"But if we must focus on Paul's letters to establish the Christian faith, then truly the servant has become greater than his Master." (BercotTheologians (2010) at 40.)

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The Origin of the Usage of Father in Christianity

 

Catholics call their priests Father. For example, Father John. This is routine:

"A priest of the regular clergy is commonly addressed with the title 'Father' (contracted to Fr, in the Catholic and some other Christian churches)." ("Priesthood in the Catholic Church," Wikipedia.)

Where does this come from? 

The answer comes from knowing first that Jesus said the term Father  -- Pater, Pateras -- a form of respectful address -- only belongs to God. It belongs to no one else.  

Here is the passage from Jesus: 

And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. (Matt 23:9 NIV.)

In Greek, you had other informal means to address your father. These informal terms are similar to how we use papa or dad in English. Thus, in Greek, your male parent is informally addressed as pappa and tatta. See link. Thus, it is a violation of Jesus' principle to call priests "father" -- a respectful form of address.

Why would the Catholics do such a thing so flagrantly in violation of Jesus' words?

Was there some state compulsion involved?

We shall see.

Whatever it was, it must have been something absolutely so forceful that beginning with the Western church, from top to bottom, it strayed so brazenly from the commands of Jesus.

  

What was Jesus' point?

The Greek word for father in Jesus' command is patera.  What could Jesus mean by this?

Well, the Jews of that era typically referred to Abraham as Father Abraham -- again patera in Greek.  The man in hell in one of Jesus' parables is calling for "mercy"  to "Father Abraham" -- not to "Father God."  See Luke 16:24. 

What do you think Father God thinks about asking Abraham for Mercy as your Father?

Jesus knows the answer. Jesus is obviously telling Jews and his followers that implicitly this is offensive to the Father.  Stop calling Abraham or anyone else Father -- the respectful form of address.

Likewise, John the Baptist said to his Jewish audience not to say "We have Abraham as our Father" in requests for mercy.  He explains that by that measure which rejects God Himself as exclusively their father, God can just as easily make stones into his children. That is, he could make a new race which would honor him as exclusively their father. His connection is thus not to Abraham's seed per se but instead to a race who acknowledges Him -- God -- as father. (Matt 3:9.)  Umm. Do you see a pattern?

It appears clear that people were venerating Abraham as their Father which veneration in that sense only belongs to the Father in heaven.  Jesus said to stop doing this. 

So why would Catholics choose to name leaders Fathers?  Before telling you the true origin, let's hear this modern Catholic explanation.

Catholic Explanation Today


The US Catholic.org website relies upon Paul as allegedly saying he became "a father" of his disciples. (1 Cor. 4:15.) This supposedly justifies the Catholic practice to call leaders father.

Thus, Paul contradicting Jesus is apparently no big deal to Catholics. If you can cite Paul violating Jesus' words, this makes what Jesus prohibits supposedly perfectly ok.

However, this shameful explanation - quoted below - is an obvious apostasy against Jesus. Yet, no one calls the Catholics out on this, as many Protestants are as equally guilty of preferring Paul over Jesus as the Catholics. But we shall see next that Paul does not say this.

 

FOOTNOTE: Roman Catholicism was born in 325 AD, and departed from Jesus on numerous points to follow Paul. This was especially the case on the issue of the abolition of Sabbath in favor of worshipping on the Day of the Sun -- Emperor Constantine's true god (Sun-day), decreed in 321 by Constantine for the empire. Paul alone was later cited allowing this step. Second, in 325, Constantine insisted successfully at Nicea that observing Jesus' resurrection no longer would take place upon Passover but only on one of the days which just so happened to honor the mother of the god of the Sun known as Easter (Saxon form) aka Osiris (Latin form). Paul in Galatians took away observing any further the Jewish holidays and Sabbath, and thus Paul began to rise in authority under Constantine to where Paul is today. So this departure from Christ to favor Paul by Catholicism today is part of an earlier pattern of its leaders -- at first to uphold a pagan law of Constantine. The purpose was to exploit Paul's words to inject paganism into Christianity. See The Easter Error. 


END FOOTNOTE.

