Paparism in the Church Part 2: Biblical Evidence of Spiritual Father/son relationship

Author Dr Kennendy Musonda PHD

…The HARD TRUTH with Dr. Kennedy Musonda, Ph.D.

I WANT to thank all the readers of last week’s article most sincerely. I realized from the onset that the topic of paparism evokes negative feelings in many people even though some do not see anything wrong with it.

Some readers wanted me to conclude the topic in one article, which is not possible due to word limitation per article, while others wanted me to write what they want to hear.

I would request you to be patient and avoid jumping to a conclusion or passing judgment before reading every article. It also appears that others have stored up conflicts with the Bible and took an opportunity to lash out at the Bible and brought up a topic that was totally unrelated to the topic under discussion.

In last week’s article, I began to discuss some of the scriptures used to justify paparism or call a man of God as Papa or spiritual father or the man of God calling some or all church members as spiritual sons and daughters.

For example, in the Old Testament, Elisha called Elijah “Father” (2 Kings 2:12); in 2 Kings 6:21 & 13:14, the King of Israel called Elisha “Father.” In both cases, a spiritual father/son relationship is involved.  In the New Testament, Paul said, “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus, I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15).

Paul called Titus as his son after the common faith (Tit. 1:4), and he also called Onesimus as the son he begot in his bonds (Phile. 1:10). The best documented spiritual father/son relationship in the Bible was Paul and Timothy’s relationship, which I will discuss in detail after next week’s article.

It is important to note that Paul does not just use the metaphor of father, but he also uses the metaphor of mother, referring to how he took care of the Thessalonian church like a mother takes care of her young (1Thes. 2:7-8 NIV).

The implication here is that Just like a normal father protects and provides for his children or a mother cares for her children, spiritual fathers/mothers should have the same attitude and not use their position to control and take advantage of the flock.

Paul called the same spiritual children as brothers and sisters more than 100 times than he called them his children, which only appears once in 1 Corinthians 4:15. These days, I rarely hear men and women of God calling church members brothers and sisters.

One thing that stands out from the above scriptures is that the one called father or son had a close relationship with the other. It was not just a blanket or general statement where you call anyone in church a spiritual son or daughter just because you preach to them.

You may be just an instructor since there are more instructors than fathers (1 Corinthians 4:15). You cannot call a preacher you watch on TV “my spiritual father” when he or she does not even know you, and you have never even met him or her physically.

I believe that Paul referred to the Corinthian church members as his children because he had an intimate relationship with them since he started the church at Corinth and probably led most of the members to the Lord.

In this case, a father is someone who led another to the Lord and discipled such a person or someone who significantly contributed to the spiritual growth of the one called spiritual son or daughter. It also means that the spiritual father has made a huge investment in terms of time and other resources in the spiritual son or daughter.

The best way to understand the spiritual father/son relationship is to understand the biological father/son relationship in an ancient Jewish context on which the metaphor of spiritual father/son is based, not the spiritual father/son relationship in the Zambian context.

If you have questions on this topic or any other biblical topic or you need pastoral counseling, whether it is grieving, pre-marital or marital counseling such as infidelity, or other matrimonial challenges, send me a WhatsApp message or email using details below, and I will respond to you or call you back. May the Lord God Almighty richly bless you.

Author: Dr. Kennedy Musonda an international development consultant holds a Bachelor and Master of Social Work, a Bachelor of Arts in Theology, a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Ph.D. in Business Administration.

For feedback contact email: [email protected], WhatsApp/Telegram line +260977526404 or Skype: kmusonda45


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