prohibition takes place. I think more than anything else it is the *context* that is determinative.

Since Jesus is clearly condemning the clericalism of the Pharisees (and all that such entails: usurped privileges, hypocrisy, etc.), it seems that Jesus thought that avoiding such titles as "father," "teacher" and "master" would be a prudent hedge against clericalism in the church he was founding.

We only need look at the Roman communion today to see what happens when such a clear directive isn't taken seriously--that is, "literally."

Jae said...

"Since Jesus is clearly condemning the clericalism of the Pharisees (and all that such entails: usurped privileges, hypocrisy, etc.)"

While I agree with almost to what you have said the problem is making sweeping judgment. Nowhere in the verse Jesus was condemning "clericalism" but rather the things you mentioned: acts of hypocrisy, usurping the Authority of God etc.

Clericalism means: "is the application of the formal, church-based, leadership or opinion of ordained clergy in matters of the church, Faith, morals or broader sociocultural matters."

Jesus appointed specific people, 12 to be exact, to carry out his mission. Even though Jesus has many, many followers, he called out 12 specific individuals to guide his flock. Even in Jesus' time there was a structured church (as in the hierachy of angels, archangels, seraphim and thus also early church fathers-very hierachical). In fact the church could not exist if Jesus had not been around to start it himself and he did, but he left it in the hands of Peter (Mt 16:13-19).

So, we see that there was a church, with a specific structure of leaders that were called by God to lead the church. This is the Catholic (Universal) definition of church.

Now, if the church is founded upon the leaders then it is safe to say that "the church" can also mean "the leaders" or "the one's with teaching authority" or we called as Megisterium.

You made a fatal mistake of automatically associate "clericalism" with the personal sins of hypocrisy, usurp privileges etc. which the latter that Jesus clearly condemned primarily because He can read the minds and hearts of men.

Is there an understated objections to Church's hierarchical nature vs. principle of "Sola Scriptura"? Are you an adherent of Bible alone?

Just asking which is of another topic.

Jae said...

Furthermore, avoiding such titles "father", "master" doesn't necessarily mean a prudent hedge against the sins of hypocrisy, one can be as guilty of hypocrisy for people called as " pastor", "elder" or any other titles, the thing is, Jesus and Paul didn't have any problem with calling our church leaders as such, it is the sin of hypocrisy that they condemned not titles. One can have the title of being a King or Master (in parables) yet pleasing to the eyes of the Lord.

Moreso, we don't need to provide an "evidence" of anyone calling Apostle Paul as "father" primarily by the fact that he didn't object to the title and had encouraged it (timothy, phelimon etc) as also can be read with the earliest church history and early church fathers' writings. In fact our interpretation is more in accord Biblically and historically
than any Protestant's version.

Miguel Sastre said...

>>Furthermore, avoiding such titles "father", "master" doesn't necessarily mean a prudent hedge against the sins of hypocrisy, one can be as guilty of hypocrisy for people called as " pastor", "elder" or any other titles....<<

This is obfuscation, pure and simple. No one here has said that such titles are the sole cause of hypocrisy and no one is denying that people called "pastor" and "elder" can be hypocrites. My goodness, Paul calls Peter as much in Galatians 2, and Peter referred to himself as an "elder." So yes--elders can be hypocrites. But that takes us far afield from what Jesus is saying in Matthew 23: "Call no man your father." This is what he said in the context of pronouncing woes upon the Pharisees. Putting two and two together, it doesn't take a genius to see why the tradition (and that's what it is) of addressing priests with the title "father" is, prima facie, hard to square with Jesus' prohibition. Of all terms to choose for your leaders, why "Father?" And why "Holy Father" for you pope?

>>the thing is, Jesus and Paul didn't have any problem with calling our church leaders as such<<

Nonsense. Jesus just said not to use "Father" as a title. Clearly he had a problem with it, and so should you. And you keep misinterpreting Paul. He didn't take "Father" as a title; rather he compared himself to a "father." That's a distinction that makes every difference in the world.

>>Moreso, we don't need to provide an "evidence" of anyone calling Apostle Paul as "father"<<

Of course not. Rome doesn't see itself as accountable to the Word of God. That's hardly surprising.

>>primarily by the fact that he didn't object to the title and had encouraged it (timothy, phelimon etc)<<

But he didn't use "father" as a "title," so your point is moot. Besides--what kind of reasoning says, "If it's not forbidden it must be okay?"

Well, in point of fact, it is forbidden--that's what Jesus said and meant when he said, "call no man your father," in the context of rebuking the Pharisees.

>>as also can be read with the earliest church history and early church fathers' writings.<<

Which may only prove how soon the church got off track...

>>In fact our interpretation is more in accord Biblically<<

You've twisted the scriptures to make it say the exact opposite of what was intended. If you can't see that "call no man your Father," is a prohibition against taking that term as a clerical title, then I'd say your Romanism is getting in the way of your reason.

Jae said...

>>"This is obfuscation, pure and simple... But that takes us far afield from what Jesus is saying in Matthew 23: "Call no man your father." <<

REPLY:

Sorry, but it's not ambiguous , it is very clear, the problem is with your flawed interpretation . JESUS HIMSELF CALLED ABRAHAM AS "FATHER"! Jesus is a man calling another man "FATHER". Is there a contradiction? NO, if you "get" the real intention and context of what Jesus meant that obviously you didn't.

So how do you explain and exegete these Divinely inspired verses:

2 Kings. 2:12:, " Elisha cries, "My father, my father!" to Elijah as the latter is carried up to heaven in a whirlwind. Sure like a man calling another man father to me.

Isaiah 51:2 KJV, "Look unto ABRAHAM YOUR FATHER, and unto Sarah that bare you: For I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him." Sure like prophet and a man named Isaiah calling another man named Abraham, father.


Your interpretation of Christ's words in Matthew 23:8-11 therefore cannot be correct. Christ was engaging in hyperbole, as he often did, and attacked the MISUSE or ABUSE of the title "father." He was specifically talking about the Pharisees who, "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..." (Matthew 23:6-8 KJV)

Jesus was a faithful Jew and he certainly wasn't condemning the mere use of the title "Rabbi" which means "Master" or "Teacher" -- a title still used by Jewish people today. He was specifically condemning the improper use of the title for the Pharisees who were hypocrites "for they SAY, but DO not" (Matthew 23:3 KJV).

The same with the title "father." There is nothing inherently wrong with calling a MAN "father" (as proven with all the verses I quoted for you) whether natural fathers, ancestral fathers, or even spiritual fathers (as Paul was) -- so long as we recognize that it is the FATHER of our Lord Jesus Christ "of whom the whole family [or all FATHERHOOD] in HEAVEN and EARTH is NAMED" (Eph 3:14-15; cf. Matthew 23:9).

Jae said...

But if I understand you correctly, you said calling a man "father" in a "religious sense" is wrong. Is that so? Okay. Then the following still stands against your interpretation --

MATTHEW 23:30 -- "And say, if we had been in the days of OUR FATHERS..."

LUKE 16:24,30 -- "And he cried and said, FATHER Abraham.....And he said, nay, FATHER Abraham...."

ACTS 7 : 2,11,12,15,32,38,39,44,45,51,52 -- "Men, brethren, and FATHERS...unto our FATHER Abraham" (v. 2) "...and our FATHERS found no sustenance" (v. 11) "...he sent out our FATHERS first" (v. 12) "So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our FATHERS" (v. 15) "Saying, I am the God of thy FATHERS, the God of Abraham...." (v. 32) "spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our FATHERS..." (v. 38) "To whom our FATHERS would not obey..." (v. 39) "Our FATHERS had the tabernacle..." (v. 44) "...our FATHERS that came after...before the face of our FATHERS" (v. 45) "as your FATHERS did, so do ye" (v. 51) "Which of the prophets have not your FATHERS persecuted?" (v. 52)

"Men, brethren, and FATHERS...." (Acts 22:1) "...according to the perfect manner of the law of the FATHERS" (v. 3) "And he said, the God of our FATHERS hath chosen thee" (v. 14)

"...so worship I the God of my FATHERS..." (Acts 24:14)
"...hope of the promise made of God unto our FATHERS..." (Acts 26:6)

"...nothing against the people, or customs of our FATHERS" (Acts 28:17)

"What shall we say then that Abraham our FATHER..." (Rom 4:1) "...that he might be the FATHER of all them that believe..." (v. 11) "...the FATHER of circumcision...faith of our FATHER Abraham" (v. 12) "...the faith of Abraham; who is the FATHER of us all" (v. 16) "I have made thee a FATHER of many nations" (v. 17,18)

"yet have ye not many FATHERS: for in Christ Jesus I have BEGOTTEN you [or "become your FATHER"] through the gospel" (1 Cor 4:15)
"...not that ye should be IGNORANT, how that all our FATHERS" (1 Cor 10:1)

"...exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my FATHERS" (Gal 1:14)

"...as a son [Timothy] with the FATHER [Paul], he hath served with me in the gospel" (Phil 2:22)

"we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a FATHER doth his children" (1 Thess 2:11)

"Unto Timothy, MY OWN SON IN THE FAITH [that makes Paul his FATHER IN THE FAITH]" (1 Tim 1:2,18)
"Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a FATHER" (1 Tim 5:1)
"To Timothy, my DEARLY BELOVED SON [again, that makes Paul his SPIRITUAL FATHER IN THE FAITH]" (2 Tim 1:2; 2:1)

"To Titus, MINE OWN SON AFTER THE COMMON FAITH [once again, that makes Paul his SPIRITUAL FATHER IN THE FAITH]" (Titus 1:4)
"...received by tradition from your FATHERS" (1 Peter 1:18)
"...the FATHERS fell asleep, all things continue..." (2 Pet 3:4)
"I write unto you, FATHERS, because ye have known him..." (1 Jn 2:13) "I write unto you, FATHERS, because ye have known him..."

These are verses from Scripture that clearly show a man calling another man "father" in religious -spiritual settings. (biological fathers exempted) :) :)

Jae said...

>>Which may only prove how soon the church got off track<<

REPLY:

Does in even occur to you to ask yourself of the same question? Really what you're saying is, those who agree with me of what I think is right the Bible truly says and those who don't agree with me and my church are all wrong? Well, the Pentecostals claimed that too, the Seventh Day Adventists claimed that too, in fact the Puritans, Anabaptists, Jehovah Witnesses and some few thousands more also have claimed the same. Come to think of it, they all the same King James Bible, same "clearness" of Scripture, same Holy Spirit, same "testing" of the word, yet arrived at diametrically opposing beliefs and doctrines.

What do you have that they don't?

>>You've twisted the scriptures to make it say the exact opposite of what was intended. If you can't see that "call no man your Father," is a prohibition against taking that term as a clerical title, then I'd say your Romanism is getting in the way of your reason.<<

REPLY:

As shown above numerously and directly from Scripture the word "father" has been used for spiritual as well as physical-biological settings, it is you Miguel who got it wide off the mark. Then I say novelty of "primacy of conscience" from the Reformation that is the root cause of the "radical individualism" that deplores as being the cause of the chaos and anarchy that exists within the Protestant church, which you clearly adopted is getting in the way of your reason and faith.

Oh by the way, we are Roman Catholics not Romanists.

jae said...

>>Nonsense. Jesus just said not to use "Father" as a title. Clearly he had a problem with it, and so should you. And you keep misinterpreting Paul. He didn't take "Father" as a title; rather he compared himself to a "father." That's a distinction that makes every difference in the world.<<

REPLY:

Where in Scripture did Jesus say he prohibit the use of "Father" as a title? AS A TITLE? NOWHERE!

My Scriptural citations above referring to the Apostles and their flock as "FATHERS" and "SONS" in the Lord is PRECISELY **the Catholic understanding of the term "father" for our pastors and bishops, nothing more. It's kind of odd to say and tell them you are like a father to them (likewise calling them "sons" or "daughters) then prohibit them to call you Pop.

>>Rome doesn't see itself as accountable to the Word of God. That's hardly surprising.<<

REPLY:

Strong words? yes. Bold claim? yes. Disparaging? yes. Judgmental? yes. Bearing false witness? yes.

Did you ask yourself this, WHY should anyone believe in your brand of interpretation of Scripture aside from the thousands of others of your kind who differ from you?


Related, why should we believe in your interpretation 2,000 years after Christ than men who have heard, seen and disciples of the original 12 Apostles themselves 2,000 years ago?

If you have nothing to offer like the rest of the protestant world (claiming the same, what you have really is just your mere fallible opinion of Scripture, nothing more.

Christopher Ference said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher Ference said...

Jae,

I appreciate your efforts here, mate. That being said, I feel as though I have to tell you that you are wasting your time trying to convince "Michael Tailor" ("Miguel Sastre") that the use of "father" as a "clerical title" is alright according to the Scriptures.

As you noted, he accepts "father" as a title, so long as it's not a "clerical" title. He wasn't consistent in using "clerical title" during his entire argument (sometimes he merely used "title"), but his aim was really to show (by his Calvinist power of exegetically-warranted deduction, as only the "elect" can do it), that "father" is forbidden for Christians to use/expect as a "clerical" title. As I said, he wasn't consistent, which is why you have replied in the way in which you did.

His argument is that, in the context of the verse in question, Jesus speaks about the Pharisees. The Pharisees are "clerics," who *love* being honored with things, especially being called honorific/"clerical" titles. So when Jesus speaks of "teacher" and "father," etc. in the context of this passage, he is banning (for Christians, according to Miguel), the use of "father" (among other words) as honorific/"clerical" titles. Thus, the practitioners of what Miguel and his coreligionists like, nay *love*, to call "Romanism," are, by the powers of exegetically-warranted deduction, (again as only the "elect" can do it) have shown, yet again, how completely unbiblical this Romanist practice is... all to the glory of God, of course. :)

My thought is that Miguel can't see this verse/passage any other way, so it's an uphill battle for you, especially because, since he wasn't consistent in his use of "title" vs. "clerical title" (hence your, understandable, confusion), as he might chalk it up to another silly reprobate, with a "darkened mind" who just isn't getting the obvious (nearly-inspired??) force of his argument. Your insolence, of course, is only storing up more hellfire for you, in the case that you are slated, from eternity past, to live a life as an "enemy of God," who God will eventually use to bring more glory to Himself (He doesn't have enough already, you see) while you burn for you insolence in Hell. What more could you expect from a God who murders His only begotten Son as Sin Incarnate, as a man guilty of all things, in order to transfer His righteousness to the accounts of the "elect?" My guess is... not much. Of course there is always the chance that your election to eternal life is slated from eternity past, and that it will, eventually be realized temporally... in which case... you'll know that Miguel had been right all along.

Don't let him get under your skin, mate.

Blessings,
CF

p.s.
Nick, I tried to post using my AIM ID to no avail. Do you get those in an inbox to approve later or do they simply not work any longer?

Christopher Ference said...

Greetings,

Hola Miguel! I am probably going to regret this, both us us probably will, but... I had a bit more time than I thought I might, so I just had a couple of quick points that I hope you'll have some extra time to address. This will probably be about as "fun" a a route canal, but... pain lets us know we're alive, right?

Let me start out by saying that, I don't, necessarily, agree with Nick's post/point about Matthew 23:9, the Lord's prohibition, and how those things relate to Protestant ministers. It's better to let sleeping dogs lie, in these cases... So, now that we have that out of the way, I suppose that we could look at the verse in question in it's context again, no? Couldn't hurt, right? Let's do that, shall we?

"Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: 'The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 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.'" -Matthew 23:1-12 NASB

What does the verse in question really have to say? I am sure that you've already told us, but... since you're here... ;) Can you please point out for me where it is that Jesus prohibits the use of the word "father" as a "title" or a "clerical title," and, then, if you'd be so kind, could you show me where He prohibits this for the Christian Church for all ages? You see, first off, the verse does not speak of "titles" or "clerical titles" at all from what I can tell. I realize, of course, that you think this is the obvious and only logical interpretation/deduction of the words of Our Lord in the context of the verse in question (that it's about "putting two and two together," "it doesn't take a genius to see why," etc.), but I disagree with your deduction, especially when you seem to think that your deduction is Christ's teaching for the Christian Church to follow for all ages. I mean, it doesn't matter what Christ didn't actually say, who He was talking to, or when, right? As long as we can show "Romanism" to be unbiblical, we've done the work of God's "elect." It's been an interesting discussion, to be sure. Why, you even hinted, without any real exegetial warrant (what's new?) that Jesus "probably forsaw" that it would be misused (by the Christian Church, I assume?), but I don't, again, I don't agree with your deduction, mate, so... where does that leave us? We're in a real pickle!!

---continued---

Christopher Ference said...

"Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven"

Now, you say that it's obvious that Jesus means "father" in the sense that it's a "title" or "clerical title" (it sure would help us if you'd make up your mind here). Honestly, I don't see this anywhere in the verse, but, even if I did, I don't see it as something that would apply to the Christian Church for all ages... at all. Since you seem to grant that it's not *that* literal, then... it must be just "literal" (whatever that means now) enough to use it to rail against "Romanism," eh? You don't get it both ways... if Jesus means it as a "clerical title" in the first part of the verse, he means it in the last part too, no? So, perhaps, "Father" is merely a "clerical title" for God, no? And we certainly couldn't say that it's just a "title" here either, since, you already seem to have conceeded that we'd be missing the point our Lord was trying to make if we pushed the "reductio ad absurdam" too far... I mean, that would be absurd, right?? Then you could ever use the word "father" to refer to anyone at all but God, no?? Really? That's the argument I am supposed to see as the obvious and exegetially-warranted deductive winner here? Personally, I really don't think your worldview warrants the forcing your deductions/"exegesis" (your adding 2+2, etc.) upon me (or any other person) as if the Bible says them outright at all anyway. Oh well... sorry, mate. :)

But, since we're all still here, let's continue "fun," shall we? Let's say that, the way we Catholics use it, "father' isn't honorific. It's a job description that accurately describes what an elder of the church is supposed to do--namely, be a spiritual father to the flock." All better now? Or do only the "elect" get to define the terms in order to try to make fools out of those that God wants to hate Him so that He can justly damn them in order to get more glory... since He must be coming up short on glory, at least in some versions of Reformed theology??