   

However, this modern explanation of 1 Cor. 4:15 -- Paul supposedly said he became "father" to the Corinthians -- has a false premise. The verse does not say Paul became a "father" to them in the Greek. Yet, let's see how Catholics rely upon not only an obvious deliberate mistranslation but also here a false insert of a word not even used. We read in Why Do We Call Priests Father from U.S.Catholics.org:

 

This symbolic understanding of parenthood goes back to biblical times. In 1 Cor. 4:15, St. Paul uses his own life as a model for Christian living. Paul reminds the Christians of Corinth that it was he who brought the faith to them. “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel,” he writes. Though he sometimes has to engage strong emotions in his letters, Paul seems to prefer a tone of gentle reproof: “I am writing you this not to shame you but to admonish you as my beloved children” (1 Cor. 4:14). It is easy to see why he presents himself as a spiritual father.  

 

Now this modern writer is not necessarily aware that a material mistranslation from the Greek is erroneously being relied upon. However, the KJV has this correct. And all Greek manuscripts quoted at Biblehub each agree on the Greek word at issue -- egenessa (beget) -- which is correctly translated in the KJV for 1 Cor. 4:15:  

For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have you not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you  through the gospel. KJV

 

Thus, Paul does not contradict Christ here as the Catholics wish, supposedly claiming the title of "father" belongs to Paul himself. However, Paul does contradict Christ on this issue elsewhere (see Romans 4:16 "Abraham is the father of us all"), but not here. Thus, 1 Cor. 4:15 in Greek merely says that Paul has "begotten" them through "the gospel." He never calls himself father here. Paul never even says "I became a father to you." Paul thus did not ascribe to himself a respectful title Jesus prohibited to be used for anyone except God. The Catholics are completely wrong in the modern era to rely upon this verse. 

Is this a belated and modern argument? Or did a mistranslated earlier text explain why the Catholics were doing this when they first did it?

To answer that, we need to know when did any translation the Catholics use agree with this. It did not exist in 1611 with the King James, a Protestant text. Then what about the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate -- prepared in the late 300s and widely published in the early 400s? It was the official Catholic Bible since then to the mid-1900s when the Jerusalem Bible took that position effectively away in English. However, the Vulgate does not justify this priest-father practice of Catholicism. For the Latin Vulgate for over 1500 years has had it correctly as "begotten" -- generated. Here it is: 

15 Nam si decem millia pædagogorum habeatis in Christo, sed non multos patres. Nam in Christo Jesu per Evangelium ego vos genui. (Vulgate 1 Cor. 4:15.)

 

So the Catholic present-day explanation is not the true explanation of how this practice originated. It could not be the explanation at any point in Catholicism's existence because Catholicism's only Bible since Catholicism arose in 325 AD says nothing about Paul calling himself a "father" in 1 Cor. 4:15. 

Thus, absent some enormous pressure to accept a contradiction of Jesus, what would one ever think about this practice in good conscience when it was first proposed?

To recreate what kind of event -- a tsunami of sorts -- necessary to impel Christians to call their leaders "Father," let's imagine a time when no shackles existed upon Christians at Rome. Would they ever think to name their leaders fathers? Of course not. It is readily obvious that it is morally violative of Jesus' words. It directly dishonors God.

We have an example today what a free and voluntary approach would dictate. In our era when any such shackles have disappeared, a Catholic priest named Jean-Pierre Roche recently wrote Stop Calling Me Father. He insists that to accept the title "Father" for yourself as a priest "is to usurp the place of God," citing Jesus' words "call no man father." See link.  This priest is only declaring the obvious.

So what was the tsunami that overcame the Roman church and made it apostate against Jesus - violating and rejecting the words of Jesus on this issue?

Here are the preliminaries to provide the answer. These are facts which Catholic leadership does not want you to see.  They want to point at Paul as giving them sanctuary. They want you to look away from the time it all began, and why.

 

Where 'Father' Title Came From

 

First, as we establish elsewhere, Emperor Constantine made a pagan switch of Sabbath to Sun-Day. In 321 AD,  he himself mandated worship of the "venerable" (worship-worthy) Sun -- even when he supposedly was a Christian as he first claimed in 324 AD to have been true since 315 AD. A patent fraudster. See Damage to Christianity by Constantine.

 

Second, in 325 AD  Constantine pressured the church by his legal powers as Pontifex Maximus over all religions at Rome to change Passover as the day to celebrate Jesus' resurrection to what happens to be the same time period to worship Osiris aka Easter. (Easter is her name in Saxon English.) Because she is the mother of the Sun in the Sol Invictus Cult to which Constantine had allegiance, this date was determined to be a date tied to the vernal equinox of the Sun. This date for celebrating Jesus' resurrection "just so happened" to be within the worship time period of Osiris -- which to repeat is known in Saxon English as Easter (Eostre in old English.) See Constantine's Damage to Christianity.

