Call None “Father”? – A Reply to David Riggs
By Bro. G-one T. Paisones
St. John Vianney Patron of All Priest
Good day every one; recently, I’d just completed in reading one of the articles of David Riggs in-title “Catholic Teaching Examined (Examining Catholic Teaching In The Light Of the Scriptures)” in an eBook (PDF) format. As David Riggs told us the reasons in his exit to the Catholic Church and converting to a protestant sect; we would try to cross examine his allege examination to the doctrines of the Catholic Church in which according to him are not Biblical (page 161).
One of the highlighted topics is the “Call None Father” which is based in the words of Jesus in the gospel of Saint Mathew; chapter 23; verses 9-10 “And call no one on earth your father; for one is your Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters; for one only is your Master, the Christ.” For (our) more readable reply and appropriate explanation of the passage and to the satisfaction of our dear readers; we are presenting here the full article of David Riggs.
Please take note, that the original article of David Rigs will be labeled in red font; while our immediate and Biblical reply is in blue font.
“Catholic Teaching Examined (Examining Catholic Teaching In The Light Of the Scriptures)”
By David Riggs
The Catholic Church has a multitude of religious titles and addresses that are given to their officials. We list some of them here from page 129 of the book, My Catholic Faith.
! “A priest is addressed ‘Father.'”
! “He (the Pope, D.R.) is formally addressed as ‘Your Holiness.'”
! “A cardinal is addressed ‘Your Eminence.'”
! “Arch bishops and bishops are entitled ‘Most Reverend,’ and ‘Your Excellency’; the other prelates not bishops are entitled ‘Right’ or ‘Very Reverend Monsignor’ or ‘Father.'”
Reply: Yes that is correct; we Catholics are addressing our pastor as father because it is based on the words of the Holy Bible. David Riggs did not read the passage of the book of Judges, chapter 17, verse 10 which says: “ And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, and a suit of apparel, and your living.”
Saint Paul also told us in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 15: “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Indeed, Saint Paul calls himself “father” through the gospel of Jesus Christ. And please bear in your mind that Saint Paul is a priest; here is our evidence:
Rome 15:16 “to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Please take note also that the Greek word for the word “priestly” is “IEROUR GOUNTA” which denote in performing the sacred rites or priestly duties and functions.
The pope is addressed as Your Holiness because, the pope perform the important holy office of the church – as the Bishop of Rome and as the successor of Saint Peter (Mat. 16:18; John. 21:15-17; Luc. 22:32) (Act. 1:15-25).
Cardinal is addressed as Your Eminence which mean that the Cardinal as the helper or assistant of the Pope; he is eminence or important. Eminence means important.
Bishops and bishops are entitled ‘Most Reverend,’ and ‘Your Excellency’ – Most Reverend or Reverend means just a greetings and sign of respect towards the ministers of God. Your Excellency also denote to the high rank people in a society e.g. President, Prime Minister and others.
When Catholics address their priests and bishops as “Reverend” and “Father,” they are using titles which belong only to God. Protestants who likewise label their clergymen as “Reverend” are doing the same.
The term “Reverend” means basically “worthy of reverence; revered” and is used in the Bible to venerate the name of God. Psalm 111:9 says, “He has sent deliverance to his people; he has ratified his covenant forever; holy and awesome (also translated “reverend” D.R.) is his name.” God alone is to be reverenced, revered and worshiped. “The Lord thy God shalt thou worship and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10).
Reply: You are confusing David Riggs; as what you have said that revered mean to venerate; to our readers always remember that venerate are two of a kind. The highest form of veneration in which due to God alone – and it is called ADORATION (Mat. 4:10); while the other kind of veneration is the respect and homage of all saints (Called Dulia) and other sacred things. Below is our scriptural evidence with regards to our assertion:
Act. 3:33 (Amplified Bible) “… the place where you are standing is holy ground and worthy of veneration” (Emphasize mine)
Eph. 5:33 (Amplified Bible) “… venerates for husband” (Emphasize mine). In this verse, Saint Paul urges the wives of the Christian community to venerate (respect) their husbands.
