NEWSLETTER

 

Summer 2003 

      Vol. 4   
Num.
1 

 

TO BE ORDAINED OR NOT TO BE – THAT IS THE QUESTION!

by 
Barbara Collins

To both men and women, particularly those who look upon the ordination ceremony as a prize to be seized and achieved as some sort of endorsement and approval of one’s ministry:  After all, doesn’t ordination give one the right to wear the title of Reverend, or even a clerical collar or robe if need be?  Doesn’t it move one from the lowly class of “laity” to that of clergy? 

What has ordination meant to me?  In the beginning, I took advantage of my title while serving as a staff pastor by using it as a beginning to my name.  After all, doesn’t “Reverend” speak of privilege and distinction?  The key question to ask, however, is:  “Is it scriptural?”  No.   The only time “reverend” is mentioned in God’s Word is in Ps. 111:9—“. . .holy and reverend is His name.”   The original Hebrew word for “reverend” is “awesome” according to The Interlinear Hebrew-Greek-English Bible.

   After being orally designated as “Sr. Collins” for most of the years I served as a teacher at Fountain Gate College and staff pastor of Fountain Gate Church, my spiritual mentor, Dr. Fuchsia Pickett, told the Body to call the four of us pastors.  None of my responsibilities changed.  The real drawback of being designated “clergy” is the distinction that lifts one out of the true brother/sister position and puts one “over” instead of  “along with” the "lay" people. 

   The word “ordain” is definitely scriptural and usually means simply “chosen” or “selected.  Who does the choosing?  The Holy Spirit--always has and always will.   Just a brief look at the New Testament so confirms.  Jesus ordained (chose) the twelve that they “should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.”  (Mk. 3:14) Jesus ordained (chose) His disciples, first of all, for relationship with Him before He sent them out to preach. Paul spent three years in the desert getting to know the Lord before he was released into ministry.  In Paul and Barnabas’ journeys, they ordained elders in three churches. 

   The basic function of an ordination “ceremony” is to recognize and confirm the work of the Holy Spirit in an individual’s life. It usually includes the laying on of hands.  Indeed, the first-century Christians had this purpose in mind rather than installing someone into office and conferring upon them a special status as began to transpire in the third century.  

  The book of Acts shows us that it took 14 years before any elders were added to the church at Jerusalem.  Did the church at Antioch ever have any elders?  The Word doesn’t say so.  It takes the Lord many years to make a minister.  (See Col. 1:23).  No substitutes or short cuts are available for the making of wisdom and patience and experience and brokenness in the life of a servant of the Lord.  Part of that “making” is learning how to function as a brother or sister and how to relate to other members of the Body before becoming an elder.  Paul instructed Titus to “ordain elders in every city” in Crete.  (Titus 1:5)  He just didn’t tell him how

 The card I received along with my ordination was the attestation to the world that I was indeed an ordained minister.  That card gained entrance for me into jails and provided free parking for me at hospitals.  Several years ago, my card was stolen along with my wallet.  Since the ministry/church that ordained me was no more, my card was irreplaceable. With tongue-in-cheek, and minus official proof, I ask am I still ordained? 

 Where did the pattern for today’s ordination ceremony come from?  It came from the way the Romans appointed men to civil office.  Man, not God, instituted the ceremony.  The main accomplishment of ordination has been to separate the clergy from the laity by these two words that are not found in the New Testament.  When we make the “ceremony” into the conferring of ministerial or clerical powers of one Christian over others, we’ve missed the meaning entirely.  In the first century, pastor/shepherds were not set above the rest of the flock but were simply those who served among the flock.  In his book, Pagan Christianity, Frank Viola says, “Whether it be the priest in Catholicism or the Pastor in Protestantism, the result is the same:  The most important ministry is closeted among a few ‘special’ believers.”  He adds, “eminent scholar James D. G. Dunn put it best when he said that the clergy-laity tradition has done more to undermine NT authority than most heresies!” 

   The fellowship of the gospel should exist unhindered by either clergy or laity throughout the Body.  Confusion is introduced when titles and other imposed distinctions are knowingly or unknowingly created.  Whereas Webster’s Dictionary  (1898) defines “ordain” as “to invest officially with ministerial or priestly authority,” it adds, “to set apart for an office; to appoint.” The latter is the most recognized definition, and it supports the status of professional clergy. However, it just isn’t accurate.

   What are the qualifications that man recognizes for ordination?  I believe we still acknowledge the Call of God on a person’s life, even though to some it’s a call to an occupation or a career.  A church looking for a pastor will also look closely at the seminary or Bible College from which he or she graduated and the degree(s) received.  Now we must ask, what is the single source of authority that God emphasizes in His Word?  His Anointing!  God chooses leaders/ministers, and they are recognizable without a ceremony.  The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) says in Exodus 40:15 regarding Aaron’s sons—“. . .and it shall be that they shall have an everlasting anointing of priesthood, throughout their generations.”  New American Standard says the anointing is, first of all, to minister to the Lord, and “their anointing shall qualify them for a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.”  The word “perpetual” is simply that which continues indefinitely without interruption and lasts or endures forever.  Do you see the application to the new royal and holy priesthood about which Peter wrote?  (I. Peter 2:5, 9).   That’s you and me! 

   The Berkeley translation of II. Cor. 3:5-6 reads, “. . .our sufficiency is God-given.  And He has called us to be ministers of a new covenant.”  All of God’s people are those ministers.  Martin Luther in his treatise entitled, “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church” said he was opposed to the invention of human fictions since ordination was not divinely instituted.  While he had no controversy with ordination, per se, Luther questioned the church’s institution of the rite as an article of faith and as a sacrament when it can only be God alone who gives a promise of grace by the Holy Spirit.  He pointed to this “sacrament of ordination” as consisting of the very “roots of that detestable tyranny of the clergy over the laity.”  He questioned the promotion of external anointing—consecration of hands, right to wear certain vestments, etc.—as being the vehicle by which the “clergy” is exalted above the remainder of "lay" Christians. Luther concluded by saying, “here Christian brotherhood has perished, here shepherds have been turned into wolves, servants into tyrants, churchmen into worse than worldlings.”

   The conclusion of the matter is that all that have been baptized are equally priests and decide for themselves exactly what ministry has been committed to them.  Most of the Body of Christ has adopted some of its ordination and ceremonial ideas from unbiblical or false origins.   What shall it be?  Does the present-day ordination ceremony acknowledge sufficiently the need for an inborn, inbred ordination of His anointing?  Can I have both?  To be ordained or not to be ordained—that is still the question.  How will you decide?  

(Your responses to this editorial will be welcomed, and some will be posted.  Send your replies to barbara@godswordtowomen.org.)     

What’s Happening
 on the Web?

The new articles for this quarter are outstanding.  Happy Reading!

 Want to know if something is on the website?  Try out the new search engine.  You can access it at the top of most pages.

Uncovering the Covering Doctrine,  by Cheryl McGrath from Australia. We have been impressed with other articles from her pen but this one is not to be missed.  This article is long but worth your time.  Cheryl brings both a strong educational background and years of experience to her topic.  Her stated purpose is to shed some light on this issue based on scriptural truth.

The Choice:  Truth or Tradition, Understanding the Difference Between Biblical Womanhood and Feminism   by Susan C. Hyatt.  This article is taken from Dr. Hyatt's dissertation .  It helps us see that biblical womanhood goes far beyond even standard evangelical concepts and certainly is not secular feminism.

  

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 BY KATHARINE BUSHNELL

THE GOD'S WORD TO WOMEN WEBSITE IS IN THE PROCESS OF PRODUCING A  BEAUTIFUL NEW REFORMATTED EDITION OF GOD'S WORD TO WOMEN BY KATHARINE BUSHNELL.  

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WINGS WERE MEANT TO FLY

by  Joe Swezey

The picture described below was given to Jo Swezey at a retreat last fall.  We wanted to share it with you.  Joe and her husband Walt  lost her mother, their home, and their son's home in the tornados in early May.  Please keep them in your prayers.  

Several hens in a large, fenced area were contentedly picking through the dirt, clucking as they slowly wandered around.  Suddenly, however, one of them realized she had wings and began flapping them.  To her amazement she was propelled into the air 5 or 6 feet off the ground, when her male caretaker noticed and pulled her back down by the foot.

   In sequence, two others followed suit...only to be brought down like the first one had.  Finally, there was one old hen who was determined to fly over the fence to freedom.  Mustering up all her strength, she flapped her wings furiously.  Up and away she went, about 8 ft. high in the air.  Freedom seemed imminent until her caretaker caught sight of her.  Springing upward, he barely snatched her by one toe, but it was enough to bring her down too.  Then, all the hens resumed picking around in the dirt, just like they did before they tried to escape.  My heart was saddened.

