01 September 2009
Korah Feels Called to Minister to Others
Since the meaning of the public office is lost, ministry is limited to the private sphere. Willy-nilly Christianity becomes simply a private cult and the rationale for ordained ministry in Lutheranism threatens to disappear altogether. Here I expect is a major reason for the erosion of the understanding of ordained ministry among us. When the church becomes merely a private cult it is difficult to say why just any Christian cannot perform most if not all the functions ordinarily assigned to the ordained. It appears presumptuous in a democratic society to suppose that some are raised to a different level by ecclesiastical monkey business. And since it is, after all, only a “private” matter, what difference does ordination make? Furthermore when members of the clergy themselves capitulate and no longer do what can be called public preaching, teaching, or absolving but rather just make a public display of private emotions and experiences or invest most of their effort in private counseling, what does one need ordained clergy for? What matters is not the public exercise of the office but what “personal skills” or what kind of a (private) person the leader is. There is no way that ordination automatically imparts any skills or makes a person nice. So what is it for? Cannot properly sensitized or trained lay persons do just as well, or better?
Gerhard O. Forde. “The Ordained Ministry” in Todd Nichol & Marc Kolden (ed.) Called and Ordained: Lutheran Perspectives on the Office of the Ministry. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990); p.126