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On The Misappropriation Of The Title “Reverend” And Its Cynical Use To Accrue Authority In The Lives Of Others

November 25, 2022
11 Comments
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In the hotly contested elections of 2020, in this case in the state of Georgia, one man came to national prominence through being elected to the United States Senate, in no small part by using the title “Reverend”, a title which conveys a great deal of authority in certain populations. In the case of the “Reverend” Warnock, it affords him great respect in southern, black church circles, even more so because he is the pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church where the Dr. Martin Luther King once headed. The combination of religion and politics, both powerful forces in American history, is widely acknowledged and has decades of published scholarship seeking to both understand and describe how these two streams so readily resonate in American cultural life. But as St. James asked, “Can both fresh and salt water flow from the same spring?” 

Playing “hardball” in politics is nothing new, but is it acceptable for someone using the title “Reverend” and claiming to be a disciple of Jesus to use standard political tactics in order to maintain political power? For example, in public advertisements on television, Mr. Warnock has, in my opinion, shown no restraint in using his religious title to lend weight to his political advertisements attacking his political opponents. That should lead all of us to ask, “Just what sort of reverend is he?”

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The New Testament is replete with instructions to disciples of Jesus as to how we are to comport ourselves in public and private life. In the pursuit of political power, it seems on first glance that those instructions on Christian life have gone out the proverbial window with Mr. Warnock. What sort of “Christian” ethics, and even more what sort of “Christian”, could so eagerly and so easily embrace such a departure from the teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and historic catholic/orthodox Christianity? This question led me to investigate the religious educational background of Mr. Warnock on his way to becoming an ordained Protestant pastor. What I found is not surprising. His religious education follows the basic pattern of most mainline Protestant ecclesial communities in the country.

Mr. Warnock has by all rights earned a divinity degree from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He was ordained by his congregation. He has been involved with pastoral work for many years. He has been dogged in his pursuit of promotion over several decades and several congregations, most recently to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. I do not doubt his sincerity in the slightest, nor his commitment to what he understands to be Christian teaching and ordained ministry. In my own theological training, I had a tenured professor of Systematic Theology, who is also a priest, who was very plain that “God” was a human invention, and that he did not believe anything that he taught. After several weeks in one of his classes, he began to ignore me and my raised hand when I confronted him on his departure from the catholic/orthodox Christian faith. No longer believing, he was teaching as an academic exercise. He is now the dean of one of our theological seminaries. He is but one example of how Christian academic institutions have been infiltrated over the last several decades by non-believing professors who end up warping the faith of their students, if not outright destroying it. This has led to the largely unacknowledged, but inexorable, replacement of the historic Christian world view amongst mainline Protestants (and Roman Catholics, but that is another article) for a Leftist world view while retaining Christian language and ceremony, with the average Christian completely unaware of the difference. 

And so, we have to look at mainline Protestant Christianity over the last two generations and the tradition in which Mr. Warnock was raised and the education, which is a wider question about what tradition, what teachings, what truth claims can be validly accepted as being authentically Christian and what cannot be. Worship of force¸ the power to compel, the worship of the state to compel, is not Christian. To support abortion, which is the murder of unborn children, is not Christian. To participate in the pretense of being concerned for the destitute but then evict them from his church’s low-income housing projects is not just disingenuous, it is not Christian. These are all anathema to Christianity. They are anti-Christian. 

Being somewhat a product of much of the same religious education in preparation for ordination as a priest, I do not find it surprising that a person presenting themselves as a Christian, and a pastor, could use their title and position to gain access to, and participation in, the bare-knuckle world of politics. I find it disappointing at the least, and a rejection of biblical, orthodox Christianity at the worst. Here's an example of subverted Christianity -- if the coming of the kingdom of God has been re-interpreted as our taking direct political action to bring it about ourselves (which is the first and great lie in the Bible told by Satan to Adam and Eve, that we can create paradise without God), then it makes sense that pastors should turn to politics. It is logical once you accept the false teaching of subverted Christianity. The problem is that not only are we unable to create paradise without God, our very attempt creates only tyranny. Leftist philosophy believes that we are wise enough to create institutions that enact policies that force people under threat of punishment to participate in political attempts to create paradise. Christianity subverted by Leftist philosophy believes the same. As C.S. Lewis sagely observed, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive…those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” 