I realize, of course, you cry foul, as you know that "father" is a "title"- I mean "honorific," er "clerical," or whatever else is surely forbidden by Christ to make "Romanists" look like the foolish reprobates that they probably are because you say so... surely when "father" is used in Scripture in other places to refer to Abraham and others it's NOT honorific, because you've said so... and you've proven it beyond the shadow of a doubt, right (give me a break, will ya?)? I still disagree with the deductive that must be implied here so... we're still in the same pickle!! :)

No worries, we "Romanists" aren't "exalting someone above their station," in this case... we should at least know when we are/aren't doing that right? No, of course not, we say "your Holiness" and "kiss rings," which is "exalting men," and, as we know, God "is no respecter of persons" so why should the "elect" be, right? We should just let you Reformed types do all of our thinking/defining for us... it makes it so much easier for you to make fools out of the reprobate when we just lay down for you, no? That way we know what we're really doing, right?? Plus... God gets more of the glory that He so desparately needs... it's really a win-win for the "good" (simil iustus et peccator) guys, right?

---continued---

Christopher Ference said...

Now, before you say that my Romanism has blinded me, and I spent too much time griping about certain "incarnations" of Reformed theology (which I surely understand none of them, since my mind has been darkened), which I find uttlery disgusting, and completely unbiblical, and despise as much as (if not more) you despise "Romanism," I would like you to note that you rarely miss an opportunity to take a pot-shot at old Rome, it seems, sir. :)

To review, I do ***not*** agree that you have shown that Jesus prohibited the use of "father" as a "title" or "clerical title" in the context of the verse in question, and even less that He did it for the Christian Church for all ages. Nor, that the other usages of "father" in the Bible *cannot* be "honorific," as the only reason you'll be able to give is your opinion/interpretation of this verse, to make all of the Scripture square with your truncated reasoning. Again, all you have done is you've given your opinion/interpretation based on a deduction which you feel is exegetically-warranted, but which which I and the majority of Christians (both alive and dead) clearly disagree. I do not believe that your worldview allows your to force me to accept this opinion/interpretation as ***the*** definative interpretation, so... that's probably all there is to say on the matter.

Anyone who has a "darkened mind," and who is has their "Romanism getting in the way of their reason," who is very possibly a reprobate... are they really worth the precious time of one of God's arbitrarily, sorry (HUGE difference, here, I know), unconditionally-elected vessels? Shouldn't you be reading the Psalms somewhere instead of embarrassing the enemies of God who have no light (by Divine Providence, no less) to see? I just don't see the point of it all... unless of course it's all part of your work to get God some more glory by making fools of us before our upcoming and eternal torture... only God knows, I suppose, and probably you.

All that said, I hope that you are well... :)

Miguel Sastre said...

Jae and Christopher and Nick:

Great responses.

I started crafting a response to Jae--kind of a summation of his views, with some commentary. Almost finished that when I took a peek and then the deluge. Nick responded 5 times on my blog, and Christopher--getting all cheeky on us--made the rather astute observation that "title" and "clerical title" seem to be interchangeable in my replies. I think he's right about that, and I'll need to tighten things up a bit.

To give you a peek at where I'm going: I do think there's probably more agreement between us than disagreement. Obviously Jesus isn't banning the word "Father." (At least I hope no one is defending that view here or thinks that I am.)

That said, clearly he is saying not to use titles like rabbi, father an teacher **in the way the scribes and Pharisees** were using those terms, which is also a point of agreement between us.

The crucial question is then is this: In what way were they using those terms? I'd argue (and I will soon) that Matthew 23:7-8 provides the key. First we're told that they "loved...being called rabbi." Second, we're told not to accept that title (yes it's a title, and yes, it's clerical). Why? "For you are all brothers" (v. 8).

What to make of this? Christopher seems to put a statue of limitations on whatever principle applies here insofar as he argues that whatever Jesus is saying, it can't possibly be for "all time."

Really? Why not? It sounds to me like Jesus has a problem--not with hierarchies per se, nor with clergy per se, but rather with clerical castes that lord it over those under their care and who seek to cash in on their clerical (as opposed to lay) status as a way of gaining privilege.

I think you can all see why terms like "Your eminence" and "Holy Father,' when applied to a clerical caste that does have dignities above and beyond the laity might lend itself to comparisons with what Jesus is talking about, no?

"You're all brothers" has an egalitarian ring to it, if you ask me.

By the way, Christopher, we Reformed don't claim to know the identity of the elect. God, however, doesn't guess so whomever he wishes to save will in fact be saved. Once's you believe in a sovereign God who can freely do as he pleases, then it all kind of falls into place.

Busy days coming up, so it may be a while before I get back to you all.

In the mean time, feel free to "Repent and believe the Gospel" (Mark 1:15). If you do, I'll take that as a sign of your election.

And don't mock Total Depravity. (We mock what we do not understand, and clearly you're not understanding it.) Only people who have not yet said, "Woe is me, for I am undone," dismiss Total Depravity putting confidence in the flesh. We really can't save ourselves. Not even by "cooperating."

Christopher Ference said...

Miguel,

Just to respond quickly to a couple of things you probably misunderstood about my response...

You wrote:
"What to make of this? Christopher seems to put a statue of limitations on whatever principle applies here insofar as he argues that whatever Jesus is saying, it can't possibly be for 'all time.'"

Not quite, Miguel. You see... I never said it (we still don't agree about what "it" is, do we?) couldn't be for all time, but, since I mentioned that the majority of Christians, both alive and dead, disagree with you, I am putting the burden of proof on you. :) Of course, I freely (if I can freely do anything) concede that Jesus had/has every right to apply a principle for the amount of time that He likes. My questions had to do with whether He did it here or not for the Christian Church for all ages. Again, was Jesus speaking to Christians at the time? How about about Christians at the time? Wee!!

You wrote:
"Really? Why not? It sounds to me like Jesus has a problem--not with hierarchies per se, nor with clergy per se, but rather with clerical castes that lord it over those under their care and who seek to cash in on their clerical (as opposed to lay) status as a way of gaining privilege.

Yeah... "Romanist" priests "love to be called 'father,'" and are "lording it over" the lay people... sounds like Reformation era baggage that your bringing to a verse about Jewish rabbis and extrapolating, not like sound exegesis, Miguel... I'm just saying... So... if we can agree that Christ has no problems with hierarchies (per se), no with clergy... all we need do is ship away (back to the 1500s) your Reformation-era baggage, and we've got a better picture of things, no?

You wrote:
By the way, Christopher, we Reformed don't claim to know the identity of the elect. God, however, doesn't guess so whomever he wishes to save will in fact be saved. Once's you believe in a sovereign God who can freely do as he pleases, then it all kind of falls into place.

Yeah, Miguel, I know all of this... please pay attention, I never said (or implied) that the Reformed claim to know the identity of the elect... if I did, reproduce the quotes here, and I will kindly recant. :)

God is sovereign!! We agree... we don't agree about what the Holy Writ teaches about His character and how He used/uses that sovereignty, Miguel... that's sort of one of the points of contention...

---continued---

Christopher Ference said...

You wrote:
"And don't mock Total Depravity. (We mock what we do not understand, and clearly you're not understanding it.) Only people who have not yet said, "Woe is me, for I am undone," dismiss Total Depravity putting confidence in the flesh. We really can't save ourselves. Not even by 'cooperating.'"

Where oh where did I mock total depravity any more that you seem to be mocking what you probably (and mistakenly) call semipelagianism with you parting words, Miguel? To be honest, I don't know where I mocked it... I do find some Reformed teachings on whether or not the reprobate are actively reprobated (as opposed to being merely passed over) to be about as disgusting as anything I see in Satanism, but... I have a right to my opinion, no? ;) If if makes you feel any better/worse, I feel the same nausea about penal substitutionary atonement. :)

At any rate, as you noted, I am cheeky, and I have been correct about your use of terminology, etc... We do agree on a couple of points, and you've even given a couple more points of agreement (on this particular "father" issue), so... if we could just dump your Reformation-era baggage, we could get to some more agreement here. That would be nice... or we could hang onto it... then we could still depend that St. Paul's letter to the Galatians was really meant for modern "Romanists," you know... just like when Jesus foresaw the use of "father" being a problem for the priests of His Church...

So much fun, so little time...

I hope that your busy week goes well, mate.

Christopher

Miguel Sastre said...

>>Where oh where did I mock total depravity any more that [than?]...<<

Ah hah. So you did mock the T in my TULIP.

>> I do find some Reformed teachings on whether or not the reprobate are actively reprobated (as opposed to being merely passed over)<<

Yeah, who do you have in mind? Because everyone I read on the subject is in the "passed over" school. Just as you think that we see your system as Semi-Pelagian (I would say "synergistic"), I suspect most Catholics think that all Calvinists believe in "double Predestination,' which in fact is not true. That's the fallacy of equal ultimacy which says that there is a strict parallelism between the basis upon which God elects and the basis upon which God reprobates. Personally, I don't find a dime's worth of difference between my view of election and that of Thomas Aquinas--who believed that God "skips over" the reprobate.

Put simply: God simply wills salvation with no conditions in man that determine his decision and he passes over the rest on account of their sin (which is a condition in man). I think most of my Reformed brethren would agree with that, though I don't speak for them all.

Are there "hyper Calvinists" who infer a double predestination based on God's eternal decrees? Yes. But I and most who profess to be Reformed don't hold that view.

>> If if makes you feel any better/worse, I feel the same nausea about penal substitutionary atonement. :)<<

Then you must have trouble with some of the language of Isaiah 53:1-12 from which we Reformed get the idea of penal substitution.

And the fact that this makes you nauseous is probably a sign that, while perhaps close, you're not yet in the kingdom of God...More prayer, less cheek, Christopher.

