What’s in a Title?

Communities differ in their use of titles. People would not think of applying the title “king” to anyone but the monarch himself in countries where a king reigns, for there can be only one “king.” In other cultures with a more democratic order, the term “president” can be used quite loosely. Only one person may be “the president.” But many people may be addressed with the title “president:” the president of a university, the president of a ladies’ luncheon club, the president of a young boys’ organization. Under certain circumstances titles have restricted use. At other times, titles may be used quite broadly.

Current discussion in the evangelical community buzzes about titles, especially the use of church officer titles for women. Should a woman be called a “minister?” A “pastor?” An “elder?” A “deacon?” In some ecclesiastical circles these questions have little significance. But in other church communities more strongly committed to the Bible as God’s infallible Word, the question of church titles for women can be vigorously debated.

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