Thursday, May 13, 2010

"A Man of God"

Earlier this week I was sitting in on a committee meeting for my son's Boy Scout Troop. As is necessary for all committee meetings, it was dull. Nevertheless, a few things were accomplished. One of those things was the appointing of a new treasurer for the troop. I'm happy to say that I avoided that position.

As we were discussing who should be the treasurer, something happened that disturbed me. A man sitting next to me suggested that I should do it because, and I'm quoting, "You are a man of God."

Ugh.

I guess this man, who I'm sure had good intentions (and was probably trying to avoid the position himself), figured that since I'm a pastor this means I'm going to be more honest than other people. Hasn't he watched the news about all the pastors who have stepped down because they've embezzled, etc.?

On the one hand I can see what he is saying. All Christians should be honest people. In fact, if anyone is to be trusted with money, it should be followers of Christ. We should certainly be more trustworthy than those who do not know Christ.

What really bothers me is not the expectation that I will be honest. I welcome that. What bothers me is the title "man of God." Titles like this indicate a marked separation in people's minds between clergy and laity. It shows an expectation that "the pastor" will be more honest than other Christians. It shows a level of reverence directed toward someone just because he's been hired by a church.

The problem is that there is nothing biblical about this. The scriptures certainly say nothing about a divide between clergy and laity. In God's eyes, all Christians are men and women of God.

As I heard the phrase "man of God," I think I cringed. I would cringe if I heard it again. It implies things that I am just not comfortable with anymore.

Thankfully, in the end pragmatics won out over the "man of God" issue. A man with computer-savvy was asked to serve as treasurer. More power to him.

I learned a long time ago from Dave Black that the best thing to be called is just your first name. So please don't ever call me "a man of God," "reverend," or anything else like that. Just call me Eric.

9 comments:

Jacob said...

I definitely agree with the sentiment you expressed here. Although, as to the phrase "man of God" itself, there is some biblical precedent. :-)

http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=%22man+of+God%22&go=Go

Aussie John said...

Eric,

"So please don't ever call me "a man of God," "reverend," or anything else like that."

That is music to my ears!

Eric said...

Jacob,

Thanks for commenting.

It's interesting that almost all of those instances come from the OT. Even the one instance from the NT (II Tim. 3:17) doesn't preclude any Christians from holding this title.

I suppose what bothers me is the idea that "the pastor" is in a special class by himself.

Eric said...

John,

I remember taking a Greek class with Dave Black. It was funny because we didn't really know what to call him. In that setting the appropriate thing to do was refer to him as Dr. Black. However, he doesn't care about titles at all. We still called him Dr. Black out of respect. If I saw him today, I'd just call him Dave.

Alan Knox said...

Eric,

I wonder what would happen if we translated that phrase "person of God"? The word is "anthropos", which is a human in general (one of the meanings of the English word "man"), not male specifically. So, you are absolutely right! Yes, you are a man of God, but so is your wife. :)

-Alan (saint and person of God)

Eric said...

Alan,

I've been thinking a lot lately about the priesthood of believers. I just despise the idea that "the pastor" is the man of God, but that the other saints are not. As for the translation, you are right. Interestingly, the NLT renders it, "God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work."

Jacob said...

"I suppose what bothers me is the idea that "the pastor" is in a special class by himself. "

I agree 100%. In Matthew 23:1-12, Jesus seems to hold the same view with regard to using titles that would seem to put certain people up a notch on the spiritual ladder.

Eric said...

Jacob,

Thanks. When I think of this issue, the verse that pops to mind for me is Mark 10:45, "For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."

whilewesojourn.com said...

Good post.

When I was in scouts, it seemed like one of the boys was always treasurer. Of course, nothing was ever accomplished.