Ask Your Preacher
In your response to a question about calling clergy “father”, you once again led the reader to accept your personal, fallible interpretation of Scripture. Unless you are claiming your interpretations are infallible? Why not give your reader a more complete picture of what Scripture has to say on this subject? Why not point out that Jesus Himself used the term “father” in a spiritual sense? Unless you are saying that the rich man was Abraham’s physical (biological) son (Lk 16:24-25)?
Why does Paul refer to christians in Corinth as his children? Are they all his biological children (1 Cor 4:14-15)?
What about the apostle John? Are they all his biological children (1 Jn 2:1)? What about the Old Testament? Joseph tells his brothers, “So it was not you who sent me here, but God, and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” in Genesis 45:8. Job has a similar statement, “I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know” (Job 29:16).
I think you guys know better than that. I think you know Jesus, John, and even Paul all used the term “father” in a spiritual sense. Again, I find it interesting that you leave these verses out in order to “hit a home run” against a faith system you disagree with. The Catholic Church is not, nor ever has been “wrong” concerning this issue. How could they be? If every christian is meant to search the Scriptures and determine doctrine based on the Scriptures, why are your interpretations correct and my interpretations incorrect? I see the term “father” used in a spiritual sense all throughout the Bible. Thus, if I am interpreting Scripture the same as you are, who are you to tell me I am wrong? You even admit in a previous response to a question ("Trust No Man"): “We aren’t infallible here at AYP; we are just men.” You might want to consider your previous statements before going and making an “infallible” proclamation concerning the practices of others.
Dear Swiss Guard,
Oh, Swiss Guard, how we have missed you and your anonymous rants. It is too bad that you never provide your e-mail address, so we could personally search the Scriptures together… it seems like all you want is to use our website to publicly voice your frustrations – but we digress.
First off, we have dealt with the way that Peter, Jesus, and John used the term ‘father’ – feel free to read the post from January 13th, 2011 entitled “Parental Paradox” for an explanation of all those verses that you say we leave out. We’ve handled this concern before. We don’t avoid verses – we just keep them in context… unlike the Catholic church.
As far as Lk 16:24-25, the rich man was a Jew, and he would have considered Abraham his biological ancestor – just like all the Jews did (Jhn 8:39). And Job 29:16 is literally saying that Job treated the poor like they were his children.
Now lastly, let’s deal with the idea of interpretation. The Bible tells us that it isn’t a matter of private interpretation (2 Pet 1:20). What you think and what we think doesn’t matter at all – what matters is what God said. That is why we always give lots of verses to back up our answers, so readers can check the Scriptures for themselves. People are fallible, but the Bible never changes and we encourage people to double-check for themselves. But that doesn’t mean that we can each believe whatever we want and all be okay – if that were the case, there would be no such thing as right and wrong at all! Instead, God’s Word is right though every man be found a liar (Rom 3:4). Just like a roadmap or an instruction manual – it says what it says... not what you want it to say.
In the end, Catholicism is a false religion because it isn’t built upon the Bible. Any religion that doesn’t use the Bible as its standard of measure is false (Gal 1:8). The Catholic church tells people that they can’t eat certain foods, and it tells their priests that they can’t marry – which is wrong (1 Tim 4:3). The Catholic church teaches that the Pope is directly in contact with God and that people should follow him… once again, wrong. Christ is our direct connection to God (Heb 1:1-4), and the Bible is what we should follow (2 Tim 3:16-17). Everything about the Catholic church’s organization is in direct opposition to the Scriptures. The question isn’t how old a church is; the question is whether or not Christ is its head (Eph 5:23). There is only one pattern for the church (Eph 4:4-6), and the Catholic church is not it. But, don’t take our word for it – take His.
Jesus says in Matt 23:9 not to call anyone “father”. A buddy tells me that since Catholics call their priests “father”, they’re disregarding this verse (not that I care about this because, for me, they can call their clergy any name they want). But I hate to be the one to ask this because this may seem idiotic, but does this also mean that we cannot call our dads “father”?
Honoring My Father
Dear Honoring My Father,
Calling a priest ‘father’ is wrong because it is referring to ‘father’ in a spiritual sense. That is what Christ is condemning in Matt 23:8-10. Christ is rebuking people who elevate themselves above others within the church. Catholic priests place themselves in a position of spiritual superiority and authority above others. That is wrong and exactly what Christ told His disciples never to do.
