Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 21, 1964

Unscritural Designations And Respect Of Person

Tom O. Bunting

Laity and Clergy. Brethren have supposedly long realized that the word of God is completely silent in regard to the distinction made between laity and clergy. There is no respect of person with God. God regards all men equal is seen in the facts that He extended the same revelation to all, the same plan of salvation, the same membership requirements into His church. In the church there are no preferences by which we have any prerogative to discriminate between members in respect to class or rank. There are no classes within the church of the Lord. We are all members of the one body. (I Cor. 12:12).

Minister and Associate Minister. Just as the Bible is silent about laity and clergy it is as silent about associate and assistant ministers. The terms "associate minister" and "assistant minister" are not found in the word of God; they are not scriptural. Either term, associate or assistant, suggests that one is subordinate to the minister. It puts the associate or assistant in a lower class or rank indicating that he is inferior in order, nature, and importance.

When a church hires two men and calls one the minister and the other an "assistant minister" or "associate minister"; what is the difference in the two men: Are they not both ministers of God? Are they not both evangelists of the gospel of Christ? Why is one the minister and the other an "associate" or "assistant": Why couldn't the church simply have two ministers and so designate them: Where is the Bible authority to make such a distinction between ministers of the Gospel?

If we wanted to do things according to the scriptures and keep the church free from the innovations of human wisdom, and human ambitions; we would simply refer to both as ministers of the church, Neither one subordinate to the other.

Class and Rank. The idea of class and rank between preachers is not only evidenced in the use of the terms "associate" and "assistant" but is also demonstrated in the advertisements of meetings held by gospel preachers. It used to be sort of a pun when people talked about "big" and 'little' preachers. However, it seems now it has ceased being a joke and is a reality. Brethren now classify the preachers and apparently preachers accept it.

Recently a church of Christ advertised a gospel meeting and stated that the man doing the preaching was the "No. 1" preacher for the churches of Christ. I'm not sure how one gets such status. I do know it isn't in relationship to his age for he isn't the oldest preacher, nor was it assigned for the longest preaching career in the church for he doesn't hold that honor. I don't think that he is No. 1 in wages received, nor is he No. 1 in the secular position held among preaching brethren. How does one get to be the No. 1 preacher of the churches of Christ and upon what was this judgment based? Would it not be a little presumptuous for me to so designate anyone no matter how much I like him. Since when, and where, does any one have the authority to catalogue preachers in regard to rank or position?

Another example of brethren attempting to classify preachers today comes to us in a church bulletin. The following sentence appeared at the close of an article regarding a meeting just completed: "Brother ______________ has no equal (emphasis mine - T.O.B) as a gospel-meeting-preacher." What has happened to such modest statements that brother__________ is "as good as," or "capable, energetic, soul-stirring"? Has NO EQUAL. If I understand this correctly, this is to say that there is no one — absolutely no one — as good as he is!

The disciples once asked, "Who shall be the greatest?" Jesus said, "for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great." (Luke 9:48) It seems noteworthy that Jesus said that you can be great. He did not say you can be the greatest. You may not be surpassed as a servant of God but you may be equaled.

Minister of Education. In the Christian Chronicle, March 13, 1964, we read an article about groundbreaking ceremonies for, an educational building. In the article we find this statement, "Homer Putnam Reeves is the Druid Hill preacher and William A. McDowell is the minister of education." Minister of education is not a term that is peculiar to the Druid Hills congregation but may be found frequently in church news. It seems so obvious it hardly bears mentioning; but where do we find mention of any minister of education in the word of God:

It is also worthy to note that brother Reeves is the preacher for this church so I presume that the "minister of education" is something else. But what???

With the unauthorized changes that are taking place in the church today one can anticipate in the future a "New Translation of the New Testament with Interpretations." In such a translation one might find this rendering of Eph. 4:11: "And he gave some apostles, some prophets; and some evangelists, and some associate evangelists, and some assistant evangelists, and some ministers of education, and some ministers of music, and some ministers of recreation, and some pastors, and some teachers."

Paul's warning seems to be a fitting conclusion: "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." (Rom. 12:3-5)

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