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Jesus said that we should not call any man "Father" as only God is our father (Matthew 23:9). Yet many churches refer to the pastor by this title, in direct violation of this command! The late Chuck Smith refused to allow anyone to call him Reverend or any other title. He said he was "just Chuck." We humans already have enough problems with idolatry. These titles simply serve to elevate mere humans and cause inappropriate "hero worship."
It’s a delicate question! In the Old Testament there was a distinction between the members of the congregation and the ministers. Only the prophets, priests and kings were anointed. But under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit comes on "all flesh"— that is, all the people of God— "sons, daughters, young men, old men, menservants, maidservants" (Acts 2:16-18). All believers in Christ are kings and priests to God now and in eternity (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:4-6). There are no two groups called clergy and laity. All of God’s people are clergy. Each believer is a minister to God and to the people with varying responsibilities and various gifts. Even before the New Covenant was actually established, Jesus spoke against the Jewish synagogue practice of using special titles and wearing special dresses (Mt 23:1-10). His twofold argument was: "One is your Father who is in heaven... You are all brothers." The apostles followed Christ’s teaching closely in the Church. We don’t read of Rev. Paul or Rt. Rev. Peter or Father John in Acts or the Epistles. Peter addressed Paul simply as "Brother Paul" (2 Pet 3:15). Even the angel, who brought the Revelation to John, introduced himself as a brother (Rev 19:10; 22:9). The introduction of clerical titles was made in latter years when the Church went drifting away from the simple New Testament Church pattern to hierarchical systems. The great Protestant Reformation was not a total restoration of the New Testament Christianity. In fact the reformation is not complete yet. Every step of restoration is both costly and painful. But that is the call of the Head of the Church: "Remember from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else..." (Rev 2:5). The act of ordination is only for appointing a person for a specific function and not for awarding any "title" (Acts 13:2,3; Tit 1:5). For example, Paul and Barnabas, who were prophets and teachers in the local Church at Antioch, came to be known as apostles after they were ordained and released for a translocal ministry (Acts 13:1; 14:14). We can say Apostle Paul, Evangelist Philip or Pastor Timothy, because these are ministerial or functional titles with Biblical approval. But not Reverend or Father. "Holy and Reverend is HIS Name!" (Psa 111:9). One may argue that there were many great men mightily used of God in Church history who had used clerical titles. This is no reason for continuing the practices of the "times of ignorance." God’s tolerance does not mean His sanction. The earlier we discard the old wineskins, the more we can drink the blessings of the new wine!
I once preached a message in which I quoted Mt. 23:9: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for One is your Father, Who is in heaven.” Here “Father” is taken in the spiritual sense, since we all have earthly fathers, which we are to respect. Jesus is pointing out how hypocritical the Pharisees were: “You love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to have men call you Rabbi [Master/Teacher].” About their professed spirituality, He said: “Everything they do is for men to see.” It was all done to impress others. Jesus’ disciples also had a problem with egotism. The mother of John and James came to Jesus with a special request: “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at Your right and the other at Your left in Your kingdom.” When the other disciples got wind of it they were furious. So, Jesus called them together for a lesson in anger-management. “You know that the rulers of the heathen nations lord it over them… Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” (Mt. 20:25-28) He was saying, “If you want to be important, be a servant, a slave. Don’t sit in the boss’s chair, don’t insist on titles of respect, and don’t lord it over those under you.” They weren’t to insist on people addressing them as “Apostle James,” or “Apostle John.” That may have been their position, but it wasn’t their title. If they insisted in giving each other titles, it should be “Servant John” or “Slave James.” He told them they should not let others call them Rabbi, or Teacher, or Father, for God is their Father and they are all brothers. Nor were they to be called Master, or Professor, for Christ is their only Master. Why do Catholics call their priests “Father” and their leader “Pope” [Father in Latin]? How far is that from Christ’s teachings? But what about other Christians? Maybe they don’t reach the same level as the Catholics, but they’re not very far behind. Many times I’ve been addressed as “Reverend,” and I shudder because I fall far short of that honor. I feel it’s an infringement on one of God’s unique attributes. (Ps. 111:9) What about “Pastor” [meaning a Shepherd]? That too makes me uncomfortable. “The Lord is my Shepherd…” Jesus said, “I am the good Shepherd.” Jesus is the Great Shepherd. I might be His little helper, a servant, a slave, but I’m not “The Shepherd/Pastor.” I was once introduced to a lady evangelist, and said to her, “I’m pleased to met you, sister so-and-so.” To my surprise she replied, “You need to show me respect and call me ‘Evangelist so-and-so’ - not ‘Sister.’” Even though my position in the church is that of a pastor, if the words of Jesus mean anything at all, I don’t think I should be called “Father,” “Teacher,” “Master,” or “Shepherd/Pastor.” How about “Brother”? We are all brothers and sisters in the Lord. The issue is pride. True humility is precious in the sight of the Lord. Anything that calls attention to self should be avoided. “Humble yourselves before the mighty hand of God.”
The question is should a minister, pastor/teacher, overseer allow himself to be addressed as "reverend" The only time this word comes up in scripture is in Psalms 111:9 Great Are the Lords Works 9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and reverend - awesome is his name! First a man can be ordained by any group of church leaders and not have the ordination where it counts, from his lord and savior Jesus. Jesus is the head of the ekklesia - the called-out Assembly of God and as such it is he who puts men or women in places of leadership within his body, congregation, the Israel of God of which he is the anointed one. He alone has the authority to "ordain". How are we to know those who have been "ordained" by the lord Jesus. He states very plainly in Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. This is the only way we can know those who have been given positions of responsibility over the congregation - the called-out Assembly of the living God. I don't see any place in scripture where any authority was given to men to ordain anyone to the ministry of Jesus, that parogative belongs to Jesus and to him alone as the head of his called-out Assembly. There are no apostles to-day who can appoint anyone to any office or responsibility in the Assembly of God.
We have to be careful not to become too legalistic! Matt 23:8 Says not to call anyone Teacher!..But when our children go to school and into the classroom..We call the one who teaches them "their teacher"..In Col 1:1 Paul addressed himself by His office.."as an Apostle"...Rom 10:14 Says "How can they hear without a preacher"..So titles are not wrong! In the 10 commandents we are told to Honor our Father and Mother! So if we take Matt 23:9 out of context, then we cant even call our earthly Father by His title..Some may say Dad or Daddy or Pa..And some may say "Father" and be well in the grounds of scripture!
[reverend] Hebrew: yare' (HSN-), to be feared. It is translated fear, afraid, terrible, dread, and reverence over 300 times of both God and man. Here we have a simple statement that God's name is "reverend." It does not mean that ministers are forbidden to use "Reverend" as a title. The same word is used of the fear of parents (Lev. 19:3) and of God (Lev. 19:14). It is even used of reverence of the sanctuary, a material place (Lev. 19:30; 26:2). If God commanded people to reverence a material place as well as parents, how could it be wrong to reverence men of God who are supposed to be holy and reverend as His representatives on earth?
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