8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and YOU ARE ALL BROTHERS. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Going by our Lord’s instruction that we are all brothers and royal priesthood, a hierarchy of priesthood should not exist in the Body of Christ. If we are to obey our Lord’s instruction that the greatest among us shall be the servant to all, having honorific titles to be addressed will go against His instruction. It is effectively elevating one’s worth over another in His church. Though we are to give double the honor to deserving and humble ministers, the humble ministers will know better how unworthy they are to deserve such flattering titles and will surely repudiate.
I see a difference between being addressed as office or ministry bearer, such as pastor or evangelist, and the above-mentioned honorific titles. One is to make known one’s ministry by way of quick introduction; while the other is meant entirely as an honorific title. But as in all matter of conscience in which we resolve in all love and humility, we should all be addressed as brother or sister for our Lord had made it clear we are all brothers.
(Sadly on another note, the offices of apostle and prophet, which I believe the primary sense of bringing God’s special revelation through them have ceased, are usurped as honorific titles by the New Apostolic Reformation movement solely for the purpose of creating a hierarchy with authority concentrated in the hands of these false apostles and prophets as they push the agenda of Christian dominionism.)
Comments by the ministers John Newton, Charles Spurgeon and Arthur Pink are self explanatory.
I have been grieved by several letters directed to Doctor Newton. I beg you to inform my friends in Scotland, that if any letters come to me addressed to Doctor Newton–I shall be obliged to send them back unopened. I know no such person–I never shall, and I never will, by the grace of God. Do not think I am displeased with you, or any of any kind friends, who mean kindness and honor by such an address. I only beg for my peace sake, that it may not be repeated. I have been informed that a college in America, I think in New Jersey, has given me the honorary degree of Doctor. As to the title itself, I renounce it heartily–nor would I willingly be known by it, if all the universities in Europe conferred it upon me! My youthful years were spent in slavery in Africa, and I ought to take my degrees (if I take any) from thence. Shall such a compound of misery and mischief as I then was–be called Doctor? Surely not!
I very much object to the designation, “To the Reverend C.H. Spurgeon”–for no ‘reverence’ is due to me! Assuredly, ‘Reverend’ and ‘sinner’ make a curious combination. And as I know I am the second–I repudiate the first. To me, it is surprising that such a flattering title should have been invented–and more amazing still, that men should be found who are angry if this title is not duly given to them.
In ourselves we are poor, sinful erring creatures–and daily do we have occasion to blush and hang our heads in shame. Therefore we respectfully request that none will address us as ‘Reverend’. No worm of the dust is due such a title.
“It is the Lord your God you must follow–and Him you must REVERE.” Deuteronomy 13:4