After sleeping on it for alittle bit, I believe I need to make some revisions to the previous post.
I think the question the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is facing in the resolution to remove an MDiv as a requirement for ordination is a issue of nomenclature.
It is not correct to reserve the term “ordained minister” to only those who are pastors of a church.
I believe an ordination occurs at every baptism. When an individual becomes baptized, he or she is set apart for Christian ministry. A similar ordination occurs when someone accepts a call as a licensed minister, and again as (what we call right now) an ordained minister.
Let us examine what we mean when we say “ordained minister.” I believe most of us assume it is something like “a person charged with oversight over a particular congregation.” Or, in the case of chaplaincy or missionary work “someone charge with oversight in a particular ministry area.” I’m not entirely certain the Disciple church agrees on what we mean when we say ordained minister.
As an example look at the Catholic or Episcopalian Churches. They have bishops (who oversea large geopgraphic regions to include the priests under them), priests (who over-see a local parish) and deacons (who are called to particular Christian service). Presybeterians have a similar structure with different names.
We need liturgies and rituals to recognize this ordering, and perhaps an ordination liturgy for licensed ministers is needed.
Perhaps we need to re-examine the nomenclature of our entire order of ministry. For all Christians are ordained for ministry, but we are ordered in different ways.
I stand by my previous post in my belief that an MDiv should be required for those who seek the particular ministry of overseeing a local congregation/chaplaincy/mission field. But I question whether we should call that Order of Ministry “ordained ministry.” As I said before, all the baptized are ordained for ministry in Christ’s church.
Following is the discussion text I left at the Disciples website concerning this issue:
“After sleeping on it for about an hour, I believe I need to revise my earlier comment.
I think this proposal raises questions about the names for the Order of Ministry in general. Lets examine our assumptions here. What do we mean by an “ordained minister?” And what does it mean to be “not ordained?”
I believe an ordination occurs at every baptism. That every Christian is ordered, commissioned, and ordained for ministry primarily through baptism. A similar ordination happens when one accepts a call as a licensed minister (though we don’t call it that now). And a similar call also occurs at (what we presently call) ordination.
Perhaps we need to consider changing the nomenclature of what we presently call “ordained minister” in order to better honor the very real ordering (ordination) for ministry of every believer. For example in the Catholic Church both priests and deacons are ordained. They are ordained to different functions and with different requirements, but both are considered ordinations. Or (I believe) our Presbyterian brothers and sisters call their clergy “presbyters.”
I believe the discussion here is a testimony to the need for a liturgy of ordination for licensed ministers, an affirmation of the ordination of every baptized believer, and need for a new label for what we presently call ordained ministers. I encourage your questions and responses.”