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quod pro nobis traditum est

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

the Spirit's work

Although not surprising, in many ways the origin of the ministry has been lost among Lutherans. This may be due to emphasis on auxiliary offices and ministries, doubt in the pastoral ministry, or surprise expressed when it is discovered that the confessional writings grant that ordination may be called a sacrament. In short it may simply be the adoption of a general culturally influenced view which sees the ministry merely in functional terms. Hence, the related erroneous supposition that the ministry arises from a vote of a local assembly, that is the authority of ministry is man-made.

For pastors who are put on the defensive because of the confusion caused by these views and/or by those who clearly hold these types of views in a dogmatic fashion against their pastors, there is encouragement that the pastoral ministry is neither man-made nor apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. First, it may be added that the pastor still has the Holy Spirit given him in Holy Baptism. However, in terms of the peculiarity of the ministry, among the many God-given vocations, there is the peace which the risen Lord gave to the Apostles and the gift of the Holy Spirit he gave them for the retention and the forgiveness of sins (John 20). Also, there are Paul's words of encouragement to Timothy where the young pastor is reminded of the "gift of God" he received when the Apostle put his hands upon him (2 Timothy 1; i.e., ordination). The Holy Spirit of the risen Lord is passed on through the laying on of the Apostle's hands. Indeed, this is a Scriptural phenomenon that may not be easily discounted.

Although Lutheranism is weakened by the loss of the knowledge of the origin of the ministry among us it is encouraging for pastors to know that we need not look to others for assurance when the origin is from the Lord himself and the ministry itself is the Spirit's work. Considering that this gift involves the retention and forgiveness of sins then it is no wonder the reformers said it may also be called a sacrament.