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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Giving Titles to Men in the Present Age

Within Christian circles we like to confer titles for some reason.

I think the clergy/laity system has led to some people shirking their personal responsibility to study and interpret scripture for themselves. I've heard more than once over the years statements like, "I'm not the Pastor" or "I didn't go to seminary" when discussing a passage of scripture.

In one Sunday night study I attended, I asked a few questions of a "professor" who was teaching the Revelation as allegorical. It was a pleasant and respectful exchange, but he ended it by saying "oh you're one of those" after I offered a literal interpretation of a passage.

After the class I was approached by several older men who chastised me for questioning the professor, "have YOU been to seminary?" "Don't you know he has a ThD?" Things along those lines. [Irony alert, I was defending the stated position of that local church: literalism.]

There may be some who "pastor" a local body, but I have never liked the title "Pastor." I get it. I'm not angry about it. I just can't bring myself to give a man a title. Even if we hold it to be a Spiritual gift, we don't give other gifts "titles."

"Hello, I'm Discernment John and this is my wife, Administrations Rachel."

I don't hold to any special Spiritual gifts in this age, but I do recognize that some teach and some lead based on maturity in the Lord and in understanding Scripture (and I respect them as such). But I don't confer titles.

The one that puzzles me most is the title "Rabbi" used by Messianic Jews and repeated by some Christians. I'm a Zionist (I have a daughter named Moriah and another named after John Darby). I believe Israel still has a unique calling and is central in the ages to come. But even in the context of Israel alone, the Lord was very clear:

"They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren."

DO NOT BE CALLED 'RABBI' is pretty clear.

That was said in a Jewish context to those sent to Jews in Matthew 23. The title is even less relevant in this present age.

That's part of the irony. Most of these ministries hold Matthew as binding on the One Body of this age, yet they ignore a number of things in that gospel. I hold that Matthew is on Jewish ground, but that just makes "Rabbi" even more remote.

If you hold to Matthew as binding, it clearly states "do not be called Rabbi." If you don't, there is no way you can justify the title in a Christian context.

Again, not going to the mat over it. It's just a curiosity... even though I do believe we should abandon titles for men. In other ages, Christ is the "Chief Shepherd" to his Messianic flock. Under-shepherds should be content to serve him and skip titles.