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Bad Scripture Interpretations (2)

Yesterday's gospel reading had that passage which so many Protestants enjoy using against the Catholic Church. "Call no man your father on earth", Jesus says. There is no doubt about it, that is what He said, and we must obey it. The accusation is as follows: Catholics call their Priests "father" so they are disobeying God; therefore, the Catholic Church must be completely rejected. Interestingly, I have never met a Protestant who consistently obeyed their own interpretation.

Let us consider all that the passage says. First, our Lord also tells us to "call no man your teacher" because we are brethren. Hmmmmm...I am pretty sure that Protestants call various people "teacher" (school teachers for example). But Jesus said "call no one teacher", and not "call no one teacher unless he actually is a teacher". No consistency there.

Next, Jesus also says "call no man your master" because on He is our Master. I have read many stories where Protestants referred to slave owners as "masters". Furthermore, I have known many Protestants who refer to someone as a "master electrician", a "master of ceremonies" and a "master artist" (etc.). No consistency there either.

Finally, when it comes to the first point of "call no man your father on earth", Protestants seem to have no problem referring to the "fathers of our country" and the "father" of a certain discipline or invention. It is common for them to refer to "father Abraham" being the patriarch of the Jewish people. They also are fine with referring to their Dads as "father". Yet, again, Jesus said, "call no man your father", and not "call no one your father unless it you have already made a habit of doing so."

To choose to condemn the Catholic Church for using "father" in reference a clergyman while ignoring one's own total disobedience to the very same passage is a height of hypocrisy. You can no more attack Catholics for using "father" than you can attack the college student who speaks about his "teacher" at school.

There is one more piece of evidence that what Protestants say about this passage is not what Jesus meant; the Scriptures themselves! Yes, the very words of God that Protestants claim to be adhering to clearly condemn their interpretation of this passage. St. Paul is the best example. He calls numerous people "father" (including himself, 1 Cor 4:15!) in both a physical and spiritual connotation (Rom 4:11ff, Gal 1:14, Eph 6:4, etc.). He calls numerous people "teacher" (Eph 4:11, 2 Tim 2:24, etc.). He calls numerous people "master" (1 Cor 3:10, Eph 6:5, 1 Tim 6:1, etc.). And the rest of the Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, repeat this same usage multiple times. If Jesus had truly meant never to use the word of anyone then St. Paul was disobeying our Lord and he did so in the inerrant Scriptures!

This is a typical example of a really bad Scripture interpretation and we cannot fall into it. The authors of Scripture knew what Jesus meant, and they were obedient to it. He was clearly not saying "never use the word in any context" as though it were a vulgar word or that it could corrupt the one speaking it. No, He is warning against the prideful usage of titles that the Pharisees fell into. St. Paul, St. Peter, St. James, and all the other writers of the Scriptures knew this and obeyed it. One extra point: in all these biblical usages of the terms "father" "teacher", and "master" no one ever once said, "you're not obeying Jesus", because they knew what He meant; they had interpreted Scripture rightly.


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