Monday, January 31, 2011


I didn't know that in the first decades of American Protestantism, ministers were addressed as "Father." By the 18th century it was used primarily for older clergy, but continued into the 19th century.

"Fathers and Brethren," Church History, v. 37, no. 3, September 1968


Dan Nieman said...

Interesting post! In your reading did you find out how they dealt with Jesus' adminition to call no man Father?

Thanks for your work!
Dan Nieman

Norma said...

No, and I've often wondered about that since "fathers of the church" is such a common term, as is "forefathers" and fathers of our country.

Pauli said...

The "call no man father" quote from Our Lord is often taken out of its context. The original context has to do with His criticism of the Jewish leaders who "loved the place of honor" and thus indulged in cults of personality. It's actually hyperbolic in nature, since taken literally, it would forbid even calling our own biological fathers "father". Here's a good piece on the subject. It shows how New Testament saints such as Stephen and Paul used the term to describe spiritual leaders among men, with Paul actually using the word to describe himself--"For I became your father...." (1 Cor. 4:14–15).