Skip to main content

3 Reasons why I will never be a Rev.

This post is not offered to insult or question the motives of the many good Christian leaders I know (and all those I don't) who have taken the title Reverend, and I know more than a few.  And this is not an issue that I would burn at the stake for. But that said I think the arguments are pretty compelling and I can't understand why everyone else doesn't think the same as me! ;-)

  1. Jesus' teaching in Matt 23:1-12 is quite clear that those who teach others about God shouldn't be in the business of self agrandisment and the taking (or accepting) of titles for themselves.   Despite the protests and straw men of the Roman Catholic apologists this is not about the exact words, "call no man FATHER," but about the way we choose (or choose not) to be addressed as a mark of honour in our communities.
  2. One friend of mine was told at his ordination, "you are now ontologically different,"  what nonsense.  The Spirit of God is what transforms us not the rites of a religious institution. If having those letters in front of your name doesn't actually in itself make you any different to someone who doesn't have them, then why do you want them there?
  3. I would rather people saved their reverence for God so would never want to suggest that it was in anyway due to me by taking the title Reverend.
Let me know what you think . . . especially if you are a Rev (or about to be one)!

Comments

  1. Scripture is perspicuous. Such titles, and they include others like Dr, Pastor etc.... sould be avoided. The trouble is it is not easy to persuade others always from using them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I knew you'd use the P word on me sooner or later! :-) As for your second and third points: indeed, indeed. Even when you have no titles whatsoever people still want to furnish you with them, sometimes!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I rather find that your 'protest' and 'straw bears' offer compelling arguments to the contrary. But then I would, wouldn't I!

    To respond to your points:

    1)Is not Our Lord's criticism more towards those who elevate themselves and use their position to show off? I think that these verses must be read in this context. I could never 'insist' on being called 'Father Matthew' (once I am ordained) but this is how I will probably be known. Just as S. Paul wrote 'Paulos apostolos' (sorry for the transliteration), he was not elevating himself (though I might believe he was) so much as recognising who he was in response to God's calling.

    2)It depends on your view of the Church and of the 'institution' that it has become. If one believes that the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Church and is passed on from the Apostles through the laying on of hands, as is continued in ordination then one can argue that there is an 'onotological' difference because the anointing of Holy Spirit for that ministry is passed on through the Bishop's laying on of hands, as a successor of the Apostles, though I rather suspect you don't see the Church this way! ;)

    3) This is a point that nobody could really argue with: the focus should always be on worshipping God and on leading others into worship. Besides, the title 'Reverend' is, I believe, a gerund--i.e. he/she who reveres. That is, the 'Reverend' whoever is somebody called and comissioned by the Church whose life is set apart for service of God and the Church--not somebody to be revered as you seem to imply.

    As for me, though I once shared your objections, when I am ordained I will be known as 'the Reverend Matthew McMurray' or simply as 'Father Matthew'.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Matt, :-).
    1. Yes of course, but I think the imperatives in the passage suggest that this is more than just a passivity towards titles but an eager refusal of them!
    2. Indeed, that is why I am a baptist and you are an anglo-catholic! Ecclessiology is critical. But I still love you.
    3. Hmmm, not really sure that is correct, although you are the greater linguist, but surely if the intention was to denote a posture of reverence they would be "The Reverent" rather than "the Reverend"!?
    I hope you wont be offended if I still call you Matt? :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. oh yes, and apostle designates function rather than office. he was an apostle because he was sent, a vacuum cleaner cleans by creating a vacuum, a Rev is a Rev by virtue of the institution regardless of what they do or who they are and whether or not they actually show any evidence of the Holy Spirit! You may say Jonathan is a pastor, as you can say jonathan is a guitar teacher, but please dont say "pastor jonathan", any more than you would say "guitar teacher jonathan". one of the problems i see in the evangelical church at the moment is the many people who have the title "pastor" but don't actually fulfill the function.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You may be right about the apostle.

    A very good and honest critique of (some) evangelical leaders. Perhaps the other problems is as S. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: 'though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.' 1 Cor. 4:15 (ESV) ...As I will become my congregation's (well God's, but you know what I mean) father through my ordination and licensing there, and more importantly through the ministry of God.

    I would much rather you called me 'Matthew'. No, I wouldn't be offended if you didn't call me 'Father Matthew', anymore than I would have my wife or my mum address me as 'Father'.

    ReplyDelete
  7. wow! you just compared me to your wife or mum! :-) now i do feel honoured! hehe!

    I would make the same argument with regard to 1 Cor 4:15 as i did with the designation apostle, Paul is not accepting an honourific he is attempting to establish what he believes has been his function in the Corinthians Christian growth in order to argue for his right (authority) to speak into the present situation (cf. 1 Cor 3:5-9).

    good discussion.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Addictive Power of End Times Speculation

The mighty Rhett Snell has picked up his blog again (I wonder how long he'll last this time), check out his theory on why people get so into annoyingly unbiblical end times nonsense.

I think that where codes-and-calendars end times theology is dangerous, is that it can give a sense of false growth. We read a theory online, or hear it from some bible teacher, and we come to think that we have mastered an area of our faith. A bit like levelling up in a computer game, or Popeye after he’s eaten some spinach. At worst, we begin to believe that we’ve taken a step that other Christians have not; that we’ve entered an elite class of Christianity.

Wars and Rumours of Wars

I write in the morning after the USA 2016 Elections, which featured the historic election of Donald Trump. Apart from my personal interested as a resident of planet Earth at this time, it is interesting to note some of the apocalyptic language emerging in discussions of what this means. Even archaeologists are turning to the medium of prophecy. Hear the word of Tobias Stone,
So I feel it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination. Humans will come out the other side, recover and move on.  Stone suggests that future historians will be able to draw clear lines from Brexit to Trump to the 3rd World War, or something equally bad. Mind you, just because historians can draw those lines doesn't mean they are here.

Then there is the word of Thom Hartman who is more interested in the domestic fallout than the fallout shelter. 
The last …

The false link between suicide and mental illness

One characteristic of human society is the tendency to keep doing something over and over again despite it not working. One example would be our approach to incarcerating criminals to punish them instead of rehabilitating them, compounding their trauma and making it harder for them to live productive law-abiding lives when they get out. But this is the "common-sense" approach, the intuitive human response to the failings of others, punish them and they wont dare do it again. It has never worked, ever, but let's keep doing it. Secular society is screwed because it cannot comprehend that its vision is blurred by sin and therefore knee-jerk, common sense solutions are usually destructive and counter-productive.

So it is with our response to suicide. To kill yourself must be the response of the weak minded and sick - so the thinking goes - so to combat rising suicide we treat individuals medically. Yet suicide is a perfectly rational response to a world as broken as ours and…