Summary: And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. - Matthew 23:9 Leaving a Presbyterian Church today at the end of the service we sang 3 amens, which is typical in many reformed churches dating back to the time ...
And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. - Matthew 23:9
Leaving a Presbyterian Church today at the end of the service we sang 3 amens, which is typical in many reformed churches dating back to the times of Luther, Calvin and others. This practice was an earlier practice in Church history going back even past the time of the reformation to more eastern Church practice. Sometimes we are quick to think that is useless or why follow that practice anymore, by doing so we can uproot and nullify hundreds of years of Church history and practice. It is hard to believe it is true but during the times of the Apostles on the earth there were creeds and very basic simple liturgy in early Church meetings. It is clear through the Epistles that there were common sayings that at times were repeated by the entire Church body. Evangelicals in America come from a rich lineage of denominations that stem mostly from the reformation period all of these carry with them traditions and practices that date back to the early first 200 years of the Church.
In modern days the word Pastor is acknowledged at the leader of a Church, it is interesting to know that that word is only found once in the New Testament (Ephesians 4:11). What this term has been associated with is rather to speak of the Overseer, Elder, or Bishop, depending on which translation you use (1 Timothy 3:1). That word in in greek is "episkopē" which can be translated oversight, overseer, literally once who has oversight over others. Even the word Pastor which means Shepherd conveys the idea of one having responsibility over others. Other words used to convey Church leaders in history were also Presbyter, Priest and Father. In the term Father we see this carried in the New Testament writings in many places where Paul himself speaks in this way (1 Corinthians 4:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:11). John Calvin says, "While Paul claims for himself the appellation of father, he does it in such a manner as not to take away or diminish the smallest portion of the honor which is due to God. But they whom he is graciously pleased to employ as his ministers for that purpose, are likewise allowed to share with him in his honor." When we read Matthew 23 in context we see our Lord was speaking of "hypocrisy" and those taking any credit from God to themselves in an wrong way. Multitudes of modern evangelical pastors call themselves "teachers" so it is not the title itself that is wrong but the heart disposition behind it. One could not have any title but be filled with pride and seeking honour and recognition. As our Lord concludes with saying, "The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted" (Matthew 23:11-12).