Saturday, May 8, 2010
Priest, Minister or Pastor – What is in a title?
Our rector, or head of the parish, prefers the office title of minister. Many Anglican clergy prefer the title priest and a few go by the ubiquitous pastor. As to “Father”, the AOC disallows the use of the title Father. Why? Check out what Saint Matthew tells us Jesus said in Chapter 23:
8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
When one addresses clergy members, outside a formal setting, your average high church clergy member loves to be called Father, as in “Hello, Father Smith.” Your average low church clergy member, having read the Bible and being a bit concerned about Matthew 23 and the like, finds the titles off putting and also finds while they do give an air, it is not one that is a useful one, more like putting on airs, so to speak.
Does it make a difference? Does a rose by any other name not smell the same?
Obviously it does make a difference, for those who like to be called priest and father often believe they are intermediary priests with special powers and some even believe they are making a sacrifice at Holy Communion. Those who go by Bob, Rev Bob or Mr. Smith, normally understand fully they have no special powers, only special responsibilities, which if carried out give special results; they grok in fullness there was one sacrifice, one time, for all mankind, for all time. There is no sacrifice made at Holy Communion, though we are part of the original sacrifice, we make none. The sacrifice has been made and is made for us.
Our rector goes by Hap, or if you feel very formal or are in a heap of trouble, LTC Arnold, or since he is a telephone colonel, when speaking to him Colonel Arnold. We know who the minister is. Frankly, titles get in the way.
What about that priest, minister or pastor thing? Hap far prefers minister.
Because his job is to minister to the needs of our congregation, as well as those he encounters, and spread the Word.
What about priest?
Hap is one, it is the title of the office. It is an okay term, but there is too much of the sacrificing and medieval church there. Those who would tell you the word comes from presbyter are reaching in the present day use.
What about pastor?
Pastor comes from the Latin word for shepherd. Not a bad concept. The only problem with the title pastor is all those taco shops selling Tacos al Pastor! Personal preference is for minister, but frankly he does not care much one way or the other.