Sacerdotalism: why be critical of ordination? Why celebrate it?

So, as many of you know I will be ordained in the PC(USA) July 23rd. This has spurred a great deal of conversation (and required a good deal of preparation on my part) and some other cohorters thought this might make an interesting conversation. Their is littel argument as to whether God calls and equips people to serve as members of the kingdom of God through the church. The breakdown comes around ideas of hierarchy and authority in the church body. This has been considered one of the primary reasons for the reformation and for Anabaptist protests to reformed ecclessiology. How does a community discern and appoint its leaders?

Wikipedia defines Sacerdotalism as:
(from Latin sacerdos, priest, literally one who presents sacred offerings, sacer, sacred, and dare, to give) is a term applied (usually in a hostile sense) to the system, method, and spirit of a priestly order or class, under which the functions, dignity, and influence of the members of the priesthood are exalted in the ministry of religion, and in the church at the expense of the laity. This exalting of the priesthood in certain denominations of the Christian church is based on the claim that the priest exercises sacrificial and supernatural powers in the celebration of the Eucharist.

So, how can we learn from each other's traditions about the role of the priest/minister/pastor/preacher/leader?

What are the benefits/dangers to the Christendom practice of calling someone "reverend?"

Tim Honse and Jake Myers from the Cooperative Baptist church have recently been ordained and they will share a bit about the experience for them. If you have wrestled through this or against this as a Christian leader, come with some reflection on:
1. The discernment for you as an individual to "enter the process"
2. The tests/psychological examinations/committee gauntlet/vows/compromises that a recognized ordained minister must undergo to be such.
3. The value of this for the specific church and the wider neighborhood/community.

My hope is that we can learn more about this as a ritual/practice. Does "ordination" shape the entire church well for its missionary encounter with culture?

My second hope is to bring my own PC(USA) ordination vows and have some reflection on those in light of our emerging friendship and the hope we have for the church participating more deeply in the mission of God.

Here are some fun quotes to react to in preparation. Bring your own quotes and scripture passages that inform your own tradition's ordination practices as well:

Making doxology to God, Paul asks that we present ourselves as “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” by not being “conformed to this world” but by being “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:1-2). All of this is resurrection talk, the sort of tensive [sic] situation of those who find their lives still in an old, dying world, yet who are also conscious of a new world being born. Our lives are eschatologically stretched between the sneak preview of the new world being born among us in the church and the old world where the principalities and powers are reluctant to give way. In the meantime, which is the only time the church has ever known, we live as those who know something about the fate of the world that the world does not yet know. -William Willimon, Calling and Character, 128.

We are living at an important and fruitful moment right now, for it is clear to church leaders that the images of Christina leadership given by the religious subculture are worn out; a minister can no longer depend on them. By the time a person in professional ministry reaches thirty-five, he or she knows that the images of the knowledgeable, doctrinally sound, politically correct, and above all successful pastor that were learned in seminary (and at the Christian bookstore or leadership conference) simply do not work in life. Such a Christian leader is open to the new visions of what a Christian and a church leader is or could be.
-Brian McLaren, The Church on the Other Side, 109.

If pastors become accomplices in treating every child as a problem to be figured out, every spouse as a problem to be dealt with, every clash of wills in choir or committee as a problem to be adjudicated, we abdicate our most important work, which is directing worship in the traffic, discovering the presence of the cross in the paradoxes and chaos between Sundays, calling attention to the “splendor in the ordinary,” and most of all, teaching a life of prayer to our friends and companions in the pilgrimage.
-Eugene Peterson The Contemplative Pastor, 65

Lets meet at Octane on Howell Mill and Marrietta Street, This Tuesday June 27, 8-10pm. Better Directions to come.

0 Responses to “Sacerdotalism: why be critical of ordination? Why celebrate it?”

Post a Comment

About Us

You're a part of a bigger conversation, a bigger story of God's creation unfolding and realizing it's Creator's dreams in the clue of Jesus. Gather monthly to re-imagine how we can best participate locally in this conversation, story, dreams. This is an Emergent Cohort meeting to flesh out four commitments: to God in the way of Jesus, to the Church in all its Forms, to God's World, and to One Another. This is a theological conversation for any practitioners in the way of Jesus.

What is Emergent?

If you are interested in learning more about the larger movement we are a local expression of, visit Emergent Village.