Anselm v. Calvin

Anselm of Canterbury was the first to attempt ...
Anselm of Canterbury was the first to attempt an ontological argument for God’s existence. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Church has never taken an official stance on what exactly it was that Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection accomplished in order to secure salvation for humanity. One of the most innovative theories of atonement is St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Satisfaction Theory. Unfortunately, most seminarians that encounter Anselm’s work do so through the lens of John Calvin’s Penal Substitutionary Atonement. Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) can be historically placed underneath the umbrella of satisfaction atonement, though it often comes with the temptation to identify PSA as the definitive satisfaction theory of atonement. As a student of Anselm’s teachings, I believe there are more powerful and deeply orthodox ways of understanding atonement in a satisfaction paradigm that do not involve Calvin’s theory. What follows is an attempt to distinguish Calvin and Anselm’s atonement theology from one another, concluding with a short explanation of why, in my opinion, Anselm’s theory is a better option.

Calvin’s Penal Substitutionary Atonement

To begin understanding Calvin’s soteriology, we must start with the fallen state of humanity. Humans are totally depraved, deformed by the curse of sin, and beyond any recognizable form of holiness in the eyes of God. God, being utterly Just and Holy cannot simply overlook sin, nor be in its presence. Therefore, sin had to be punished by necessity, which meant that unless God’s wrath was satisfied in some alternative way, every human being would have to be punished in the eternal torments of hell. Thus, that which needed to be satisfied in Calvin’s theory was the wrath of God toward sin, and Jesus was the substitute who took God’s wrath in our place.

Out of God’s love, God the Father sent God the Son to became a son of man and suffer all of the afflictions brought upon humanity by the curse of sin. Jesus, God’s only begotten son, suffered in body and soul all of which humanity must suffer; himself being innocent, he took the full curse of sin upon himself and subjected himself to the full wrath of God. Important to note is that Jesus didn’t just have to die, but had to die a death reserved for the worst sinners and criminals (crucifixion), after being publicly condemned by Pontius Pilate (in accordance with the Apostle’s Creed), and before descending into hell; all of this happened in order to undergo the full penalty of human sin. The resurrection is God’s vindication of Jesus, his victory over death and hell, and the sign of hope for the elect who will become purged from sin and redeemed by God’s irresistible grace.

Anselm’s satisfaction theory is often retroactively interpreted with Calvin’s theory in mind because many Christians are indoctrinated with the Calvinist understanding of atonement in their local Church before ever encountering the proto-scholastic thought of Anselm in college or seminary. This causes many distinguished aspects of Anselm’s theory to go unnoticed. For this reason, I will now present a brief synopsis of Anselm’s theory for contrast.

Anselm’s Satisfaction Theory of Atonement

To assess Anselm’s theory of atonement, we will begin again with the human condition. According to Anselm, humans were created by God and fell under the seduction of sin. Sin introduced dishonor for God in the place of honor, injustice in the place of justice, and disorder in the place of order. All of which thwarted God’s intended goal of a harmonious, heavenly city in which creation and God delighted in one another. As those who acted out of their free will, choosing to sin, humanity was obligated to make recompose for its sin, restoring God’s honor, and along with it, his justice and order. Yet humanity was unable to do such a thing because the affects of sin produced too heavy a weight for humanity to bear. God was capable of such restoration, able to give a recompense for humanity’s sins, but under no obligation to do so (meaning if he does enact such a restoration it’s out of his free will to do so and not an external indictment).

At this point God had two options. Either God could punish humanity for its sin, trapped as it were in a prison of its own making, or God could restore creation from its sin God’s self. Choosing the latter, God the Son chose to take on human nature in order to restore humanity to its former perfection.

God the Son became a human being, Jesus, and, being fully God and fully human, was capable of making recompense on behalf of those obligated to do so, satisfactorily restoring God’s honor among creation. Being a human, Jesus was already obligated to be righteous, but, being without sin, he wasn’t under the obligation to die. Thus, the giving of his life for God’s glory was the one thing that wasn’t otherwise required of him—something he could do to honor God like the martyrs who died for God’s glory (note: unlike Jesus, the martyrs were going to die anyway). Being fully God, Jesus is the greatest possible being, making his death the greatest possible injustice; thus the greatest possible good (God) underwent the greatest possible evil (crucifixion) for the sake of redeeming an undeserving humanity. And, by his voluntary death, Jesus secured the greatest possible reward. Since no reward could benefit Jesus, as he was already perfect, he was free to give his reward over to anyone of his choosing. God the Son therefore gave his reward over to the rest of humanity, enabling humanity to be liberated from sin’s bondage.

