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Call no man Father ... asking help


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#1 Monk Herman

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 02:28 AM

Help! Here's a piece of writing I've started--but I'm kind of stuck. I'd be grateful if anyone can help me see what's wrong with this, and what's missing.

...

+
Call No Man Pastor!
One
Hard Saying.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Do not call Johnny B good, because no man is really good—only God is good (Matthew 19:17).

Call no man teacher, either, because all wisdom and knowledge reside in God alone. Don’t call any man Rabbi, because Rabbi means (by interpretation) My Master, and there’s only one Master: the Master of all. Finally (and most infamously) call no man Father: a Father begets children, but the One Who brought forth all creation did so not in any humanly understandable way, but by a simple act of will. He is the Lord and Father of all: we are all the children of One.

But famous or infamous as it may be, is this truly final? Is this a set of complete instructions on this topic? Because it’s obvious that many more examples could be given: There’s only One Pastor of souls; only One Physician of our souls and bodies; only One Judge Who cannot be bribed or deceived; only One Who is truly, in an absolute sense, Reverend. Are these perhaps only paradigms—tools to lead us to some greater understanding?

You can’t have a Tsar, an Emperor or a King—because there’s only One Who is the King of all. You can’t have a President because it's God Who presides over all created being. You certainly can’t have a House of Lords—but you can’t have a House of Representatives either: there’s only One Who represents all mankind before the Throne of the Most High God: and that is Christ our God Himself.

The saying Call no man father is particularly nasty, if only because it's been used as a brickbat for so long. Does the One Who instructed us to honor our parents (Exodos 20:12) really mean that we may acknowledge our mothers as our mothers but not our fathers as our fathers? Can we really work around this problem by introducing our male parent by name? For example, do we have to say “I’d like you to meet Sal DiMaggio?” Can’t we just say, “Hey—meet my Dad?”

And what about the usages of the holy Apostle Paul? If the “father” saying were a commandment to be followed literally, Saint Paul breaks the rule over and over again, using the word repeatedly in reference to the saints and prophets of Hebrew history—and even with reference to himself. Saint Paul was shoulder to shoulder with the Eleven—didn’t he understand their teaching?

Obviously, a purely literal approach to the (famous) verses in question here (Saint Matthew 23:1-12) will lead us into absurdities that no one would relish.

Many similar examples can found in the earliest tradition.

For example, Saint Peter writes to the presbyters in Churches throughout the western part of what is now Turkey, encouraging them to shepherd the flock of God. This service unites them to the Chief Shepherd, Christ, from Whom they will receive the unfading crown of glory (1 Peter 5:1-4). (The Greek word presvýteri, usually translated as “elders,” refers to those whom the Apostles had appointed to lead the churches in each place. Today the words “priest” and “presbyter” are used interchangeably.)

In 1 Corinthians 3:11 Saint Paul teaches us that no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. But in his letter to the Church in Ephesos, apparently written later, he says that the household of God (presumably the Church) is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-20).

Is the Saviour, in Matthew 23:1-12, telling us about words to avoid? Is He telling us how to be? What is He telling us?



[ note “Christ’s condemnation is clearly of the praise-seeking or obsequious spirit, rather than of a particular custom.” Blue Letter Bible ]

...

Any help would be much appreciated.

Herman monk

#2 Father Stephanos

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 04:36 AM

Our Lord Jesus Christ is speaking specifically to the Israelites of His time and to every one of us by extension. By the time our Lord Jesus Christ had begun His public ministry, the Pharisees had greatly influenced much of Jewish culture and customs for about 200 years. They developed their own interpretations and customs, which were not from God nor what God intended, but which were from men and/or from satan. The Pharisees and those like them were actually far from God, but they had titles such as teacher, father, etc., yet in reality, they were not true teachers and fathers, but false ones. This is one of the reasons we are not supposed to seek to learn spiritual and religious things from those who are apart from God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so we will not be misled and/or damaged spiritually and/or physically.

Since our fathers and teachers in Christ are to be true fathers and teachers, it is permitted to call them father or teacher because of their union with God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is speaking and/or acting through them. If our fathers and teachers in Christ are not true fathers and teachers, then they are to be thrown out of our Holy Church and/or no longer addressed as father or teacher. This is one reason why clergy are defrocked, and people are referred to as ecclesiastical writers rather than Holy Fathers.

