Jesus told his disciples, “Those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority felt, but it shall not be like that among you.”
That should be a lasting lesson for church leaders. They should never get caught acting big, but sometimes they are pushed into putting on the dog.
Historically that happened in the year 500. Back around the year 320 there was an old priest named Arius who began telling the people that while Jesus was an excellent man, he was not the Son of God. Then, over the next two hundred years half of the Christian world went over to the message of Arius. They were called Arians, and a seminary for Arians was opened in Constantinople. That seminary welcomed boys from the barbarian nations that were invading Europe. A Gothic boy named Ulfilas wrote his own translation of the Gospels, changing things here and there to make Jesus appear to be just a good man.
That Gothic New Testament was written in a simple language that was read by people of all the Germanic nations, so that Visigoths, and Lombards and Huns and Burgundians all became Arians who were determined to wipe out the Christians who believed in the divinity of Christ. By the year 470 it looked like the Arians might succeed in eliminating us. Then, a new Germanic nation that never heard of Arianism invaded Europe. They were the Franks, and their king, Chlodwech, married a Christian girl who convinced him that by accepting Baptism he could become as great as Constantine.
So, in 496 the whole nation of the Franks were baptized, and Christian people became as strong as the Arians. Then, the priests and bishops ran into this social problem: The Franks, like all barbarians had only two social classes. They had people with inheritances who were called nobles, and they had people without inheritances, and they slept with the pigs.
Now, the priests and bishops didn’t want to sleep with the pigs, so they rigged a ceremony in which they came before the assemblage of the noble, and each of them announced, “I have an inheritance. My inheritance is the Lord.”Now the old German word they used for “inheritance” was klerk. So the priests and bishops came to be called clerics. That solved most of the difficulties, but one problem remained. The nobles demanded that the clerics carry themselves with dignity (as the French put it noblesse oblige.) So it happened that they came to be called reverend, very reverend, right reverend, and most reverend. In their consciences they were left to wrestle with what Jesus said about not lording over people.