Sunday, July 06, 2003

Concerning Church Order

Concerning church government it is taught that no one should publicly teach, preach, or administer the sacraments without a proper [public] call.

We get two loaded terms here to deal with depending on whether we are reading the German or Latin versions of this article. The German is "On ordentlichen Beruf", Beruf meaning both call and vocation. This translates as proper call, certainly, and then the 1531 edition of the AC inserts the word "public". In Latin, we have "Rite vocatus", which Tappert says means "called in a manner by a proper public authority", not simply the ordination ritual. In either case, whether public is spelled out or not, it is certainly implied and assumed, because all vocations, all callings, take place through public means.

The argument in the case of the 1500s probably revolves around who has the right to call, and therefore perform the rite of ordination. All involved saw the value of proper calls. Who defined proper was in question.

This brief article has a lot of impact. It has shaped a majority of the ELCA full communion statements, because in the end it is the article we're most concerned about when we say full communion. What we really mean, it seems, when we say full communion, is "can we share ordained ministers?" Our laity by and large already operatively assumed full communion. The hang up was who gets ordained by whom and how.

Furthermore, this hang-up doesn't address a more democratic model of church that needs just as much a list of confessions of church government, how we should organize and make decisions as congregations and synods and as a church, and to be honest, the issue of ordination has become a Shibboleth in what should be a much broader conversation on the issue of Kirchenregiment .

No comments:

Post a Comment