Origins of "The Holy Father"


#1

I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the earliest instance we have on record is of the Pope being referred to as, “The Holy Father.”

This is NOT a question about the Pope’s authority. This is a question about the terminology being given to the Pope.

This is a historical question, not a theological one, so please do not let this turn into a debate. Thank You.


#2

Here is what I’ve been able to find.

From catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0038.html (article by Jean-Claude Perisset)

Quote:
*The qualifier “holy” underlines the spiritual dimension of this fatherhood exercised in the name of God; and we have already said that it does not imply a moral judgment on the person of the Pope. The expression “Holy Father” was born in the time of the controversy over lay investiture, and it seemed normal that in its becoming common usage in the acts of the chancery, the Roman Curia had then wished to underscore the spiritual and supernatural level of the mission of the Pope by adding the adjective “holy” — to defend implicitly the superiority of papal power over imperial power. *
Unquote.

A google search on Lay Investiture Controversy showed that occurring in the 11th century.

Nita


#3

The Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431), in its Decree Against Nestorius, refers to Pope Celestine as “our most holy father” but, as can be seen elsewhere in the acts and decrees of the same Council, the title “holy father” was not reserved to the bishop of Rome alone but was a common title for bishops back then.


#4

I’m fully aware as to why he is called this. But its one thing i alway have a little gringed at.


#5

There is not any Bible for any such thing as a pope. Peter was never a pope. The only people with the ability to loose and bind on earth were the Apostles. All of the Aposles had this ability, not just Peter. I can’t find the successoin or passing of this power anywhere in the Bible.


#6

Todd Easton… Where in Acts is a man called Holy Father. Please give me book, chapter and verse.


#7

Cars and computers aren’t in the Bible either…Do you believe that they exist??? Also, where in the Bible does it say it is the one and only authority of Christianity?? The full history of Christianity doesn’t come in the Bible, just some of the beginning. I hope I haven’t offended you. Please forgive me if I have. God bless.


#8

not offended… but your off topic

cars and computers and all that other stuff you mentioned are not matters of salvation.

when it’s comes to getting to heaven you don’t need a car or a computer. The things that you need to do are in the bible. The doctrine of the lords church has to come from the lord or one of his apostles.

The catholic doctrine does not. a lot of it anyway. The bible is the complete doctrine of Jesus and does hold all instuctions necessary for man to get to heaven.

Christianity dosen’t really change all that much. What changes there are are in the bible and most revolve around not having the bible (that which was perfect) in written form in those days. The middle and end of christianity should be just like the beginning. Who has the right to change it. Read the last verse in the bible


#9

The name we choose to call the Pope is not a matter of salvation.

The catholic doctrine does not. a lot of it anyway. The bible is the complete doctrine of Jesus and does hold all instuctions necessary for man to get to heaven.

The titles we use for the Pope aren’t doctrine either.

Who has the right to change it. Read the last verse in the bible

Funny, who took out seven books and added words to the end of the Lord’s prayer? Hmmmmmmm


#10

The Pope is the “head of the Catholic Church”, there is no head of the church other than Jesus. Nor are there any popes in the Bible, You don’t think that’s a matter of salvation. You have a pope with the ability to write church law, that’s not a matter of salvation.
As far as takng books out, i don’t know about that. but i have faith that God has the eneough power to protect his word. Now if You don’t believe in the bible that’s a different story. You don’t have to discredit the bible just because most of the practices of the catholics aren’t in it.


#11

Matthew 23
Seven Woes
1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’

8"But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.


#12

This question was raise in BCS’s website. John Martignoni posted on his two min Apologetics:

QUESTION: Q: The Bible says to call no man Father, so why do we call our priests “Father”?

ANS:
Matthew 23:9, “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in Heaven.” Notice, however, that this makes no distinction between spiritual fathers, which is what our priests are to us, and biological fathers. In other words, if you interpret this passage to say, absolutely, that no man is to be called father, you cannot distinguish between calling a priest, father, and calling the man who is married to your mother, father.

But, is that actually what this passage is saying? Or is Jesus warning us against trying to usurp the fatherhood of God? Which, in many ways, is what the Pharisees and Scribes were doing. They wanted all attention focused on them…they were leaving God, the Father, out of the equation. Which is why Jesus goes on to call them hypocrites, liars, and whitewashed tombs.

