“Prophet Kamadzi (not real name) has helped me to be established in Jesus Christ, he is my ‘spiritual father’,” Kadotho (not real name) told a friend.
The word ‘spiritual father’ is common among born-again Christians in the country. We are in an era when Christians look up to spiritual fathers or mothers for prayers, breakthroughs and blessings—just anything from the Lord.
However, is ‘spiritual father’ biblical?
Chanza Primary School teacher in Chiradzulu, a member of Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP) at Ngolonje, Kenneth Kamundi said he has never come across such a description in the Bible.
Kamundi, who has a spiritual father, thought people use this catch phrase because it is not about physical.
“If it is in the Bible, I am yet to come across it, but so far I cannot put significance on the Bible. There is father in the Bible, this can be seen in 1 Corinthians 2,” he said.
According to Kamundi a ‘spiritual father’ helps you to grow in the Lord, he is your mentor. Adding: “For five years I have been with this man I consider my ‘spiritual father’. He has been there leading me to Jesus Christ.”
Spiritual is not spirit, but of spirit. Is the Lord spiritual? Kamundi said there is Holy Spirit, Lord is spirit and the word ‘spiritual father’ is not on.
“Even Paul referred to Timothy as his son in the Lord and if Timothy could have written he could say ‘Paul, my father in the Lord’. That is the name,” he said.
A devout member of Michiru CCAP in Blantyre, Clement Kafoteza said there is only one spiritual father—God.
“In Matthew 23, it is clear that God is the father. I heard people talk of spiritual wives and husbands that are demons. Is this spiritual father of God or otherwise?” Kafoteza asked.
Asked who are those that provide mentorship and help someone to fully be formed in Christ, he gave one word ‘instructors’.
Tony Kasale, BCA resident in Bangwe, Blantyre said there is no exact word of ‘spiritual father’ in the Bible, but people equal some of the Bible acts to the word.
“I have searched different versions of the Bible, there is no such thing. There is an element of ‘spiritual father’ the way Paul referred to Timothy, the son in the Lord or in faith,” he said.
But there is belief, the scriptures are simple and straightforward. Paul call Timothy son in the Lord, how does the word ‘spiritual’ come in? He said the word is just human thinking to distinguish it from physical one.
Said Kasale: “In 1 Corinthians 4:15, Paul said he became the father through the gospel in Christ despite of many instructors. The father here can be God, Himself or Paul.”
Ben Benson, Thundu CCAP member in Blantyre, said those Christians embracing ‘spiritual father’ have lost focus.
Asked if the Bible recognises a father, and if we are not contradicting what Jesus Christ says in Matthew 23, Benson said most Christians do not meditate on the Bible.
“Even in a family there is one father, are ‘spiritual fathers’ from God? We only have God. Those that recognise ‘spiritual fathers’ should restart their Christian lives,” he said.
Prophet Francis Samuel of Light of Life International Church (Lolic) in Chemusa, Blantyre said the term ‘spiritual father’ is biblical.
“People do not understand because they have not read the story about Elijah and Elisha in 2 Kings 2 where the term is used to mean a ‘mentor’.
“You submit to him to learn his culture. The spiritual father can be in your country or abroad. In the story about Naaman, in 2 Kings 5, Elisha’s spirit was with Gehazi the time Gehazi collected things from Naaman,” he said.
Asked to comment on Matthew 23, that speaks against calling anyone father, Samuel said you could not know God without knowing a man.
He said to say father in the lord and spiritual father is the same as Lord is spiritual.
Jethro is the spiritual father of Moses.
“As he departed from Egypt, Moses never knew the God of Israel. It was Jethro who guided him to know the God of Abraham. Jethro mentored Moses,” he argued.
“Fathers that lead people astray are not ‘spiritual fathers’ but spiritual disease. Be careful with what you are submitting to, spiritual fathers are everywhere, but of God are not,” he warned.
On the issue of anointing, people anointed by their spiritual fathers seek justification on John and Jesus on the baptism. Samuel said John was there to fulfil the scriptures, he did not mentor Jesus.
“It is impossible, John is the witness of the light. How can a witness mentor the main light? Impossible. They say like that just to suit their motive,” he said.
Pastor Gift Tikiwa of Faith Life Church in Limbe said ‘spiritual father’ is biblical, but in the Bible it is father in the Lord.
“You cannot ignore the presence of spiritual fathers. Israelites used to say God of our fathers. In Ephesians 6, the Bible encourages us to honour our parents in the Lord, the fathers,” said Tikiwa.
He said the word ‘spiritual father’ is there because of our contemporary world to indicate, not biological. In 1 John 2:13-14, there is that element of father in the Lord. This is the one you get guidance and mentorship in the Lord.
According to Tikiwa, the Bible says we all fall short at His sight and it is only God who cannot be judged.
He said spiritual is man while God is spirit. He further quotes 1 Corinthians 3:1: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.”
However, Tikiwa said today’s fathers in the Lord are questionable.
“They allow to be worshipped, but remember we have the Father in heaven who we should all submit to. Some people also call me their father in the Lord [spiritual father], but I have never been close to them regarding issues of the Lord. To be the father involves a lot, do not be carried away, others are instructors,” he cautioned.