On the other hand, the term ‘father’ is perfectly fine when used to refer to a physical parent. The Bible itself uses the word ‘father’ almost 1,000 times, and the vast majority of those times refer to fleshly parents. Gen 2:24, Gen 9:22, Lev 20:9, Pr 17:25, Mk 10:29, Lk 11:11 are just a few examples. Our fathers are a blessing from God given to us for a time to guide and discipline us (Heb 12:9-10). They are worthy of honor and the title ‘father’ (Eph 6:2).
Why do christians celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, and the Bible does not mention that day? Why do we have to follow the Catholic church? It was a day they used to celebrate the sun.
Dear Un-Sunny Disposition,
Many people believe Christmas to be a spiritual holiday, but the Bible never commands us to celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th (the truth is, no one knows when Jesus was born, but it was most likely in the spring or summer because the shepherds were out – Lk 2:15). Christians are commanded to remember Jesus’ death every first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:24-25)… we are never commanded to remember His birth on an annual basis. Christmas is not a biblical holiday. There is nothing wrong with celebrating it as a family holiday, but it is wrong to teach that there is a biblical foundation to it.
Christmas can be traced back to the Roman pagan holiday of Winter Solstice (also known as ‘Saturnalia’ because it was in worship of the god, Saturn). As Catholicism tried to integrate itself into a pagan Roman world, Christmas was instituted by Pope Julius I on December 25th as a way to assimilate the pagans into a Catholic worldview. In short, Christmas has never been a truly biblical holiday; it is a manmade tradition with no bearings upon your salvation.
What is a stigmata? Is it satanic or something?
Stymied Over Stigmata
Dear Stymied Over Stigmata,
Stigmata are supposedly miraculous bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus, such as the hands and feet. The term is often heard in association with the Roman Catholic church which considers it a potential sign of sainthood because it is supposedly a miraculous sign from God that the person is a saint. The Catholic church gets this from taking Paul’s statement in Gal 6:17 completely out of context.
People throughout the centuries have attempted to recreate Christ’s wounds on themselves or associate unexplainable physical abnormalities (bruising, bleeding, etc.) with Christianity. This is totally false. God never calls for us to recreate the crucifixion in our own lives. We are called to be servants of the Christ who already paid that price for us (Gal 2:20).
I love church, and I love being part of God’s family, but I really dislike being a certain type of christian. I don't understand why there are so many different beliefs for one religion (like Catholic, Methodist, and so on); is it possible to just be a christian and not any thing specific? Is there a special church that's just christian?
No Party Affiliation
Dear No Party Affiliation,
All we should ever be is just christians… you are absolutely right for being frustrated. The denominational world is confusing… exactly the opposite of God’s church (1 Cor 14:33). The term ‘denomination’ comes from the idea that a church believes that it is a subgroup of a larger religious body. Lutherans worship and teach differently than Episcopalians, Catholics, Presbyterians, etc., but they all believe themselves to be christians – this is wrong. Jesus said that there is only one path to heaven (Matt 7:14). Denominationalism teaches that how you act and worship are matters of opinion, but Jesus said that how you act and worship are matters of truth (Jhn 4:24). The only way to avoid denominationalism is to find a congregation that simply teaches what the Bible says – no creeds, no opinions, no personal agendas. If we truly love Christ, we will follow His commandments (1 Jn 5:2).
Everything a church does (worship, membership, how they teach to be saved, how they spend their money, even their name) needs to have Bible verses backing them up (1 Tim 3:15). A church needs to be able to explain the reasons for why they do what they do (1 Pet 3:15).
Our congregation here in Monroe goes by the name ‘Monroe Valley church of Christ’ because ‘church of Christ’ is a Biblical name for a congregation (Rom 16:16). We worship by singing (Col 3:16), studying the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), praying (2 Thess 3:1), taking communion (only on Sundays – Acts 20:7), and taking up a collection (also only on Sundays – 1 Cor 16:1-2). We teach that you must hear God’s Word (Rom 10:17), believe God’s Word (Jhn 3:16), repent of your sins (Mk 6:12), confess Jesus as your Savior (Lk 12:8), and be baptized to be saved (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21). We do all these things because they are practices found in the Bible. As you said, you don’t want to go to a church that offers their own thoughts – you want God’s thoughts.
There are other congregations like ours scattered across the country and the world. Most of them use the name ‘church of Christ’, but then again, many churches that use that name aren’t faithful. A Bible name for a church isn’t enough to make it faithful. We have helped others, like yourself, looking for New Testament Christianity find faithful congregations in their area by contacting other preachers and christians that we know. We’d be happy to do the same for you. If you feel comfortable, just let us know what general area you live in, and we will try and get you in touch with a congregation that lives like your Bible reads (our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org). It is frustrating, confusing, and exasperating to deal with denominationalism. Thanks be to God that there is a better option!