Is It Right To Call Men Reverend?
GOOD MORNING REVEREND!
In my business, social and church life, people are continually greeting me by saying, "Good morning Reverend." Why? Because I am a preacher, I am an evangelist in the Church of Christ: and these good people want to show respect for my work and for me. Perhaps it will come as a shock to some of my friends as they hear me say that I do not want to be called "Reverend".
I do not make this request because I think that I am too good for the title. I do not make this request because I want to be different from all others. After many hours of Bible Study, I have come to the conclusion that it is wrong for me to want the title; and it is wrong for me to encourage people to use it by my acceptance of it.
Do you know where the word "Reverend" is found in the Bible? Do you know how many times it is found? Do you know the definition of the word? Perhaps you have never given this much thought. I believe that you will agree with me that it would be interesting, as well as desirable, to know the answers to these questions.
The word "reverend" is found only once in the pages of the Bible! In our King James Version of the Bible, we read the following words:
"He sent redemption unto His people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name." (Psalm 111:9)
If you will be kind enough to read the entire 111th Psalm, you will find that the subject under consideration at this point is the holiness, purity, fear, terribleness, and reverence in which we are to hold the name of God. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David teaches, "Holy and reverend is his name."
Would you want to take an attribute of God, which is applied exclusively to Him, and apply this to me? No! I am not, nor will I ever be, great enough to wear "reverend" as a title!
Jesus vigorously condemned the use of religious titles. Listen to Him as He speaks to us in Matthew 23:8-10:
"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."
Can we be mistaken concerning the message He has for us? I do not believe so! This is a wonderful teaching... "all ye are brethren"...Christ has made us equal. The divisions of "clergy" and "laity" are foreign to the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus also taught against any marks of distinction among His people. The religious leaders of Jesus' day were filled with pride and desired to be set apart from all others. Hear Jesus again as He speaks in Mark 12:38-39:
"And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go
in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats
in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:"
When men take to themselves religious titles and special clothing, Jesus says to "beware" of them!
Perhaps you are asking by now, "Well, how should we greet you, what should we call you?" This question is certainly in order. If you are a Christian, why not call me brother. If you do not desire to call me brother, why not refer to me as mister. This way we make no distinction between me and other male members of the congregation!
Peter, that great apostle of Jesus, wrote:
"If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God..." (I Peter 4:11)
The word "oracles" means, "utterances". In calling a fellow-Christian "brother", and in refusing to call any man "reverend"; we are obeying this command.
I feel that most people are honest and want to do what is right. In order to accomplish our task, let us return to the Bible for all our beliefs and practices. This is right and good. We of the Church of Christ are diligently seeking to do this. We invite you to attend worship services with us, as we use the Bible as our only rule of faith and practice, that together we may restore the Word of God to its rightful place!