Paparism in the Church Part 1: Is it biblically correct to call your Pastor Papa?

Author Dr Kennendy Musonda PHD

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

Today, I am introducing a new topic on paparism, having discussed the doctrine of hell for several weeks. I define paparism as an act of calling your Pastor, Bishop, Priest, or Prophet, Papa, or spiritual Father.

The opposite of Papa is Mama or spiritual mother. Someone jokingly defined paparism as church government of Papa, by Papa and for Papa and his family.

I had never paid much attention to the concept of Papa, even though I used to hear a lot about it until a friend asked me the following question  – “Good morning Dr. Pastor Musonda, where is the papa business of referring to Pastors under Assemblies of God coming  from?.” Before I answered the question, I had to embark on an extensive study of the concept of spiritual fatherhood.

Before I discuss my findings with you, let me define the term papa or Father. According to the HELPS Word-studies, the term Father comes from a Greek word pater, which means one who imparts life and is committed to it; a progenitor, bringing into being, to pass on the potential for likeness.

The word pater also refers to a begetter, originator, one in an intimate relationship. A begetter is someone who begets (figuratively an originator or creator). To beget, therefore, is to bring a child into existence by process of reproduction. The term progenitor means a person or a thing from which a person, animal, or plant has descended or originates, such as an ancestor or parent.

Like my friend asked, many people have started questioning whether calling your Pastor Papa is even biblical even though it has become popular, especially that Jesus in (Matthew 23:8-10), categorically forbade his disciples from calling spiritual leaders as fathers.

He said, “but be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your Father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:8-11).

I am reminded of a story I heard of a Christian who had gone away from his church for quite a while, and when he returned, he found his Pastor being called Papa, and his Pastor’s wife was called Mama by church members and wondered what had happened in his absence.

Is it biblical to call you Pastor, Priest, Prophet, or Bishop as Papa, or is paparism biblical? My answer is  yes and no. Yes, according to (2 Kings. 12; 1 Corinthians. 4:15) and no according to (Mathew. 23:8-10).

The answer may sound simplistic to some of you who want a straight yes and no response. Let begin by giving reasons for my yes answer. There is biblical evidence from both the Old Testament and New Testament of a spiritual leader being called a Father or Papa. In 2 Kings 2:12, Elisha called Elijah, Father; in 2 Kings 6:21 &13:14, the King of Israel called Elisha Father.

In the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 4:15, 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.” Paul called Titus as his son after the common faith (Titus. 1:4), and he also called Onesimus as the son he begot in his bonds (Philemmon. 1:10).

The best documented spiritual father-son in the Bible was the relationship between Paul and Timothy, which I will discuss in detail next week.

If you need any spiritual help or counseling, marital or pre-marital, or any form of counseling at all, or you have any question or challenge, send me a WhatsApp message or email, and I will respond to you or call you back.

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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