Garden City, Michigan church of Christ Bulletin
Many religious organizations of our time have various titles and addresses which are given to their leaders. For example, we list some of those in the Catholic Church: “A priest is addressed, ‘Father’. He (the Pope) is addressed ‘Your Holiness’. A cardinal is addressed ‘Your Eminence’. Archbishops and bishops are entitled ‘Most Reverend’ and formally addressed ‘Your Excellency’ the other prelates not bishops are entitled ‘Right’ or ‘Very Reverend Monsignor’ or ‘Father’.” (Catholic Faith page 129)
The Mason religion also has a multitude of flattering titles. The “Kentucky Monitor” says of the head of the local lodge: “The Master is addressed Worshipful Master, but he is referred to as ‘the Master’ (page 210). On page 337 it says, “He is entitled to the honorable title of ‘Worshipful’ from his brethren because of his high office...” The farther one goes into Masonry, the worse it becomes with the flattering titles, e.g., 3 degree: ‘Master Mason’; 4 degree: ‘Mark Mason’; 5 degree: ‘Past Master’; 6 degree: ‘Most Excellent Master etc.
Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 23:9-10). Many religious people today openly defy this command of our Lord.
When religious people address their leaders (preachers, priests, bishops, etc.) as “Reverend” and ‘Father,” they are using titles which belong only to God. The term “Reverend” means basically “worthy of reverence: revered” and is only used once in the King James Version. It is used in Psalm 111:9 and there venerates the name of God. It says, “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” God alone is to be reverenced, revered and worshiped. He alone is a “Worshipful” being. “...Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew ). The term “holy father” is likewise used only once in the Bible. Jesus used it to address God the Father in John 17:11. Men ought not seek the glory which belongs only to Deity. They should not accept it, nor endeavor to give it. Men commit a grave error when they take the titles and designations which belong to Almighty God and place them on mere men.
A young Christian lady had opportunity to introduce the local preacher to her non-Christian friends. She said, “This is my brother Mr. …“ She demonstrated both the knowledge and obedience which the Lord requires. She gave no religious title and used the term “brother” in its proper sense. The term refers to the common bond of all Christians and is not a title that is to be given only to preachers.
All preachers and teachers of God’s word should boldly refuse to be called by titles belonging to God. They should not be desirous of vain glory (Galatians ), but should walk humbly before God (Micah 6:8). Also, believers in Christ should be careful not to address ministers as “Father,” “Reverend,” “Worshipful,” or with any other flattering title. Job 32:21-22 says “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.”