The Catholicism of the Black Baptist Church

10667765_10152494650089335_828875828_oby Robert Earl Houston

Is it just me? 

I’m a history buff. As a child I spent hours watching Masterpiece Theatre at home (my mom was a school teacher) and learned English history. Particularly the Tudor years in England when King Henry VIII, and his children, Edward,  daughter Mary (commonly called “Bloody Mary”) and Elizabeth, ruled the nation.

This biggest controversy of that time was the role of the Catholic Church in England. During that period the Church was growing extensively richer while the nation and its people grew poorer. Also, because of the church’s strict teachings, divorce (which Henry knew well) was not allowed and he and the nation broke away from the Catholic Church and formed the Church of England, of which the King (or Queen) ruled as the supreme leader, taking all authority from the Catholic Church. In addition, a rising up of men, including Martin Luther (a German), had renounced the Catholic Church and thus began the Protestant (protest) movement.

It was supposed to create a buffer between Catholicism and modern Christianity.

But something has gone wrong. And it’s in this era. There is a strange movement that is taking us backwards instead of forward. It almost appears that some in the Body of Christ long for “the good old days” and want us to go back to doing things in a Catholic manner.

For example, the sudden emphasis on hierarchal titles within the black baptist church. Growing up our ministers were called Pastors, Ministers and Liceniates. Now, there is a plethora of titles attached to those who serve as baptist and many of the names are coming from the world of Catholicism.

Even how we address our mail and sign our names has changed. I will not, and I don’t feel comfortable, in signing my name as “The Right Reverend Robert Earl Houston” or “His Grace, The Right and Righetous Robert Earl Houston.” To me, it’s foolishness. It creates an air of supremacy that is neither warranted or deserved.

Many years ago, my state president, Dr. O.B. Williams, taught me about signatures. He never signed any letter or document as “Dr. O.B. Williams” by hand. He always simply wrote: “O.B. Williams.” He told me the title is less important that your name. Your title doesn’t make your name and your name will be long remembered after your title is gone.

Now we have Bishops, Arch-Bishops, Sufferagin Bishops, and many of these ancillary titles are drawn from the Catholic Church. It won’t be long before ring kissing becomes vogue. It won’t be long before denominational leaders will be in Popemobiles accessorized with a Sound System. It won’t be long before we start looking to leaders instead of looking to God for answers. 

I like the reformation that Jesus started. He got it right and He sets the tone for the church today. I believe many of us are sick of the Presidential entourages and titles that make no sense at all in our modern context.  Cardinals are coming. As a Vicors and Metropolitans and Prelates – if we don’t shake ourselves out of this need for peer super authority and get back to our pulpits and communities and preach that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of this world.

Humbly submitted by His grace by the authority of the Bishop in Rome,
The Son of the Church based in Portland and Operating in a Realm in Kentucky, 



10 responses

  1. Well said. Now what do we do about this other than but not excluding this site? We must try to get this info into seminaries, denominational organizations, i.e. District, State, National, etc., especially to the young people just beginning their denominational journey.

  2. May I also add the ‘Gloria Patri’ Please research. I will be glad to add what I’ve learned. I remember many years ago how my late pastor spoke of how we must look at what we do in worship, in the name of our denomination. I do know there are churches rich in music history that will perhaps push back from believing they should give attention to research before including, maintaining songs, etc. in the worship experience during church services.

  3. In my office, on the wall over my desk is a quote from Romans 15:1 in the Message translation: “Strength is for SERVICE, not STATUS.” Thanks for vocalizing this observation!! WOW!!


  5. Let the church say amen!

  6. Pastor Houston, you are so on point with your writing. Thank you…

  7. All that needs to be said is AMEN…….AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. The root theological problem is refusal to see the Church as “community,” wherein all should relate and are to be equally honored as “brothers” or “sisters.” Hierarchal structures (and most titles associated therewith) have no place in the fellowship-community of Christ. Some titles specify spiritual gifts and gifted roles of serving in the Body of Christ, not pecking orders (cf. Ephesians 4:11ff.). Those of the Church who function in the civic realm should be strategic in using their status/title to influence and further the Gospel by becoming “all things to all men” with the hope of saving some (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23). At once, they should present themselves simply as mere persons, absolutely never to receive worship (cf. Acts 14:8-18). On the other hand, these civic creatures should quickly evoke their status to prevent life-threatening injustice (cf. Acts 22:22-29). At the end of the day, we should do whatever we do to God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). Thus, stay on the path of breaking down ecclesiastical idols and idolatrous symbols. Up with authentic Church! Thanks.

  9. Pastor Houston, your article on the Black Baptists moving towards a type of “Catholicism” is right on point. I grew up a Catholic-Baptist. Catholic because that was the only Christian Education option for my brothers and I to go in the part of Los Angeles I lived in. I have seen my Brother Pastor’s move their congregations’ names from so and so Baptist Church to so and so Christian Center or so and so non denominational church. When I asked them why they did this, I was mostly told because that is where the people are going…they are joining those churches…those church’s are growing faster than any other type of church’s. The church name changed but the preaching/teaching theology didn’t. They really didn’t love the people any better, integrate the church with “all nations” any more nor implement a discipleship program that helped to mature the existing believer’s or disciple the new believer’s into Christlikeness, better than they were doing, before they changed their names. Here was my understanding. As a Roman Catholic a Bishop is a man who is seasoned ( progressed from priest, to assistant Pastor, to Pastor, to Monsignor, to assistant to the Monsignor, to Bishop). Most of these men have been in ministry for several years faithfully and have earned the respect of their peers and the parishes they have been overseeing. Then the Arc-Bishop, the Regional Cardinal, in consultation with Rome make recommendations for that man to be placed into the authority of the Bishop. This is done for at least two reasons: One every Roman Catholic Bishop can request financial and administrative support when needed. 2) Every Roman Catholic Bishop onced placed in this position, can be recommended for the position of Cardinal who then can be voted to be The Pope of the World. 3) Most Roman Catholic Bishops are suppose to have a “special prayer connection” to the Blessed Trinity. Without too much discussion/debate whether this is good, bad or otherwise…I am wondering on a basic level. When a Baptist Minister or Pastor, allows himself to carry the title of “Bishop” what is he the “bishop” overseeing. It seems to me that most Black Baptist pastor’s have their hands full with the congregation that God has given them oversight. This is not to mention, the lack of administrative and professional experience in years in the life of the “Baptist Bishop.” Could it be we as Black Baptist, have subscribed to old magazines there were placed out of print at Calvary…1st magazine: The fall of the Great Commission. The second magazine: New Name…New Game..but no Fame ( for the Kingdom!) I want to ask a question in closinging…Bishop, what will you tell Jesus when He asked you at judgement: “Son, what did you do with THE CALL I placed on your heart for serving My Children? How did you get them to see me and not YOU?” As for me there is something to be said about THAT OL’ TIME CHURCH! After all He has not changed but we have or have we?

    1. Interesting. Insightful. Causes one to think, question.

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by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

About life, preaching, church, books, and other stuff.

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