Monday, May 15, 2006

What Is Ordination All About?

I am sure that many readers of my previous posts about ordination may be wondering what was involved in becoming a minister. What exactly is ordination all about?

In the first place, the significance of ordination--or the public and official setting aside of a minister-to-be--is rooted in Biblical practice. The long and short of it is found in Acts 13:1-3 where an Apostle himself, Paul, was ordained by the laying on of hands. Christ was ordained as well (Heb. 3:2). Hebrews 5:5 explicitly states: "So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You."

In other words, if the Apostles and Christ had to be ordained, or set-apart, how much more should today's pastors be ordained? Too many Christians believe they are above such organizational trivialities, but Christ did not take it upon Himself to begin his ministry but waited upon God. So should we.

Secondly, ordination can only begin after proper examination of the candidate has occurred. In other words, not just any person can be ordained but those who prove they have wisdom from God.

In 1 Timothy 3:10, Paul mandates that "...let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless." How is this applicable to ministers? In the same manner as the first point: if deacons must be examed, how much more should pastors?

So, written and oral exams have become the mainstay of many conservative Presbyterian/Reformed churches, as well as personal recommendations from other Christians and officers. Since the ordination is from the Presbytery (1 Tim. 4:14), then the examinations arise from there as well.

In other words, it is not as easy as "one, two, three" to become a minister. One does not simply pick friends or use charismatic personality to impose the office of minister upon oneself.

Lastly, what exactly happens in an ordination service? Below are audio files of my ordination service in order of occurance (I highly recommend listening to these):

1) The worship service begins with a sermon related to ordination.

2) The moderator of the Presbytery describes the office and recites the vows for the ordinand to affirm.

3) A pastor charges the newly installed minister to fulfill his duties.

4) When the minister is also being installed as a pastor called by a local congregation, the charge to that congregation is given sa well.


So, for those not Presbyterian, I hope this was informative. And the charges uplifting. And I'm always here for any questions.

SDG

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Could I rather timidly ask then what is the significance of ordination? Sort of like the before and after?

thanks
Leslie

polymathis said...

Greetings, anonymous,

I apologize for the late response.

The simple answer is: nothing. Nothing magical happens after ordination. It is no different than when a president get sworn in: before he had no political and moral authority afterwards he does.

In this case, the authority to preach and administer the sacraments is directly from God and publicly recognized by the church.

I hope that helps.

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