I grew up attending a baptist church, where every pastor was called Reverend. I just accepted it and never questioned why. In the 1990’s I was in a church where the pastor told us that the bible says we are to reverence God, and the term reverend should not be applied to man.
Cooper Abrams III a pastor, indicates that he never uses the term reverend, which he believes is not biblical. Pastor Abrams says the title reverend, was invented by the Roman Catholic church. Like my former pastor, Abrams, uses Ephesians 4:11 to validate his belief that preachers should use the titles that the Creator Himself provided, which are: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists Teachers and Pastors.
Abrams believes these are the terms that should be used to identify ministers within the body of Christ. He says God alone, should be Reverend, based on Psalm 111:9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name. Pastor Abrams believes based on this scripture, that men using this title are implying they are equal with God.
Wayne Jackson, of the Christian Courier also says the tradition of referring to preachers as reverend, came out of the Roman Catholic church. He also points out that Jesus was against titles, based on Matthew 23:5-12, where the Savior says;
But all their works they do to be seen of men: for they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the chief place at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called of men, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your teacher, and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father on the earth: for one is your Father, even he who is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, even the Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
According to John Ritenbaugh, it was during the first century when men began “putting themselves in the place of Christ” that the term reverend first began being used. Ritenbaugh refers to this period as the great apostasy.
However it began, there is much disagreement regarding the title reverend, in the church. I have been in many worship services and funerals, where ministers who make it known, that they use the titles in Ephesians, are ignored and the officiating clergy call them reverend anyway.
There is a growing disparity in the body of Christ, between those who uphold the traditions that have always been in place, and others who believe everything should be done as stated in scripture. In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before the gap decreases, and the biblical terms for ministers win out.
I say this because I am noticing that many traditional churches are following the lead of the less traditional denominations who have celebration of life services for their deceased loved ones, instead of saying it is a funeral service.
Jesus said in Mark 7:13 King James Version (KJV) Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
As more ministers stand firm in being called an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Teacher or Pastor, and older ministers who uphold reverend, retire and or pass on, these labels will no doubt catch on, and one day be the norm. Not because it is the right thing to do, but because people are creatures of habits and follow trends