Jan 26

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“’Preacher’ Will Do”

“Whereunto I am appointed a preacher“—2 TIMOTHY 1:11
Several years ago I was asked to word a prayer before the start of a high school football game. In the press box, as the stadium announcer was explaining the procedure to me, he said, “…at this point I’ll introduce you as Reverend Henson.” Knowing he meant well, yet, also knowing that I certainly was not due the lofty title, I kindly explained, “’Preacher’ will do.” Then, he wanted to call me “Pastor.” Although he did finally introduce me as a preacher, by his contrary insistence, you’d think I had asked him to introduce me as “Australopithecus africanus.”
Several times before and since that event, I have been addressed by mail, phone or in person with titles which are not to be bestowed upon individuals such as myself—or, in some cases, upon any human at all. I deeply appreciate those who are likewise religiously minded, yea, those who are desirous of expressing their gratitude to those who study and teach the Word. Yet, a consideration of some of that studying and teaching might prove helpful concerning this practice.
In Christianity, the religious title, “Father,” was brought into practice by human beings long after the completion of God’s instructions—the Bible (Catholic Dictionary, page 342). Indeed, the term is properly applied to our physical fathers (Mat. 15:4-6), but to apply it spiritually to another human being is precisely what Jesus prohibited when He said, “And call no man your father upon the earth, for one is your Father, which is in heaven” (Mat. 23:9). So please, just call me “preacher.”
To esteem certain ones as priests in distinction form the laity (“common” man) was also a later invention of man (Catholic Dictionary, pages 189, 692). The truth is, all Christians are priests (Rev. 1:6) who make up the “holy priesthood…offer[ing] up spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God” (1 Pet. 2:5,9). No, God did not ordain such a distinction. So please, just call me “preacher.”
The title “Reverend” is most common, but it would no doubt embarrass the godly heart to learn (in its only occurrence in the Bible) it is restricted to addressing God: “Holy and reverend is His name” (Psa. 111:9 [emp. added]). God is reverend–not man. We should feel no more comfortable in addressing a man as “Reverend,” as we would in addressing him as “God,” “Lord,” or “Master.” So please, just call me “preacher.”
The position of pastors certainly has a place in the church, but it must be asked, “What place does it occupy?” Pastors are also indentified as “elders” or “bishops” (Acts 20:17,28) who are a group of men (the terms are always in the plural) who have been selected out of their own congregation (Titus 1:5) having met numerous qualifications (including: married and with children [Titus 1:5-9]) and whose responsibilities are to guard, tend and oversee that local church (Acts 20:28-31; 1 Pet. 5:2; Heb. 13:17). The only occurrence of the term “pastors” is found in distinction to “evangelists” (Eph. 4:11)—meaning, they are two different positions.
So, if the one who preaches the sermons and is financially sustained by the members of the church (1 Cor. 9) is not to be addressed as “father,” “priest,” “reverend” nor “pastor,” what, then, is he to be called? Timothy was such an individual and God called him: evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5), minister (1 Tim. 4:6) and preacher (2 Tim. 4:2). Those terms please me; I’m sure they’ll also please those who wish to please God.

Gary Henson

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