SHOULD WE CALL A MINISTER “REVEREND?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
No! While a common religious title, it actually is quite blasphemous to call a mere man “reverend.” The word appears once in the English (King James) Bible text, but it applies solely to God—not a mortal man! Psalm 111:9: “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.”
The Hebrew word is rendered various ways elsewhere—“fear” (188 times), “afraid” (78 times), “terrible” (23 times), “terrible thing” (6 times), “dreadful” (5 times), “reverence” (3 times), “fearful” (2 times), “terrible acts” (1 time), and so on. Not only is JEHOVAH God’s name “holy” (set apart from all others), it is also “reverend” (instilling awe, terror, and respect). However, religion has watered down this majestic term to apply it to clergy (feeble, failing men).
In fact, observe this note found in The Oxford English Dictionary: “As a title Reverend is used for members of the clergy; the traditionally correct form of address is the Reverend James Smith or the Reverend J. Smith, rather than Reverend Smith or simply Reverend. Other words are prefixed in titles of more senior clergy: bishops are Right Reverend, archbishops are Most Reverend, and deans are Very Reverend.”
To be frank, these titles are nothing but empty obsequiousness. They are given to flattered people who belong to religious systems that exalt the creature above the Creator. It is no different than assigning the label “Holy Father” to a fallible man (Roman Catholic pope) when it too applies solely to God. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed in John 17:11: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” In fact, even the religious title “father” is blasphemous. Jesus Christ declared in Matthew 23:9: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” Religious tradition tosses all these verses aside.
It is most appropriate to use Bible titles for church leaders—“pastor” (Ephesians 4:11), “bishop” (1 Timothy 3:2), “deacon” (1 Timothy 3:8), “teacher” (Ephesians 4:11), “elder” (1 Timothy 5:17), or “evangelist” (Ephesians 4:11).