In the account of the first human sin from Genesis 3, it is evident that an addition to God's words was closely followed by a violation of God's words.
And this is the normal pattern followed by those who deny the principle delineated by the term sola Scriptura
So we see again that in the Gospel accounts Jesus says to the Pharisees, who were infamous for adding human innovations to God's Law, "You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men" (Mark 7:8 ESV). [See Mark 7:1-13
In another place, Jesus spoke to his disciples against the traditions of the scribes and Pharisees, who loved to be called "rabbi," etc., saying,
8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matt 23:8-12 ESV)
Now when Jesus forbade his disciples from using the terms, "rabbi, father, and instructor," He was NOT saying that these words must be discarded from their natural use.
In the previous passage I have cited, Jesus approvingly quoted from Mosaic Law, saying, "Honor your father and mother" (cf. Mark 7:10; Exodus 20:12); so, in Matthew 23, Jesus is not teaching his disciples to dishonor their parents by discarding the honorific terms of "father" and "mother." Again, in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), when the son repented before his father, he addressed him as "father" (Luke 15:17,21); in this illustration, Jesus certainly does not present the prodigal calling his earthly father "father" as a violation of His words. Finally, in Romans 4, Paul, the servant of Christ Jesus (Rom 1:1), writes of "our father Abraham" (Rom 4:12), having previously explained that Abraham is "our forefather according to the flesh" (Rom 4:1); in using the title "father Abraham" to refer to an ancestor in this way, Paul was certainly not violating the commands of Christ.
If, therefore, Jesus, in Matthew 23:9, was not issuing an absolute prohibition against applying the title "father" in regards to family relations [and, I would similarly argue from other New Testament uses of the word "teacher," that Jesus is not calling for an absolute abolition of the term "teacher" in its natural use], then what does, "call no man your father on earth," mean? From the context
, we see that Jesus was speaking against the practice of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt 23:2), who used special religious titles for themselves (Matt 23:7), in order to claim a spiritually privileged position over the community of God's people.And this is one way that we see Jesus' command directly violated today, especially in "churches" following traditions that reject sola Scriptura.
Due to traditions of people that have been added to God's Word, every adult in the church may be on a first name basis, but there is one especially serious guy in front called "Father" so-and-so, in direct violation of Matthew 23:9.
This would be a serious matter in itself, for Christians are supposed to be people who follow, and not contradict, the Lord Jesus Christ, but my concern is that once a church tradition can blatantly ignore Jesus' words in a (relatively) small matter, such as the one discussed above, they can ignore God's words in essential matters, such as the teaching of how sinners are declared righteous in God's sight: i.e., the doctrine of justification.
Labels: apologetics, Bible study