From Dave Black Online:
It’s human nature to employ social labels. We love to put people into our little boxes according to race, social status, level of education, country of origin, etc. — and the labels on the boxes determine to a great degree how we think about ourselves and how we treat others. Everyone we know generally fits into one of these boxes. Occasionally we place people in the wrong box. I think this is true of people who have a formal education. We assume a particular person has greater knowledge of the Scriptures if he or she has a theological degree from a Bible school or seminary. In fact, some of the most biblically illiterate people I know have degrees in theology. I believe that God wants to transform our social interaction completely. Jesus taught that external labels have so significance in His kingdom. It’s not that the title “Dr.” Black is inherently sinful. The problem is when we see other people as doctors or students or Republicans or Democrats or home-schoolers or government-schoolers or males or females rather than as siblings in the family of God. This is the upshot of Andy Bowden’s latest blog post, which I am very grateful I stumbled upon this morning. On the surface there is probably nothing harmful or positively evil in referring to me as “Dr.” Black. The danger is when we allow our titles to keep us from each other. When this happens, the tail of social convention wags the dog of Christian unity.For what it’s worth, I could care less about formal titles. The early church did without them. And they did just fine. Look at the way they called each other by their first names — Paul, Peter, John, Barnabas. They seemed to truly believe that the kingdom of God is flat. Titles that emphasize status differences are neither necessary nor healthy. Why not just call each other by our first names or — if an epithet is necessary — by “brother” or “sister”?
(David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm and Christian Archy, as well as co-editor of the Areopagus Critical Christian Issues Series. This extract from his blog is used by permission.)