- Religion and Philosophy
The Unscriptural Promotion of Professional Religious Titles in the Church System
The modern church is full of men with professional titles. In fact, when you greet them within the church building or see them around town, they like to be called Doctor, Pastor, Rabbi, Father, Reverend, Bishop, Apostle, Pastor, etc. These vocational titles that these particular men and woman have do not come from God. They are used as distinctions amongst those who are deemed more prominent than others within the religious church institution who are considered the religious authorities pertaining to the matters of God. Many who have these esteemed and exalted ecclesiastical titles would be offended if you called them by their first name without having their title before it.
Many of these esteemed men and women promote and market their religious wares with their titles placed upon them. Without their titles on their special religious products, they would not be rightly given the validation that is needed to sell their brand of Gospel and to be considered someone who was learned in the theological seminaries of men.
Unfortunately, many of these people in ordained positions of leadership have failed in their path that Christ has called all of those who claim to follow him are to pursue.
Are Titles a Necessity?
They do all their deeds to BE SEEN BY OTHERS. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the PLACE OF HONOR at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are NOT TO BE CALLED RABBI, for you have one teacher, and YOU ARE ALL BROTHERS.
And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. NEITHER BE CALLED INSTRUCTORS, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. – Matthew 23:5-11
Have you ever really taken to heart Christ's words?
They are many who seek special status among their brothers and sisters in Christ because they are deluded into believing that their academic status on a piece of paper from a seminary gives them the right to have authority over God’s people.
The churches of men are in direct disobedience by dishonouring the words of Christ.
The following will reveal that titles are unbiblical, but also unnecessary among the brethren (ekklesia).
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. BUT IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU. – Mark 10:42-43
This verse clearly explains the state of the modern church where great ones exercise authority over the people.
There are men within churches who have become lords over the people. It is a tragic epidemic that has led to and is leading many into deception.
There is no pecking order among the ekklesia as all those who are in Christ are not elevated in status over others. There is only one Teacher who is Christ and we are all at the same level at his feet. No person can usurp the headship of the ekklesia that has been given only to Christ.
When Christ ministered on the earth he made himself of no reputation, but men are doing the opposite. They peacock around in their arrogance and haughtiness in their self-glorifying demeanours.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility COUNT OTHERS MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN YOURSELVES. – Philippians 2:3
Are these verses sinking in?
There is absolutely no warrant for special priestly titles of honour. Any man who calls himself 'Senior Pastor' has exalted himself and defied the words of Christ. We are all called to be meek and lowly.
Titles vs. Function
By simply perusing through the New Testament, any notion of modern titles will be dispelled immediately with the evidence of Scripture. This is found by discovering the difference between the titles given to the religious leaders in the institutional church system and descriptive names given among the ekklesia to the followers of Christ.
The Ecclesiastical Titles of Eminence among the Clergy Class in the Church
- Senior Pastor
The Functional Terms of a True Follower of Jesus Christ Among the Ekklesia
You may ask, what about the title of Pastor, Prophet, Elder, Overseer, Deacon, Saint, etc?
When we read the New Testament through the lens of the Holy Spirit, the distinctions start to stand out.
It has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our BELOVED Barnabas and Paul – Acts 15:25
I commend to you our SISTER Phoebe, a SERVANT of the church at Cenchreae – Romans 16:1
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my FELLOW WORKERS in Christ Jesus – Romans 16:3
Luke the BELOVED physician greets you – Colossians 4:14
Now I urge you, BROTHERS — you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— be subject to such as these, and to every FELLOW WORKER AND LABORER. – 1 Corinthians 16:15-16
I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and FELLOW SOLDIER – Philippians 2:25
Just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved FELLOW SERVANT. – Colossians 1:7
And we urge you, BROTHERS – 1 Thessalonians 5:14
None of the New Testament believers held any honorary vocational titles. They had no special title before their names, but were referred to by their personal names accompanying their function, character or spiritual work among the ekklesia.
And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose STEPHEN, A MAN FULL OF FAITH and of the Holy Spirit – Acts 6:5
For he was a GOOD MAN, FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND OF FAITH. And a great many people were added to the Lord. – Acts 11:24
On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of PHILIP THE EVANGELIST, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. – Acts 21:8
What About the Leaders?
Honorary titles were not even given to the leaders among the early ekklesia. And as such, they did not allow themselves to be addressed in a manner that would elevate themselves among their brothers and sisters in Christ. There were no spiritual celebrities parading around with their special fan club ogling over their every move. All the leaders in the New Testament were ordinary people working together proclaiming the work of Christ. Everyone had equal approachability and access to one another. There were no VIP lounges with sacred men of the cloth inside.
The apostles in the New Testament were described without officiality, but were expressed in their function of humility.
THE BROTHERS, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers – Acts 15:23
To me, though I am THE VERY LEAST OF ALL THE SAINTS, this grace was given – Ephesians 3:8
And we sent TIMOTHY, our BROTHER and God’s COWORKER in the gospel of Christ - 1 Thessalonians 3:2
So I exhort the elders among you, as a FELLOW ELDER and a witness of the sufferings of Christ – 1 Peter 5:1
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our BELOVED BROTHER PAUL also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him – 2 Peter 3:15
I, JOHN, YOUR BROTHER AND PARTNER in the tribulation and the kingdom – Revelation 1:9
Can you see what is happening in these verses?
