I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-40)

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Obeying the second greatest commandment becomes a lot clearer when it moves from the realm of risk and anxiety to a clear and present need. The next year might give most of us the opportunity to swallow our pride and help someone in need—whether that means helping someone who lost their job for not taking the therapeutics, or helping someone else who suffered unexpected side effects because they did.

My friend John has been encouraging me to read Michael Heiser, and perhaps I will sometime soon. I enjoyed this interview with Heiser and also this interview with Christopher Kou where he briefly mentions Heiser. This statement from Heiser struck me:

Stop presuming that there’s a spiritual battle only when you see something bizarre. You are being duped. You are being trained to only take the spiritual world seriously when something strange blows up in your face, or when you see or hear some strange story. That’s a distraction.

I also appreciated this Theopolis episode with Ken Myers, where he refers eloquently to the “worldlessness of faith and godlessness of the world.” Make postmillennialism great again!

Girard describes the church as the “scapegoat of last resort.” This leads me to think that, in a way, the Christian is the peak of intersectionality: the one identity that is the derision of every other identity.

I finished this week Elsie Anne McKee’s Elders and the Plural Ministry. She set herself the task of understanding Calvin’s doctrine of eldership in the context of both preceding and subsequent teaching. She summarizes her findings as follows:

The idea of offices in Paul’s lists of charismatic leaders, and the idea that some of these gifts are no longer present or necessary in the contemporary church, seem to twentieth-century readers the most difficult problems in the Reformed claim to base a plurality of ministries on scripture. In fact, however, neither of these issues appears completely new or even particularly remarkable, in view of the preceding exegetical tradition. There is no doubt that Reformed theologians, influenced by other non-scriptural factors, developed and adapted tradition. The same is true of their (more creative) predecessors. The Reformed school of interpretation is more striking, though, because of its coherence and its use of exegesis to serve a clear theological purpose.

What is probably the most innovative aspect of the Calvinist exegesis of Rom. 12:6-8 and 1 Cor. 12:28 is the lay status of certain ecclesiastical offices. Although this is commonly recognized as one of the most important features of Reformed teaching on the ministry, very few seem to realize that this is also the really shockingly new factor introduced into the interpretation of their biblical texts by Reformed theologians. Innovation does not mean, however, that there was no basis in the tradition for interpreting certain offices as non-clerical. The exegetical tradition of Rom. 12:6-8 and 1 Cor. 12:28 included the possibility of interpreting some of the names in Paul’s lists as civil rulers or temporal tasks, although most leaders and functions were read as ecclesiastical. This is particularly true of Romans, but some similar comments are found in the exegesis of First Corinthians. (190)

Here are some quotes she cited. I believe most of the translations are hers:

Governors [1 Cor. 12:28] were, I believe, elders chosen from the people, who were charged with the censure of morals and the exercise of discipline along with the bishops. For one cannot otherwise interpret his statement, “Let him who rules act with diligence” [Rom. 12:8, cf. Vg.]. Each church, therefore, had from its beginning a senate, chosen from godly, grave, and holy men, which had jurisdiction over the correcting of faults. (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.3.8)

For this purpose courts of judgment were established in the church from the beginning to deal with the censure of morals, to investigate vices, and to be charged with the exercise of the office of the keys. Paul designates this order in his letter to the Corinthians when he mentions offices of ruling [1 Cor. 12:28]. (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.11.1)

What are these [helps]? The care of the weak. Is this, I ask, a gift (charism)? Certainly, to protect and to distribute spiritual things is a gift from God. Moreover he also clearly calls many of our excellent actions “charismata”, not wishing us to be discouraged, but showing that we always need the help of God, and instructing us so that we may be grateful, thus making us more eager, and exciting our feeling for these good deeds. (Chrysostom, MPG 61.266)

He said “helpers”, and he understands deacons of the poor, i.e., administrators, or all those who assist in ecclesiastical business. However, Ambrose has called gubernatores those “who serve as an example to men to restrain them in spiritual and moral matters”, such ones as elders, presbyters, supervisors of Christian discipline, moral censors. (Bullinger, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles)

What single person could fulfill all these various functions of a good pastor? From the beginning of the church, therefore, the Holy Spirit chose to add to the administrators of Word and Sacraments (namely, the chief presbyters and bishops) also other men chosen from the body of the church, serious and skilled in the gift of governing, who would help the ministers of the Word to care for individuals, and to restrain them and encourage them in the teaching of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:28 (Bucer, De Regno Christi, 5.15)

In the letter to Timothy, also [Paul] distinguishes two kinds of presbyters: those who labor in the Word, and those who do not carry on the preaching of the Word yet rule well [1 Tim. 5:17]. By this latter sort he doubtless means those who were appointed to supervise morals and to use the power of the keys. (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1543 edition, 4.11.1)

We have already seen that St. Paul speaks of the elders who labor in the Word of God, and then he adds others, and says (of all of whom he speaks) that “they should preside well”. It follows then that there were elders who were not preachers, who did not have the office of teaching or announcing the Word of God. And what did they do? They watched over morals to rebuke those who sinned and to prevent public scandals, so that there might be an authority established on behalf of all the church. When there was some crime, such as tumult or quarreling or theft or fraud or violence or injury or fornication, these elders were to be vigilant to attend to such vices, as indeed the church had given them this supervision. Now seeing this is so, who among us will dare to oppose the order of the Holy Spirit? (Works of Calvin 53)

Let us note, as has been stated before, that it is an honorable office to govern the church of God. . . What then is this dignity? It is not the way of presiding which princes and lords have, but it is like a service. Let us glory then in serving the flock committed to us, because (as I have already mentioned) it is impossible for us to serve God unless we dedicate ourselves to the service of His people. But we must also know that honor is joined with this service. (Works of Calvin, 53)

To govern well His church, God wished there also to be people to govern, and that those should be elected who were of good and holy life, who had already acquired some authority and also had prudence to equip them for such a charge. (Works of Calvin, 53)

For God does not work the way men do. We on our side can elect one to hold the office of magistrate, another to be a preacher, but we cannot give them what is necessary (to do the job). For we do not create a new person of the one we raise to honor; he always remains what he was, as far as we are concerned. And when there is an election, each person votes. So, the one chosen is in office, but nevertheless he always remains the person he was. It is the same with pastors; we can well elect a man who will be more a beast. For we cannot make him be formed as he ought to be. But when elections proceed from God, and He presides over them, then there are gifts joined by an inseparable bond to the tasks. (Works of Calvin, 51).

Best Nextdoor post ever: I know this isn’t a copperhead.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 2, 2021 at 9:03 am

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