If you interpret this passage from Matthew 23 as an absolute ban against calling anyone your spiritual father, then there are some problems for you in the rest of Scripture. For example, Jesus, in the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16, has the rich man referring to Abraham as “father” several times. Paul, in Romans chapter 4, refers to Abraham as the “father” of the uncircumcised, the Gentiles. That’s referring to spiritual fatherhood, not biological fatherhood.

In Acts 7:1-2, the first Christian martyr, Stephen, referred to the Jewish authorities and elders who were about to stone him as brothers and “fathers,” as does Paul in Acts, chapter 22. This is referring to spiritual fatherhood. So, if you interpret Matthew 23 as saying we cannot call anyone our spiritual father, then you have a problem with Jesus, Paul, Stephen, and the Holy Spirit…they must have all gotten it wrong.

It is okay to call priests “father”, just as it was okay for Jesus and Paul to call Abraham “father” and for Stephen and Paul to call the Jewish elders “father.” As long as we remember that our true Father is God the Father and that all aspects of fatherhood, biological and spiritual, are derived from Him. And as long as we do not allow anyone else to usurp that role in any way, shape, or form, as the Pharisees and Scribes were prone to do.

Citation: biblechristiansociety.com/2min_apologetics.php?id=17


#13

Actually, there’s 2. St. Peter and St. Linus.

He did for 1500 years and then in the 16th century people decided to omit and change things as Corki said.

thats almost laughable. all of our seven Sacraments are commanded to us from Scripture. It is the rest of the world that chooses not to follow ALL of his teachings and just handpick what they want to believe. I grew up in a “Bible believing Baptist church” and I know all about what is picked through and discarded. When I started reading the Bible after my conversion to the Church it was like I had never read it before…

this is the oldest one in the book. Read this…catholic.com/library/Call_No_Man_Father.asp


#14

According to Catholic Tradition, the first Pope is Peter. So there was a Pope.

The Catholic Church teaches also that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church.

CCC 666 Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him for ever.

CCC 792 Christ “is the head of the body, the Church.” He is the principle of creation and redemption. Raised to the Father’s glory, “in everything he [is] preeminent,” especially in the Church, through whom he extends his reign over all things.

The Pope according to the Catechism is:

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

Nor are there any popes in the Bible, You don’t think that’s a matter of salvation. You have a pope with the ability to write church law, that’s not a matter of salvation.

The Pope does not make the laws. The Disciplinary Commission of the Roman Curia does that. The Pope does give his sign of approval concerning law Code of Canon Law.

As far as takng books out, i don’t know about that. but i have faith that God has the eneough power to protect his word. Now if You don’t believe in the bible that’s a different story. You don’t have to discredit the bible just because most of the practices of the catholics aren’t in it.

I believe most Catholics here believe in the Bible. I just not only believe in the Bible, but also Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterial Teaching of the Church.

None of us is discrediting the Bible. We take the fullness of the Biblical Truths. Catholics don’t pick and choose certain verses and chapters of the Bible.


#15

I think we all knew this wouldn’t stay on-topic …

May I first say a couple things?

The total lack of ecumenicalism I observe on these forums is atrocious, a bafflement, and a true shame. Should we of all people, who bear the sweet name of Christ, be the ones to undo all the progress the Church has made in recent decades concerning cooperation and tolerance within and without the faith? The Catechism may help to remind us of our unity:

836 “All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God. . . . And to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God’s grace to salvation.”

838 “The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.” Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.”

After all, are we not to be “striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace,” as there is, after all, but “one body and one Spirit,… one Lord, one faith, one baptism; [and] one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”?

Perhaps it might be most beneficial if we would mutter a Hail Mary (or, to my Protestant brothers and sisters, an Our Father) under our breaths before heatedly responding to comments. Also, if we are not prepared to listen, as well as to speak—on both sides, what’s more—then what good does this forum do? Is it then no more than an argument, a brawl, rather than a discussion?

NOW …

Actually, there’s 2. St. Peter and St. Linus.

