If you want to be more persuasive
with your friend, use the Bible.
The Bible can become a common ground
for discussion, provided he is open
to looking beyond the anti-Catholic
rhetoric he has been taught.
Go to the place where Jesus says, "call
no man father" (Matthew 23:9),
and go a step further.
He also said call no man "master" or "teacher".
- Now would it be wrong to call
someone "teacher", or
a child to call their daddy "father"?
He will probably respond by saying
this is meant only in a spiritual
sense. So in other words,
he would assert that no man should
be looked at as a spiritual father.
At that point, you can bring in St.
Paul, who identifies himself as a
spiritual father to Timothy, Titus
and the Corinthians. Read these Epistles
and write down all the references
where Paul either calls them "my
child, or my son in the faith" or
whatever. (For example, see 1 Timothy
1:2; and especially 1 Corinthians
4:15. Ask your friend:
- Is Paul a biological father?
- Is he a spiritual father?
If so, this is legitimate and does
not contradict Christ's command. That
is precisely why we call priests "father." They
have a fatherly role, rooted in Christ,
as they carry on the Lord's work.
The thing Jesus does warn against
is the holding up of a human person
as another way to God,
as if others were equal to Him. Jesus
alone is the Way, the Truth and the
Life. However, in some religions,
especially eastern religions like
Hinduism, people do, in fact, hold
up human beings as though they possess "enlightenment" and
can show us the way, independent
of Christ. That is precisely
the kind of blasphemy that Christ