Exo. 39:29;31 (Douay Rheims) “plate of sacred veneration of the purest gold…” “So all the work of the tabernacle and of the root of the testimony was finished.” In this passage, we can read that the tabernacles; where there are two statues of angels called cherubim are venerated. Therefore, the Catholic teaching in venerating the sacred statues is truly Biblical and based on factual in accordance to the word of God.
The title reverend means venerating; and when we Catholic said that to our ministers; we are not guilty to the so called blasphemy because we just simply do this just an act of respect.
Men ought not seek the glory which belongs only to Deity. They should not accept it, nor endeavor to give it. Men commit a grave error when they take the titles and designations which belong to Almighty God and place them on mere men.
Reply: David Riggs; then makes up his fallacious conclusions – the fallacy of generalization. As we had tackled above, we show the evidence in using the word “veneration;” veneration have two kinds; one is the highest veneration in which due to the GOD alone; while the other is the veneration or a simple respect of an individual, a saint, a sacred things and others.
Jesus said, “And call no one on earth your father; for one is your Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters; for one only is your Master, the Christ” (Matt. 23:9-10). Thus, we are forbidden by our Lord to call men “father” in a religious sense. We plead with our Catholic friends not to openly defy this command given by our Lord. Catholic priests try to dodge the force of Jesus’ command by telling us that if we interpreted our Lord’s words literally, we could not call our parent “father.” (See Questions Box, p. 310). However, in the context of Matt. 23, Jesus is condemning the religious leaders of His time who did all their works to be seen of men (vs. 5), loved marks of distinction (vs. 6), and craved the flattering titles given by men (vs. 7). The writer of Hebrews by inspiration used the term “father” for our earthly parent. He said, “Furthermore, we had fathers of our flesh to correct us…” (Heb. 12:9). In view of these things, when Jesus said “call no one on earth your father,” what could he have meant but that we are not to call men “father” in a religious sense?
Reply: Christ refers his words to the Pharisees and not to the Catholic Church (Mat.23:1-5). The whole chapter of Matthew 23 does not cited Catholic Church. Christ also refers to the people who claiming themselves as god (2 Thes. 2:4 “who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, * claiming that he is a god”). David Riggs limit his knowledge in the Bible of the usage of the word “father”; because as we can see in the outline (below) there are many instances that the word “father” is used to signify the beginning or originator of a references object, people or topic:
2 King 2:12 “And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces.” In this passage, Prophet Elijah was called father by Elisha.
Philemon 10 (NAB) “I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment” In this text, Saint Paul once again was called father.
Gen. 4:20-21 “Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.” In these verses, we find that an originator was called father.
1 King 9:4 “And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my ordinance” – Ancestors also called father.
1 Tim. 1:1-2 “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my true child in the faith” Saint Paul, highlighted again that he is a father of Timothy in faith.
A young Christian girl had opportunity to introduce the local preacher to her non-Christian friends. She said, “This is my brother Mr._______.” She demonstrated both the knowledge and obedience which the Lord requires. She gave no religious title and used the term “brother” in its proper sense. The term refers to the common bond of all Christians and is not a title that is to be given only to preachers.
All preachers and teachers of God’s word should boldly refuse to be called by titles belonging to God. They should not be desirous of vain glory (Gal. 5:26), but should walk humbly before God (Micah 6:8).
Reply: In the scripture; Abraham is called spiritual father (Rom. 4:16); this does not mean that Saint Paul is contradicting Christ. As we have explained in the above; Christ refers his words to the Pharisees and not to the Catholic Church (Mat.23:1-5). The whole chapter of Matthew 23 does not cited Catholic Church. Christ also refers to the people who claiming themselves as god (2 Thes. 2:4). The whole chapter 23 of the gospel of Saint Matthew is not intended to the Catholic Priest; it is intended to the Pharisees.
Also, believers in Christ should be careful not to address preachers as “Father” or “Reverend” or with any other flattering title. Job 32:21-22 says, “I would not be partial to anyone, nor give flattering titles to any. For I know nought of flattery; if I did, my Maker would soon take me away.”
Reply: Catholic teaching is based on the whole truth; while David Riggs based his judgment on a half baked biblical reasoning. Catholic does not used flattering and tricking words to delude the folks mine; Catholic teaching is based on the word of God either by words or by mouth (2 Thes. 2:12). David Riggs does not allow you to call your minister “father” because his minister and, even himself, were not true fathers of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:16).