Friday, December 24, 2010

Our first and most important ordination is in baptism

Our first and most important ordination is in Baptism, where we are adopted into Jesus Christ and given the ministry of every disciple.(1) Ordination to a specific ministry in the church, whether of an Elder, Deacon, or Minister of Word and Sacrament does not confer any ontological change, override, supersede, or even amend the prior ordination into the ministry of the baptised.(2) The distinction we make in the offices of the church is one of function and not of holiness.(3) By saying that a baptised, called, and gifted individual is ineligible for a particular ministry by virtue of supposed insufficient holiness we are denying their Baptism.(4) If one’s Baptism can be annulled by supposed sin, or is dependent on our effort and perfection, then we are all doomed.

1. Every baptized Christian is a minister - the only differences we need to work out are whether a particular person is called to ministry of Word and Sacrament, or as an Elder or Deacon, as a Chaplain, and so on. As adopted children, we have a lot of very difficult chores - fortunately, one of them is not deciding which of us is worthy of the call of Christ.  We are all called, and we are all unworthy.  Rather, we must discern what our specific work is to be, and how we are best to go about it.

2. The view that ordination is magical, that it confers an ontological change in a person, is not a Reformed or Presbyterian view.

3. In fact, Jesus is at pains to point out that those who focus on distinctions of holiness are to be the most severely judged.  For the most part, they serve as counter-examples of self-righteousness and spiritual blindness, and it is the humble and despised who Jesus consistently lifts up.

4. Not only that, we are denying the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying them - but that is not the point we are making here.  The point we are making here is that every Christian disciple is called to ministry, long before that Christian has any hope whatsoever of fulfilling that ministry.

No comments: