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Parkway church of Christ

Neither Catholic Nor Protestant: A Christian Only!

"The Passion of the Christ" Movie Review by Jody Dean

Where Could I Go--but to the Lord-Online Acapella

The Sinner's Prayer: Where Did it Come From? Is it Biblical?

Are Christians Still Under the Ten Commandments?

Don's Kern's Last SermonLeave it There:Audio

The Canon of Scripture and the Apographa..How we got the Scriptures

Dialog at Trypho's

1622 Letter from London Member of the church of Christ

"Bishop" Strossmayer's Extraordinary Speech on Papal Infallability

Scholars Say "Jesus Box" May be Authentic

Send in the Clowns? Special Attire for Men of God?

Why "Priestly" Robes?

by Scott Smelser, Gettysburg church of Christ

Matthew 23 "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'

We here at s8int.com definitely have our particular beliefs concerning scripture-for example see "What Must I do to be Saved. Those articles can be found on the site but typically, here our focus has been on supporting God and the Bible or looking at the phenomenal world of science from a Biblical perspective, in a way to that makes it possible for all believers to agree together.

Now and again, we try to mix in some specific doctrinal material as well--particularly if that particular issue is on our minds. Where in the New Testament is it suggested that Christians, be they ministers, preachers, elders deacons etc. should wear special clothes of any type to identify their presumed exalted status?

Now, when clowns put on their special clothes, it means that they are people set apart to be funny. When "Christians" wear special clothes its supposed to denote some type of "special status". We believe that the clowns have a stronger case for "special attire".

"All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

Why "Reverend Father" & Robes and Collar?

Photo: One "minister" confuses the issue by making his special clothes--a clown outfit". His rationalization for this is no doubt; excellent-but not scriptural. In first century Palestine, the scribes[1] and Pharisees[2] presented and promoted themselves to the Jewish community as pious, superior, and trustworthy religious leaders. Viewing themselves as special, and desiring that others hold the same view, they sought to distinquish themselves with special attire, seats, and titles.

Anything but impressed, here is how Jesus described them in Matthew 23:

"All their works they do to be seen of men:

for they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments" (special attire)

"and love the chief place at the feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues" (special seats)

"and the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called of men, Rabbi" [i.e., "Teacher"] (special titles).

Jesus then commanded that his followers do differently:

"But be ye not called Rabbi:

for one is your teacher, and all ye are brethren.

And call no man your father on earth:

for one is your Father, even he who is in heaven." Matthew 23:5-9:

Unfortunately, such conduct did not end with the Pharisees. Much of the same can be seen today in the clergy / laity system that pervades so many churches. The clergy (not a term from Scripture) are promoted as superior to the laity (not a term from scripture) and are often distinguished by their:

special clothing special seats

special titles

From the clerical collar to the special robes and vestments; from the special seats and reserved pews to the use of special titles to be used when addressing them; we see modern men-of-the-cloth using the same sorts of practises as did the scribes and Pharisees of the first century.

Titles such as "Reverend" & "Father"

Roman Catholicism routinely and systematically violates the teachings of Jesus Christ here with their titular use of the word "Father" (both on the local level and at the Vatican). Protestants have avoided the title "Father" but err instead with their use of the title "Reverend."

Question:

Why should a man (who has sinned and needs the grace of God like anybody else) be titled Reverend? Where in Scripture could such a practise be validated? "Reverend" does appear in Scripture, one time and once only. But notice well what it says and to whom it is applied. The 111th Psalm begins with these words: "Praise ye the LORD," and then in verse 9 we read:

"holy and reverend is his name" (that is, God's name) [KJV, ASV] Man owes reverence to God. His name is holy and reverend. The New International Version and the New American Standard use the synonym "awesome":

"holy and awesome is his name" (NIV / NASB)

God is awesome. God is to be revered. Reverend and awesome is God Almighty.

Now consider: if a man expected others to address him as "Awesome," it would surely not be tolerated. So why, then, is it tolerated for a man to expect others to address him as "Reverend"? Or "Father"? Is it not for the same reason that many accepted the trappings of the scribes and Pharisees? They were accustomed to it and had traditionally accepted it. But that didn't make it right. Where in Scripture do we find any instruction, description, or authorization for such things to exist in the church? We do not.

Nor can such practises be justified by appealing to the garments of the Old Testament high priest. The OT roles of the priest and the Davidic king serve as prefigures for the kingship and priesthood of Jesus Christ himself. To Him be the glory, and neither the garments of those priests nor the thrones of those kings belong anywhere in the Lord's church as a means of exalting some believers over others. "All ye are brethren," Jesus told his disciples as he warned them against self exaltation.

The Contrast When Compared to the Practise of the Apostles

These elite trappings are in violation of the teachings of Christ, and a contrast stands out noticeably when we compare it to the much humbler practises of much greater men, the apostles of Jesus Christ. Where, for example, do we see Peter showing up in glorious vestments? We don't.

