no mitre for us
By clever use of transitivity, biblical prooftext, and etymological analyses, one can identify “elders” with “bishops”. But there is no mitre for us, and there is no authority in individual elders. This is because we in the Reformed tradition do not have a hierarchical view of the Church, but a conciliar view: the authority in polity and governance, if any, is in the meetings of the church (including such ones as synods and general assemblies).
Though I think it is correct to say that the eldership (both “ruling” elders and “teaching” elders = ministers of the Word and Sacrament) is one (or maybe two?) of the Holy Orders as much as those in the sister churches, it is not a secret “club” into which the Order decide to admit new members. As the Faith and Order paper number 111 of the World Council of Churches Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry points out: “… the intimate relationship between the ordained ministry and the community should find expression in a communal dimension where the exercise of the ordained ministry is rooted in the life of the community and requires the community’s effective participation in the discovery of God’s will and the guidance of the Spirit.” (M26). During the proceedings, I was left in no question that it was the Church as a whole that ordained me.
Personally, the ordination as a set of formal proceedings did not change much of what I already do, except it made the ministry more formal and there is more of a pastoral role (which I plan to learn a bit more about). And that is why I think it is appropriate for me to accept it. On one hand, I feel that I am exactly the same, doing the same sort of thing in/for the community and the Church; but on the other hand, I feel that this is another stage of my journey … which I think is not far from exactly the right thing to feel.
It is sometimes said that the Reformed tradition had abolished priesthood in its churches, but it is probably more accurate to say that it was the laity that got abolished.
Both comments and pings are currently closed.