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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Using titles

There is really no comparison between calling another believer with whom we associate brother or sister, and singling out a few to be called “elder”. In the case of addressing one another as brother we are not so much offering a “title” as we are describing a relationship of endearment. The term elder is never used as a title such as Elder Paul or Elder John in the scripture whereas there is scriptural example for addressing a fellow believer as brother as we see in Acts, “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Act 9:17) It is totally against the tenor of scripture and the scriptural understanding of the office of elder to assign a designation (whether elder, reverend, or bishop, etc) to someone to make a distinction between them and any other brother in CHRIST based on a gift or calling which is given to them. This practice is passed down from Rome and cannot be discovered in the pages of the Bible. It seems preposterous to contend that any one (regardless of age) should ever be addressed as Elder (since the literal meaning of the term means “older” and is even applied to women in I Tim 5:2,) simply because they are recognized to be in possession of a gift or calling. It would perhaps be (at least somewhat) acceptable to use this term as a means of showing respect to those who are aged and have demonstrated faithfulness in the discharge of their calling (whatever that may be) over a long period of time, but even then to do so is to do so without scriptural example, but does at least recognize that the term “elder” is to be associated with age and not gifts. We can call one another brother or sister scripturally since to do so is to recognize that we are all alike in the same relationship to one another and the LORD. The common use of the term “elder” as a title demonstrates the penchant men have for esteeming some above others because of a gift or calling and is of the same spirit as those in the nation of Israel who delighted to have a king. I fear that the clergy/laity distinctions of Rome are not too far removed from those who persist in this practice. Let me add that my comments here are not meant to be “critical” of those who have most likely never seriously considered this matter at any length but merely carry on traditions that they were raised with. In some ways this is an insignificant issue when merely considering this as a title of respect but is a more serious one when it reveals that there is in the minds of GOD’s people that HE has set up a ruling class of men which are set apart from the rest of the brethren. Let all be done with simplicity. -- Mike McInnis, the predestinarian listserve, 18 August 2007

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

"even women." heh

R. L. Vaughn said...

"even women", what?

Bro. Matt said...

would you include "pastor" and/or "shepherd" to the list? just wondering for clarification. very interesting thoughts though!

R. L. Vaughn said...

Yes, I think I would include them, as far as using them as a title goes (can't speak for Mike, who wrote this). It seems the same principle would apply. I probably need to read back on what Mike writes here to refresh my memory. I read it back in August when he posted it and then saved it. So though I posted it yesterday, but haven't read it since August.

The use of elder as "Elder Paul" or "Elder John" is what I used to advocate as scriptural as opposed to Rev. So & So, Dr. So & So, etc. But on further thought -- John (an elder) is probably closer to scripture -- IOW explaining a calling as opposed to giving a title.

Bro. Matt said...

I see.