October 17, 2017

What’s Your Question? Bible Answers to Bible Questions

By James P. Needham

QUESTION: Concerning "Brother" As a Title.

"I have noticed a lot of the writers for TRUTH MAGAZINE when writing of other brethren will write brother with a capital "B". It seems to me that this is kind of a title when used that way. Would you say something about this in the paper?" Alabama


There is no doubt that some people use the term "brother" as a religious title. This is especially true when they nearly always apply it to a preacher, but not to other Christians. For instance, we sometimes receive mail from church members addressed to: "Brother and Mrs. Needham." I know of no copy rule that would require the term "brother" to be spelled with a capital letter unless it appears at the beginning of a sentence. That it is certainly used as a religious title when spelled thusly in other cases would be hard to charge, and much harder to prove. One's intention would have to be considered. It may be through ignorance, or force of habit. In any case, the question is well taken, and deserves some serious thought. It is my personal belief that it should not be spelled with a capital except where such would be necessary to meet copy rules.

The use of religious tides is sinful. Jesus condemned the use of any term that would elevate one brother above another. "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren'" (Mt. 23:8). Christ specifically forbids our being called "Rabbi," "Master," or "Father." But in principle, he condemns using any term that elevates one Christian above another. This includes the misuse of such scriptural terms as "brother," "minister," "preacher," etc. We should all mind our language, being sure to "speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11), being careful to use "Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you" (Tit. 2:8).


February 19, 1970