the weblog of Alan Knox

He wants to be called “Saint James”

Posted by on Aug 8, 2012 in blog links | 15 comments

He wants to be called “Saint James”

James at “Seeking a Kingdom” asks us to call him “James, Saint James.”

Well, not really. Sarcastically, of course.

In his post, James is pointing out the completely unscriptural practice of giving a follower of Jesus Christ a title (of any kind) and revering certain believer above others. Of course, among most believers that I know, the title usually revered is “pastor” – which is the title that James writes about in his post.

It’s difficult to find a small part of James’ post to quote/excerpt, so please jump over and read the whole thing.

Like James, I’m concerned when I hear terms related to certain spiritual gifts or certain functions applied as titles and when those terms / titles / positions are revered above others followers of Jesus Christ. I’m even more concerned when someone requests (or requires) people to call them by a certain title.

The funny thing is, I’ve also heard other terms (like “brother” or “sister”) used as titles with very little understanding of what the terms mean. For instance, someone calling someone else “Sister So-and-so” or “Brother So-and-so” without actually treating that person like a brother or sister in Christ.

So, I guess it works both ways. That’s why I always ask people to just call me Alan.


15 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 8-8-2012

    Alan,

    You mean I can’t call you ‘Rabbi Alan’? How about ‘Teacher Alan’? Or better yet, ‘Alan of The One True God Who Bloggeth’? Ha! Jokes.

    If anyone ever referred to me as Prophet Donald, I would probably facepalm myself and shake my head slowly. What I like is when people refer to their shepherds as “Pastor”, almost in the third person sense. “Well, Pastor says…”, or “Pastor wants us to…” Kinda creepy and wholly inappropriate. If a person allows this, or expects this kind of esteem, one must wonder where their fealty lies and how mature they really are.

  2. 8-8-2012

    Pastor Alan, I just love your blog! ;-)

  3. 8-8-2012

    Of course, there is more Scriptural basis for calling each other “Saints” than there is for calling someone a “pastor.” Great post. I am headed over to Saint James’ blog…

  4. 8-8-2012

    “Here comes Paul of Tarsus, the Senior Executive Pastor” said no one.

  5. 8-8-2012

    @Jim Puntney:

    LOL! Bwahahahaha! That was brilliant!

  6. 8-8-2012

    Our words have the power to establish strongholds, or to bring them down. When Jesus Himself said to his disciples concerning the religious leaders of His day: “…call no man _______” and we carry on a tradition in the church that violates the spirit of His word, we set up a high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. By simply taking our thoughts and words captive to the words of Jesus in this regard we can begin to dismantle that stronghold. So much of the distortion and corruption of the Church over the past two millenia is rooted in this matter of exalting men above others and affirming it with honorific titles.

    I’ve had a recent “tweets” along this line:

    “Jesus told His followers not to use honorific titles when referring to religious leaders. It’s right there in red and white! #whydontwegetit”

    “You never see “Apostle Paul” written in Scripture, only “Paul, an apostle…” Paul knew who he was, but he didn’t capital “A” title himself.”

    “With titles come en-title-ment. Jesus said, “…not so among you…” Luke 22:26″

    Thanks, Alan and James

  7. 8-8-2012

    Thanks everyone for the comments. I’ve been very busy and haven’t been able to reply to all of the comments the way I like to do.

    -Alan

  8. 8-8-2012

    Thank you the Right Reverend Bishop Knox, always interesting.

  9. 8-8-2012

    I think the whole third person pronoun usage of the term is the most frustrating aspect of this issue for me. But at the same time, our culture has conditioned people to esteem men/women with titles as more important than others by recognizing them through address in this manner. I think the best way for us to try and remedy this dilemma is to admonish and encourage each other to remember the equality in Christ that we all gain when we receive him as Lord and Savior.

    Mat 23:8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers

  10. 8-9-2012

    “That’s why I always ask people to just call me Alan.”

    This makes the most sense. So, I asked my wife to call me Alan from now on. She frowned. I guess it doesn’t work the same for everyone. :(

  11. 8-9-2012

    Totally agree. Sort of.

    So, what do you do when you have friends who are “”””Pastors””””” and who don’t yet understand honorifics in this way?

    On one hand, you could say that by not referring to them as they expect, you are helping them, and that all sorts of good things might ensue. And, you wouldn’t have to bristle and cringe inside when you said “Pastor D….”

    Unless they encourage me more than once to call them, “James” (for example), I call them, “Pastor James” in any public setting (including one woman Pastor). Privately, I may or may not, depending on the moment, the discussion, etc. I just see it as the way I can be most respectful of any brother or sister who is convinced of a certain understanding that I don’t share. I can defer and honor them as they expect and as those around them expect.

    In groups where they call each other, “brother” or “friend,” I do the same. In groups where women where head coverings, my wife where’s a head covering. Of course, we think all of these things are silly, but those we love think they are important, so we honor them.

    It’s just another way of dealing with this terrible church-wide error on a personal level.

  12. 8-10-2012

    Art,

    Excellent point! I appreciate your comment very much.

    As an addition, if someone calls me “Pastor,” I ask them to call me “Alan.” If they continue to call me “Pastor,” I do not continually correct them, but I accept them and trust God to help us all recognize and accept one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.

    -Alan

  13. 8-10-2012

    Great question Art. I find myself torn, ethically, in similar situations. It is especially difficult when you notice that the “Pastor” finds you are being disrespectful toward him by calling by his name and not “pastor.”

    This is an issue of obedience to what Christ instructed us. Compromising obedience for the sake of one’s conscience is always an issue we are to be circumspect. Although, for the sake of a weaker brother’s conscience, instruction and admonishment from the Word should be our sole purpose. In other words, we must be purposeful in our relationships with those individuals. It is our duty to do so.

  14. 8-11-2012

    my 1st thought was that paul does seam to establish some offices, but then it occurred to me that i’m trying to explain jesus away with paul.

  15. 9-12-2012

    baldsoprano said:

    “my 1st thought was that paul does seam to establish some offices”

    Paul describes the orderly working of functions within the many membered body of Christ. This is far different than the carnal offices used to divide the body of Christ into clergy and laity.

    “but then it occurred to me that i’m trying to explain jesus away with paul.”

    Paul never contradicts Jesus, though the gnostic super apostles of our day would try to persuade us otherwise.

    God bless -Jim