With these two distinct understandings of atonement parceled out above, let me explain what is problematic about Calvin’s theory and preferable in Anselm.

Why is Anselm’s Theory Better?

To depict the ways in which PSA is problematic one could refer to its implication of parental abuse, its glorification of retributive justice, etc. etc. Yet, I can sum up my concerns in one question. That is, in PSA, who is punishing whom? After all, it would appear that one person of the Trinity is punishing another, bound by an external logic of punishment that cannot be forgone in any other way. And, as Calvin’s theological determinism would suggest, this rather problematic depiction of Triune discord is what the Godhead had preferred all along out of all other possible options.

On the other hand, in Anselm’s theory, it is clear that God the Son wasn’t punished by God the Father, but that God the Father and God the Son shared the same will as coequal members of the Trinity. Moreover, God the Son voluntarily laid down his life to restore his own honor, along with the honor of the Father and the Spirit, as he was in fact fully God. Thus, in Anselm’s system, we can definitively say the Father didn’t punish the Son because Anselm is very careful in demonstrating that a distinction between the will of God the Father and God the Son is a failure to understand the Trinitarian backdrop of the incarnation. Anselm makes it clear that the person of the Son taking on human nature is part of the shared Trinitarian mission to avoid any form of punishment. By God choosing to find a way to make recompense, God is saying “no” to redemptive punishment and retributive justice. This isn’t quite so clear in Calvin’s theory. Since Calvin’s Godhead demands punishment, which means one person of the Trinity must punish another, it must be accounted for how PSA can maintain the unified will of the Godhead in each of its persons.

Anselm’s presentation is deeply orthodox in its understanding of the Trinity. In my opinion, it’s also more Biblical in its rejection of retributive justice, and its orientation toward sacrificial love over divine wrath. It’s my hope that from my brief synopsis above that I have articulated at least some of the many contrasts between Calvin and Anselm’s atonement theories. More importantly, I hope that everyone would take the time to read Anselm’s work with fresh eyes so as to discover many powerful qualities that I wasn’t able to dive into here.

 

Further Reading:

St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Cur Deus Homo (Eng. Why God Became Man)

Book II of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion

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What do you pray and how do you pray?

Every Christian I know believes that prayer is important. In one way or another, we all pray. I believe that even non Christians pray in times of hardship or heartache. The term, ‘Oh God!’ I believe is a heart cry to the almighty for help, even if it does seem blasphemous at the time.

I like to often write my prayers. It helps me to think about what I am praying, why I am praying and how I am praying. It helps me to think about my expectations and lifestyle, others and it helps me to draw closer to the God whom I love. This is my mornings devotion.

Father God, you have set me free from the power of sin. I ask that you help me to walk in your truth. Help me to live as I should in the power of your spirit. You have called me to a life of love. Help me to truly love in thought, word and deed.

Help me to be a listener, open my ears so that I may hear. Help me to see, so that I many not ignore. Help me to act, so that I may not pass by those in need. Help me to be aware of those who need to be heard, who need to be seen and those who need to be helped.

I ask that you help me to replicate your ways towards me. For you never stop listening. You never stop watching over me and you never pass me by.

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The pre-existence of Christ.

I’m wanting to ask a few questions about the pre-existence of Christ as I am preparing a sermon on Colossians. One of the areas is in how was Christ the Logo’s. How did he pre-exist. I have no doubt about his divinity and have no doubt about his humanity.

Yet, I have a question or should that be questions about  Christ’s pre-existent nature. Could it be that Christ is referred by John as the WORD because Christ is the fulfilment of God’s words. God spoke and the world came into being. God spoke and things happened. God spoke about Christ and his coming. Therefore Jesus is fully God because he is God’s word. And he fully existed as God’s word in the fullness of God’s word. And because he was and is the word, God created all things through Christ, because Christ is the word of God.

Because Christ is the word of God, he therefore could clearly say – he and his father were / are one and could clearly say he could only do what he see’s the father doing. Within this framework of pre-existence; could it be argued that Christ existed as God, as God’s word – which is distinct to God – just like our words exist, are of us and yet are distinct to us. I’m speaking in human terms which are left wanting.  Yet our words are still distinctly us.

Therefore because Christ is the fulfilment of God’s word – and is God’s word – He fully existed as God prior to the incarnation and because he is God’s word and the fulfilment of God’s word he was able to become incarnate as fully human and fully God…and totally fulfils God’s word to save humanity and is now interceding before the Father as the fulfilment of his word as the word.

Therefore Christ is the word of God – fully God, and totally was with God and was God and pre-existed as God’s word and so Christ  was and is God and yet was and is distinct from the father who spoke the word, because the father isn’t the word and yet the word and the father are one.

How do you understand the pre-existence of Christ?  Any thoughts?

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Doctrinal Development and the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

While much of the first four centuries of Church History concern the deity of Christ, His relationship with the Father, the nature of the union of God and Man, and even the generation of the Son, less attention was paid to the development of the Holy Spirit, or the 3rd Person of the Trinity. For most of the formative years, the Holy Spirit was not seen as a separate person, and indeed, during the great debates of the 4th century, was pushed to side as a topic. It was only after the council in 381 that a doctrine of the Spirit as an entity separate and distinct from the Father and the Son began to develop.

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The Doctrine of Marcellus of Ancyra: His Theology (2)

We are continuing our series examining the Arian controversy from the eyes and pen of Marcellus of Ancyra. Note, I am not responding to his doctrine, or to that of the Arians, nor am I willing to back up either side with Scriptures, trying to let Marcellus speak for himself, as much as possible. I realize that not everyone like theology or Church history – (Imagine my surprise in school when I found out that 99% of my history classes hated history!) For some, this is boring, for others, it is a click through. For me, I am edified through discussions on theology, and can spend ours listening to lectures and then in turn discussing the finer points until the wee hours of the morning. As I said, I understand that I may be boring – but at least it makes you feel some compassion for my wife and children.

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The Doctrine of Marcellus of Ancyra: His Theology

We are continuing our series examining the Arian controversy from the eyes and pen of Marcellus of Ancyra. Note, I am not responding to his doctrine, or to that of the Arians, nor am I willing to back up either side with Scriptures, trying to let Marcellus speak for himself, as much as possible. I realize that not everyone like theology or Church history – (Imagine my surprise in school when I found out that 99% of my history classes hated history!) For some, this is boring, for others, it is a click through. For me, I am edified through discussions on theology, and can spend ours listening to lectures and then in turn discussing the finer points until the wee hours of the morning. As I said, I understand that I may be boring – but at least it makes you feel some compassion for my wife and children.

B. Marcellus’ Theology

Whereas Marcellus referred to the preincarnate Christ as ‘Word’, the Arians preferred the title ‘Son’, applying it to both the Incarnation and the Preincarnation of the Logos of God. Marcellus consistently separated the Preincarnate with the Incarnation, using Word only for the Preincarnation while applying a wide range of titles to the Incarnation of the Word. This is because for Marcellus, God is a Monad, but during certain activities, such as Creation, God expands into a Dyad (although the word is never used in Marcellus’ writings), the Father and the Logos. At the Incarnation, when God spoke Himself, the Logos became the Son. Following this line of reasoning, a further expansion would create a Triad when Christ sent the Spirit. At the end of Time, when the Kingdom is handed over to the Father, when God is all in all, God will be a Monad.

There is a scholarly problem with this assessment of Marcellus’ dogma – there is a scarcity of evidence found in his writings. The above interpretation has been offered by the opponents to Marcellus, perhaps in hopes of making him look somewhat foolish. In reality, Marcellus holds fast to the Christian doctrine of monotheism, opposing the three Gods of the Arians, but lacks words – because he often refused to use nonbiblical words – to define and defend his doctrine. Although he uses, rarely, the term ‘triad’ he never fully applies it nor does he define what in the Godhead is a triad. For Marcellus, he had to admit that biblical terms, such as ‘Father’ and ‘Word’ had to have some meaning, but refused to go as far as the Arians in assigning to them personhood. Because of this ‘economic’ view of the Godhead, he felt that he was able to defend against the term ‘Sabellian’, the opposite end of the Arians.

1. The Rule of Faith

The Rule of Faith was essential in the early Church, before the Canon available for all to read. It helped to united the Church and set a standard for doctrine that even the laypeople could profess. The point of agreement for both the Arians and Marcellus is the Rule of Faith, but it was also the point of departure.

In fragment 65, Marcellus writes,

Now I will begin with the letter that he wrote and refute each point of false teaching. He wrote that he believes in the Father, the Almighty God, and in his Son, the only-begotten God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, he says that he learned this type of piety from the Divine Scriptures. And when he says this, I totally accept what he says, for this manner of piety is common among all of us, that we believe in the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But when, although not totally dismissing his divine power, through some artful speculation he makes the Father more human when calling him Father, and the Son likewise when calling him Son, at that point I can no longer praise such speculations without running into danger. For it now happens that the heresy concocted by them has spread through such speculation, which I clearly and readily intend to show from his words. For he said, The Father must truly be considered a father, and the Son a son, and the Holy Spirit likewise.

Marcellus considered any non-biblical application to the words ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ as heresy. Neither the Jews, the Apostles, or many of the early Christian writers considered the term ‘Father’ when applied to God in any human manner, nor the Son when applied to Christ. It was not until a few centuries after the Apostles that ‘Father’ (and thus ‘Son’) took on, as Marcellus says, ‘human’ connotations.

The three – Father, Son, and holy Spirit – where agreed to throughout Christendom, and had been so, as a rule of faith, since the time of the Apostles. This much, Marcellus could offer a demur to his opponents.

2. God, Father, and Word

For Marcellus, the referents ‘Father’ and ‘God’ was not always addressed to the same entity. We examine two fragments, 104:

Asterius names the power and authority that was given him “glory,” and not simply “glory” but “pre-universe glory.” He does not comprehend that the world had not yet been made nor was there anything else except God alone.

And 103:

Indeed before the entire creation there was a certain quiet, one can reasonable assume (hos eikos), since the Logos was (still) in God. For if Asterius believes that God is the maker of all things, clearly he will also agree with us that God has always existed, that he never had a beginning of his existence, and that everything came into being from him and came into being from nothing. Indeed I do not suppose he would believe someone saying that some things are uncreated, but clearly he is persuaded that both heaven and earth and everything in heaven and earth came into being through God. If now this were his belief, necessarily he would confess with us that except for God there was nothing else. Therefore the Logos had his own kind of glory as one who was in the Father.

For Marcellus, God alone was in the beginning while the Logos was in dynamis. There was nothing besides the Father – no Son, no Spirit. Unlike earlier understandings of Logos, Marcellus never understood it to mean ‘Reason.’ For Marcellus, the Word was with the Father, ready to be spoken. He writes that there was silence because the ‘Word was with God.’ In fragment 121, Marcellus states, ‘Now I believe the divine Scriptures, that there is one God, and that His Word went forth.’ Thus, because of this statement and his writes, we understand that Marcellus sees only the Father (God) and His Word from the beginning, but only Son from the Incarnation.

Marcellus gave a very human perspective when he wrote,

Just as all things created by the Father came into being through the Logos, thus also the things spoken by the Father are made known through the Logos. And for this reason the most holy Moses in that place calls the Logos an angel, for he appeared for no other reason than to announce what was advantageous for the sons of Israel. He knew it was beneficial to believe that God is one. And therefore he said to him, “I am the one who is” (Exodus 3:14) in order to teach that there is no other God besides himself. This is easily understood, I believe, by those whose thinking is right, with the help of a small and humble illustration. For it is not possible for a man and his logos to be separated from him as some power or essence (hypostasis), for the Logos is one and the same with the man, and is not distinct in any way as something else, except in the effectual working of a matter.

Marcellus allows for a distinction between God and His Logos for an ‘effectual working of a matter’, or simply, for an economic activity. If we take Marcellus here, we understand that he believes that there is a distinction between the Father and His Word when the Father sends the Word, but when the activity is over, the separation is over. This feeds into Marcellus’ use of Word for the Preincarnate while Son is readily applied for the Incarnation.

For Marcellus, the Word in John 1.1 was nothing else but the Word, and refused to apply any title to it but Logos. To him, all titles of the flesh could only be applied the Incarnation, including Jesus, Son, and Bread. In a title is found in the Old Testament, then for Marcellus it was applied through prophecy. This countered the Arian’s claim of subordination because of Marcellus, subordination applied only to the Incarnate.

