Friday, 4 May 2012

Father forgive me

I mentioned in a recent post about a local parish vicar who helped to start my deconversion, and pointed out that his belief in transubstantiation was one of the first things to provoke my disbelief.  Recommending the reading of The God Delusion (and its supposed antidote The Dawkins Delusion) were others.

After all, if you find one thing like that - and quite a big thing when you think about it - then you might start to wonder what other things are questionable.

Surprisingly, I recently found that the bible specifically teaches against another aspect of his ministry, namely the use of the term 'Father'.

It might seem unfair to single out any one person by name, but nothing has ever managed to persuade me to address a clergyman as Father anything.  Something deep inside me made me want to scream.  In the case of Father Edwin, at least he was of the right sort of age to have been my father, but when the congregation was calling his young curate Father Russell, even before his ordination, the complete nonsense of the situation came to the surface.

Of course I understand that they are not intended to be my earthly father in the biological sense, but my 'father in Christ' or some other such metaphor.  Gradually I realised that they could teach me nothing that I didn't know, and couldn't find any way to convince me that they had any reason to believe in this mysterious entity called God.  After all, they couldn't possibly know and couldn't possibly convince me.  Even if they personally had a revelation from God, it was their own revelation, not mine.  Their accounts of this revelation are no more meaningful than my own real parents' accounts of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy.  Anecdotal evidence is not data.

So where is this specific admonition against an honorary title?  Matthew 23:9:

"Do not call any man on earth "father"; for you have one father and he is in heaven."

So if you believe in the second part of this verse, I don't see how you can deny the first part.  In the same passage (preaching against the Doctors of the Law and the Pharisees) Jesus also warned that they like to have places of honour at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues.

How true!  Isn't it amazing how bible verses get forgotten.

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