In any event, I will continue to call you what you are: A practitioner of Romanism. That is your religion. It is connected to the Catholic tradition from which we all spring. But so many of those whom you claim as your own (Aquinas, Augustine, Bernard etc.) would scarcely recognize what your church has become.

Perhaps when we all begin to take reformation seriously we will all one day be able to put an end to the Roman heresy and return to the Catholic tradition as it was long before Rome declared itself "infallible" and usurped the authority rightly due to scripture alone. Cyprian of Carthage may have said it best:


It remains, that upon this same matter each of us should bring forward what we think, judging no man, nor rejecting any one from the right of communion, if he should think differently from us. For neither does any one of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops [i.e., "Pope" Stephen] nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another. But let all of us wait for the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only one that has the power both of preferring us in the government of His Church, and of judging us in our conduct there (Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1995), The Seventh Council of Carthage Under Cyprian, p. 565).

Christopher Ference said...

Miguel, Miguel, Miguel... *sigh*

I do want to start out by saying that the post to which you responded was the second post I made in quick response to you last night, unfortunately, I must not have entered in something correctly, so the first post doesn't appear... oh well...

You wrote:
"Ah hah. So you did mock the T in my TULIP."

When I mentioned the bit there about "any more than," I was, as so say, being "cheeky." By it self, it certainly could be taken to mean that I was admitting to mocking the "T" in "[your] TULIP," I know, but, if you'd just kept reading, you'd have seen...

"To be honest, I don't know where I mocked it..."

That's where I was not being cheeky... where did I mock the "T" in your TULIP? That I find some versions/incarnations of that teaching (and it's implications) utterly disgusting, that doesn't mean that I am mocking them when I take them to their logical ends...

I realize that most Reformed don't carry things to the extremes that I do when I go through these scenarios, but... they come close enough for me.

You and St. Thomas don't have as much in common as you think... I think you probably know this, but... where he disagrees with you and those of your camp... you'll just say that he wasn't being consistent... and those of your camp, of course, are, right? ;)

If God hasn't elected me to salvation, I won't be reforming anything anytime soon.

I deny that the Scriptures assert the concept that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church, Miguel. If you can show me where the Bible asserts this concept, be my guest... my guess is that you be doing more deduction (as only the "elect" can), and very little exegesis... you and I both know the Bible doesn't assert the concept... at all... I have challenged many to show me where the Bible asserts this concept... if you think you can... please offer exegesis. :)

Question, if the Bible doesn't assert this concept, can I please just reject it as self-referentially incoherent tripe and move on? ;)

Also, I don't believe in the Bible because the Holy Spirit whispered to me that it was true (66 books of it anyway), and that Calvin is right about most thing... I believe in the Bible BECAUSE of the Catholic Church. Period. So we don't have as much in common there as you might think.

If I poked fun at any letter in TULIP, it was probably U... read what I said.

Be well.

Jae said...

Miguel,

Again, WHERE in the entire verse did Jesus prohibit the word "Father" as a "clerical title" (religious title)? NOWHERE!

You are just reading between the lines and looking for your conjecture that is undetectable.

In fact the citations I gave from Scripture proved our position and just put your position unattainable.

The main culprit of clinging to the novel idea of Sola Scriptura, a free for all state of affairs and the chaos and depravity it brought upon the Protestant church or rather churches.

Miguel, I read the Bible (from Genesis to Rev) and would rather lean on the interpretation of the men who had seen and heard the Apostles themselves than men 1,500 years later. Enough said.

Miguel Sastre said...

Jae Bird,

>>Again, WHERE in the entire verse [Matt 23:9] did Jesus prohibit the word "Father" as a "clerical title" (religious title)? NOWHERE!<<

Just read it in context and you will have answered your own question. I trust, of course, that you're not making the pedantic claim that Jesus had to use the exact words, "clerical title" in order for him to have had the concept of mind.

Be that as it may, I assume you would agree that the scribe and Pharisees are uppermost in mind and that they were the "clergy" of the day. If so, then what does Jesus mean when he says (with them in mind), "call no many your father, etc."? How--in such a context--is "father," anything but a clerical title?

Let me ask this a different way. If--in your view--Roman clergy is exempt from this prohibition, then to what pray tell would Jesus' prohibition ever apply?
Is there any conceivable circumstance within the Christian church in which "call no man your father" would ever have any "teeth"? Any practical application? Or is it pure hyperbole that we can simply dismiss?

Miguel Sastre said...

Cristóbal>>Now, you say that it's obvious that Jesus means "father" in the sense that it's a "title" or "clerical title" (it sure would help us if you'd make up your mind here).<<

Hmmmm.. I'll go with "clerical title" since I have to choose....Yes. Obvious. Plain as day. Hard to miss. (Unless you're burdened by having to affirm a tradition that runs headlong into Jesus' clear prohibition--in which case, feel free to pretend like you see no conflict. To wit:)

>>Honestly, I don't see this anywhere in the verse,<<

I guess clerical titles are in the eye of the beholder. Be that as it may, perhaps you can at least understand how one might draw my conclusion:

1. Scribes and Pharisees are definitely in the contextual neighborhood.
2. Jesus seems to be warning his disciples not to be like them.
3. They were the "clergy" of his day.
4. Ergo, Jesus' prohibition against using terms like "rabbi, teacher and father" seems to be best understood as a command not to use those terms like the Scribes and Pharisees were using them.
5. Such terms seem to have been used as "clerical titles."
6. The particular abuse of those titles seems to have something to do with the power and privileges that such titles conferred upon them.


>>but, even if I did, I don't see it as something that would apply to the Christian Church for all ages... at all.<<

Don't call Jewish clergy "Father," but feel free to call Christian clergy "Father"??? Is that your view?

>>...that would be absurd, right?? Then you could ever use the word "father" to refer to anyone at all but God, no?? Really? That's the argument I am supposed to see as the obvious and exegetially-warranted deductive winner here?<<

I thought all parties were agreed that, whatever Jesus meant by "call no man father," he wasn't talking about your "dad." IOW, we don't have here a blanket condemnation of every use of the term. Can I get an amen to that so that we can move on? Or does this point still need to be established?

>> Let's say that, the way we Catholics use it, "father' isn't honorific.<<

But it is. That's undeniable. So is "monsignor" and "your eminence" and "Holy Father." A man whom you would address as "Father," may or may not be the "pastor" of your parish. It seems to me that "Father" is a clerical title, whereas "pastor" is a job description. Perhaps you don't buy the distinction. But it makes perfect sense. Paul may compare his relationship to Timothy as a "Father" to a "son." It is doubtful, however, that anyone called Paul, "Fr. Paul."

Miguel Sastre said...

Christopher >>Or do only the "elect" get to define the terms in order to try to make fools out of those that God wants to hate Him so that He can justly damn them in order to get more glory... since He must be coming up short on glory, at least in some versions of Reformed theology??<<

You're off on a rant against a view that no one in my camp (to my knowledge anyway) would ever defend. First, no need to put "elect" in quotes (so called) as it is a thoroughly biblical term. But more importantly, careful with your words here. The tone is mocking enough--but the words may be your undoing. You've just assumed a vantage point you don't have in order to create a standard of justice by which you are at least implicitly measuring God himself. (I know, because when I was a Romanist, I used to make the same argument you're making).

1. You judge that a God who would ordain evil, even (damnation) for his own glory, is unworthy of your worship. Such a God, no doubt, must seem like a monster in your eyes.

2. But consider: Is there a standard of goodness or justice (to which you have access) that is higher than God himself? Are you able to put God in the hot-seat and judge his decrees? It seems to me that you're in no position to do this and that the mere attempt to do so is itself worthy of rebuke. Perhaps that is why Paul simply answers this sort of objection in Romans 9 with, "Who are you O man to answer back to God?"

3. As far as God glorifying himself, I think you may be guilty of judging God as you would a man. When human beings self-glorify, we normally judge this to be a bad thing. But not in the case of God who is triune. God's self-glorification is always the persons of Trinity glorifying one another. Isaiah reminds us that God will share his glory with none other.

4. You're soft-selling sin and holiness. If you understood the depth of your own depravity vis-a-vis God's holiness, the thought of a God who would ordain evil to bring about an even greater good (the cross anyone?) would not repulse you but rather humble you.


>>No, of course not, we say "your Holiness" and "kiss rings," which is "exalting men," and, as we know, God "is no respecter of persons"...<<

How can you honestly defend these customs in light of a contextual reading of Matthew 23:9? The Romanist response always seems to be, "Jesus called Abraham 'Father' ergo it's fine to call the Pope "Holy Father." If that's not an example of making void the word of God for the sake of a tradition, I don't know what is.

>>... it makes it so much easier for you to make fools out of the reprobate when we just lay down for you, no? <<

We don't claim to know the identity of the reprobate any more than we claim to know the identity of the elect. So when you identify yourself ("we") as being among the reprobate, I would suggest that it might be more accurate to see yourself as being among the unregenerate, especially if your life resembles what Paul was describing in Ephesians 2:1-3. The good news, however, is that Christ saved his elect 2,000 years ago on a hill outside of Jerusalem. If you put your faith in him, you will find him to be a perfect savior.

Cheers

Jae said...

First and foremost, nobody is doing self-glorification here (by taking the title "father")if you are referring to our Bishops and priests.

Glorification? privilege? Because of calling them "father"? NONSENSE.

