Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ordination - So What of Ordination?

Based on the variety of definitions for the term ordination,[1] a definition of ordination needs to be adopted before further discussion can ensue. For the sake of this discussion, we will consider two aspects presented by two different definitions: “to appoint or admit to the ministry of the Church,” and “to invest officially (as by the laying on of hands) with ministerial or priestly authority.” Both of these contain the concept of ministry. A brief look at the lexicography and the use of the term ministry in the New Testament (see the The NT Concept of Ministry excursus) results in the understanding that ministry is grounded in service and is required of all believers personally, not by proxy. This would seem to indicate that if ordination is defined as “to appoint or admit to the ministry of the Church,” then, since all believers should be ministers, all believers should be ordained.

As for the second definition, it additionally includes the concept of authority. We have seen, in the previous analysis, that the commissioning observed in Scripture does not display a pattern of imparting authority. Could ordination then be understood as a special commissioning which imparts authority? After all, as Patterson correctly points out in his chapter “The Meaning of Authority in the Local Church,” the current struggle over the ordination of women is not a struggle over ordination, but a struggle over authority in the local church.[2] It is my conclusion from the Scriptural data presented above that the “imparting authority” understanding of ordination is not supported by the biblical text, thus the primitivist idealist in me would have to disregard it as irrelevant to a New Testament church.

What do you think? In the next post(s) I will present a proposal based on all that we have discussed so far.

[1] See note 3 in Ordination - quick lexical investigation.

[2] See Patterson, “The Meaning of Authority in the Local Church,” 260-61.


John S Wilson III said...

Mael, I appreciate your openness to the truth of God's word and not putting historical layers and denominationalism on it. I think Frank Viola's book "Finding Organic Church" to be a refreshing look at church planting and the biblical role the New Testament takes on functions within the body of Christ. Of course his controversial book: "Pagan Christianity" provides a great deal of research into some of this same thought as well. Love what you do brother!

Maël said...


Thanks for the encouragement.

Join my blog network
on Facebook