 

Third, Constantine revamped Christianity using images which depicted Jesus as Sol Invictus -- with the glowing rays of the sun as a halo around our Lord's head.

Finally, in place of "brother" and "sister" as the sole relationship to each other, the last step would be to adopt the name of sacerdote and patre from pagan Sol Invictus worship into Christianity, and create a hierarchy with such "brothers" on top. Was this true?

The first hint of this latter conclusion I found in an article entitled Cult of Roman Catholicism which correctly identifies Catholicism as we know it today was founded by Constantine. The article says:  

 

 The priests of pagan Rome were called "fathers," but Jesus said to call no man "father." (Matthew 23:9-12) From what source did the Roman Catholic custom of calling a priest by this title come from, Jesus or the pagans? Jesus spoke against flattering titles to his disciples, he wanted them to treat each other equally. Jesus meant for God the Father to receive all glory, not men. It is plain to see that the majority of the traditions of the Roman Catholic church are man-made and of pagan origins. An intellectually honest search will show the pagan roots of the Roman Catholic church.

 

Well, can this possibly be the truth? Did the pagans call their religious leaders fathers? Alas, he cited no evidence to support this claim. Thus, it appeared a dead end. 

Because I could not quickly find any reliable proof of when this practice of calling Christian leaders father truly existed, or whether it could be linked to Constantine's pagan cult to which he adhered, these questions died there. So I thought.

However, on October 27, 2019, I was sitting in the Library of the University of California at Irvine in its book-return section. This is where all the books left by patrons on reading tables are collected in shelves in the order of their index labels. There were about 60 books all around me. I was sitting reading a book about Marcion in this section. I got bored. So I got up and randomly picked up a couple of books from the shelves And then I picked up the most obscure journal you ever could imagine: Journal of Roman Archeology Vol. 32 (2019). It was stamped on its face page as received October 9, 2019 by the university staff. This was thus received about almost three weeks prior to my whimsical selection of this book from the shelves.

First, I opened this journal directly to page 308. Surprisingly, it talked about the "Mithraic deities -- Sol Invictus Mithras, Cautopates, and Transitus Dei...." See visual of this page at this link.

This caught my eye because I had already known about Sol Invictus as Constantine's obvious personal cult. I long have had articles on this site about that. See link.

Now this archaeology article immediately filled in important new information. Up to then, I had no idea that the Mithras cult included in its pantheon Sol Invictus. Thus, that alone was a very interesting fact taught by these specialist archaeology materials. 

But it would get better.

Next, I started reading the same page, and then the page after and then the prior page. On the prior page  - 307 - I  astonishingly read the following about what the article describes as "mobile ritual experts" -- figures who would go from meeting-places of Mithras-adherents in one town to the next.  Two members of a mithraeum -- a Mithras cult church -- at Virunum were "named as patres," and the inscription said they had just died. This is about between 183 and 201 AD. Then a new member joined named Trebius Alfius who was "labeled a pater." By careful analysis of the inscription, Piccottini concluded that Alfius "must have been a pater from elsewhere brought in by the Virunum community to fill their leadership lacuna." (Id., at 307.)  Hence, the pater - father - was a figure who was a leader, and would be brought in from without if the only paters at a Mithraic assembly had died.

But what about the term priest -- in Latin -- sacerdos or sacerdote?

That is the last piece of the puzzle that is missing.

Then I turned to the prior page. It turns out that Mithraism used steps of initiation, and this explains the function of ritual experts such as a priest -- to teach and initiate others. The "priestly title sacerdos is distinguished from grades of initiation." (Id., at 369.)

So is a sacerdos (priest) distinct from pater? And if so, how so?

The article answers this way:

Occassional epigraphic pairings like pater and sacerdos presume that these positions could be separable; notably though no other grade besides pater is ever adjoined to sacerdos in a title, suggesting that the ritual expertise of a sacerdos was reserved for those at the highest levels of the cult.

 

Thus, the grade father evidently belonged to the one who completed the highest initiation, who then was called a priest

 

Constantine's legal pressure as Pontifex Maximus is what necessarily explains this smooth transition from Mithras-structure to Catholic-structure. Thus something like a compulsive corrupting force (e.g., infusion of a pagan Mithras clergy by means of open doors to conversion with tax exemption for making pagan priests which did take place) was used upon Christians to adopt pagan terms at odds with Christ's own words. This is the only explanation for such departure. It also supports the idea that Christians -- true Christians -- who refused were replaced by Mithras worshippers who were willing to use the  nomenclature of "Jesus" for Sol Invictus as long as the worship day of Sun-Day stayed the same, and the time period to worship the Sun's mother Easter (Saxon term) / Osiris (Latin version) stayed the same, and the path of initiation to father and then priest stayed the same. Hence, taking over Christianity was easier than one might assume. Just replace the resisters, and continue on with a thin veneer of Christianity while at your core you are pagan. This was the Constantinian way. A way whose truth has been shrouded by centuries of censorship by Constantine and his lackeys after him.

 

These Facts Unlock Other Facts 

 

Thus, from this fortuitous find of an article on the Mithras religion, we will now study Mithraism in more depth. By doing so, we will see the link to Roman Catholic priest-father practices, and thus find their obvious and embarassing origin.

In the article "Mithraism" in Wikipedia, we learn that Mithraism was centered in Rome. Its  head god was Mithras who is typically portrayed as born from a rock and "sharing a banquest with the god Sol." (Link.) This article affirms that in Mithraism, there was an initiate grade of priest -- sacerdotes -- and the highest grade was "pater."  Within that group was a "pater patrum" - father of the fathers, which appears to indicate the highest pater among paters in a group. (Id.)

In an article on Mithraism at Tertullian.org, we learn that Mithraism arose in the 1st century and died out in the 4th century. This provides an adequate period to be the cause of Catholic adoption, and then assimilation of Mithras' pagan customs and structure. See link.

This article also explains the link to Sol Invictus: "Mithras is always described as 'sol invictus' -- the unconquered sun in inscriptions." For this, the article's proof is in footnote 60. In that note is a quote from Clauss' The Roman Cult of Mithras (Edinburgh University Press, 2000) at page 146:  

 

Roman Mithras is the invincible sun-god, Sol Invictus. This is the burden, repeated a hundred times over, of the votive inscriptions from the second to the fourth centuries AD, whether in the form Sol Invictus Mithras, or Deus Sol Invictus Mithras, or Deus Sol Mithras, or Sol Mithras. There do not seem to be any significant regional or temporal variations among such formulae. In the very earliest epigraphic evidence for the Roman cult of Mithras, the god is already invoked as Sol Invictus Mithras. These facts are confirmed by the numerous votive offerings to Sol, Deus Sol, Sol Invictus, and Deus Invictus Sol which were put up in mithraea.

 

A search on Mithraism then turned up a recent article on a new Mithras Temple discovery. This was an occasion to interview the academic in charge of the excavation: Professor Aytaç Coskun of the Department of Archaeology at Dicle University.

In an interview with the Daily Sabah, the Professor explained: "Mithras represents the Sun God and also consensus." (See "Mithraism May Become a Bit Less Mysterious with Latest Discovery in Turkey," Ancient Origins online (May 2017) at this link.)

Thus, again, we can see how Constantine would impose Mithraism's structure on Christianity of priests-fathers, for Mithraism at its core was a worship of Sol Invictus, just as was Constantine's obvious primary personal religious adherence. Only a forceful imposition as Constantine alone could provide, to repeat, can explain why Roman Catholicism embraced such an obviously wrong apostate practice of having priests (instead of only brothers / sisters) who were also addressed as Father.

 

How Constantine Recruited Pagans As Priests & Fathers.

 

The website Ancient Origins reviews Constantine's paganizing influence. When a priesthood was created in Christianty, Constantine made it extremely popular by attaching state financial support and a full exemption from taxes if one signed up to be a "priest" in the Christian religion. The problem is Constantine invited pagan priests to claim such positions, thus subverting the true church in an open and hardly a surreptitious manner: 

 

The Christian ministers had special privileges. He also extended many benefits to pagan priests who became Christian ministers. For example, they received monetary support from the Empire and didn't pay taxes. (link.)

 

Thus, Constantine subverted Jesus' principle to keep money out as an incentive to preach or teach. "Freely you received, freely you shall give." (Matt 10:7-8.) This is what gave birth to a paid and subsidized priesthood. With the entry of pagan priests also came the pagan concept that a priest could be called a "father" as they were prior to transfer over to the previously authentic Christian churches.