   EXPLANATION:  I believe that the hens represent mature women of God.  The wings stand for the ministry of the Spirit while the foot has to do with one's walk or destiny.  The fence symbolizes man-made restrictions or religious traditions which have restrained women from serving God freely.  

   COMMENT: You can't keep a good woman down...wings were meant to fly.  If  at first you don't succeed, try again. 

Lovingly, Jo Swezey

GWTW ADDITION FROM GAY ANDERSON:  Notice, in Jo's article, the "caretaker" is MALE and typifies the male headship and counterfeit covering over many women. The "caretaker" guarded very carefully to see that chicken never flew out from his control; after all, she was female. The first time she attempted to fly above her circumstances, she was caught and SNATCHED back into her "place" as a female. The second time, it was only a small thing - being caught by her toe, which of course speaks of her walk and the reality that many women have been hindered in their walk by the "small" things that perform such destructive work; keeping them in bondage to man rather than freedom in the Spirit.  Remember our Lord says, "Catch the little foxes that destroy the vineyard."  

GWTW Today 

by Pat Joyce

   God's Word to Women has now been on the net for six years. We started the newsletter four years ago to give ourselves a place to share what the Lord was impressing on our hearts.   

   If I thought we were a bit radical then, it seems that we are more so now.  I don't like negatives.  I prefer to praise rather than correct or oppose.  Yet it seems that we consistently point to error and push for change.  I comfort myself with the reminder that Jesus was more than radical.  When I look at the gospels I find Him lovingly pressing us to turn from the world and conform ourselves to the kingdom.  

   If we are to preach the gospel of the kingdom and not some other gospel, the areas that deviate from His truth must be addressed.   We ask you to pray that the Lord will continue to lead us and guide us that what we write and post will be by His Spirit.

   God has truly blessed our efforts.  As I write the website is accessed over 2000 times a week. What amazes us is that we get hits from all over the world.  Countries include India, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Israel, Iran, North Korea, Japan, Philippines, Australia most of Europe, about 6 countries in Africa and many others.  Our weakest area is South America.  Please pray for more impact there.  The newsletter list is over 1000 and growing.

   On the more personal side.  All three of us have read three of Frank Violas' books in the past few months.  We highly recommend them.  They are Rethinking the Wineskin, Who is Your Covering, and Pagan Christianity.  He too, is calling us to find and consider where our traditions have replaced the gospel.

   Obviously we are stressing a deep look into the doctrine of covering.  While accountability is part of what makes us grow, it must not replace the direct counsel and relationship with the Lord.  Jesus warns over and over, we must learn to hear and know His voice.  Check out the scriptural standing of the doctrine by looking at Cheryl McGrath's article or by getting Viola's book.

   We have shared a bit about ourselves in "Who We Are," but I thought you might like a something a bit more personal.  

   I am looking forward to a visit from my daughter and granddaughters from Canada.  I'll get to keep the girls for a month and then take them home.  On the way we'll  visit our son and his kids in west Texas so the cousins can have some time together.  Then on to see my husband's mom in Casper--a quick visit to Mt. Rushmore and then back to Snow Lake in northern Manitoba.  It is so beautiful there!  God is good--life is fun.  

   Gay Anderson's fantastic son and his awesome wife have recently moved back to Eagle Lake, where she lives.  They, too, are deeply committed to the Lord.  Gay now has almost daily fellowship with them sharing food for the body and the spirit.   She already has her daughter nearby.   I'm a bit jealous.   

    By the grace and calling of God, Barbara Collins is taking care of her elderly aunt who was widowed last fall.  Her aunt has Alzheimer's.  Barbara has been blessed to find someone who will stay with her on weekdays and a couple of nights but she is on duty the other nights and  weekends.  Her precious husband, Phil, supports and takes over one night a week and even other times as well to give her a break.  We covet your prayers for this time in her life.

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Government of the Garden, by Cindye Coates,  proposes that if we look to Genesis, we will find the original blue print of how God designed Kingdom Order and a Redemptive Government! The key word here is redemptive; needed since traditional church government remains a fallen hierarchal system and Jesus has redeemed us from the fall.