We can see that these beliefs and behaviors have become part of the very essence of our degenerate political system, the degradation of our great Constitutional Republic, and the wholesale redefinition of our nation’s historic adherence to the Judeo-Christian world view. It has been observed that whoever controls the realm of language controls, well, everything. When you can change the meaning of words, you can change not only a person but a society. The Left is correct in asserting that the Judeo-Christian world view and truth claims are its most implacable foe. It has been broadly researched how Leftist activists have spent decades infiltrating every level of society, and most especially the Church given its immensely powerful role in American society, and in every case slowly transforming the world of words, the very building blocks of how we define ourselves and our world. The end result is that we now have a version of “Christianity” that has had all of its truth claims gutted, all of its teachings, all of the “power words” of the Christian faith, emptied of their historic meaning and replaced with Leftist truth claims and “power words”. The same holds true for our civil society. We now have a society ignorant of its history, cultural heritage, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the philosophical ground out of which all of these grew. We have now at least two generations of young Americans so ignorant of these things that a graduating senior from West Point a few years ago proudly showing that he was wearing a Che Guevara, t-shirt under his uniform - Che Guevarra, who was a mass murder, actual racist, murderer of homosexuals, and a psychopath, one of the tyrants C.S. Lewis warned us about - is celebrated rather than vilified. 

And so, no, I do not find it surprising that a person presenting themselves as a Christian, and a “reverend”, would use his title to gain access to, and likely a lifetime of seeking to hold, political power, and to participate freely in the bare-knuckle world of politics without finding that to be irreconcilable with the Gospel of Jesus. I find it reprehensible.

I’m not telling you which candidate deserves your vote. 

I am telling you that Mr. Warnock, though he is a "reverend", represents not simply dangerous political convictions which arise from the subverted Christianity of his education and tradition, but that he also represents deeply anti-Christian beliefs, such as his support for abortion - which is considered murder by 98% of world Christianity, and has demonstrated profoundly anti-Christian behavior in the pursuit of advancement and political power. 

I am telling you that you cannot hold to valid, historic catholic/ orthodox Christianity and vote for a man who so deeply represents the opposite.

Fr. Troy Beecham 

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11 comments on “On The Misappropriation Of The Title “Reverend” And Its Cynical Use To Accrue Authority In The Lives Of Others”

  1. The ONLY time I use the title Rev. is when someone other than a physician demands I refer to them as Dr.

  2. That's only the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of self-proclaimed reverends, pastors, and gurus out there. The only one I honor with the glorious titles is God. The others have to prove themselves.

  3. Psalm 111:9 King James Version 9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.

    Whose name is “holy and reverend”? God’s, not man. Man has no right to use this name!

  4. When we look into the Bible, we find the word "reverend" refers only to God Himself, and not once is it applied to a man. The lone instance of the word, found in Psalm 111:9 in the King James version, says: "He [God] sent redemption unto His people: He hath commanded His covenant for ever: holy and reverend is His name." God alone has a name worthy of reverence. No man, including any minister, has a name worthy of such respect or worship.

    The use of religious titles, such as "Reverend," began when the great apostasy set in at the close of the first century. Ministers put themselves "in the place of" Christ (the meaning of vicar), taking upon themselves the attributes and titles of divinity. God's true ministers have never done so.

    Notice the instruction of Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:8-11: "But you [Christ's disciples], do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant." Our Savior commands that those He calls to serve the brethren of the church should not take upon themselves titles that arrogate God and Christ's own titles and positions, such as "Teacher" and "Father." Instead, as servants and brothers, ministers should live and work in humility as servants of God.

  5. Whether 98% of 'Christians' consider abortion to be murder is irrelevant. The Scriptures call it murder and that is the absolute, not an opinion poll. And no, Warnock is not a man of God. He fails the requirements of 1st Timothy and should be avoided as a result since he teaches for shameful gain that which should not be taught.

  6. No Pastor should be anywhere near, much less supporting late or full term abortions, which includes the dem party, and includes Warnock. False man of God.

  7. Judge to Col. Parker: Were you ever in the military?
    Parker: No sir.
    Judge: Then why do folks call you colonel?
    Parker: Well, I suppose it's just a term of respect. Kinda like the way some folks are called "your honor." Don't mean nuthin'.

  8. We owe it to ourselves and posterity to lash out at miscreants masquerading as Pastors and even as 'Reverends' and expose their evil agenda, which is to 'desecrate'Christianity, especially historical orthodox Christianity...

  9. How odd that people who present themselves as conservative would have our government force their views on the most private of issues on others. If it wasn't so serious It would be funny.

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