Why do they do it? Men, and more recently and more frequently women, who have no biblical authority whatsoever to elevate themselves to religious rank, evincing sanctimonious self-importance with their spiritual titles, as though they were God’s gift to the sinner. Where does one find this spiritual delineation in Holy Writ? Where is one part of the body of Christ superior to another (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Galatians 3:28)?
The pompous title, “Priest,” promotes one person religiously over another. This title misuses the term, which refers to all children of God (1 Peter 2:5, 9), not to one person with some supposed elevated spiritual status. The pretentious pretender who demands the moniker “Father” completely contradicts Christ, Who commanded, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). It is not beyond a simplest study of the Bible to discover that the term “pastor,” in the New Testament, always defines a work given to a qualified man, never as a title and never to a woman (1 Timothy 3:1ff). And, you will look forever and never find a church being led by a single “pastor,” but always a plurality of overseers (cf. Philippians 1:1). Surely, the most egregious and repugnant offense to our Holy and Reverend God must be the usurpers who arrogantly refer to themselves as “Reverend,” whereas the only place ever to use the term is in the King James Version as a description of God, not an egotistical human: “holy and reverend is his name” (Psalm 111:9, KJV; translated “awesome” in the NKJV and ESV). Human religious leaders are not nearly so “awesome” as they evidently think; instead, taking on titles makes them highly offensive.
All of this conceit is founded in an attitude that flourished in Jesus’ day. He summed up this silly, swaggering superiority when rebuking the Pharisees, saying, “…all their works they do for to be seen of men” (Matt. 23:5) and “they love… greetings in the marketplaces, and being called by men, “Rabbi, Rabbi” (v. 6-7). The Pharisees’ pretense at piety was pitiful; it is the same today.
Yet, still, this lesson of our Lord goes unlearned today. There exist men and women who love to have “the preeminence among them” (3 John 9). And, frankly, they are just men and women; weak, sinful… and pompous. Deny them their self-appointed position!