In a recent story in the Atlanta Constitution John Blake reports on what we might call “grade inflation” among pastors. Some who are not content with the familiar titles of “Reverend” or “Pastor” or “Elder” are now calling themselves “Bishop,” often explaining that God told them to do this.
Baptists used to define themselves as people who resist bishops. Yet the Reverend Miles Fowler of Big Miller Grove Baptist Church is now Bishop Miles Fowler. Some think that Bishop T. D. Jakes, superstar television preacher, started the trend in Dallas, a historically antibishop place. Professor Riggins Earl explains that “in order to compete, a reverend is not enough for their status. Even calling themselves doctors doesn’t do enough. We have to find other titles that have more of a mystical appeal.”