Our Lord Jesus Christ said to call no man good, to show us how to be humble. Remember, He is God, so He is good! When He was called good, it was the truth!

The Holy Apostle Paul is one of the Twelve. For this reason, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul are entitled as the Chief-leaders of the Apostles. Saint Paul also learned from our Lord Jesus Christ, but after the Holy Feast of Pentecost. It was the Eleven who chose the Holy Apostle Matthias to keep the number Twelve intact on a temporary basis, but it was our Lord Jesus Christ who chose the Holy Apostle Paul to be numbered forever among the Twelve.

This is a start; I hope it helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 10:40 AM

The scribes and pharisees had made a religion out of the revelations that God had given the Israelites of old. In particular, they had set themselves up as masters over the people. Christ does not criticise them for wearing phylacteries and tassels – this was given by God: see Exodus 13:9 and Numbers 15:37-41 – but for wearing outsize phylacteries and tassels to show off. They expected the best seats, and so forth. They were ostentatious and proud.

St John Chrysostom (Homily LXXII on Matthew) says that Christ said ‘call no man father’ not meaning that people should never call any man ‘father’ but that ‘they may know who to call Father in the highest sense’.

Christ was condemning the use of titles by those who thereby exalted themselves over the people. Instead, he calls people to humility. True fathers, meaning priests, are servants of God and of the people, ministers of God, not masters of men.

#4 Owen Jones

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 12:19 PM

Father Stephanos has addressed the underlying problem that Jesus is addressing. But there is also an operative spiritual principle at work here. Allow me to take a stab at it at least. If I look at the statement -- no man is good, only the Father in heaven -- and apply it to MYSELF, then if I interpret it literally, I will see myself perhaps as evil, or no d*** good in any sense. This leads to certain logical consequences which are an aberration of true faith and understanding, such as the strict Calvinist construction of man as utterly depraved, with no good in us at all. If I try to apply it spiritually, which means in Orthodoxy with an illumined mind, then I look to myself and all of mankind differently. My goal is no longer to prove that I am a good person, to myself, to other people or to God. I have nothing to prove on the subject. God knows me and what is in my heart better than I do myself, for starters. No, my objective is to obey his spiritual law and by doing so I am changed. And there is always an element in Orthodoxy in particular which tends toward seeing this change not so much as a bad man trying to be good, but a corrupt (sick) man becoming whole (well), wherein all of the parts of my being are functioning in harmony with God and with the various parts. Also helpful is the concept of man that one finds in certain of the Fathers, and a theme that is present in some parts of the Philokalia, which says that man is an intermediate being, in between good and evil, in between mortality and immortality, in between world and heaven, etc. So while we can speak of there being something called nature, and especially something called human nature, human nature is fixed only in the sense that our true nature is to be in communion with God and this is a movement toward God and never a static state. This is why there is so much emphasis on ascetic discipline in Orthodoxy, which is misinterpreted, sometimes maliciously, by some non-Orthodox as "works righteousness." This is why St. Maximos the Confessor can say that it is possible for a man to "relapse into a state of non-existence." It is based on a lack of a true philosophical and theological anthropology which is always the starting point. If we don't understand what man is, as created, then we get everything else wrong. If we fail to see the spiritual operating principle behind Christ's words, we will get it wrong.

Orthodoxy, if nothing else, is designed to make men free, whereas a literalistic interpretation of the law puts a yoke around peoples' necks. It's not just an issue of free will, but to free us from slavery to the Devil who plants subtle suggestions in our minds that we don't need God, or that we know better, so that freedom actually defines who and what we are.

#5 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 06:42 PM

The key, as Owen suggests, is verse 12. In the Orthodox spiritual tradition, humility (self-abasement, self-condemnation, and so forth) are the essence of the life in Christ. In our own times, the theology of Elder Sophrony and the explanations thereof by Archimandrite Zacharias and others stress this. Our freedom consists in our slavery to Christ.

#6 nijjhar

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:44 AM

Hi Brethren,

We are not slaves to Christ Jesus as Christ Jesus set us Free of the Yokes of Rabbis but today Matt.12.v43-45 has been fulfilled and we are under the Yokes of Fathers worse than those Rabbis.

Jesus never put anyone underslavery. When Christ Jesus fed the 5000 with heavely Bread, then Christ Jesus turned around to Preach Gospel in order to fulfill His Saying, "Man shall not live by bread alone but what comes out of the Mouth of God".

That is how He opened His Mouth, "Unless you eat the Flesh of Jesus and Drink the Blood of Christ, you have no Part in me". All the 5000 run away because they were Nicodemii of letters. His own Labourers were puzzled and Christ Jesus asked them if they too want to leave Him? Peter replied, "No. You have the Bread of Life, His Word".

So, were the Twelve slaves to Christ Jesus or not?

Then slowly as they were Fed with the Heavenly Bread, what came out of the Mouth of Jesus and they started to Preach Gospel Drinking the Blood of Christ, then they became Friends of Christ Jesus willing to lay down their lives for His Sake and they proved their Friendship on visiting Lazarus, another Friend of Christ Jesus, and saw for themselves the Reward of Friendship, the Resurrection of Lazarus shown to the Public at large to glorify our Father. This strengthened the Bond of Friendship and all the Apostles died Happily for Christ Jesus, their Husband that they married at Eucharist called entering into the Bridal Chamber, the ritual highly mocked by the blind Disciples of Fathers in Monasteries. The Baptism of John is not so much mocked as that of Christ Jesus.

So, out anointed Elder Brother Christ Jesus or His Apostles never enslaved anyone but through Preaching Gospel, they created Super Love Phillo that Glued them to Christ Jesus, the Son whose Marriage was celebrated in Eucharist. Thus, all the Apostles and anyone who Preaches Gospel in the name of Christ Jesus highly Honour our anointed Brother and together, we Glorify our Father in Heaven and not these Antichrist Robed Fathers, who still are stationed in the brick built Monasteries dominating over others as Rabbis did on their Disciples. No Disciples in Christ Jesus but Labourers working in the Vineyard of our Father where the True Vine Christ Jesus is Planted for us to emulate. Antichrists hate entering into this Vineyard for they will have no Disciples to clip their hairs.



The key, as Owen suggests, is verse 12. In the Orthodox spiritual tradition, humility (self-abasement, self-condemnation, and so forth) are the essence of the life in Christ. In our own times, the theology of Elder Sophrony and the explanations thereof by Archimandrite Zacharias and others stress this. Our freedom consists in our slavery to Christ.



#7 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 05:41 PM

Dear Mr nijjhar,

Welcome to the forum. I'm afraid you do not understand the way in which the word 'slave' is used in the New Testament (NT) and in early Christian literature. The word δοῦλος appears many times in the NT; a perusal of an interlinear Greek/English version will demonstrate this. In Greek, it means 'slave' but is very often - though not always - translated into English as 'servant'. This may be because of the negative connotations concerning slavery in the sense of men owning other men. St Paul and early Christian writers use the word 'slave' in a metaphorical sense to describe our relationship with Christ (see, for example, Romans 6:18) as one of complete dependence upon Him. This understanding is by no means exclusive to the Orthodox Church.

I do not understand your allusion to Matt.12.v43-45 nor to 'Robed Fathers, who still are stationed in the brick built Monasteries dominating over others'. Are you referring to Orthodox monastics, and if so, do you believe that they have domination over others? If so, you are in error. Domination is not to be equated with obedience. I hope you have to come to learn about Orthodoxy, not to criticise it.

Edited by Andreas Moran, 31 July 2012 - 06:31 PM.


#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 08:28 PM

Perhaps an actual quotation will help. The following are the opening words of St Paul's Epistle to the Romans:

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ
ΠΑΥΛΟΣ δοῦλος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Slavery in Christ is true freedom, not the freedom of political theorists. It is freedom from sins and the passions which cause them. Our personal kenosis mirrors Christ's own kenotic self-abasement. Such humility is the antidote to the venom of the serpent's lies to Eve.

Edited by Andreas Moran, 31 July 2012 - 08:53 PM.


#9 David R.

