Q.

Is it right for a pastor of a local church to call himself “Reverend” or to be called “Reverend”?

A.
It is true that we must be careful not to ascribe to man the honor due God alone. We can see this admonition in the Ten Commandments and in such passages as Psalm 83:18:

Thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth.

I understand that many pastors hesitate or even actively oppose being called “Reverend _______.” We in nonliturgical, independent churches are sensitive about putting the pastor above others in a congregation as though he is in some way a bit supernatural.

By the same token, we realize the popular usage of the word; its use in common everyday life doesn’t always mean what it might otherwise imply. So if a pastor doesn’t want to use the designation for himself, that is fine. If another pastor sees no problem with it, knowing it is merely a word commonly used to designate a pastor and no more, that seems plausible too.

I do have a problem with religious groups that use the word “Father” for their local “ministers.” Matthew 23:9 specifically states,

And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

This verse refers to spiritual leaders, not to our physical fathers. It alludes to giving spiritual titles to men, not to seeing a father relationship in them, as for example the apostle Paul was to converts (see 1 Cor. 4:15).

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to nolson@garbc.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.

Reprinted from the Baptist Bulletin (November 1991).
© 1991 Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.