How does one approach the idea that the holy ministry is not of divine origin? This idea, apparently and expectedly of secular origin, is also advanced by a group here and there among us. We expect ideas such as this to be of secular origin. When they are found among us they are opportunities to revisit what we have received.
No one questions the humanity of those who are called and ordained. Yet God still uses men such as Peter to carry on His ministry and through them blesses His work.
Scripture shows the same Jesus instituting holy baptism and the holy supper and then, in post-resurrection glory, breathing his Holy Spirit on his apostles with the charge of advancing the forgiveness and retention of sins for the sake of His Church. Before His Ascension into heaven, Jesus leaves His apostles with both a mandate and a promise. There are many other instances where Jesus advances His ministry among the apostles for ongoing work among people.
Is this divine work? This depends on how one looks at Jesus. Is he mere man? Is he a divine man who acts divinely on some occasions and then humanly on others? For instance, when instituting baptism and the sacrament of the altar does he act on a divine basis and then when instituting the ministry does he act only on a human basis? If Jesus is both divine and man, how do we know when he is working divinely and when he is merely working as man?
Christianity doubts neither the divinity nor the humanity in the one person of the Son of God. For the Christian, this effectively answers the question posed above. The ministry is no less of divine origin than the blessed sacraments because they originate from the same source, Jesus of Nazareth, "the only-begotten Son of God . . . God of God, Light of Light . . . who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man . . ." This means too that the work of salvation on the cross is of divine effect.
The divinity of Christ may appear preposterous to the secular mind. This is to be expected. Equally preposterous is the above idea, advanced by some Christians themselves, of a ministry that is not of divine origin. A more pertinent question considered among us may be whether or not the ministry follows in the tradition of the apostles.