A friend recently sent me a link to a website encouraging readers to consider ordination, and to attend a certain conference in furtherance of that goal. It appeared to be aimed at Episcopalians, and was being held at an Episcopal Church, although there was no clue as to who was sponsoring or organising the conference. The following paragraph is typical of its many words in praise of ordained ministry:

‘The privilege of standing in the person of Christ, representing God to humanity for the forgiveness of sins, welcoming them to the new life of Baptism, and placing in their hands and on their lips the holy food of heaven. We stand there representing to the World, her God and our God.’

This Old Testament view of priesthood is the exact contrary of the New Testament view of ministry. According to the New Testament, there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (I Timothy 2.5) who is at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us (Romans 8.34). Ordained ministry in the New Testament is a ministry of preaching conversion to the unsaved and encouragement to the saved. I believe this attitude to ministry has weakened the faith of Anglicans generally and Episcopalians in particular, making too many of them dependent on their clergy for their spiritual lives. Those attracted by this sort of appeal need them to be dependent, for otherwise what privilege will be left for the clergy?

The closing words, ‘Who else gets to do this?’ are an appeal to the readers’ worst instincts. The answer to the question, given the antecedent of ‘this’, is NO ONE, Christ has already done it, and any suggestion that His work needs to be continued by others is bad news, the antigospel, because there is NO ONE ELSE who can do it.

God’s word says so.

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