Our priests are one if not the most underpaid, overworked, overtimed-24/7 worker in the world, very miniscule salary (allowance), practically without health insurance, NO retirement in their old age whatsoever, in fact some of them sent to god-forsaken land to shed blood, hack to death, burned alive just to care for the local populace and spread the Word of God......hypocrisy? privelege? If that is what you call privelege of the "upper room" for the Romanist priests, then nobody in his right mind wants to be called "father" alright.

Secondly, the burden of proof is on your shoulders which until now you haven't proven anything. Since you claim that Jesus prohibit the use of the word "father" to the clergy (religious/spiritual sense), then you have to prove by directly quoting the Scripture.

Abraham, Moses, Aaron and "Those who sitted in Moses' Chair...DO LISTEN AND FOLLOW THEM but not what they do" said Jesus Christ. Now, what do they have in common to the Israel people? They all signify and embody "spiritual-religious fatherhood" to all Jewish people. Was God displeased when they called them "father"? NO! Did God prohibit them? NO!

Where is your Scriptural proof aganst "clerical-religious" title again?

Thirdly, regarding "Your Holiness" is taken by us as the same as "father" where all the Holiness" is derived and of whom the whole family [or all ] in HEAVEN and EARTH is NAMED" (Eph 3:14-15; cf. Matthew 23:9).

Anyways, do you find objectionable when a fellow christian call you "Saint"?

SAINT in dictionary means: NOUN, 1.) "any of certain persons of exceptional holiness of life, formally recognized as such by the Christian Church, especially by canonization.

2.) a person of great holiness, virtue, or benevolence.


If you answerered NO, Is it of your own merit they call you as such? Do you have the qualities defined by the dictionary for the title "SAINT"?

If you answered YES, then ask and file a protest to Apostle Paul about it.(Eph 1:1, 2 Cor 1:1, Ephesians 4:7-8,11-16, etc).

My last because it's already tiring. I give you the last word.

Jae said...

>>Let me ask this a different way. If--in your view--Roman clergy is exempt from this prohibition, then to what pray tell would Jesus' prohibition ever apply?
Is there any conceivable circumstance within the Christian church in which "call no man your father" would ever have any "teeth"? Any practical application? Or is it pure hyperbole that we can simply dismiss?<<

REPLY:

Did you see my previous post? Again, Christ was engaging in HYPERBOLE (eye of the needle, plank being in one's eye, etc) as he often did, and attacked the MISUSE or ABUSE of the title "father." Jesus was a faithful Jew and he certainly wasn't condemning the mere use of the title "Rabbi" which means "Master" or "Teacher" -- a title still used by Jewish people today. He was specifically condemning the improper use of the title for the Pharisees who were hypocrites "for they SAY, but DO not" (Matthew 23:3 KJV).

Christ is pointing to the SIN not the word itself.

Miguel Sastre said...

Blue Jae>> Again, Christ was engaging in HYPERBOLE (eye of the needle, plank being in one's eye, etc) as he often did, and attacked the MISUSE or ABUSE of the title "father."<<

So you assert. But how do you know it's hyperbole? I agree that plucking out an eye and cutting off a hand is hyperbolic, as I can conceive of no circumstances in which following such advice would save one from hell.

But I can conceive of many circumstances in which calling someone "Father," would be the wrong thing to do. So I find your appeal to hyperbole to be itself hyperbolic, in that it overstates your case. Clearly, in the context of Matthew 23, Jesus is literally forbidding the use of those terms (i.e., rabbi, father, teacher) **in the way the scribes and Pharisees** were using them.

Now if you think that the custom of your church in no way shape or form resembles the custom of the scribes and Pharisees, then bravo for you. If you can --in good conscience--refer to the man who has failed to prosecute sex offenders as "holy Father," bully for you! But I submit that if you do so, you've utterly made utterly void Jesus' prohibition for the sake of your traditions.

Christopher Ference said...

Greetings Miguel!

Ahora que me llamaste “Cristóbal,” voy a asumir que hablas perfecto el español!! ;)

Alright, alright, we've had enough fun... now... back to the grind.

You wrote:
”Hmmmm... I'll go with 'clerical title' since I have to choose....Yes. Obvious. Plain as day. Hard to miss. (Unless you're burdened by having to affirm a tradition that runs headlong into Jesus' clear prohibition--in which case, feel free to pretend like you see no conflict. To wit:)”

"Plain as day?" Really? Not so fast, Miguel. I don't have to "pretend like [I] see no conflict" since Jesus nowhere mentions “clerical titles.” No amount of the Reformation-era baggage one carries while one is reading this verse in context will change that. If Jesus did make a prohibition against Christians using “father” as a “clerical title” for all ages in the life of His Church, then, yes, the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican (et al.) would be traditions would be running “headlong into Jesus' clear prohibition,” but... you haven't shown that to the case, and just *pretending* that you have (over and over again) doesn't change the fact. :)

I wrote:
“Honestly, I don't see this anywhere in the verse...”

You responded:
”I guess clerical titles are in the eye of the beholder. Be that as it may, perhaps you can at least understand how one might draw my conclusion:”

You “guess that 'clerical titles' are in the 'in the eye of the beholder,'” do you? Your '”eye” seems to have a tendency to use anything thing that “it” “thinks” that “it” can cite as “evidence,” no matter how scant, strained, or silly the “evidence” you cite to make your “argument” might seem... all to discredit “Romanism.” Sad that this seems like serious “exegesis” to you. *sigh*

You wrote:
”1. Scribes and Pharisees are definitely in the contextual neighborhood.”

Yes. So what?

”2. Jesus seems to be warning his disciples not to be like them.”

Agreed again, and, again, so what?

3. “They were the 'clergy' of his day.”

Why did you put clergy in quotes, Miguel? Is it because you too, see that you are starting to stretch things to make your case?

”4. Ergo, Jesus' prohibition against using terms like 'rabbi, teacher and father' seems to be best understood as a command not to use those terms like the Scribes and Pharisees were using them.”

One has to agree that you are right about what Jesus (i.e. your premises) before agreeing to this, Miguel. I don't agree with you. :)

”5. Such terms seem to have been used as 'clerical titles.'”

All I see is you trying to force this interpretation to provide, yet another, “clear and biblical reason” that “Romanism” is unbiblical, not “clear” and unbiased exegesis.

”6. The particular abuse of those titles seems to have something to do with the power and privileges that such titles conferred upon them.”

So now it's the "particular abuse" of the “terms” that's the problem and not the “terms” in and of themselves? Interesting...

---continued---

Christopher Ference said...

Let's try to look at the verse in question again, shall we?

“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven." -St. Matthew 23:9 NASB

The literal reading of this verse is that one must not call "anyone on this earth" his or her "father" because "one" is our "father, He who is in heaven."

We agree that the literal meaning that one would garner for the words of Jesus here, isn't what he was going for, as it would be absurd, and it would not square with the rest of Scripture (or Christian history, for that matter). So what did Jesus mean?

You say He "plainly" meant that Christians must not use the term "father" in as a "clerical title." I disagree with you. I don't think this is clear in the verse itself, in the context of the verse, in the context of the NT as a whole, nor in the context of the usage of the term in Christian history.

Can I ask you a question about this verse?

Is “father” a “clerical title” in all of it's usages in Matthew 23:9? For now, a "yes" or "no" will suffice, thanks. :)


Onto your other response to me!!

Peace!

Christopher Ference said...

Greetings! Time for more fun, no?

You wrote:
"You're off on a rant against a view that no one in my camp (to my knowledge anyway) would ever defend. First, no need to put 'elect' in quotes (so called) as it is a thoroughly biblical term."

My rant was a question. You answer seems to be "no." Got it!

I am not against the usage of the term "elect," nor do I deny that the word translated as "elect" is "biblical," I just despise how some people seem to use it. They even seem to assert it as a concept where it doesn't appear, but... that's for another time. :)

You wrote:
"You judge that a God who would ordain evil, even (damnation) for his own glory, is unworthy of your worship. Such a God, no doubt, must seem like a monster in your eyes."

If there is a "god" who "ordains" the individual "damnation" of sentient beings that he calls to repentance knowing that they cannot repent because they don't happen to be among the individuals whom have been "unconditionally elected" to have the ability to do so (by "divine" decree), and then damns them for their lack of repentance for their sins in order to show his "justice" and to bring himself glory... well, I am proud to say that such a "god" is unworthy of worship. If you don't believe in the type of "god" that I describe in this scenario, then you do well, Miguel...

You wrote:
"Is there a standard of goodness or justice (to which you have access) that is higher than God himself? Are you able to put God in the hot-seat and judge his decrees?"

No there is not a standard of goodness that is higher than God Himself, and I don't have to put God in the "hot-seat."

You wrote:
"It seems to me that you're in no position to do this and that the mere attempt to do so is itself worthy of rebuke. Perhaps that is why Paul simply answers this sort of objection in Romans 9 with, 'Who are you O man to answer back to God?'"

I don't care how it seems to you, Miguel, as you're simply confusing your interpretation of Scripture with what Scripture is actually teaching. You think that if one disagrees with your interpretation of Scripture on these matters is "worthy of rebuke." Good for you, Miguel. Who are you, Miguel, to judge me as worthy of rebuke based on your interpretation of Scripture? Why should I care if I don't agree with you about what Scripture teaches on these matters anyway?

As far as Romans 9 goes... I utterly reject the Calvinist interpretation(s) of the verse you quote and the entire chapter. I don't care if you're parroting James White or John Piper, as I utterly reject their interpretations of St. Paul's words in Romans 9 as well.

