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In 1996, he was one of the first Christian clergymen in centuries to make an opening into the closed Wahhabi Islamic society of Qatar, an area historically under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem where many Palestinian Arab migrant workers live today, a considerable number of them Orthodox Christians. He subsequently served as Exarch of the Holy Sepulchre in Qatar.
Should Christians Use Religious Titles?
MUCH is said about a shortage of clergymen in Christendom today, but there is hardly a shortage of religious titles among them. Some titles are simple; others are pretentious. Here are a few examples:
Anglican bishop: “Right Reverend the Lord Bishop.”
Roman Catholic bishop (in Italy): “His Excellency, the Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Monsignor.”
Cardinal: “His Eminence.”
The pope: “Most Holy Father.”
The titles “reverend” and “bishop” have been in use for such a long time that they do not grate on the ear of most church members. But are such titles authorized by the Bible?
“Reverend,” “Bishop,” and “Cardinal”
In the King James Version, the term “reverend” appears only once, at Psalm 111:9, which says: “Holy and reverend is his name.” Whose name? The next verse says: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10) In one Catholic version, these two passages read: “Holy and awesome his name. The root of wisdom is the fear of Yahweh [Jehovah].” (The New Jerusalem Bible) Hence, according to God’s Word, godly fear, or reverence, belongs exclusively to Jehovah, the Almighty. Is it correct then to give it to humans?
“If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work,” wrote Paul to Timothy. (1 Timothy 3:1, KJ) However, according to The New Jerusalem Bible, the verse reads: “To want to be a presiding elder is to desire a noble task.” Early Christians with responsible duties were referred to as “elders” and “overseers.” Were those terms used as titles? No. Such men were never called “Bishop Peter” or “Elder James.” ...
In a society where religion traditionally played a great role, the Byzantine Church, with its center in Byzantium, wielded considerable power. Church historian Panayotis Christou once observed: “The Byzantines saw their earthly empire an image of the Kingdom of God.” The imperial authority did not always share that view, however. As a result, the relationship between Church and State was stormy at times. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium states: “The bishops of Constantinople [or Byzantium] displayed a wide range of behavior, including cowardly subservience to a powerful ruler . . . , fruitful collaboration with the throne . . . , and bold opposition to the imperial will.”
The patriarch of Constantinople, the head of the Eastern Church, became a very influential figure. It was he who crowned the emperor, therefore expecting him to be a staunch defender of Orthodoxy. The patriarch was also very rich, since he controlled the vast resources of the church. His power derived as much from his authority over the innumerable monks as from his influence on the laity.
The patriarch was often in a position to defy the emperor. He could threaten excommunication—imposing his will in the name of God—or resort to other methods by which emperors could be broken.
With the gradual decline of civil administration outside the capital, bishops often became the most powerful men in their cities, on a par with provincial governors, whom they helped to select. Bishops gave attention to court cases and secular business whenever the church was involved—and sometimes when it was not. A contributing factor was that priests and monks, all subject to their local bishops, numbered in the tens of thousands.
Politics and Simony
As the above shows, the pastoral office became inextricably intertwined with politics. Moreover, the great number of clerics and their religious activities of necessity involved large sums of money. Most high-ranking clergymen lived luxuriously. As the church gained power and wealth, apostolic poverty and sanctity disappeared. Some priests and bishops paid for their appointment. Simony was common all the way to the highest ranks of the hierarchy. Clerics supported by wealthy lobbies vied for ecclesiastical offices before the emperor.
Bribes were also a means to influence senior religious leaders...
Obviously, for marketing purposes some people may be inclined to claim their church's earliest Bishop was James, brother of Jesus. Without ever sharing the information above or reminding people of it. Here's some more those who like to be called Bishops don't want people to be reminded of: