Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The validity of priestly ordination. . .

There are some who would suggest that the problem with Lutheran orders is related to apostolic succession, to the lack of episcopal office, and to the fact that priests have no faculties for ordaining.  However, even a strident Roman Catholic admits that it was once possible for priests to ordain priests. There are a number of ancient references to this (from the early church) and there exists documentation from the medieval period of priests ordaining priests. In 1400, for example, Pope Boniface I gave permission to the Abbot of S. Osith in Essex to ordain to the priesthood. Though this  permission was revoked in 1403, the validity of their orders was not questioned. Today, however, the Church affirms that only bishops ordain priests.  The Lutheran problem, therefore, lies not in the form (priestly ordination) nor in the lack of apostolic succession but in the lack of papal permission.  So to declare Lutheran orders (priestly ordination) would not require adding apostolic hands or the action of a bishop but simply the recognition of those orders from the Pope.

I write this not because I or anyone I know is seeking such recognition or needs it, for that matter.  Instead, I write this because the usual arguments against the validity of Lutheran orders may not here apply and that the irregularity of those orders (from Rome's perspective) could rather easily be resolved if Rome so chose to resolve this issue.  Priestly ordination may have been an irregularity in history but it is not unknown and, in some cases, proceeded with the dispensation of the pope. 

Again, Lutherans are not necessarily interested in nor are they seeking papal recognition but it is one of many impediments cited as a roadblock to the ecumenical task.  Lutheran orders are obviously not in question from the Lutheran side of the ecumenical equation but they have been from the Roman side. It may be a problem but it is certainly an easily resolvable one.  Recognition from the Pope gives credibility and validity to the orders recognized.  It must be recalled that Lutherans did not seek priestly ordination until there was a lack of bishops to ordain candidates to serve the Lutheran parishes.  At that point the Lutherans returned to an ancient, if somewhat unusual, option.  The option was not unknown nor without precedent though we all agree it was without papal permission.

Something to think about. . .


Carl Vehse said...

"Again, Lutherans are not necessarily interested in nor are they seeking papal recognition but it is one of many impediments cited as a roadblock to the ecumenical task."

Only romish Lufauxrans would be interested in seeking recognition from the Antichrist.

Carl Vehse said...

A Lutheran view of a priest in a November 10, 2015, sermon by Rev. Charles Henrickson:

Martin Luther, born November 10, baptized November 11, 1483.

So maybe we should be celebrating his birthday tomorrow, on the day he was baptized... On that day, his baptismal day, little Martin was called into the kingdom and became a priest.

“What?” you say. “I thought Martin Luther didn’t become a priest until much later.” Well, yes and no. Martin Luther was made a pastor, an ordained minister, many years later, as an adult. But he became a priest on the day he was baptized. And you know what? So did you. For every Christian is born a priest in Holy Baptism. And out of that priesthood of the baptized, some are later called to be pastors. So our theme this morning: “Born a priest, Made a Pastor”....

What Luther found in the Scriptures is what is sometimes called the priesthood of all believers, or the priesthood of the baptized.... Listen to what he wrote that puts this all in perspective [WA 41, 209.24-36; LW 13:332]:

"Before anyone becomes a preacher or a bishop, he must first be a Christian, a born priest. No pope or any other man can make him a priest. But having been born a priest through Baptism, a man thereupon receives the office; and this is what makes a difference between him and other Christians. Out of the multitude of Christians some must be selected who shall lead the others by virtue of the special gifts and aptitude which God gives them for the office."

"But you must know this, as I have also stated before, that Christ is the only High Priest..."

"But after we have become Christians through this Priest and His priestly office, incorporated in Him by Baptism through faith, then each one, according to his calling and position, obtains the right and the power of teaching and confessing before others this Word which we have obtained from Him. Even though not everybody has the public office and calling, every Christian has the right and the duty to teach, instruct, admonish, comfort, and rebuke his neighbor with the Word of God at every opportunity and whenever necessary. For example, father and mother should do this for their children and household; a brother, neighbor, citizen, or peasant for the other."

“Thus we do not make a distinction among Christians regarding the priestly office, but we do make a distinction among Christians regarding the office of the ministry, so that a man can administer comfort, absolve, etc. However, in the priestly office we are all the same, for I do not have a better baptism than that which I received as a child.” [Emphasis added]

Anonymous said...