---contined---

Christopher Ference said...

You wrote:
"As far as God glorifying himself, I think you may be guilty of judging God as you would a man."

I am just judging warped conceptions of God brought about by bad interpretations of Scripture that I don't agree with.

You wrote:
"You're soft-selling sin and holiness. If you understood the depth of your own depravity vis-a-vis God's holiness, the thought of a God who would ordain evil to bring about an even greater good (the cross anyone?) would not repulse you but rather humble you."

No, I am not agreeing with your interpretation things, which leads to a theology that I also disagree with, a theology that I am repulsed by... my case in point is a "god" that would murder his faultless and only begotten son by transferring the guilt of the "unconditionally" elected individuals (try to "justify" [pun-intended] to me how this is not as arbitrary as Allah sometime) to him (the Bible doesn't teach this), and transferring his righteousness to them (something the Bible also NEVER EVER teaches) so that Christ can be "justly" punished "in their place" (did Christ go to hell for eternity like the reprobate do) so that they can be justified.

This is a depiction of a God that is NOT worthy of worship by ANY standard, Miguel.

Your only response is, "Take it up with Scripture, with St. Paul in Romans 9?" We disagree about what the Bible teaches, Miguel... PLEASE try to "get that" and factor it into what you say.

You wrote:
"We don't claim to know the identity of the reprobate any more than we claim to know the identity of the elect."

When did I say you did? Who are you arguing with? Where did I say you knew who the "elect" or the "reprobate" are?

You wrote:
"So when you identify yourself ('we') as being among the reprobate, I would suggest that it might be more accurate to see yourself as being among the unregenerate..."

I don't think that I am either, as I am have been baptized into Christ's Body, which is the Church. I don't care what the Calvinists do or don't opine about my state (regenerate, unregenerate, elected, reprobate, etc.), as their opinions don't matter to me.

You wrote:
"The good news, however, is that Christ saved his elect 2,000 years ago on a hill outside of Jerusalem. If you put your faith in him, you will find him to be a perfect savior."

Is it possible for *me* to "put my faith in Him" in the sense that you seem to mean it if I have not been unconditionally and individually elected (from eternity past and by Divine decree)? Yes or no? You asking me to do something that *no* human being can do... it's better to pray that God did that special favor for me in eternity past, and pray that you see fruit of it in time, no?

Calvinism disgusts me on so many levels that it's hard for me to imagine that you, even as a "former Romanist" despises "Romanism" as much as I despise Calvinism.

Be well.

Christopher Ference said...

Miguel!!

I almost forgot! One more thing...

Yo te dije esto:
"I deny that the Scriptures assert the concept that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church, Miguel. If you can show me where the Bible asserts this concept, be my guest... my guess is that you be doing more deduction (as only the 'elect' can), and very little exegesis... you and I both know the Bible doesn't assert the concept... at all... I have challenged many to show me where the Bible asserts this concept... if you think you can... please offer exegesis. :)"

Y, luego, te pregunte:
"if the Bible doesn't assert this concept, can I please just reject it as self-referentially incoherent tripe and move on? ;)"

I would really dig it if you could address this for me!

Thanks!

Miguel Sastre said...

Cristóbal,

Hay demasiado asuntos aquí para solucionarlos todos en un sitio tan limitado como una caja de comentarios (Calvino, la autoridad de las escrituras, la interpretación de Mt 23:9, etcetera.) Pero, para que los demás puedan seguir nuestra conversación....al inglés...

1. I found your reasons for not believing in the "god" of Calvinism to be entirely unoriginal. One canard after another. (You seem to forget that God ordains evil for a purpose and that those who commit evil do so by their own choice. Thus God is always justified when he condemns [Psalm 51]. That, however, doesn't mean that God simply passively looks forward in time--like Santa Clause looking to see who will be naughty and who will be nice--in order to base his decisions on that foreknowledge. Rather, because time itself (including the future) is a creation of God, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that God has ordained all things and the he knows in accordance with what He has ordained.

Nor does the free will defense solve any problems. For you are still left with a God who knows what will happen and chooses to permit it to happen when he could have prevented it. That to me is just as problematic as a God who ordains all things.

So we're back to the God of Romans 9--the one who is a Potter who can do whatever he wants with the clay. He can fashion vessels for salvation or destruction. Or--as Isaiah might put it--He can create weal or woe.

Be that as it may, I think you're forgetting that in Reformed theology, God uses *means* to accomplish the ends he has ordained. Thus God uses the sin of the reprobate as the basis upon which he condemns. Reprobation, therefore, isn't unconditional as election is. (Again, the fallacy of equal ultimacy that you've bought into hook, line and sinker.)

2. Along those lines, you also mentioned penal substitution. But you used the language of God "murdering" his son. That's an old canard. But who in the Reformed tradition has ever drawn that inference? Instead, we say that the Son voluntarily took on the punishment due to another. He volunteers to take the wrath that we deserved. Is not that what Paul means when he says everywhere "hyper heimon" (on our behalf)?

a continuación...

Miguel Sastre said...

3. As for "clerical titles" and the scribes and Pharisees being "clergy," I honestly do not understand how that can be denied. If they weren't part of the clergy of the day, then what were they? Is it possible that we mean different things by the word "clergy?" (I'm using it as shorthand of the religious leadership of the day. We can add to that the Sadducees and the high priest as well.) Be that as it may, it seems to me that you're the one with the problem here. Not only does the custom of your church seem to violate the "spirit" of Jesus' prohibition, but--quite infelicitously-- it also violates the letter.

I gave you reasons for why I think those are "clerical titles" and that the scribes and Pharisees were misusing the terms. So it is not the use but rather the abuse that Jesus seems to be condemning. That's why the Roman strategy of pointing out all the valid uses of "Father," etc is nothing but a bait and switch, for no one is arguing for a blanket prohibition of the term in the first place. You asked whether "Father" is only a clerical title in 23:9. Of course not. Jesus also uses it for God.

4. As far as sola scriptura goes--yes, I think it's biblical. You're attempt to bluff a confession out of me, "Come now, we both know it's not there," has been called. See my article on my blog called "Nothing Beyond," and let me know what you think.
1 Cor 4:6 is just one place that illustrates that Paul took sola scriptura for granted.

But let me say here that I would distinguish between sola scriptura as a doctrine (implied in 2 Tim 3:16-17) and sola scriptura as a principle (which often is the unspoken assumption behind many biblical texts)

a continuación...

Miguel Sastre said...

As for your logic: [Sigh]: The Roman canard of using sola scriptura in order to disprove sola scriptura is getting old. (Can't you people do better?) Your argument is this, no?:

1. SS is the doctrine that all doctrine must be taught in scripture. (Ummm...Catholics who hold to the material sufficiency view would affirm this as well.)
2. But, ironically, the Bible doesn't teach this doctrine. (Um...yes, it does--both explicitly and implicitly. But let us agree that we differ on this point.).
3. Therefore sola scriptura is unbiblical. (Take that Bible-thumpers!)

Premises 1 and 2 are problematic.. On the one hand, sola scriptura isn't--strictly speaking-- a "doctrine." It is first and foremost a slogan that stands by synecdoche for both a doctrine and an even more fundamental principle.

1. Principle: The sufficiency and authority of God's word. (This is stated or implied throughout scripture. But even if it weren't, we know it to be self-evidently true: If God has spoken, then what he says is ipso facto authoritative, right?)
2. Doctrine: This is the more specific claim that scripture is God's word in written form, and that it has a normative authority that God's unwritten word does not have given the fact that we no longer have access to it. (Unless you believe that God continues to "speak" through the "development" of doctrine.) Implied here is the idea that God has often spoken in order that it might one day be written. So when we read about God speaking "orally," ("Thus says the Lord,"...) we need to remind ourselves that we only know this *through* the words we are *reading.*
3. Slogan: Sola scriptura belongs to the 16th century. It was a slogan of protest against the corrupt customs and traditions of a corrupt church. I liken sola scriptura to a math problem: If 2 of 3 claimants to final (infallible) authority have shown themselves to be fallible, then 3-2 = 1. That leaves only one source left to us, namely, the Bible. Thus "sola scriptura" means not so much "the Bible is all there is" but rather "only the Bible has the final normative authority to which we must give our assent." Churches, popes, councils, confessions, creeds, customs and traditions can err. Scripture (which alone is "inspired") cannot.

De hoy en adelante voy a pegar mis respuestas en mi blog--mucho más fácil así.

Jae said...

Nick I think this is getting off track here about the worn-out subject of sola Scriptura.

Miguel, WHY should we believe in the Reformed theology and not the Pentacostals? SeventhDay? Jehovahs? and a few thousands more?

YOU ARE ALL CLAIMING THE SAME THINGS! Same King James Bible, same "clearness" of Scripture, same Holy Spirit, same "testing" of the word, same self-proclaim prophets, same claim of "remnant church", etc, etc, etc.!

Give at least one good reason why would anyone prefer Reformed theology over competing others? WHAT do you have that they don't? Geeeshhhh. Unbelievable.

Jae said...

The logic of Sola Scriptura....settling the dispute between 2 opposing christians regarding Faith to appeal and ask the same Bible to pass and make decision of who got it right or wrong! Asking an inanimate object to decide! Where the dispute arose in the first place!!! hmmmm.

We are all ears if the Book whisper the reformed is right.

Christopher Ference said...

