Monday, February 19, 2007

The Definition and Foundation of the Pastoral Office

My last post and the Bible study I am in the midst of regarding the Office of the Keys has sparked thoughts and questions beyond that specific realm. As was certainly hinted at, the public use of the Keys presupposes the Office that administers them, even though they properly belong to the Church, in a primary sense. I know that in addition to answering the obvious questions about confession and absolution and the need for such, I am also going to have to explain and teach the class about the scriptural foundations of the Office as well. Yet how many have honestly thought about the true scriptural foundations for the Office of Pastor?

Any one who has studied the background of the pastoral office well knows the diversity that exists in the church catholic. Lutherans have always confessed that the Office is singular and that all other offices in the church are auxiliary and find their reason in connection with the one Office. Catholics, Episcopalians, Orthodox and others naturally follow a more diverse path, staring with the apostles and ending up with a basic three-tiered hierarchy.

For those interested in a Lutheran discussion of this topic that centers on the Confessions themselves, I would recommend going over to the blog site Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. They are currently engaged in a round table discussion of the definition and foundation of the Office.

It would seem that the church is torn these days between a functional view and the nature of the office as one who represents Christ. Unfortunately large mega churches have not helped, creating a new order of CEO and "rancher" to administrate their sprawling campuses and numerous "ministries." We need to return back to the apostles and rediscover from whence this office came. We need also to return to our own confessional documents to see how our Lutheran forefathers worked through these very questions centuries ago.


The Heresy Hunter said...

Shouldn't we have the office of bishop in the Lutheran church, as they used to have? They would certainly trump the brand of bishop you see in the TBN crowd!

D. Engebretson said...

Personally, as like the early Lutherans, I have no problem with the office of Bishop as an organizational arrangment. In fact, I would like to see our District Presidents more like Bishops (churchly, pastoral), than as corporate CEOs. Unfotunately Stephan blew it for Missouri.