The Roman Church made the same mistake that Judaism made. The one that Joshua warned about:
Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day.
Joshua 23:6-8
Rome swerved into idolatry as did the Jews as did Constantinople as did the ELCA preferring tradition and councils of men to the clear word of God. Aren’t we all blind, deaf, and dumb apart from the Word of God? Again, the genuine, authentic Evangelical Lutheran Church has rich coffers from which we can dole out the pure Gospel with all its sparling facets. Don’t be fooled by a cheap knockoff.

Carl Vehse said...

”Again, the genuine, authentic Evangelical Lutheran Church has rich coffers from which we can dole out the pure Gospel with all its sparling facets.”

Bingo!!! (pardon the romish expression ;-))

”Don’t be fooled by a cheap knockoff.”

Even if the mitre looks nifty.

Anonymous said...

"Many nowadays are becoming bored with the simplicity of the gospel, marvel over the pomp and ostentatious appearance of the
heathenish ceremonies of the pope, and praise the external discipline and order of our opponents just as foolishly as one would praise excrement.”
Matthias Flacius Illyricus, Ein buch von waren und falschen Mitteldingen, Hi r.

Padre Dave Poedel said...

Thank you for keeping this before us! Your analysis is true and if implemented by Rome, would be most edifying for the whole Church.

When I studied Ecumenical Theology from a Roman Catholic Perspective in Rome, I made this point with the faculty of the Centro Pro Unione and there was general agreement that it could be so. That said, when the Personal Prelature of Pope Benedict XVI was established to welcome Anglican congregations and their priests into fellowship with the Bishop of Rome, while retaining many of the Anglican hymnody and a Mass that is Anglican in style. A similar thing could happen for Lutherans.

When I Was in Rome, I inquired about how this would work in person, I was informed that because I received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church, I would not be eligible for any of these programs as an individual. When I was a member of the Society of the Holy Trinity we had a very fruitful conversation with Archbishop Chaput, then the Ordinary of Denver. He was quite open to discussing this matter, but things like this move very slowly...in decades and centuries, not our instant decisions of our culture.

I fully expect to die as a LCMS Pastor, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see a mutual recognition of Orders.

Carl Vehse said...

Sadly, not all LCMS pastors are Lutheran pastors. (Mt.7:20)

Anonymous said...

Pastor Peters said, "The Lutheran problem, therefore, lies not in the form (priestly ordination) nor in the lack of apostolic succession but in the lack of papal permission."

No, I don't think this is correct at all. As I see it, the lack of apostolic succession is the key element preventing Lutheran pastors from being priests. Lutherans in America have not taken any care at all to preserve the apostolic succession, and that is where it all comes apart. This is why the ELCA tried to obtain the apostolic succession from the ECUSA, but they failed to get it right (in some cases, female ECUSA "bishops" ordained the ELCA bishops, but they were uable to confer what they did not posess in the first place.)

Lack of papal permission is of no consequence at all. After all, at best, the pope is simply the bishop of Rome and none of America is in his jurisdiction (despite the Roman claim to universal jurisdiction). The Orthodox and the Anglicans both ordain priests without consulting the pope, simply because he is irrelevant (in more ways than one!).

It seems that Pr. Peters was looking for an "easy fix" for the problem he was discussing, but that is no fix at all.

Continuing Anglican Priest

Carl Vehse said...

Luther also writes (St. L., V, 1037) : "Though we all are priests, yet we all neither can nor should for this reason preach, teach, or rule. But from the whole throng we must select and choose some to whom we entrust this office; and whoever conducts it is not a priest on account of his office (which they all are), but a servant of all others. And if he can no longer preach or serve, or if he should no longer desire this, he again steps among the common throng, entrusts his office to another, and is nothing else than an ordinary Christian. Thus you must distinguish between the ministry, or the office of service, and the common priesthood of all baptized Christians. For this office is nothing else than a public service, which is entrusted to one by the whole congregation, who are all priests at the same time." Excerpted from John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics (St. Louis:CPH, 1934, p. 566).

RMMV (Romanist mileage may vary)