Saturday, July 25, 2009

C. Michael Patton and "Evangelical Apostolic Succcesion"

I've been intrigued by a number of posts from C. Michael Patton over at the Parchment and Pen. He has been advocating for an "evangelical apostolic succession." The nature of this succession is not a personal succession as you have in Roman Catholicism but a succession of teaching. There are several concerns that have prompted this bold proposal. One example is the ease with which someone today can obtain an ordination. Go online and with a couple of clicks your ordained. His comments are hard hitting but valid (these words follow an example he gave of someone who had their dog ordained!):

"Folks, this is serious stuff. And it is not really funny. There are many people out there leading God’s people who simply are not qualified in any way. They are running around starting churches. They are shepherding the flock of God. Ordination is serious business (or it should be). There has got to be a higher accountability.

If you want to be a minister, great. God speed. But be willing to go through the necessary training and approval process. Cracker Jack ordinations are immoral.

Evangelicals, this is happening in our communities. I know of a very well known evangelical church that has over 130 pastors without any training or what I would consider to be valid ordination. Yes, everyone is a priest and everyone is charged with the Gospel proclamation, but this does not mean that you are automatically within the succession of the Apostles’ teaching."

Patton's plea for an apostolic succession may seem idealistic to some. Others will see it as endemic to Protestantism: when all else fails, start another denomination. But Patton is clear he is not arguing for another denomination. This is much bigger and encompasses much of the Protestant community.

When I was in a class with Carl Henry he once remarked that we should "think in terms of what will move Christendom." I admit I don't do that way very much, well. . . okay, not at all. But I think Patton is and, idealistic or not, I appreciate his efforts. I like much of what he has to say and I share many of his concerns. Below are several links to some of these posts. I've tried to place them in chronological order as best I could determine. See what you think. Start with the post that most interests you.

What's Become of Evangelicalism? An Evangelical's Lament

Can I Just Start a New Tradition?

"Historic Evangelicalism": Characteristics of a New Christian Tradition

The Evangelical Epidemic of Theological Accountability and Discipline

Evangelicals: Let's Rethink Apostolic Succession

Why Evangelicals Need Apostolic Succession

More on Evangelical Apostolic Succession

On another note his article on "An Emerging Understanding of Orthodoxy" is one of the most interesting I've read on the maturing of Christian doctrine. (Don't be thrown by the word "emerging". It has nothing to do with the Emerging/emergent church.)

No comments: