Pastor as Spiritual Father

Attended winkel today at Holy Cross, Golden, IL (Pastor Mike Grieve). I led an afternoon topic discussion on “Pastor as Spiritual Father” based on Luther’s Large Catechism, Fourth Commandment:

158 So we have two kinds of fathers presented in this commandment: fathers in blood and fathers in office. Or, those who have the care of the family and those who have the care of the country. Besides these there are still spiritual fathers. They are not like those in the papacy, who have had themselves called fathers but have performed no function of the fatherly office [Matthew 23:9]. For the only ones called spiritual fathers are those who govern and guide us by God’s Word. 159 In this sense, St. Paul boasts his fatherhood in 1 Corinthians 4:15, where he says, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” 160 Now, since they are fathers, they are entitled to their honor, even above all others. But to spiritual fathers the least amount of honor is bestowed. The way the world knows for honoring them is to drive them out of the country and to begrudge them a piece of bread. In short, spiritual fathers must be (as says St. Paul [1 Corinthians 4:13]) like the filth of the world and everybody’s refuse and footrag.

We discussed what kind of implications this teaching has for the Ministry. The basic question that I posed to the gentlemen was: “What does this look like in practice?” In other words, how does an understanding of the pastor as a spiritual father influence the way a pastor carries out his office? I think that we had some good discussion, and the men offered some good ideas. At some point I may work this idea into a paper of some sort.


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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