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boyscout



Number of posts : 345
Age : 105
Location : the 3rd rock
Registration date : 2009-03-10

PostSubject: call no one father   Thu May 20, 2010 4:05 pm

From another forum:

Quote :
“And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt. 23:5-12).
When Jesus spoke the above, as the whole of the 23rd chapter shows, he was doing two things: 1) Leveling charges against the Jewish clergy for exalting themselves among men; and 2) Laying the groundwork for the grace era. Jesus charged the corrupted Jewish leaders of soliciting salutations or greetings from the “laity” and others, and He censured them for wanting to be called “Rabbi,” “Master,” and “Father.” The Jewish clergy delighted in elevating themselves above their fellows. [Generally speaking, our modern-day clergy are a carbon copy of the scribes and Pharisees.]

The Jewish leaders had become corrupt, and this is why Jesus told the Jewish crowds to “practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do.” They were preaching but not practicing. They “sit on Moses’ seat,” Jesus remarked, and, consequently, were representatives of the Law of Moses. They were so unscrupulous they were doing all their deeds to be seen by others. They also took pleasure in walking about the streets and public places in long robes—colorful, clerical garb (Luke 20:46).

But is it inappropriate to refer to those great reformers before us as fathers and teachers? The apostle Paul referred to Timothy and Titus, two young evangelists, as his sons “in the faith.” They were his sons in that he had personally converted them to the Christian faith. If Paul could call these two men his “sons in the faith,” could they not have referred to him as “father Paul”? In principle, there is no difference.

Stephen, as recorded in Acts 7:2, alluded to Abraham as “father Abraham.” The tormented rich man in Luke 16:24 cried out, “Father Abraham, have mercy upon me!” Paul called the Corinthians his children, and said, “For I became your father through the gospel” (I Cor. 4:14-15). If Paul could speak of himself as the Corinthians’ father, could they not have called him “father Paul”? They could have, of course, not to elevate him above his fellow believers, but out of respect for his work, sufferings, experiences, and wisdom. It is noteworthy that Paul called those great men before him “my fathers” (2 Tim. 1:3).

Out of deference to Martin Luther’s work of reformation, I could call him “father Luther”—or Alexander Campbell’s efforts to unite the Christians in all the sects, “father Campbell.” However, any honorary title that tends to venerate and exalt one brother above his fellows should not be used, for to do so is to discriminate and show favoritism and make distinctions among ourselves, the very things James spoke against (James 2:1-9).

I can speak comfortably of “father Campbell” but not “Father Campbell,” or “father Luther” but not “Father Luther.” In the first expression, “father” is an everyday, ordinary word—a common noun; the other a sectarian title that elevates—a proper noun. The sectarianism of “honorary titles” seems to be what our Lord was communicating when He raked the corrupted scribes and Pharisees over the coals.

And for these reasons, I will never call an educationally rich brother “Doctor” [except in the secular field], while calling an educationally deprived believer “brother.” In the community of the redeemed, we all are brothers or we all are “Doctors.” “In Christ Jesus we are all one”—not brothers and “Doctors,” but brothers only. Toss the coin anyway you wish, but in the Christian arena honorary titles such as “Doctor Jones” is considered a few notches up on the totem-pole than poor old “brother Jones.” This sectarian distinction among believers must cease.

Another thought is that I can revere brother Jones because of his ministry and wisdom, but I dare not elevate him to the level of “Reverend Jones.” I can honor pastor Jones, a shepherd in God’s corral, but I must not hoist him above myself by calling him “Pastor Jones.” Jesus said it best, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

I like the following paraphrase, “Whoever elevates himself will stumble, and whoever bends down will be lifted up.”
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