Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Now we have to check our commentaries...

To see if the author has been ordained. We will also have to check our theological books and Bible studies. According to Pirate at The Boar's Head Tavern:

A layman can offer his insights and reflections on his own life, but the task of teaching divine words with authority is simply not given to laymen. It’s one thing to relate your private opinions and experiences; it’s entirely another to presume to speak for God and to the Church, which is what goes on when you write a Bible commentary or program of church/ministry reform for publication and dissemination among Christians. And if you’re not intending to say anything but your own private opinion, you have no business speaking these things publicly. And no one can confer this office upon himself or simply assert that he has it because he is “gifted.” That’s not how ordination works.
Forget the fact that the author may have a doctorate in his field of expertise and that he spent years working and studying in his field, the pastor with a MDiv is eminently more qualified to write the commentaries and the theological treatises.

Only the pastor can teach? That would be a very busy pastor: Sunday school, ladies Bible study, Sunday morning adult Bible study, Wednesday night Bible study. One of my professors at seminary called this the "bus drive pastor." I would hate to be in a church like that because there would be no growth in the use of your gifts.

And speaking of seminary, why in the world did Westminster let me and the other women and the men who have no intention of being ordained, into the seminary? Our personal edification? From their mission statement:
Our specific mission is to support the church in its mandate to equip the saints for ministry. We pursue this mission in three ways. First, we seek to form men for ordained gospel ministry as pastors, teachers, evangelists, missionaries, and other tasks specified by the church. Second, we seek to train men and women to serve Christ in kingdom ministries other than those that require ordination. Third, we seek to serve as a center for Christian research and scholarship and to communicate the fruits of our labors to the church and the world.
What ministry would that be? The puppet ministry? The clown ministry?

BTW, I'm Presbyterian and understand the ministry of the word and sacrament and the fact that the teaching elder (the pastor) proclaims the word of God to His people each week. But I believe it would be unbiblical to say that there are no other teachers in the church.

If I listened to people like this and dropped out of seminary, stopped teaching the women at my church, deleted this blog and stuck to political blogging, do you think that would serve the kingdom better? In the real world I was encouraged by my pastor (not just one pastor but three) to enter seminary with the goal of eventually publishing Bible studies for women, who do you think I should listen to?


  1. Elroy Jetson said...
    I always have a disdain for comments like this. Yes, ordination is often helpful, but not necessary. Yes, seminary is certainly a profitable endeavor, but hardly the only thing that makes one qualified. Schools are for those to lazy to have the self-discipline to read a book without supervision.

    God grants the knowledge of the word to whom He will. I think to fence God in a corner would be counter to scripture.

    I can think of twelve ordinary laymen that would say that they never attended a seminary, yet understood what it meant to be followers of Christ quite implicitly.

    I believe if you look John Calvin himself was neither a seminary graduate nor a trained theologian. Certainly we wouldn't be so bold as to say that the training of a lawyer is the same as the training of a theologian.

    I think a look at 2 Timothy 2:15,16 is useful in this matter:

    "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness."

    My first point being that it states to "study" not to attend a seminary, get ordained and then teach the word. That is certainly one path, but not the only path.

    Finally, v.16 really hits to the heart of the matter. Talk like this is nothing more than "vain babblings" and is not useful.

    By the way, Timothy is another non-seminary graduate who was trained, for the most part, by the writings of Paul and much less by attending class under Paul.
    michele said...
    I believe in the importance of the pastors to be trained. I see part of the training they go through and believe it to be very beneficial but I also believe that God empowers us for service with our without seminary.
    John Dekker said...
    Elroy, I think you're missing the point. It's not that you have to go to seminary to teach, is that you have to be ordained. John Calvin, for example, certainly was ordained.

    I wonder what the writers of the WTS mission statement had in mind when they refer to womens' ministry. The imply that only men can be pastors and teachers. Isn't writing a commentary the province of the teacher?
    Pamela said...

    I have a disdain, too, for self imporatance of certain highly educated people.

    Probably from experience that I care not to repeat.

    God chose some very lowly people in the Bible. ( a few exceptions, like Paul) but Peter was just a fisherman, and look in the old testatment and some of those old prophets.
    Pirate said...
    I said only a pastor can teach authoritatively. "Teach" is a pretty flexible word that can range from informal discussion to authoritative direction of church life and faith.

    Theology is inherently pastoral. The worst disasters in the Church happened when men sequestered in monasteries or medieval universities away from the life of the parish and the administration of the sacraments presume upon themselves to teach the Church. Read Luther. He's a pastor through and through.

    Most of what you presume to say against me isn't against what I actually said, but against straw men. I am all for laymen learning theology, ancient languages, and so on. I am all for lay involvement in the life of the Church. I am all for laymen discussing matters with each other, interacting with the clergy, teaching their families, and so on. After all, I'm a layman, and I do these things.

    But laymen don't have authority. Pastoral authority is tied to the altar. As a layman, I can talk, but I don't have the authority the pastor does. The pastor doesn't ascend the pulpit to speculate on philosophical matters; he's there to deliver Christ's word to the Church and prepare us to receive the Sacrament. It's not about your degrees. It's about the office you hold.

    It's similar to my ability to talk all I want about the laws of our country, explain them to my friends, think about them, etc, but when it comes to the real world where law happens, I'm not the judge sitting on the bench making the ruling.

    P.S. I'm not Reformed.
    michele said...
    I was guessing maybe Catholic. I apologize if you believe I misrepresented your view. I stated in my post that I agree with the unique ministry of the pastor but there's an implication in what you wrote that there is no power in the word when the laity speak, that we can't know or speak truth and that our words have no power. That only the pastor can speak the word of God but I believe that this verse also applies to the laity:

    Isaiah 55:11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

    When we share Christ and his words with others, his words will accomplish what he desires whether we are pastors or not.
    Moonshadow said...
    Certainly we wouldn't be so bold as to say that the training of a lawyer is the same as the training of a theologian.

    Not nowadays, no.

    But what about then? Have you any idea of the curriculum? Does "Renaissance man" mean anything?

    Read Luther. He's a pastor through and through.

    Absolutely. Absolutely.

    Isaiah 55:11, a personal favorite memory verse. Interestingly, I'm inclined to see oral over written: the spoken words of the prophet, of Isaiah, primarily. "goes forth from my mouth" does it.

    I was guessing maybe Catholic

    He doesn't sound Catholic, 'though his point is well-taken with me.
    michele said...
    Not necessarily here but he said some things on the Boar's Head Tavern.
    Moonshadow said...
    Not necessarily here but he said some things on the Boar's Head Tavern.

    Well & good.

    But two related points of minor divergence:

    (1) Bible commentaries, with the exception of some conservative series (i.e., Navarre), no longer seek ecclesial permission to print.

    Only books that propose to teach Catholic theology require the imprimatur.

    (2) The bishop, not the local priest ("pastor"), is the man vested with authority to teach.

    The bishop is the source (head) of orthodoxy: teaching authority rests with and derives from him, yet is shared, especially with diocesan priests but also with Catholic theologians, both male and female. That's what the granting of mandatums is about.

    I don't hear pirate articulating these subtleties.

    Moonshadow said...
    I was guessing maybe Catholic

    He doesn't sound Catholic

    Not necessarily here but he said some things on the Boar's Head Tavern.

    Methinks Anglican ... or some derivative.

    I like to pigeon-hole people ... but my conscience is telling me that I'm being a busybody. Must resist the urge to help and to solve the riddle.

    OT: did you read about Dr. Metzger's passing? Oh, yeah, you did.

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