THE CONTROVERSY OF TITLES IN THE CHURCH
This letter was inspired by a recent article written by one of my favorite authors who writes for Charisma Magazine. His name is J. Lee Grady and over the past few years that I have read his material, I have agreed with most everything he writes and he writes very well. He has now written an article that I must refute. I will also be sending him a copy of this letter.
I am also finding that he is among a growing number of ministries who are downplaying the use of titles. Many who, at one time, were using the biblical titles of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher have stopped using them.
His letter has to do with the abuse of titles among ministers. I will be the first to agree that this is an area that has been terribly abused, but I don’t throw out the showing of respect because someone abused it. Throughout his entire article, he only looks at the abuse and not the scriptural or common courtesy of showing respect to those who lead us in our walk with the Lord. The bottom line of his letter is to throw out all titles and just call me “brother” (which is also a title). He states that the use of titles is “garbage”.
Here are some of the points of his article:
1. He quotes the scripture where Jesus states, “Do not be called Rabbi...” (in the same passage Jesus also said “do not be called leaders”) and here he totally misunderstands the biblical meaning of this passage. Jesus was addressing the religious spirit of his day. He was actually mocking the scribes and the Pharisees for their prideful way of loving the attention they received while standing on the street corner in their priestly garments, praying long prayers and loving being called “rabbi”. If Jesus meant for us to drop all titles, He would not have used titles Himself and would not have allowed His disciples to use them (I will address this later).
2. He then states that the use of “reverend”, “minister” and “bishop” are okay to use. Let me again go to the Word of God. The title “reverend” is acceptable and used by probably 90% of the world. Even those who do not know God accept this title, but this word is only mentioned once and then only in the King James version of the bible and it is in reference to God Himself. Psalm 111:9 says, “Holy and reverend is His name”. “Reverend” is a title that should only be used when referring to God and should never be used by man. In the dictionary, we find the meaning of this title as “worthy of reverence or worship”. This is the most prideful title ever used and is the most widely accepted, even by “brother” Grady. Many mock the use of biblical titles while widely using unbiblical titles. The balance is in the Word of God if we care to look.
HIS PROBLEM IS THAT HE IS JUDGING BY LOOKING ONLY AT THE ABUSE!
Let me first say that a title does not make anyone anything. It is merely a showing of respect that has been misunderstood and widely abused. Of course, we now live in a day when there is more rebellion than respect for authority.
Jesus did use titles and one example is in Matthew 26:18, where Jesus was instructing His disciples and said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, the teacher says, My time is at hand; I am to keep the passover at your house with My disciples”.
Jesus’ own disciples never called Him “Jesus”, but by the titles of “Teacher, Lord and Master”.
Now let’s look at Matthew 10:40-42 which says, “he who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward”, etc. It becomes very clear that if you call a prophet “brother”, you will not receive the prophetic ministry you are seeking.
A ministry who chooses to be called “brother” in place of their divine calling is either walking in false humility or doesn’t know their calling.
I continue to see christians showing respect to an office outside the Church without any problem. Example: Doctor, Senator, Mr. President, etc. But we can’t allow the showing of respect in the Church because it is too prideful.
I am called of the Lord to the apostolic ministry. Not everyone receives me as an apostle and that is no problem to me. No one has to call me anything. This does not bother me and I do not insist on being called by the title, but to those who do, I receive this as an acknowledgment of my calling and a showing of respect for the price I pay to function in that which God has called me.
I will not throw out all showing of respect in the Church simply because some false ministries are abusing it. Anyone in ministry who does not use their ministry title is either ashamed of it, is walking in false humility or prefers to deny their call.
We must work together to cease the practice of abuse in not only the use of titles, but in all of the abuses that are constantly in the news bringing discredit to the name of Jesus. Ministries must come together in the true spirit of humility and grace, walking in relationship with each other and with the Lord that we might present a true reflection of Christ both to the Church and to the world!
Apostle Richard Wright
Eagles Wings Ministries