Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The "Most Reverend"?

I received a letter in the mail today that was addressed to "Reverend Eric Carpenter." I knew right away that the sender did not know me because I despise the title "reverend." As Dave Black has said, the best title for all of us is simply "brother" or "sister."

This reminded me of something I ran into recently on-line. I was looking at the website for the large Roman Catholic Cathedral in Savannah - The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. As I perused the site, I came across the pictorial page for their staff. At the top of the page is a photo of "The Most Reverend J. Kevin Boland." The obvious question is, "What makes him the most reverend?"

Is he holier than others? Has he done extra-special things that make him extra-special? Is he to be revered because of some special quality?

This is simply another example of the ridiculous practice of church leaders taking made-made titles for themselves. Why does this happen?

The answer is pretty basic: pride.

Church leaders often like the pedestal that others within the church want to place them on. There is often an unstated but agreed upon idea that the church members will look up to the church leaders as authoritative and somehow closer to God.

When this happens, it impedes the spiritual growth of the church. Instead of each Christian living as a priest with full access to God, we too often see (in both Catholic and Protestant churches) leaders get in the way of people's communication with God. Many of the people seem to desire this as well.

Leaders within the church are to equip and disciple (along with being equipped and discipled). They are not to be placed on a special throne or pedestal where they speak to God for the people and speak from God to the people. That was what an OT priest did.

We now have full priestly communication with God because of what our high priest, Jesus Christ, accomplished on the cross. Christ is the only one who deserves to be on a pedestal.

If we are determined to refer to someone as "reverend" of "the most reverend," let it be Jesus Christ.


Aussie John said...


In all my years in ministry, titles were a pet hate! I'm exercising great restraint in not writing more. Maybe I deserve a title :)

Arthur Sido said...

I prefer the Anglican version "The Right Reverend"

Jeff Nelson said...


Wouldn't that be a bit awkward for a left handed Anglican reverend?

Eric said...

Of course, you can never trust left-handed people.