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Calling a pastor 'father'

Submitted: 12/3/2004
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Question: Is it true that you must never leave the church that you were baptized in, without the authority of your pastor, and that the fact that you were baptized there means the pastor there is the pastor who God has chosen to be your spiritual father, and if you leave of your own accord because you are, for example, unhappy with tyrannical rule or for any other reason, you have disobeyed God and will virtually be cursed and lose your soul? Is this true or a controlling tactic? Where does this idea of calling pastors (father) and their wives (mother) come from? Is it biblical?

Answer: If a child has been placed in a foster home and is being abused by the foster parents, I think we would all agree that it would be right and proper for the child to be removed and placed in a home where it could be loved and cared for. A local assembly is like a foster home. It is where someone has been charged with taking care of someone else's children.

In Matthew 23:9 Jesus said, 'Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.' Calling leaders father is a Roman Catholic tradition. Paul directly referred to himself as a father to the Corinthians, but this was on the basis of his founding the Corinthian assembly (1 Corinthians 4:14-15). He never asked the people to call him father, because he did not believe in contradicting the plain words of Jesus..

Galatians 4:26 calls the Church 'the mother of us all.' There is no place in the Bible where the role of a pastor's wife is defined or where she is referred to as mother.