Started by Brian Stoffregen, August 04, 2022, 01:53:14 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 04, 2022, 01:53:14 PMIn another discussion, Justin came up. More specifically, I became interested in the role of the "president" in Justin's First Apology. (He doesn't use "bishop" in any of his writings - at least as I have found.)The Greek word that is translated "president," in Justin, is προΐστημι (a perf. part. form) = lit. "having set before."BDAG defines it (with biblical references - some under both definitions):1. to exercise a position of leadership (1 Ti 3:4f., 12; 5:17; 1 Th 5:12; Ro 12: 2. to have an interest in (1 Th 5:12; Ro 12:8; Tit 3:8, 14)Biblically:It is something a bishop is to do (1 Ti 3:4f.) and deacons (1 Ti 3:12) and elders (1 Ti 5:17).It is something all believers are to do (Tit 3:8, 14).It may be seen as a particular gift of some people (Ro 12: The verses where it is found in Justin (all in First Apology):3There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. 4This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito [so be it]. 5And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. (65:3-5)3And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; 4then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. 5Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. 6And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. (67:3-6)Except for finances being deposited with the president (although many pastors have a discretionary fund to help the needy, our function as pastors hasn't changed much. However, the emphasis of deacons (not the president?!) taking communion to those who are absent isn't practiced as much as it seemed to be back then.
Quote from: Dave Benke on August 05, 2022, 09:18:39 AMThe World Council of Churches, with Bill Lazareth (+) doing the heavy lifting, published nearly 40 years ago the seminal work Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, which includes a good portion on the threefold office - bishop, presbyter, deacon - for use and guidance.
Quote from: Charles Austin on August 06, 2022, 04:13:45 AMThe New York Times, with a front page article by this humble correspondent on Jan. 30, 1982, was the first to report on the "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry" document because I obtained a copy of the report and convinced editors it was important. In retrospect, the BEM had less impact than expected. But it was the basis for many subsequent ecumenical agreements, especially, I think, among Lutherans. And BEM was an important part of ecumenical history. That news story follows, from the Times archive. Excerpts of the report were included on an inside page.The NYT story was published in many papers around the country and in the International Herald-Tribune.Christian Churches Act to Resolve Age-Old ConflictsBy Charles Austin An international panel of Protestant, Orthodox and Roman Catholic leaders has taken a major step toward resolving some of the theological disagreements that have divided the world's Christian churches for centuries. Meeting in Lima, Peru, the theologians endorsed a 16,000-word document - in preparation for more than six years - that encourages individual churches to recognize differing approaches to baptism, holy communion and ordination. ''It has built up a common ground that we have not had for centuries,'' said the Rev. Avery Dulles, a Roman Catholic adviser to the group. ''It is amazing how much we can say in common on these topics.'' The intent is to create a more tolerant climate among the churches, enabling them to express Christian unity with out insisting on any one form of Christianity as the only true form. The changes envisioned in the document would take decades, but if individual churches approved the agreement by their representatives, they would have a scholarly framework for what could ultimately be major revisions in their theologies and rites. A church that baptizes adults, for example, would continue to do so, but under the principles outlined in Lima it might also recognize the legitimacy of baptizing infants - and accept into membership someone baptized as an infant without insisting on rebaptism. Eventually, churches endorsing the principles would be likely to place greater stress on weekly celebrations of holy communion and to adopt an ordained ministry supervised by bishops. They would also accept as valid the rites and ministries of other Christian denominations and be able to commune freely at one another's altars. The meeting, of the World Council of Churches Commission on Faith and Order, was attended by more than 100 theologians appointed by their churches. It was convened at the direction of the council, which in 1975, after years of ecumenical discussions dating back to 1927, instructed the commission to develop a document that would express the emerging consensus. The commission meeting ended Jan. 16 with the unanimous approval of the new document, ''Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry.'' Previous versions of the theological statement had already been circulated among the churches for comment. American theologians involved in the process said the document was developed in closer consultation with churches than many previous ecumenical statements. ''These statements represent as close an approach to agreement among the major Christian confessions as we're likely to get,'' said Dr. Geoffrey Wainwight, a British Methodist who presided at the Lima meeting. Dr. William Lazareth, a Lutheran scholar from the United States who is director of the Commission on Faith and Order, said: ''We were thrilled that the group was clearly willing to set aside many private theological opinions in a common search. The statement overcomes many of the classical differences in dogma.'' The full text, with official translations in several languages, is to be released at the council's headquarters in Geneva later this year, but some copies became available as participants in the Lima meeting returned to