Thinking out loud here . . . should I call a person by a title because religious protocol tells me I should?
Me genoito! (Rom. 6:2–yeah, I’m ripping this Greek from its context to support my agenda, but it’s just an interjection, after all.) Those 3 labels are among those that I have resolved never to call any other human. If I did call someone by one of these titles, the reality wouldn’t change, of course: the person would still not be reverend, for example. Yet the use of such titles does suggest subservience to a non-biblical system.
The problem is twofold. Foremost, it’s God’s will that is conceptually over all; He, through the eternal Son, has ruled that no one of us is lord over another — and, specifically, that we should not call each other “Father.” This much is clear: there are no hierarchical rankings in the Kingdom. Even Peter referred to himself as a “fellow elder,” not setting himself up over others in terms of spiritual influence, so why should anyone today think he is over anyone else?
Even if the Father, in the “vertical” sphere, had expressed nothing along these lines, the problem of religious titles would still exist in another sphere — the horizontal one. Churches would still need to deal decisively with the ramifications of setting one person or a group of persons above others.
Church is really not about the clergyfolk. Those in paid ministry positions (where such positions seem necessary!) should stop calling attention to themselves by the use of titles, by hogging corporate time, and by generally thinking they have rank in the Kingdom of God. Some of the problem is not the fault of the clergyfolk per se; it’s the fault of the system that insists, by its very existence, that we all perpetuate the problem.
Where do you stand? Will you pander to the persistent problem, or be about the Father’s business, in and through a better body life?