BROTHER OR DOCTOR?
The other night I had a lengthy discussion (well actually it was a disagreement) with my believer friend. John has been my dearest friend for what seems like half a lifetime, and my brother-mentor in matters of reformed theology.
Our differences of opinion focused on whether pastors and reverends who have a M.Div. or doctorate should be addressed, introduced, and referred to as Doctor.
"John, if someone has studied Scripture, earned the degree, the title of Doctor is assigned out of respect. Medical and academic titles, M.D., and Ph.D., you don't have an objection to. So what's the problem?"
To which he replied: "I don't have any problem calling a pastor brother, but not doctor."
John resides in a long term care facility, so at times when we have these evening discussions, lights out, a Bible is not within his reach. I say t.his because John backs up everything with references to the Scriptures.
And John is sometimes correct...okay, 99.9% of the time.
We agreed that it falls in that controversial area that baptism resides in: immersion or sprinkling (the issue R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur openly discussed) but certainly not considered doctrine to divide over.
Nevertheless, all week I've been struggling. This morning, as the Lord always does, He directed me while browsing my numerous commentaries and resources.
Hours later, and I do mean hours, I came upon a writing of a well known theologian whom John respects! Let's see what John has to say now, I thought.
What strange methods God sometimes employs in teaching His Children much needed lessons! This has recently been the writer's experience.A.W. Pink
I have been approached by a "university" to accept from them a degree of "D.D." Asking for time to be given so that I might prayerfully seek from God, through His written word, a knowledge of His will, fuller light came than was expected.
I had very serious doubts as to the permissibility of one of God's servants accepting a title of fleshly honor. I now perceive that it is wrong for me to receive it even complimentary.
Various friends, as a mark of respect, have addressed me as "Dr. Pink." I now ask them to please CEASE from doing so. Let it not be understood that I hereby condemn other men for what they allow. No, to their own Master they stand or fall. The principal passages which have helped me I now mention, praying that it may please God to also bless them to others.
FIRST, to the false comforters of Job, Elihu (God's representative) said. "Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give FLATTERING TITLES unto men" (Job 32:31)
SECOND, "Be NOT ye called Rabbi" or teacher" (Matthew 23:8), which is what "Doctor" signifies.
THIRD, John 5:44 reproves those who "receive honor one of another" and bids us seek "the honor that cometh from God ONLY."
FOURTH, none of the Lord's servants in the New Testament ever employed a title. "Paul, an apostle, "but never "the apostle Paul."
FIFTH, the Son of God "made Himself of no reputation" (Phil 2:7); is it then fitting that His servants should now follow an opposite course?
SIXTH, Christ bids us learn of Him who was "meek and lowly" (Matthew 11:29)
SEVENTH, one of the marks of the apostasy as "having men's persons in admiration because of advantage" (Jude 17).
EIGHTH, we are bidden to go forth unto Christ outside the camp "bearing His reproach". (Heb 13:13)
For these reasons it does not seem to me to be fitting that one who is here as a representative and witness for a "despised and rejected" Christ should be honored and flattered of men.
Please address me as "BROTHER PINK".
Thanks, brother John.