The recent publicity about the shenanigans of Jimmy Swaggart should make us realize that those who have chosen preaching as their occupation are mere men like the rest of us. For Americans to look to TV evangelists as their example and spiritual guide is unwise. There are plenty of fine Christian men and women in Fort Smith who we can look to for example and wisdom. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ must be the ultimate example since His life will not disappoint us.
It surprises me that the press continues to refer to Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker as "Reverend." Once this title is given to someone it seems to be stuck like glue. My dictionary says reverend means worthy of profound adoring awed respect. I do not understand why Christians ever started calling preachers by special titles in the first place.
Christ clearly taught against using religious titles in Matthew 23. Here, He also gives some good advice to the likes of Mr. Swaggart. Psalm 111:9 contains the only Biblical text with the word reverend. Referring to God, it clearly states, "Holy and reverend is His name." Perhaps someone can clarify by what right a man can wear a title such as this.
Michael S. Cole, M.D.
4 March 1988
Southwest Times Record