There is a reason why we are told to address a bishop as "My Lord.'

Sunday, 8/28/16

In the Gospel Jesus criticized those who wanted to sit in places of honor. At another time he said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers among the Gentles lord it over them, and make their importance felt, but it should not be that way with you.”.

In spite of that, we have bishops who demand that they be addressed as “My Lord.” How did they get that way?” I want to explain why, but it will take time.

The persecutions and deaths of Christians came to an end in the year 315 when the emperor Constantine became a Christian. But from just five years after that, a big split emerged between Christians. An influential priest named Arias started getting throngs of people joining him in saying that Jesus was a fine man, but not the unique Son of God.

The situation became desperate in 337 when at the death of Constantine, his eldest son, who succeeded him as emperor became an Arian, and he assisted old Father Arias in opening a seminary for training Arian priests. What harmed Christianity the most was that the young men coming out of that seminary were Goths and Huns and Burundian, men from he tribes that were repopulating Europe after the fall of Rome.    

 By the year 470 the pope in Rome had his back to the wall with more than half of Europe gone over to the Arians. But then the Franks, a new tribe, conquered the valley of the Rhine, and its king married a Christian girl  who convincd him that he could become a new Constantine if he and his nobles became Christians.

They were all baptized at Rheims in 496, and from then on the Christians dominated the Arians.  
However, society’s structure among the Franks and other tribes had no room for the priests.

Their king was all powerful, but his relatives down to the most distant cousins had inheritances that gave them serfs, lands and titles. Non-cousins, who lacked inheritances had to sleep with the pigs.

The king and his nobles, as new Christians, wanted to show respect for the priests, so they rigged up a ceremony. They had their bishops and priest dress up in their Sunday best, then come before the nobles, making an announcement. Each of them said, “I have an inheritance, my inheritance is the Lord.”

The word they used for “inheritance” was “clerk.”  And from that the priesthood came to be called the clerical estate. They were made a big part of the ruling class of the Franks, and as such, they had to demand respect from the commoners. They had to demand tthat they be addressed as “The Reverend, or as  “My Lord.”  

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