Church History: Old Answers to New Crises

What do you think about the idea of ordination, in pastoral (or other) church ministries? How would you go about thinking about the idea? What do you thing about the ordination of women, in pastoral (or other) church ministries? How would you go about investigating this idea.

Readers of this blog should know that the contributors are convinced “that the Bible constitutes the only infallible rule of faith and practice (Matthew 5:18; 24:35; John 10:35; 16:12-13; 17:17; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20-21). ” That means that the answers to this question have to boil down, in the last analysis, to discovering how the Bible answers this question.

But before you can do that, you have to understand the issues. What is ordination? Where would you go to find a definition? Can such a thing be found in the Bible? How would you go about discovering this? It is when facing these sorts of questions that Church history is so “helpful” and “fascinating”. Close to 150 years ago, J.B. Lightfoot wrote a compelling essay on “The Christian Ministry” (amazon) which is of immense help in getting a handle on both of the preceedng questions. He also provides a foundation for exploring what the Bible has to say about the issues.

As we should, Lightfoot draws our minds to begin contemplating the Church from its most ideal biblical conception:

The kingdom of Christ, not being a kingdom of this world, is not limited by the restrictions which fetter other societies, church, political or religious. It is in the fullest sense free, comprehensive, universal. It displays this character, not only in the acceptance of all comers who seek admission, irrespective of race or caste or sex, but also in the instruction and treatment of those who are already its members. It has no sacred days or seasons, no special sanctuaries, because every time and every place alike are holy. Above all it has no sacerdotal system. It interposes no sacrificial tribe or class between God and man, by whose intervention alone God is reconciled and man forgiven. Each individual member holds personal communion with the Divine Head. To Him immediately he is responsible, and from Him directly he obtains pardon and draws strength.

How do you suppose Lightfoot gets from here to ordination, services and ministries? Find out by getting the essay and reading it for yourself.


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