This is the third installment in a multi-part series on what it means to be a part of the ekklesia – the assembly of believer – the local body of Christ; and how it is to be ruled: by despotism or the Spirit.
Today, I summarize a section of John Theodore Mueller’s Christian Dogmatics, which is a very authoritative source of information regarding Orthodox Confessional Lutheranism. The information summarized here comes from the chapter entitled, “THE DOCTRINE OF THE PUBLIC MINISTRY” beginning on page 563. We look specifically at section 5. THE CALL INTO THE MINISTRY.
Meuller distinguishes between a immediate call and a mediate call. The immediate call is the internal work of God through the Holy Spirit on the minister’s heart, without any intervention on the part of men. The mediate call has God as its author, but is mediated through the agency of men. The Scriptures the author gives to defend the two-fold call are too numerous to list.
Since the mediate call is extended through men (the Church), we must consider also the question who the men are by whom God duly calls His ministers. The Romanists claim that only the Pope has authority to create bishops and their assistants. The Episcopalians teach that ordination by the bishop confers the highest orders. …However, Holy Scripture ascribes this power to call to all true believers, since to them Christ has entrusted the Office of the Keys, Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor 5:4 [etc]. Christ’s Great Commission, Matt. 28:19-20, was meant not only for the apostles, but for all Christians; for He states expressly: “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” By virtue of their spiritual priesthood all believers “unto the end of the world” possess the inherent right to preach the Gospel and to administer the Sacraments [a good Baptist would say Ordinances]. Since, then, all Christian believers are entrusted with the means of grace, it is their privilege to call pastors, or ministers, who in their name publicly apply the means of grace. Cf. Luther: “That some are chosen form the multitude is done for the reason that they, as representatives of the congregation, should administer and execute the office, which they all have.”
Note: I am not all that informed on Lutheran theology, but it would seem that Dr. Luther had a view of the priesthood of the believer as Scriptural and robust as the best of the Baptists have traditionally had.
After a few notes regarding the authority of “local churches” to call ministers, versus a higher governing authority, Dr. Mueller address a few Popish objections. One of which includes:
(a) Not local churches but apostles ordained elders (Acts 14:23, Tit 1:5) – says Luther, “.. he, after the example of the apostles, appointed them after their election by the people…”.
- Mueller points out that in Acts 14:23, xeirotonesantes, suggest calling of elders by a popular vote – raising of hands.
- Secondly, Acts 6:2-6 indicates the “whole multitude” elected by popular vote certain ministers.
- See also 2 Cor 8:19
Mueller concludes the section by stating:
…they are elders and bishops (ministers, pastors) not through any “apostolic succession” nor through any “self-propogation of teh clerical estate”, but solely by virtue of the call which they have received from their churches. In other words, it is alone the divine call extended to them mediately through the local congregation that makes them “fellow-elders” of the apostles.