Reverend

[This article was written by Tim Haile.]

King David said of God, “He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: holy and reverend is His name” (Psalm 111:9). David exalted God’s name as being “holy and reverend.” David gave this description on the basis of God’s ability to send redemption and establish His eternal covenant. Obviously, these two things are utterly impossible for man to do, so man is not in this classification. “Holy” means “set apart,” and “reverend” means “to fear, to be afraid, to stand in awe of.” So, in this context David describes God’s name as “holy” because it is set far apart from any ordinary name, and God’s name is “reverend” because God is to be feared and honored for His greatness, glory and power.

Sadly, it has become customary for religious people to call their preachers “reverend.” This term, that the Bible applies to God, is often applied to mere humans. At first thought, this appellation appears to exalt the preacher to the level of God. However, the crime is actually worse than it first appears. By changing “reverend” from an adjective to a noun, these folks (whether deliberately or indeliberately) actually exalt the man above God. The Bible contains clear warnings against this.

Matthew 23:9-11 – In a context dealing with religious doctrine and exercise, Jesus warned the disciples against the use of special names that distinguish them from other men. He told them to NOT be called by men “master” or “father” (in the spiritual sense – “pope?” “holy father?”). To do so elevates men to the level of God. Calling a man “reverend” violates this same principle. It exalts a man to (or above) the position of God. It is, therefore, sinful for one to call a preacher “reverend,” and it is also sinful for a man to so call himself. I once questioned a fellow Bowling Green preacher for wearing the title “reverend.” He (embarrassingly) replied that he had never liked for people to call him reverend, and that he wished that they wouldn’t keep doing it. I assured him that the solution to the problem was simple: Just tell them not to do it! That is what Jesus taught the disciples. Incidentally, if it was wrong for the Lord’s hand-chosen APOSTLES to wear religious titles, they why would we assume that it is right for one of us to wear such a title?

1 Corinthians 4:6 – Paul rebuked the Corinthians for “thinking of men above that which is written.” No human (including preachers) should ever be exalted above the position of Scripture. Preachers are not our source of authority: God is, and His authority is expressed through the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17).


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