What we do see is Peter dwelling at the house of Simon the tanner (Acts 9:43). Here's why that's interesting: the trade of the tanner was so despised (due to his working materials and his typical foul odor and stench) that the Rabbis supported the right of divorce for women who were married to the men of one occupation: tanners. Yet this is where we find Peter, the galillean fisherman and the apostle of Jesus Christ. Peter was no fancy robed "man of the cloth."

Regarding titles - where do we see the apostles, even given their great role and responsibility as such, expecting people to address them by titles such as "Reverend" or "Father," rather than by their names or surnames? We don't. What did people call Paul? "Paul" [Acts 15:25; Acts 26:24]. What did people call Simon Peter? "Simon Peter," [Acts 10:18] (or some other form of his name such as Simeon [Acts 15:14], Peter [Gal.1:18], or Cephas [1Cor.1:12]).

No "Reverend Paul." No "Reverend Peter."

In fact, even when referring to their roles as apostles - a role they obviously held - notice that instead of titling themselves as "The Apostle Paul," or "The Apostle Peter," they referred to themselves by name, and and then described themselves as apostles (and servants):

"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle" Romans 1:1

"Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ" 1 Corinthians 1:1

"Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus" Philippians 1:1

"Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ" Titus 1:5

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ" 1 Peter 1:1

"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 2:1

Now consider the above in light of another NT term which many often use as a title: "Pastor." Certainly, the NT does speak of "pastors" (pastor is an older English word for "shepherd," which is used interchangealby in the NT with "elder" and "overseer"; cf. Acts 20:17-28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Peter 5:1-5; Eph.4:11). But does that mean that elders or shepherds should be above being called by name?

In many churches, the laity are at liberty to address fellow laity by name: "Hello Bob." "Good morning Linda." "How are you Steve?"

But they are expected to address clergy as: "Hello Pastor."

Is that how it should be?

Compare this to the case of "teachers." Again, the NT certainly describes the church as having teachers (Eph.4:11; James 3:1; etc). But consider the difference between:

a.) having brothers who are teachers

b.) having someone who is "above" being addressed merely by name, and expects to be addressed by Title: "Teacher."

In the first case, they are brothers, and they teach (and others can "search the scriptures daily, to see whether those things" that he teaches are so, which is noble [cf. Acts 17:11]). In the latter case, he becomes "The Teacher." You see the difference. And what did Jesus say? "But be ye not called Rabbi: ("rabbi" = "teacher" [see Jn.1:38] ) for one is your teacher, and all ye are brethren."

Conclusions and Warning

Beware of those who perpetuate the ways of the Pharisees while ignoring the teachings of Christ (Matt.23:5-11).

Remember that not everything that looks holy, is holy. Remember what Jesus said about how wolves would appear (Matthew 7:15).

Follow the Lord, and remain in His word (John 8:31; 12:48; Matthew 7:21-27; 2 Tim.3:16-17).

Appendix:

Examining a potential defense of current clergical practise:

Some would respond by suggesting that the Pharisees did these things for the wrong reason (bringing glory to self), while modern clergy do them for the right reason (bringing glory to God). Such defenders could point to Matthew 6, a text where indeed the Pharisees are criticized because they did good deeds (helping the poor and offering prayer) with wrong motives (to be seen of men).

To be sure, the goal in each case was the same (being seen of men). But what about the means for achieving that goal? Does wearing "Father" as a religious title, for example, fall into the same "good deeds" category as do helping the poor and offering prayer? Before presuming that it does, consider this:

a.) Jesus' criticism of the scribes and Pharisees was not limited to instances where they did good things for bad reasons. Sometimes he criticized them for doing bad things for bad reasons (cf. Mark 7:9).

b.) With that in mind, compare the following:

Matthew 6:1-18

Was helping the poor something Jesus approved of?

Yes. He taught his disciples to help the poor: "When you do alms..." (Matt. 6:3-4; cf. also 25:34-40).

Was prayer something Jesus approved of?

Yes. He taught his disciples how to pray: "When you pray..." (Matt. 6:6-15; cf. also Luke 18:1).

Matthew 23:8-9

Was calling someone "Father" as a religious title a good thing that Jesus approved of?

No. Jesus taught his disciples to not do so:

"But be ye not called Rabbi: for one is your teacher, and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father on earth: for one is your Father, even he who is in heaven." (Matt.23:8-9)

This wasn't a good deed, like helping the poor. This was something else. Matthew 6 provides no excuse to disobey what Jesus said in Matthew 23.

As said before, we say again:

Beware of those who perpetuate the ways of the Pharisees while ignoring the teachings of Christ (Matt.23:5-11).

[1] scribes* (presumed experts in the Torah [Law], and typically members of the Pharisee party)

[2] Pharisees** (a religious party strictly devoted to rabbinical tradtions)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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