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:28 PM

Priestmonk Elia asked me to post his reply:

"It is tradition; ask no more," says St. John Chrysostom.
Perhaps today some have forgotten how revolutionary was it of Our Lord to call God, "Father". It had never been done before! Jews never did it, but referred to Him as "Eshadi", the Almighty. Jews still don't. Moslems do not. Zoroastrians do not. Nor Buddists, nor anybody but Xtians.
Redneck TV evangelists have so cheapened the usage that we forget how startling it was to refer to God as "Father". And of course Western art . . . is abominable. The Sistine Chapel looks like a Turkish bath. (No. That is very unfair to Turks!) Once Western civilization departed from Orthodoxy, it went quickly, quickly down hill, and the climb out of the Slough of Despond requires those feats of asceticism that have become foreign to the West.
By association, monks began to be called "Father", Abba. In many languages it is still a term reserved to monks, Monsieur L'Abbe being reserved in French to religious. Secular priests are addressed as Monsieur Le Cure'. Current American usage derives from the Irish. 16th century English Jesuits were repectfully referred to as "Mr. So-and-So." but the English Benedictines were of course, "Dom So-and-So" Most Orthodox in this world prefer a deminutive, such as Abuna, or Batiuska.
Since Our Lord placed God in a new position as "Father", it happened naturally that spiritual fathers were addressed by the term as belonging MORE to them than merely natural fathers. 20 centuries later people who are without Apostolic Tradition, or Sacred Tradition (the Life of the Holy Spirit in The Church) may pick up the wrong end of the telescope.

Priestmonk Elia
Burning Bush Monastery

#10 Dusja

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 10:08 AM

Dear Mr nijjhar,
I'm no expert in Greek or Church Slavonic, although I belong to a small parish where Church Slavonic is used, but our (Russian) priest once said that the Russians tend to misinterpret the term "rab Bozhii". In current Russian, "rab" means "slave", but in Church Slavonic it actually means "co-worker" ("sorabotnik"). We aren't slaves of God, we are His co-workers. In Finnish we don't use the term "slave", but "servant".

#11 Father Stephanos

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 12:47 PM

Dear Mr nijjhar,
I'm no expert in Greek or Church Slavonic, although I belong to a small parish where Church Slavonic is used, but our (Russian) priest once said that the Russians tend to misinterpret the term "rab Bozhii". In current Russian, "rab" means "slave", but in Church Slavonic it actually means "co-worker" ("sorabotnik"). We aren't slaves of God, we are His co-workers. In Finnish we don't use the term "slave", but "servant".


Andreas' posts are entirely correct!

In addition, when we read the lives of our Saints, many of them referred to themselves as slaves of God/(our Lord Jesus Christ).

I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#12 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 01:06 PM

Some further details may help.

Not only are Christians slaves of Christ, but He, our Lord, became a slave for our sakes: ‘Christ became a slave for thee: "having taken the form of a slave," ‘ (Philippians 2:7) - St John Chrysostom, Homily IV on 1 Corinthians.

‘Slave’ is avoided by Protestant translations (as in the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers series) and 'servant' is used instead. But this is incorrect; the early Church, as said above, understood the metaphorical concept of the Christian as a slave of Christ. St Paul usually addresses our Lord Jesus Christ as ‘Lord’ (κύριος) thus stressing the relationship for He is Lord of all - οὗτός ἐστιν πάντων κύριος (Acts 10:36).

My wife says as follows:

Рабь is indeed used in the Slavonic NT and is used in Romans 1:1 where the Greek has δοῦλος. But рабь is given in the standard Church Slavonic-Russian dictionary as equivalent to οἰκέτης; οἰκέτης is a more restricted term than δοῦλος, designating a slave, or ‘house-servant’, who has closer relations to the family than other slaves but the dictionary entry goes on to say that рабь also means slave in any context where a person is not free, and also the equivalent of παῖς which can mean a child and also a slave. Рабь to a native speaker of Russian who knows Church Slavonic means ‘slave’ but with the resonance of ‘servant’, perhaps because, again, the metaphorical meaning was covered by the negative notion of slavery, but 'slave' in the metaphorical sense is certainly correct for a Russian just as for a Greek.

Рабь as a word does not mean co-worker in any context, either in modern Russian or Church Slavonic. The Greek word συνεργὸν is rendered in Church Slavonic as споспешник.

Clearly, our practice of our faith is not to be done in an unthinking, slavish way, and this is very likely to be what the Russian priest was seeking to express; this is commonly said in sermons in Russia.

Edited by Andreas Moran, 01 August 2012 - 01:32 PM.





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