Miguel,

Thanks for responding...

“Hay demasiado asuntos aquí para solucionarlos todos en un sitio tan limitado como una caja de comentarios (Calvino, la autoridad de las escrituras, la interpretación de Mt 23:9, etcetera.) Pero, para que los demás puedan seguir nuestra conversación....al inglés...”
Como tu quieras, Miguel.

“1. I found your reasons for not believing in the "god" of Calvinism to be entirely unoriginal. One canard after another. (You seem to forget that God ordains evil for a purpose and that those who commit evil do so by their own choice.”
Yes, but your arguments against Catholicism are new and cutting edge?? Whatever. At any rate, no one, in this scenario, no one chooses to ignore or obey God's command to repent, as no one can do so.
“Thus God is always justified when he condemns [Psalm 51]. That, however, doesn't mean that God simply passively looks forward in time--like Santa Clause looking to see who will be naughty and who will be nice--in order to base his decisions on that foreknowledge. Rather, because time itself (including the future) is a creation of God, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that God has ordained all things and the he knows in accordance with what He has ordained.”
I know what you all think, Miguel, I just don't accept it. From eternity past, God ordained the state of the individuals who are “elect” and the individuals who are “reprobate,” right? Neither party is able to do anything outside of what God ordained to do, to be.
“Nor does the free will defense solve any problems. For you are still left with a God who knows what will happen and chooses to permit it to happen when he could have prevented it. That to me is just as problematic as a God who ordains all things.”
To you, that may be true, Miguel, to me it “makes all the difference in the world.”

“So we're back to the God of Romans 9--the one who is a Potter who can do whatever he wants with the clay. He can fashion vessels for salvation or destruction. Or--as Isaiah might put it--He can create weal or woe.”
God is fashioning both vessels in anyway that He wants, yes, I know. He “fashions” the elect, just as He “fashions” the reprobate, thanks for being open about the symmetry here, as you seem to want to deny the symmetry of this deduction sometimes.
“Be that as it may, I think you're forgetting that in Reformed theology, God uses *means* to accomplish the ends he has ordained. Thus God uses the sin of the reprobate as the basis upon which he condemns. Reprobation, therefore, isn't unconditional as election is. (Again, the fallacy of equal ultimacy that you've bought into hook, line and sinker.)”

Reprobation, as I understand it, is a state of being that cannot be chosen anymore than election can. It's all God's doing, either way. The reprobate can be nothing other than hell-bound, as their purpose is to be enemies of God so that they can glorify Him while they scream as their flesh roasts in the fires of everlasting hell. You act as if this state is chosen, and that the punishment is just, but at the same time acknowledge that it could be no other way, as they had no other choice. Again, I get the gist of what you think God does, Miguel, I just find it worthy of nausea, as opposed to worship, that's all.

---continued---

Christopher Ference said...

“2. Along those lines, you also mentioned penal substitution. But you used the language of God "murdering" his son. That's an old canard. But who in the Reformed tradition has ever drawn that inference? Instead, we say that the Son voluntarily took on the punishment due to another. He volunteers to take the wrath that we deserved. Is not that what Paul means when he says everywhere "hyper heimon" (on our behalf)?”

Yes, I believe that penal substitution is also an evil doctrine that is nowhere taught in the Scriptures. I don't really care if the Reformed use the word “murder” to describe what the Father does to Christ in this scenario or not, to be honest, but, if it makes you feel more comfortable, I will say that, on PSA, the Father kills an innocent Jesus, for the sins of the unconditionally elected individuals that the Reformed are referring to when they speak of “the elect.” In turn, the elect receive the righteousness of the innocent Christ so that they can be seen as “justified” in the eyes of God. This is unbiblical hogwash. I like the translation “on our behalf” for “hyper heimon,” I just don't agree that St. Paul had PSA in mind when he used it. :)

I continue to deny that Jesus was prohibiting the use of the word "father" as a "clerical title." I don't think it can be shown that Jesus was speaking about "clerical titles," so I don't think that His prohibition has anything to do with them either. You freely admit that the second usage of the word "father" in the verse is not a "clerical title," so I don't see what forces anyone to accept that the first usage must be a "clerical title" either. Period.

As far as your charge of "bait and switch," where else is the clerical usage of "father" addressed in the Scriptures? I don't think it fair to condemn all the poor idiots who, for centuries, called priests fathers as reprobate "Romanists" based on on verse that no one apparently got until around the Reformation era, but, perhaps, that's just me?

I deny that I Corinthians is teaching the Sola Scriptura in principle or as a matter of doctrine. Sorry, Miguel. I have also never use Sola Scriptura to disprove Sola Scriptura, I merely ask to be shown where the Bible asserts the concept that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church with some exegetical proof. I am asking you to prove that the Bible asserts the concept exegetically. You have not done so here or anywhere else, material sufficiency is not the same as SS.

Miguel says, "SS is the doctrine that" and, also, that "SS isn't--strictly speaking-- a doctrine." Gotcha? Quien te entiende, Miguel?

Christopher Ference said...

My point is that the Bible doesn't assert the concept, so I see no reason to affirm it.

You are free to believe in Sola Scriptura, and I flatly deny that the Bible assert such a thing. We're stuck, I guess.

If you now wish to continue the discussion on your blog... you'll be "discussing" with no one, as I have no interest in continuing the discussion there.

Be well.

Miguel Sastre said...

Christopher:

>>Yes, I believe that penal substitution is also an evil doctrine that is nowhere taught in the Scriptures.<<

Yes, you've made that clear by characterizing it as "murder." And if that is what penal substitution were, most reasonable people would agree with you. But since that's not what it is, perhaps you'd be willing to consider alternative explanations....

>>I don't really care if the Reformed use the word “murder” to describe what the Father does to Christ in this scenario or not,<<

Or perhaps not....

>>to be honest, but, if it makes you feel more comfortable, I will say that, on PSA, the Father kills an innocent Jesus, for the sins of the unconditionally elected individuals that the Reformed are referring to when they speak of “the elect.”<<

Yeah...that's not PSA. Moving right along...

>>In turn, the elect receive the righteousness of the innocent Christ so that they can be seen as “justified” in the eyes of God. This is unbiblical hogwash.<<

Philippians 3:9 "and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith"

To me, this sounds like Paul is saying that the righteousness he has is not his own, but rather that which comes from God. Not hogwash. But truly unbelievable until...well, God shows you.

>>I like the translation “on our behalf” for “hyper heimon,” I just don't agree that St. Paul had PSA in mind when he used it. :)<<

I don't agree that he had *only* PSA in mind. He used many metaphors to describe the Atonement. Redemption, ransom, justification...all of these are facets of a much more complex reality. Jesus bearing God's wrath so that we won't have to is only one facet of grace.

continued...

Miguel Sastre said...

Christopher:

>>I continue to deny that Jesus was prohibiting the use of the word "father" as a "clerical title." I don't think it can be shown that Jesus was speaking about "clerical titles," so I don't think that His prohibition has anything to do with them either.<<

Fair enough. So what, then, did he mean? What alternative would you propose? Is there ever any circumstance, situation or scenario in which addressing a religious leader as "Father," "teacher" or "rabbi" would be inappropriate in your view? Even if you dismiss the "letter" of Jesus' prohibition as mere hyperbole, surely you must account for the "spirit" behind those words, no? How is the practice of calling a priest "Father" (whether Roman, Anglican, or Orthodox) immune from Jesus' prohibition?

>>You freely admit that the second usage of the word "father" in the verse is not a "clerical title," so I don't see what forces anyone to accept that the first usage must be a "clerical title" either. Period. <<

So the logic here seems to be either "Father" always is a clerical title, or it never is? All or nothing. Either/or? Question mark.

>>As far as your charge of "bait and switch," where else is the clerical usage of "father" addressed in the Scriptures?<<

I think it has such a use in Judges 17:10. But let's say there is no precedent. Would that change anything? What if Matthew 23:9 were an unprecedented first use of the term in that way? Would you not believe it simply because it was the first?

>>I don't think it fair to condemn all the poor idiots who, for centuries, called priests fathers as reprobate "Romanists"<<

Neither do I. We have a priest in our family and we call him "Father Ed." I wouldn't think of calling him anything else. (Definitely not "Mr. Ed" as that's trademarked). But that doesn't mean that "Father," should ever have become a title in the first place.

continued...

Miguel Sastre said...

Christopher:

>>I deny that I Corinthians is teaching the Sola Scriptura in principle or as a matter of doctrine.<<

And I affirm this. http://fallibility.blogspot.com/2011/05/nothing-beyond.html

>>I am asking you to prove that the Bible asserts the concept exegetically.<<

http://fallibility.blogspot.com/2011/05/nothing-beyond.html

>>material sufficiency is not the same as SS<<

That's off point. I said that if all doctrine has to be contained in scripture, then scripture has to state this concept somewhere within its pages. But that is the very definition of "material sufficiency," and so such an argument would undercut one acceptable view within Romanism. You're right, of course. SS also entails "formal sufficiency." But the argument that you and other RCs use really is an attack on material sufficiency. Hoisted on your own petard (with my apologies to Billy Shakespear).


>>Miguel says, "SS is the doctrine that" and, also, that "SS isn't--strictly speaking-- a doctrine." Gotcha? Quien te entiende, Miguel?<<

It's all of these things, including a slogan. Think of "sola scriptura" as shorthand for an entire complex of ideas: 1. The principle that God's word is ultimately authoritative and normative. 2. The doctrine that the scriptures are the only inspired record of God's word to which we have access. 3. The 16th century protest against the unbiblical traditions of Rome. It's all these things.

