Malankara World

40 Questions Answered

By H.G. Dr Geevarghese Mar Osthathios

QUESTION 24. "Call no man father on earth...." (Mt. 23: 9) Explain:

Those who quote this verse against the practice of calling a priest as Fr. M. V. George or Fr. John do not seem to understand the meaning of the verse. The same passage says that no one should be called a teacher or a master. The implication is that all the Christians are brothers and sisters. If the verse is taken literally, our own physical fathers also cannot be called father as they are also on earth, neither can our teachers be called teacher. The uniqueness of God the Father as the only Father who has no other father and of Jesus Christ as the only Teacher who had no other teacher (Mk. 6:2) and of the Holy Spirit as the only Master or Guide without another guide must be discerned in this passage with three questions.

St. Paul himself says, "I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment" (Philem. 10). Similarly, those who baptize become fathers of the baptized for whom baptismal regeneration is given (Tit. 3: 5) and the priests of the Christian church must be called 'father.'

God Almighty, the Eternal Father, is the proto-type of every family on earth. "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" (Eph. 3: 14). Hence, if God can be called 'Father' our earthly fathers who give us physical birth and spiritual fathers who give us spiritual birth must be called 'father.' The question is a clear example of fundamentalist way of taking a proof-text from some passage, removing it from the context and giving it a dangerous and impracticable literal interpretation.

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