Can you see what is happening in the institutional church system today?
Can you see the differentiating pattern of the ekklesia?
BROTHERS, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who WALK ACCORDING TO THE EXAMPLE you have in us. – Philippians 3:17
We should all consider ourselves brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no hierarchical expressions of titles, but expressions of function. We are all fellow brethren; there are no superiors with salaries.
In 1 Peter 5:1, Peter did not use an exalted title for himself. He could have allowed himself to be called Bishop, Chief Elder or Senior Pastor before his name, but he understood the Kingdom of God. He was not seeking after a great opportunity and a salary, but chose to acknowledge himself as a fellow elder because he knew his function pertaining to the gift God had given him. His gift was not a formal title, but a task God had given him.
If you want to call yourself 'Pastor Joe' then you must be consistent with giving everyone else a title in the church too. That means there is also a Tither Terry, Giving Gary, Charity Charlie, Board Member Mike, Greeter George and Musician Manny. The list could go on and on.
Can you see the foolishness in doing this?
Senior Pastor, or Chief Shepherd?
Our spirituality in the Kingdom of God is not about our titles given by men to inflate our egos and make us think more highly of ourselves. God has not assigned anyone in His Kingdom who think that they have greater value and worth over another.
The self-promoters in the church system believe that they have greater authority and higher calling because they are considered experts in their field because they have earned a certificate from a seminary. With a Th.D. or Ph.D., man will falsely believe that they have achieved greater status in God’s Kingdom. The fact is, they are not in His Kingdom at all, but man’s religious kingdoms.
All the apostles with the exception of Paul were not formally trained in a seminary, but they were confident in what they had learned from the Holy Spirit. By man’s standards, they would be considered uneducated an untrained because they had not attained any formal titles, or theological authority in a form of a certificate.
In contrast, the fellow brethren in Christ are not taught in the schools of men because their authority and ability comes from the Holy Spirit. Any title that is attached to any man’s name is a distraction from the pre-eminence of our King, Christ our Saviour. We are all called to be servants that excludes self-exaltation.
Get away from the modern pastor who is deluded and compelled to gain respect with a clerical title. Move these vain people aside who have pursued careers by bilking others and making a living off of their backs.
These people desire and want the honour and recognition of men. Unfortunately, their deceived minions give it to them.
Let's let God's word ask some questions:
For am I now seeking THE APPROVAL OF MAN, or of God? Or am I trying to PLEASE MAN? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10
How can you believe, when YOU RECEIVE GLORY FROM ONE ANOTHER and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? - John 5:44
It is time to stop making titles and elitist distinctions among ourselves.
It is time to stop drawing attention to ourselves and others.
It is time to stop taking the glory and honour that belongs to Christ only.
The gifted leaders in the Kingdom of God are servants, not religious vocational titles.
And when the CHIEF SHEPHERD appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. – 1 Peter 5
This verse is not about 'Senior Pastor Joe' in the denominational church building who wears his title like a crown of glory.
All leaders among the brethren (ekklesia) are undershepherds. They are humble servants, not lords.
It may come as a shock to some, but there is no such thing as a Senior Pastor in Scripture.
Can You tell the Difference?
Among the ekklesia, if someone asks where the minister is, all we have to do is point to each other as we are all priests and ministers in the body of Christ . A reflection of Christ as Head of the ekklesia is a group of people serving one another and collectively seeking the Holy Spirit for guidance in all things.
The churches of men seek prestige with carnal power seeking after salaried officials to run things. Titles before anyones name when it comes to the Kingdom of God would be self-seeking.
What the most of the religious world sees as greatness, God sees as arrogant and prideful. What God sees as power in His Kingdom are self-sacrificing servants, just as His Son was. The world sees power at the top, but among the true ekklesia it is at the bottom.
Do you promote, or have a title before your name in the church system?
The ekklesia are not made up of two classes of people. Every believer is priest and minister before God, not reserved to any select group. Christ is our High Priest and the ekklesia are in the Kingdom as priests with distinct ministries with no hierarchical classes.
God’s wrath is coming for the church lords, but blessing and rewards are coming for those who serve.
Don’t be duped in believing the false terms and definitions of the church clergy class. The true meaning of leader in the modern church system is used out of context and a complete misrepresentation of what Christ and the apostles taught.
The religious system abuses Scriptural terms, but twist them for their own agendas to oppress other with them.
Let us be vigilant in representing Christ, not church officials.
What many fail to understand is that without humility, we cannot enter into God's Kingdom. Those who were humble were attracted to Christ and vice versa, but those who were proud despised Him. The modern church template in their behaviours despises the true Christ because there is no humility in anything they do. It is all about profit to expand their temporal kingdoms in order to create converts to their temporal ‘Jesus.’
Does your Church have a professional titled leader?
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