Cheers

Jae said...

Miguel, regarding Sola Scriptura, there was a debate between Dr. Keith Mathison of the Reformed/Evangelical theology and Drs. Bryan Cross and Neil Judisch of the Catholic on the question of Interpretive Authority- Sola Scriptura.

All your objections are covered in the discussion so we don't need to argue about it. Look at it first before you write anything then decide who makes more sense, Biblically and historically.

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and-the-question-of-interpretive-authority/

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/06/christ-founded-a-visible-church/#comment-16802

Happy reading.

Jae said...

Miguel I will make it easier for you to follow the chat between Dr. Mathison and Dr. Cross:

Reformed-Catholic dialogue

If it doesn't work just cut and paste the hyperlink to internet address bar.

Miguel Sastre said...

Hello Jae,

Yes, I've been to the link you sent me and have read the original reply to Matthison, and most of the (thousand or more) comments.

Now a question for you: Have you by any chance had the time to read Matthison's reply to Called to Communion? Here's the PDF link:
http://turretinfan.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/response-to-bryan-cross.pdf

Jae said...

Miguel, thanks for the link of Dr. Matthison's reply to the critique by Dr. Cross and Dr. Judisch of Sola Scriptura - WHO holds the Interpretive Authority.

Wonderful exchanges isn't it?

Now here is the link of Dr. Judisch's counter arguments of Mathison's reply.

Read Here

However, until now we haven't yet heard from Dr. Mathison to support his allegation that our argument against the Distinction Thesis "relevantly resembles" the 8-point argument necessary to prove the reformed's thesis.

See for yourself of what I'm talking about.

Jae said...

Oh, by the way I have ALL the copies of both sides of the argument.

Miguel Sastre said...

Blue Jae>>Wonderful exchanges isn't it? <<

Yes--very stimulating reading. (And lot's of it too.)


>>However, until now we haven't yet heard from Dr. Mathison to support his allegation that our argument against the Distinction Thesis "relevantly resembles" the 8-point argument necessary to prove the reformed's thesis....See for yourself of what I'm talking about.<<

Thanks for the link. I would expect a reply from Mathison any time soon, as the entire article was one long straw man. Nowhere, as far as I can tell, did Mathison make the strong claim that:

>>(P) The thesis that there is no principled distinction between Solo Scriptura and Sola Scriptura appears true or plausible to the inquirer if and only if the inquirer presupposes Catholic ecclesiology<<

At least Judisch prefaces this with the following words: "The fundamental idea [of Mathison] is something like this."

The key words are "something like." Yes, Judisch's characterization is "something like" what Mathison claims. But it is also quite unlike what Mathison was saying as well. Having said that, it is easy to see why one might characterize Mathison in that way. For he did say: "I will suggest that the difference becomes invisible only when one begins by assuming the correctness of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the church" (p. 1). And if that were all Mathison said on this point, I would concede that "P" above is fair. But Mathison goes on to elaborate on what he means by this on pages 2-4 "On Rome (and Geneva) Colored Glasses."

Give Mathison's elaboration on that point, it is clear that he would not say that the one and only way of missing the distinction between solo and sola scriptura is by presupposing Romanism; rather he seems to be making the softer claim that if one begins the inquiry with the presupposition that Romanism is true, then the very same arguments that destroy solo scriptura will also destroy sola scriptura. Thus, from the perspective of Roman Catholicism, Mathison's entire thesis is one big distinction without a difference. But if we look at the issue with Geneva-colored glasses, the solo/sola distinction is discernible.

Judisch rejects this with the precision of those accustomed to writing for other philosophers. But once one wades through the P's, Q's and other jargon, the argument seems to reduce to the following: "I may have Rome colored glasses on, but even when I take them off, I still can't see a principled difference."

As such, I think that's an innocent enough claim. But I also think Mathison's original claim is likewise fairly non-controversial--i.e., we all have our presuppositions, and those presuppositions often influence (and perhaps even determine) our reading of scripture, history, church documents and the like. (Who would disagree with that?)

Returning to the point that even were it possible to remove the glasses for a long enough time to get a clear view of the distinction Mathison is proposing (to see if there really is one at all), Judisch nowhere addressed the supporting arguments Mathison used in defense of that distinction.

continued next post...

Miguel Sastre said...

continued from previous post...

Here I have Mathison's response (p. 48) in mind: "In other words, even if Scripture were to play no part in the search [for the Church Christ founded], the element of subjectivity remains, and it is more significant than Cross and Judisch are willing to concede. If one takes a look at converts to Roman Catholicism as opposed to converts to Orthodoxy, it becomes clear that Cross and Judisch have submitted to an institution which they have determined is the Church Christ founded according to their interpretation of church history and apostolic succession – just as the convert to Orthodoxy has submitted to the institution he has determined is the Church Christ founded according to his interpretation of history and apostolic succession."

It seems to me that Judisch's response never really addressed that claim head-on; rather it obsessed a bit too much on the uninteresting point of whether or not P (as Judisch construes it) really rules out the logical possibility of detecting a distinction simply because one may be wearing (or may have taken off) one's Roman-colored spectacles.

Okay--fine. But surely Mathison is correct to point out the fact that we are all plagued to one degree or another by our subjectivity.

To put a finer point to it, consider the [yawn], tired (and circular--not "spiral") argument advanced by Roman apologists for the inspiration of scripture. They want to appeal to an infallible church in order to give epistemic warrant to an inspired Bible. All well and good. But even taking the Bible "merely as history," (so as not to immediately beg the question), one must first presuppose that one can actually read the Bible "merely as history" in the first place (temporarily suspending one's antecedent religious commitments) and simultaneously interpret that history correctly (without taking recourse in the infallible church--which at this point in the argument has not yet been established!).

In other words--Roman apologists naively assume the possibility of an "objective" historical inquiry and exegesis of the relevant biblical texts (e..g, Matthew 16:18-19) in order to then draw the conclusion that Christ existed, was who he claimed to be and founded a church on Peter (and by extension the bishops of Rome etc.).

Somehow they forget in all this that they come to these sources as fallible human beings, mired in their own subjectivity, and that they cannot reason from fallible premises to an infallible conclusion or from the mere possibility of an infallible church to the strong conclusion that one actually exists.

Cheers

Jae said...

Our divinely revealed Christian Faith doesn't amount to "high probability" of one's interpretation of the bible which protestant's only possible position, so sorry but I don't accept it.

As Dr. David Anders points out, "What Protestants must concede, however, is that Catholics attempt to ground their doctrine of authority on the teaching of Christ and the apostles. They do not resort to tenuous logical **inferences**. Can Protestant apologists do the same?"

"Did Jesus provide for the continuing transmission of the Christian faith? What a simple and foundational question! And yet, oddly, it is one that Protestant apologists rarely ask. In the history of Protestant apologetics, great emphasis is placed on how we recognize the inspiration of Scripture (Church authority vs. internal witness of the Spirit), the witness of ancient Christianity, and the supposed "errors" of Catholicism. But the one question almost never asked is, "Did Jesus teach Sola Scriptura?"

Contrary to this position is the Protestant position which puts man’s intellect and individual rational capacity above faith. Although most Protestants will tell you that live by faith alone, it is not really faith in God they are living by, but only faith in themselves. For the Catholic, faith precedes reason, for the Protestant, reason precedes faith. The great Cardinal Manning once said, "I seem to see no choice but this- the voice of God speaking always through His Church, or the reason of man judging of Revelation." In other words, the Protestant takes God’s Written Word and attempts as best as he can to determine what it means for him, and then put his faith in what he has determined. He bases his faith off of what he reads in the Scriptures and determines for himself the doctrines he will believe. This is completely the opposite of the Catholic’s position, who simply listens to God’s voice speaking through His one and only Church, and then seeks to understand that faith by his reason.

This breach of faith for the Protestant is also observed clearly in the breakdown of ecclesiology. Their "churches" can err, and it can teach error in different times and places, and most readily admit this to be true. They do not claim that their church or churches teach with an infallible authority. For them the Scriptures are the ultimate source of authority, and it alone is infallible. Yes, many Protestant sects will put forth their church structure as authoritative in some sense, but never as being at the level of infallibility. This presents an unsolvable problem for them. They all appeal to the infallible Written Word of God as their only infallible authority, but they can never be sure that they are infallibly interpreting it correctly. Nor can they be certain that the Scripture they possess is all that comprises God’s revelation to mankind. Is the 66 book canon infallible or is the 73 book canon infallible, and has anyone claimed either canon to be infallible? Do you think God would reveal this information in an infallible manner? The Catholic can answer these questions in the affirmative, while the Protestant can only claim probability.

So, sorry but I think we have to agree to disagree. This is my last reply to you since we are going off-topic here. Peace.

Miguel Sastre said...

Jae: So, sorry but I think we have to agree to disagree. This is my last reply to you since we are going off-topic here. Peace.

Thanks for the discussion. Your last post makes some interesting points to which I would like to respond, but will not do so here, since, as you say, we're way off topic now. If you'd like to continue the discussion in another venue, let me know (in this comment box). I may (if time permits) blog my response to you on my blog (http://fallibility.blogspot.com/), in which case, you can respond there where the discussion would be "on topic."

Blessings to you.