Christians universally recognize that there is only One Holy Father, viz. God the Father. This is why we refuse to call the pope, or any other sinner, “Holy Father.” This is also why, following our Lord Jesus’ command in Matt 23:9, we refuse to use the title “Father” as an official title for any man in ministerial service. Christians have pointed out that the Roman Catholic religion is staunchly contradicting the Lord Jesus Christ by claiming that the title “Father” may be used as a proper title for a teacher in the church. Yet, rather than repenting of what is clearly a violation of the Lord Jesus’ command, Romanist apologists attempt to muddy the waters by citing passages of Scripture in which the word “father” is applied to men.
Ironically, one of passages cited by the Romanist apologists at Catholic Answers is 1st Cor 4:14-15. In this passage of Scripture, the apostle Paul states:
I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
I say the use of it is ironic because it flatly contradicts the notion that the priest over one parish can legitimately be called a person from a different parish’s spiritual father. Paul states that Christians may have countless guides in Christ but they have only one spiritual father. Paul, moreover, explains why this is so when he declares: “…I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” The Corinthians were “birthed” to Paul through the preaching and reception of the Gospel.
Paul explicitly contradicts the idea that Christians can have multiple spiritual fathers, men under whose preaching they have never sat and listened and been converted. Christians have only one true Father, God; we also have only one figurative spiritual father, i.e. the preacher through whom we have heard and received and believed the Gospel.
Thus, the Roman Catholic religion’s priests are doubly wrong in accepting the title “father.” Firstly, as noted already, the title only applies in instances where the addressee is the minister through whom one has received the Gospel one later believes unto salvation. Secondly, the title can only be applied to one who actually preaches the Gospel – and the Roman Catholic religion does not preach the Gospel. Neither the priests in general (i.e. as ministers) nor individual Roman Catholic priests, therefore, are to be called by the title “father.”
How then can these spiritually infertile men be fathers of any of God’s people (in the sense used by Paul)?
We have but one Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have but one spiritual father or father in the faith/mentor, and that is the minister of the Word through whose preaching we have come to know and, subsequently, believe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria.