My question is what about preachers referring to the preacher's house as the parsonage?
Thanks for your question.
According to Websterís dictionary, the word "parson" comes from Middle English "persone" and Old Latin "persona." Literally, the word simply means "person" however, the word has come to refer to a "rector" or "clergyman." The word "rector" simply means one who leads (according to Webster), and in reference to the church, one who leads in worship.
Of course, it would be unscriptural to divide the church into a "clergy/laity" system, but based upon Websterís definition, the term "parson" doesnít necessarily imply clergy. It could simply mean one who leads in worship or who is a leader in the church. The preacher is certainly a leader in the sense that he guides the minds of the church in the study of Godís word. The word "parsonage" then refers to the house where the "parson" resides. I see no violation of scripture in referring to the house of the preacher in such a way, particularly when it is being used as a legal term. "Parsonage" can be a legal term that is used by the government to refer to a house that is provided by a church for the benefit of the preacher.
On the other hand, the American Heritage Dictionary defines the term parson is a clear denominational way. I would be uncomfortable with using the term as defined by this dictionary as it specifically refers, in their view, to an Anglican or Episcopal minister.
So, to be on the safe side, we had better avoid using the term "parson" and "parsonage" at the least to avoid confusing and possible misunderstanding among our denominational friends. However, while the term can be used properly, I believe there is sufficient evidence within the etymology of the term as well as within the English language to use the term in an appropriate way, so I donít think that it is necessarily sinful to use such a term. Certainly, when using it in a legal way to refer to a house or cottage supplied by the congregation for their preacher, I see nothing wrong in so doing.