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Why are priests called fathers?

Why are priests called fathers?

July 9 2018 LJ cover – Почему священников называют отцами?
Tags: Religion, Christianity

Letter from the reader:

Hello, the journal "Foma". Recently I went to the temple. There was a service, they read, it seems, the Gospel. We read for a long time and it is not clear, however I have disassembled a phrase which sounds approximately so: Christ categorically forbids to name all fathers and teachers, except God. At me it has caused some bewilderment, because in church of priests just exactly and name (father Sergiy, father Vladimir). And one of my Christian friends says that Orthodoxy has long ago departed from the commandments of Christ. And as an example, it also speaks about this practice of calling priests fathers. My Orthodox grandmother always goes to church, but for some reason she sighs only when I ask her this question. Perhaps this rule does not apply to priests? And if not, then it turns out that I, being a Christian, can not call my father my father?


Why are priests called fathers? In the Gospel, when addressing the apostles, Christ does say the words: "... Do not be called teachers, for one is your Teacher - Christ, yet you are brothers; And do not call your father any one on earth, for one is your Father, who is in heaven; and do not be called mentors, for one is your mentor - Christ "(Matthew, chapter 23, verses 8 - 10). This commandment is remarkable because ... it was never performed by Christians! Since the beginning of the Church priests are usually called "fathers" and "mentors." Outside the temple, for example, in schools, the same Christians, without hesitation, called and called their teachers teachers. And the more so it concerns the reference to the native father.

The apostles, to whom, in fact, the words of Christ were addressed were not only not forbidden, but the first began to call themselves fathers, teachers and teachers. The Apostle Paul writes in a message to Corinthian Christians: "... Though you have thousands of teachers in Christ, but not many fathers; I have begotten you in Christ Jesus through the gospel "(1 Cor 4: 15). That is, he calls himself the spiritual father of the Corinthian Church. The apostle James advises: "Do not make many teachers" (James 3: 1). And in general in their messages the apostles very often used the reference: "my children". So only those who, in turn, could be called "fathers" could address their listeners.

How to explain this contradiction between the evangelical quotation and the behavior of the apostles? Either they went against the Teacher's commandment, misunderstood and distorted His teaching - or Jesus, not allowing Christians to be called "teachers" and "fathers," still had in mind something other than a formal ban on using these words in addressing people.

If we accept the first option, we are at a dead end: all the Gospels are written by the apostles. It turns out a logical contradiction: if they themselves were called "teachers" and "fathers", then why did they have to leave this commandment of Christ in the Gospel altogether? For the sake of exposing themselves?

If we trust the disciples of Christ and, in the end, just common sense, then this commandment must be understood somehow differently. In that case, what did Jesus mean?

It is necessary to read this phrase in context, without taking it out of the gospel narrative. After all, the Bible is not a set of quotations, but a whole and coherent text. The words about fathers and teachers Christ said in Jerusalem a few days before the crucifixion. Then the city was particularly crowded, because the Easter holiday was approaching. Christ, knowing what will happen to Him soon, uses this time to utter His last sermons.

However, even the then religious teachers of the people - the Pharisees and scribes - use for their own purposes people who came to Jesus. Considering Christ a false prophet and a false Messiah, they, with a large number of witnesses, tried to compromise Him, to catch on some phrase, which in future could serve as an occasion for accusation.

After another failed attempt by the teachers and fathers of the Israeli people to "catch Jesus in word", Christ addresses people with a harsh accusatory speech against their religious mentors:

"On the Moses' seat * sat the scribes and Pharisees. Therefore, all that they command you to observe, keep and do; But do not do for their deeds: for they speak and do not. They bind burdens heavy and unbearable and place them on people's shoulders, but they do not want to move them with their fingers. All the same, their deeds are done so that the people will see them; expand their vaults ** and increase the excitations of their clothes; also like pre-celebrations at feasts and presidencies in synagogues and greetings in the people's congregations, and that people call them: "Teacher! teacher! "Do not be called teachers: for one is your Teacher, Christ; yet you are brothers. And do not call any one your father on earth: for one is your Father, who is in heaven. And do not be called tutors: for one is your guide, Christ. " (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 23, verses 2 - 10).

From the context it can be seen that we are talking about things that are more important than the use of words. Christ denounces here a certain state of the person who took over the teaching. First, Israeli teachers do not follow what they teach, and secondly, they are sick with vanity.

These evangelical words refer, of course, not only to those who were directly denounced by Jesus, but also to modern Christians and their mentors. In what can teacher's vanity result, why did Christ reprove him so? Imagine, for example, a teacher of history who at the lectures declares: "I am the creator, master and engine of world history. Everything I tell you - I created myself. " Probably, nothing but regret, such a person will not cause. After all, everyone understands that the teacher of any discipline is only an intermediary in the transfer of knowledge, and his teaching is a ministry. Whether it's history, math or chemistry.

This is especially true of religious mentors. Their calling is service to God. And a person who forgets this, in the opinion of Christianity, can not be called a teacher. It was this kind of teaching that denounced Christ. And in this sense the followers of Christ really can not and should not be called teachers.

If the priests teach and preach without claiming the exclusivity of their mission, understanding that the doctrine they preach is not their own, and they only lead to Christ, then they, like the apostles, do not mind being called teachers and fathers.

But if you suddenly hear that someone, even a priest, calls himself "the new Christ," the "source of revelation," the "founder of the third covenant" - or even simply declares the exclusivity of his spiritual experience as the only true thing - to true Christianity, he does not has nothing to do with it. Very often such people, pulling the commandment of Christ out of context, interpret it as a prohibition of usage and strictly forbid them to call themselves fathers, teachers and teachers. Usually in sects everyone calls each other "brothers". What changes from this? Never mind! It is possible to issue thousands of instructions forbidding the word "father", but to become a real idol for their followers. In this case, modestly be called a "brother". But what difference does it make who deceived people give their apartments and slavishly, fanatically obey - to father X or brother Y?

Those who made the greatest contribution to the development of Christian doctrine are usually called fathers and teachers of the Church. But they never appropriated the title of savior of mankind. The apostles compared themselves to the farmers who work in the field, which belongs to God. Therefore, the priests - spiritual fathers and teachers, are always very afraid to become Fathers and Teachers for their spiritual children, that is, instead of teaching Christ to teach something of their own, and instead of leading a person to Christ, bring to himself.

* Moiseyev's seat - a metaphorical image of teaching. It was the prophet Moses on Mount Sinai who received from God and overeat His Law to the Israeli people. That is, he was the first teacher of Israel.

** Vaults - bandages or boxes with the words of the commandments of God, which the teachers of the Jewish people did on their foreheads and on their hands in accordance with the command of God Himself. Such bandages were called "vaults", because they kept the people from oblivion of God.

*** Resurrection - so that the people of Israel will not forget God, He commanded to sew hyacinth brushes to the edges of clothing. Thus, the "rapture of clothes" consisted of purple-blue brushes sewn to the edges of the outer clothing of the Jews. Both "storehouses" and "evocative" should only remind the people of God. But the religious teachers of Israel turned them into symbols of their power.

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