Marcellus resented the used the ‘begotten’ for the Word (although readily used it for the Incarnation), accusing his opponents of lying:

For when Asterius said, “The Logos was begotten before the ages/eons,” the statement itself proves he is lying, in that he not only misses the main point but also the literal meaning.  For if the Proverb (8.23) says, “He established me before the age/eon,” how can he say, “He was begotten before the ages/eons”? For one saw he was “established before the age,” and the other that he was “begotten before the ages.

3. The Holy Spirit

In the Rule of Faith, as it was later creeds, the terms ‘Spirit’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ was used, and to these terms, Marcellus agreed. In fragment 6, Marcellus writes that the Spirit testifies in Scripture, giving the Spirit the same power to awaken the minds, as Christ promised in John; however, for Marcellus, the Spirit, like the Word, proceeds from the Father but received its mission from the Son.

The Arians moved for three hypostaseis, or three ousiai, neither sharing the other’s nature; it was not until after Nicaea that the compromise was reached which allowed the East and the West to agree, that there were three substances in one essence. Marcellus, almost prophetically, wrote,

For it is impossible for three natures (hypostaseis) (if they do exist) to be united into a single being (monad), unless the three had previously originated from that single being (monad).  For Saint Paul said that those things which did not belong to the unity of God are “gathered up” (Eph. 1.10) in the single being (monad).  For the Logos and the Spirit alone belong to his unity.

This was not Marcellus’ view (note the impossibility that Marcellus sees in the view) but an hypothesis of what needed to be in order make the doctrine of the Arians work; however, this idea is well within the perimeters the eventual compromise. The one thing that Marcellus failed to mention is that if the Father, the Son, and the Spirit were of different hypostaseis, then the single essence was not the Father, meaning that the essence was the first principle, not the Father, as was long held by the Church.

Like the Arians, and as the Cappadocians, later admitted that they themselves lacked, Marcellus did not have a fully developed doctrine of the holy Spirit.


1st Corinthians 15.28

M. Vinzent, Markell von Ankyra: Die Fragmente (Leiden, 1997).

ibid

ibid

We have to remember that Marcellus was not alone in his thinking – he was supported by Rome (The West) and Athanasius.

Frag. 61, M. Vinzent, Markell von Ankyra: Die Fragmente (Leiden, 1997).

This is a favorite passage for Marcellus

It would be difficult to not understand Isaiah 55.11 has playing a key role here in Marcellus’ thought.

Frag 42, The Logos was “in the beginning” (John 1.1), being nothing other than the Logos.” Frag. 48, Surely then, before he came down and was born of the virgin, he was only the Logos.

Fragment 36, M. Vinzent, Markell von Ankyra: Die Fragmente (Leiden, 1997).

Fragment 47, M. Vinzent, Markell von Ankyra: Die Fragmente (Leiden, 1997).

Of the wise among us, some consider the Holy Spirit an influence, others a creature, others God imself (oi de theon) and again others know not which way to decide, from reverence, as they say, for the Holy Scripture, which declares nothing exact in the case. For this reason they waver between worshipping and not worshipping the Holy Spirit, and strike a middle course which is in fact, however, a bad one (see also Schaff, fnn 5,6, p. 664).

Basil in 370, still carefully avoided calling the Holy God, though with the view of gaining the weak. Hilary of Poietiers (sic) believed that the Spirit, who searches the deep things of God, must be divine, but could find no Scripture passage in which he is called God, and thought that he must be content with the existence of the Holy which the Scripture teaches and the heart attests (De Trinitate, ii, 29; and xii, 55; cf. Schaff, ibid.).

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Call no man Father; Call no man Teacher

Some background, first.

Start here. Then go here.

This is not intended to be a rebuttal or a response, just my views on the subject.

Mat 23:1-12 NKJV
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, “Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called “Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

In my former life as a community organizer, I had to deal extensively with various religions, and faiths, in hopes of attaining a certain goal. Being a fundamentalists, it was difficult in my first dealings with the Catholics, and indeed any other denomination. I do not believe that anyone can be a ‘reverand’, and yet so many of the people that I dealt with included that as a title. Also, how can one be a pastor unless they serve God and in the right doctrine.

Needless to say, I wrestled with it because I had to come to some understanding within myself whereby I must be true to God. Of course, the singular passage on this is the above passage. Call no man ‘Father’; call no man ‘Teacher’. (And of course, in dealing with Jewish leaders, Call no man Rabbi). So the question I asked myself was, how can I first reach these people if the first impression of me was a sign of disrespect. So, after prayer and introspection with study, this was my answer.

First, I do not consider a Catholic priest my father in the Lord, something that Paul said of himself. I believe that it is permissible to see that they do. Recognizing that simply because someone sees himself as such or such as correct, I do not have to maintain it as such, I have no problem using the title that they select for themselves (as long as it is not blasphemous). As a matter of fact, this word is used metaphorically of spiritual fathers as well as those who have gone on before. Typically, it is used by children in reference to their paternal parent.

Second, we have to understand what the audience was hearing. Do you really believe that they understood Christ to say that the word ‘father’ could no longer be used? Surely not, after all, it was used after Him by the rest of the New Testament writers. As a matter of fact, the writer of Hebrews used it speak of the patriarchs as well as the fathers in the flesh. No, what the audience was hearing was the Christ was commanding that we have only one Father, which is God. No man can determine any earthly religion.

Fr. Bellows says it this way,

To what ends, therefore, were the rabbis using the titles “father” and “teacher”? The answer revolves around at least two critical areas of leadership: teaching and personal character. Consider first the teaching of these particular rabbis. They had begun their teaching at the right place, the Law of Moses. Said Jesus, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat”. Moses’ Law was the true tradition. God had given it to Israel through Moses. The rabbis’ responsibility was to preserve that tradition and faithfully pass it on to the next generation. All too often, however, a rabbi would add his own grain of wisdom to the true tradition, thereby clouding it. Instead of passing down the sacred deposit along with the true interpretations of that deposit, he would add his own private interpretation. In turn his disciples, like their teacher, would, after becoming rabbis, do the same thing. (Some things never change, do they!) The final outcome of all this was a tradition of men that made the true Mosaic tradition of no effect. To these very rabbis Jesus said, “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men”, and again, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition . . . making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down”. The summation of their private interpretations did in fact “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men”.

I find his statements on the development of man made tradition puzzling since Rome herself is built on Tradition, yet, we have to agree that too often, people use the term ‘Father’ in speaking with someone who gives a new revelation or new Tradition for disciples to follow. These Rabbi’s, Masters, and Fathers loved to be exalted. Surely, some priests, pastors, doctors, lawyers and such sit in the same seat, yet does that justify alienating yourself from those that you might need or those that you might lead to Christ?

Third, we know that Christ used hyperbolic statements to stress His points, something common to Middle Eastern communication even today:

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
(Luk 14:26 KJVA)

Surely, the same people who take the words of Christ in Matthew at literal face value would strive to hate mother, father, brothers (perhaps the same brothers as Matthew 23.8) and sisters. Surely they must fill their lives with hatred for their fellow man in order to follow our Lord Christ.

I would hope note.

Again, the issue is just who was Christ referring to? He was referring to those who sit in the true Faith and seek to dictate to others new things, difficult things, that they themselves are not willing to follow. It can also me said that in this passage, Christ is condemning a ‘click’ mentality that the Apostle Paul fought against in 1st Corinthians 1.12-13. We have but One Teacher, One Master, One Father –  we are not of Paul, Apollos, or Peter, but of Jesus Christ, our great God, Saviour, Teacher, Master and Father.

A friend of this blog has a title that he has no doubt earned in his Tradition. He is not offering any new Tradition or new Wisdom, only promoting his doctrine and his Faith. Although his offering is contrary to mine, and it surely is, I still recognize him in his earthly capacity as a spiritual father to his spiritual children; further, he is a ‘father’ in rank in his Tradition. This in no way demotes the words of our Lord Christ, but allows us to communicate in a respectful and honorable manner.

I certainly would not refer to him, or to any man, as ‘Father’ in some exalted sense, believing that they could create in me a new man, or save my eternal soul. Nor would I call any man Teacher or Master in the hopes that they could create some new Tradition or interpret an old Tradition in some new light, yet, I find it a comfortable position to speak with someone with due respect for thier own accomplishments in hopes that he or she may in turn return some level of respect for my meagerness.

Now, I know that I will roundly criticized for this position and let me say that it is a personal position, developed in my own study and prayer. I encourage you to challenge this, but please do so from Scripture with firmness.

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