Nice observation! It is true: the first “popes” (I use this term with certain reservations, as they admittedly weren’t able to exercise their authority like the papacy today) are mentioned in the Scriptures. Past this we have other early witnesses, two of which were written at such amazingly early dates that it strains credulity for me sometimes as a former Protestant—the very thought of such strong historical support for such a distinctly Catholic belief. Yet such things, I found, weren’t as great of oddities as I once imagined, I did come to discover. But still, early Christian witnesses simply amaze me for a plethora of reasons: not just in their great testimony to the faith, but also in contemplating the context these letters were written in, the harshness of the times …

He did for 1500 years and then in the 16th century people decided to omit and change things as Corki said.

There are numerous interpolations throughout the Scriptures, including in the Old Testament. Certain additions, such as John 8, are maintained as inspired writing, others are not, for a variety of reasons. It is simply not that clear-cut.

I grew up in a “Bible believing Baptist church” and I know all about what is picked through and discarded. When I started reading the Bible after my conversion to the Church it was like I had never read it before…

I found myself in a similar experience. I was baptized May 3rd of 2006, in First Baptist Church. I was, for the first time in my life, involved in things like Youth Group, Sunday School, etc. I was encouraged to read the Scriptures, and as I did, I began to discover things, though for a time I continued to accept with passivity the teachings the pastors presented me with. Yet when clear contradictions arose and my questions could not be answered, I had to look deeper.

The Pope does not make the laws. The Disciplinary Commission of the Roman Curia does that. The Pope does give his sign of approval concerning law Code of Canon Law.

And in any cause, according the Catholic viewpoint, the papacy derives its power from Christ: Isa. 22:22, Matt. 16:18. When Christ endowed Peter, and all the apostles, with his authority, breathed on them (in other words, gave them his Spirit), upon them was bestowed something we might refer to as the “apostolic charism,” a gift which we, as Catholics, maintain exists still in the Church today. Their commission by Jesus himself ensured the trustworthiness of their teaching. We believe that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and the bishops in communion with him are just as endowed with this charism as Peter and the other apostles were.

CONTINUED…


#16

As far as takng books out, i don’t know about that. but i have faith that God has the eneough power to protect his word. Now if You don’t believe in the bible that’s a different story. You don’t have to discredit the bible just because most of the practices of the catholics aren’t in it.

It is good that you so trust God! One should never cease to ask questions, though. Why is it that Protestants accept 66 books, and Catholics 73? This is a great point of discussion!

You see, Protestant churches accept the same 27 books of the New Testament declared canonical in A.D. 400 and dogmatically declared again in Trent, some 1100 years later, by the Catholic Church. The fathers of the Reformation debated among themselves which to accept, and ultimately rejected the Deuterocanon (Tobit, Judith, 1 & 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, and the additions to Daniel and Esther) while also going along with the Church’s recent declaration concerning the books of the New Testament. Martin Luther sought to remove everything past 1 John from the Bible, as well as the book of James, but there was simply too much dissent and disagreement among his followers. They rejected this, Luther eventually recanted some of his objections (though still harbored a disliking for the book of James), and the reformers had their NT Canon. What exactly they based their Old Testament on is unclear, however. The Jews early on decided on their canon (the Protestant Old Testament), but this was rejected by the Church because they also denied the entire Christian Revelation, and so the Church continuing discerning her own canon separately. Because of the Jewish people’s objection to the New Covenant revelations, most Protestants do not hold that their canon is wound up in the Council of Jamnia’s decrees. However, at least in semblance, this was the path chosen. Most likely it was based on the reformers preference for the Hebrew Canon over the Alexandrian, rather than the rulings and decisions of Jamnia, that influenced their choice.

Finally, I think it’s good to point out that you boldly assert that most Catholic teaching is unfounded in Scripture. As Catholics, we also have Sacred Tradition, which we believe to be the Word of God even as the Scriptures are the Word of God (the Bible, a Catholic will say, is Sacred Tradition on paper). However, these two do no conflict, as the Word is perfect. As a Protestant, I was convicted of certain Catholic doctrines and beliefs stated explicitly in the Scriptures, such as baptismal regeneration, salvation *via sola gratia *(“by grace alone”) through faith and works, etc., as well as implicitly stated doctrines, such as the Immaculate Conception and Intercession of the Saints. How can this be? Assuming, of course, the legitimacy of my convictions, it is because the Scriptures testify to those things, even when they are not always directly stated by them. The Bible is not indifferent on matters of Tradition; not only do the two not contradict, but they give support to one another, as well.