END 

 

Paul's Reference to Abraham as Father Is Supposedly Not in Conflict with Christ's Command. 

 

In Romans 4:16 , Paul says"Abraham is the father of us all" -- what we established above violates Jesus's express command. Jesus highlights this when Jesus speaks of the man in hell in one of Jesus' parables is calling for "mercy"  to "Father Abraham" -- not to "Father God."  See Luke 16:24.  However, GotQuestions tries to clean up Paul's mess by use of [1] first, a pointless digression, and [2] twice misidentifying the issues. In this manner, the article never directly addressed the issue but the reader may assume among the host of words there was a true explanation. Here is GotQuestions deflection of the contradiction between Jesus and Paul on this point: 

 

What about the apostle Paul’s reference to “our father Abraham” and his implication that he himself is a father to Timothy and Titus? When Paul refers to Abraham as “our father” in Romans 4:12, he is not making the same mistake as the Pharisees. Paul is saying that the promise that saves us was first given to Abraham who in faith believed. Paul is pointing out that God began His plan of redemption of all nations with Abraham and that Abraham is the model of justification by faith, apart from the Law (verse 3). Paul is not raising Abraham to God’s level or assigning an official title to Abraham but merely acknowledging his faith. Abraham is the metaphorical “father” of all who believe in Christ in the sense that he is the prototype of faith.

 

Let's start at the end where twice the issue is misidentified. The author pretends Jesus said do not give someone an "official title" as father. Nope. Jesus instead said: 

 

And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. (Matt 23:9 NIV.

 

This is not about what you do in an organization, as if Jesus only had in mind what the Catholics do in an organization.

 

Next, the author pretends Jesus expressly said "do not raise anyone to God's level...."

 

Nope. Jesus said do not call anyone "on earth" by the name Father. Jesus did not say it mattered what was your intention in doing so. Jesus instead is elevating our concern about something we might not otherwise be concerned about at all. Jesus says that formal address belongs only to God. No good intention justifies it. Jesus means it is a name that only should be used to address the "one Father" -- Yahweh in heaven, and it should not be used for anyone else.

 

In fact, it appears that Jesus' main objection was using it about Abraham, for why else did Jesus tell the story of a man in hell asking for mercy from "Father Abraham"? Wasn't it to underscore Jews were seeking salvation through the wrong person's favor? 

 

 

Finally, the first rebuttal will be addressed last. The rebuttal begins by making an irrelevant reference to Paul's point in the text is to teach a salvation promise by faith to Abraham. (Paul relied upon the Septuagint Greek mistranslation of Gen. 15:6, but that is another issue. See this link.) However, that does not excuse in any way referring to "Father Abraham" by Paul. 

 

In fact, this final rebuttal point highlights  the importance of  Jesus' story of the man in hell appealing to "Father Abraham" for "mercy." Could Jesus imply a knock on the exclusively Septuagint-based notion that Abraham was justified by faith? That our salvation and mercy is through the promise to Abraham? Why was the man in hell in Jesus' story thinking mercy could be obtained through an appeal to Abraham ?

 

Regardless of how one resolves those questions, the first rebuttal point was off point entirely. 

 

Hence, this GotQuestions article is just another example where mainstream Protestants are as inconsistent with respecting Jesus's words as Catholics. They too ignore Jesus' words, adopting a strong preference for Paul's words even when  obviously to the contrary.

 

 

HISTORICAL NOTE. In 376 AD, the Catholic church -- virtually paganized at that point anyway -- was handed control of all pagan assemblies. This is how the pope first became known as Pontif -- receiving the title of Pontifex Maximus from Caesar for the first time. In the Cult of Roman Catholicism we read: 

 

Since the formation of the Roman Empire, the Roman emperors (including Constantine) held the office of Pontifex Maximus (Supreme Priest) and were worshipped by the pagans as gods. Emperor Gratian in 376 A.D. refused the title of Pontifex Maximus, and from then on it was bestowed upon the bishop of Rome. From hereon, the bishop of Rome was to be the Supreme Priest to the pagans and the head of the Christian church; the streams of paganism and Christianity flowed together under the leadership of Pontifex Maximus, ultimately to be called the Pope. The question remains, how can a man at the same time be the Pontifex Maximus which was the head of the pagan mysteries and the head of the church?