the United States. The international ecumenical body will send the text to its 200 member churches and to the Vatican for official responses. The Roman Catholic Church, while not a member of the World Council, participates in the commission, which is the council's theological division. Churches are asked to respond to the consensus statement ''at the highest level of authority,'' and to explain how they view the ''consequences'' if they were to adopt the text. The churches will respond through general assemblies, conventions, synods of bishops or international meetings. The agreement reached in Lima could be a powerful stimulus for ecumenical dialogues going on throughout the world. On the question of baptism, the document seeks to reconcile longstanding controversies by endorsing both ''believer's baptism'' of those mature enough to make a profession of faith, and infant baptism. Both forms, the theologians said, ''embody God's own initiative in Christ and express a response of faith made within the believing community.'' Churches that practice infant baptism should guard against ''apparent in discriminate baptism,'' the document says, and churches that delay baptism until a more mature age might want to have a ritual that expresses ''more visibly the fact that children are placed under the protection of God's grace.'' Baptism is ''unrepeatable,'' the text says. It encourages churches to recognize baptisms performed in other Christian communions and avoid anything that might be interpreted as rebaptism. On holy communion, or the eucharist, the major form of Christian worship, the document draws on what Dr. Wainwright calls ''the past 50 years of renewal in sacramental theology among Protestants, Orthodox and Roman Catholics.'' Among other things, the statement formulates a theology that reconciles the central disagreement over whether the sacrament is a ''sacrifice'' that is repeated with each communion or a ''memorial'' that merely remembers the crucifixion of Jesus. Traditional Roman Catholic theology has used the term ''sacrifice,'' to describe the sacrament of holy communion, while most Protestants have contended that the rite is a ''memorial'' of Jesus' crucifixion. Both terms have validity, the document says, and the remaining differences in emphasis need no longer divide the Christian community. The eucharist is the ''unique sacrifice of Christ,'' and at the same time is ''a memorial of all that God has done for the salvation of the world,'' the document says. Previously rancorous disagreements over how the churches explain the presence of Jesus in the bread and wine of holy communion could also be overcome, the paper says. All agreed that their churches ''confess Christ's real, living and active presence in the eucharist,'' although with varying emphases. Churches engaged in bilateral discussions with one another have occasionally reached this conclusion, but the Lima meeting marked the first time this convergence of teaching was agreed to by theologians from such varied Christian denominations. On the question of ministry, the document says an ''episcopal'' ministry, where bishops oversee the faith and doctrine of the church, best serves the unity of world Christendom. For the sake of the unity of the church and the preservation of doctrine, supervision of ministries by a higher authority, generally a bishop, is necessary, according to the final draft of the text. This ''threefold pattern of ministry,'' involving bishops, priests, and deacons, is common within Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and some other church bodies, but ''each church needs this ministry in some form in order to be the church of God,'' the document says. However, the theologians agree that the episcopal ministry is in ''need of reform.'' The consensus statement suggests that this type of ministry, even if not practiced in the traditional manner, is probably the best expression of historic Christianity. It urges churches who do not have an episcopal ministry to consider reinstituting it in some way. At the same time it asks churches with an episcopal ministry to recognize that ''other forms of the ministry have been blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit,'' and often retain the supervisory functions of bishops without the formal structures of the episcopal churches. If churches could agree on what constitutes a valid ministry and order, many other doctrinal problems would become secondary, said Dr. Wainwright. However, mutual recognition of ministers, even among churches that already agree on the structure of the ministry - such as the Anglican and Roman Catholic communions - has been one of the toughest problems confronting the ecumenical movement. Some shadows hang over the ministry section, said Dr. Paul Crow, ecumenical officer for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and a member of the commission on faith and order. Ordination of women, now being debated in many churches, is not discussed, Dr. Crow said, and ''the possibility of discussing the role of the papacy has only emerged in the past three years.'' The strength of the lengthy document lies in its ''theological integrity,'' said Dr. William Rusch, director of ecumenical relations for the Lutheran Church in America and a participant in the talks. ''Some points challenge individual traditions in all of our churches,'' he said. ''Nobody is going to be 100 percent satisfied, but everybody should be able to live with this expression of the faith.''-0-
Quote from: Dave Benke on August 06, 2022, 08:21:59 AMThanks for reprising that article, Charles. In terms of changes then-anticipated or at least hoped-for, in 1982 there was a sense of stability and continuation among the various faith communities. I think there's less confidence in continuity these days as the memberships have grown mostly older, leading to hardening of the theological arteries. Leaders at the level of Avery Dulles, Bill Lazareth and others in that group are hard to come by these days.