The papacy is a heated issue as it is, but as I see it: We all need a little direction, a little guidance, and few of us actually have that audible voice telling us God’s perfect Truth, or interpreting a tough passage, or whatever. The Pope (meaning, “father,” or “papa”) can be that guidance, that inspiration. He inspires us in his faith and in his walk—moves us to be better Christians, reminds us of Christ’s presence in the Church, and so much more. I think Jesus knew how much we’d need these things, and for this reason said to Peter, and therefore to his successors, “Feed my sheep. Take care of them.” [Jn. 21]


#17

Okay keep this in mind. Abraham was the ancester and the earthly father of these jews. He was not a heavenly father. They received the promises through their lineage to abraham.

Stephen referred to the high priest as father but the high was not a religous figure at all. He was a judge. At the end of the previous chapter you’ll find that they brought Stephen to the “Sanhedrin” which was a court of over 20 judges, so stephen wasn’t speaking in religous terms either.

Of course this is not teaching about earthly relationships with natural fathers. I agree with you on that it’s referring to the term father in the religous sense. It’s teaching that we are all brothers and sisters in christ. there isn’t anyone important enough in the church to carry the religous title of father. The only Father in the religous sense is God.

The Pharisees and Scribes were trying to elevate themselves with the term of father and jesus denounced them just as his word continues to denounce that practice today.

Elders ,bishops, decons, were not called father. they were simply called brothers. In fact i don’t ever see them called priest. Every member of the church is a member of “a royal priesthood” according to the bible. Now some of you may have your own oppinion about that too.
I’m done with this thread, I’ll start a new on about the roles, function, and qualifications for priest.
:smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:


#18

Finally, I think it’s good to point out that you boldly assert that most Catholic teaching is unfounded in Scripture. As Catholics, we also have Sacred Tradition, which we believe to be the Word of God even as the Scriptures are the Word of God (the Bible, a Catholic will say, is Sacred Tradition on paper). However, these two do no conflict, as the Word is perfect. As a Protestant, I was convicted of certain Catholic doctrines and beliefs stated explicitly in the Scriptures, such as baptismal regeneration, salvation via sola gratia (“by grace alone”) through faith and works, etc., as well as implicitly stated doctrines, such as the Immaculate Conception and Intercession of the Saints. How can this be? Assuming, of course, the legitimacy of my convictions, it is because the Scriptures testify to those things, even when they are not always directly stated by them. The Bible is not indifferent on matters of Tradition; not only do the two not contradict, but they give support to one another, as well.
one more thing i just read this all the way through. First of all thank you for admitting that most of the catholic teachings aren’t in the bible.
As far as the other sources of catholic belief not being in contradiction, that’s just impossible. following the traditions of men is great when were talking holidays or something but when involving salvation there is no place for traditions of man. The job of the pope as you described it is already taken by the holy spirit which is the gift of God. Jesus dosen’t need any man to do his job. he dosen’t have to be in physical form because his word is in physical form. Peter and the apostles don’t need succesors because their words are in physical form, all we have to do is follow them.

Rev 22 :18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

God bless


#19

It depends on how you read the bible and how you make the various connections to the papacy. I will walk you though it as best I can.

Catholics find the element of fatherhood in the papacy in the following way. In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus says, " And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." The granting of the keys is a unique position of authority given to Peter as chief of the apostles. The entirety of verse 19 is a deliberate echo on Jesus part to a statement in Isaiah concerning the prime minister of the king. In the rebuking of Shebna and the commissioning of Eliakim we read the following from Isaiah 22:19-23 which says:

"I will thrust you from your office, and you will be cast down from your station. In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house.

Peter was established as the prime minister. The Pope is the prime minister and is given the keys. Pope means “papa” just as Eliakim would be a father to the inhabitants of the kingdom in Jerusalem so also is the Pope a spiritual leader/father for the Christian people.


#20

This is all untrue. Stick around and you will gain a great deal of insight into the biblical underpinnings of Catholic teaching. I would suggest that you spend sometime reading some of the tracts found at this website Catholic.com and search the threads on this forum for many of the subjects that you find difficult. You will be able to read all of the arguments pro and con. My experience here has convinced me that all of your objections are well answered and have ample biblical support. Tradition and the Church form the testimony and foundation for the correct interpretation and meaning of scripture when it comes to doctrine.

They do not conflict with one another.


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