Monday, June 14, 2010

Ordination - Analysis - The Concept of Ordination

While there is an emerging pattern of commissioning, consensus is absolutely lacking among the commentators as to whether any of the New Testament passages discussed above refers to ordination or not. This is primarily due to each commentator’s understanding of the meaning of ordination, and, in some commentators, is secondarily due to a desire not to be anachronistic. Case in point is Pelikan’s commentary on Acts. He sees the laying on of hands in Acts 6 as clearly implying ordination, but he does not see the laying on of hands in Acts 13 as the rite of ordination. This is not a conclusion deduced by any textual clue, but surmised because of his assumption that Paul and Barnabas would have to have been ordained already.[1] A similar stance is taken by Culpepper while discussing Acts 13. He states that “this passage is undoubtedly significant for the development of the church’s practice of ordination, but it can hardly be said that Paul and Barnabas were ordained in this occasion.”[2] Many more examples could be given from commentaries, systematic theologies, journal articles, and books on the topic of ordination, but the bottom line is that the identification of some passages in the New Testament as ordination boils down to one’s understanding of the meaning of ordination.

[1] Pelikan, Acts, 95.

[2] Culpepper, “The Biblical Basis for Ordination,” 479.

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