12 September 2012

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We vehemently disapprove of the anarchy and disturbance of those who remove ranking (ordo) from the ecclesiastical ministry, since it is a source of discord and of every evil. In our churches we retain ranking among ministers and decree that this must be retained, so that some are bishops, some are presbyters, some are deacons, etc.—Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry II, p. 19.


Phil said...


David Garner said...

Great quote. I'd quibble slightly, in that in translated English, I prefer the word "orders" over "ranking." The latter seems to suggest a hierarchy of importance, whereas the former merely suggests differing roles and an overall order to the ministry.

If anything, "ranking" would be descendent, from less servile to more. The bishop, in that sense, is the one with the most responsibility as a servant, not the most important or powerful cleric. For what it's worth.

William Weedon said...

Phil, yeah.

David, he clearly wipes out any sort of authoritarian approach to "ranking" in the surrounding material. It is clearly understood as an ordering for the sake of fulfilling the God-given tasks of the ministry.

Phil said...

The more I think about this quotation, the more curious I get...

President Harrison has made note of Walther's comment in Kirche und Amt:

"It was, of course, not our intention to present the doctrines of the church and office [Kirch und Amt] in their completeness. Whoever desires this will find such a presentation in the larger dogmatic works of the teachers of our church, among others, especially in the master works of men like [Martin] Chemnitz and [Johann] Gerhard."

Granted, Gerhard's Loci are extensive (read: long). However, one would think that Walther would have read this comment. Did Walther disagree with this statement of Gerhard? or did Walther think that Missourian polity somehow maintained the ranking/ordo of which Gerhard spoke? If so, what were the components of that ordo?

[scratches head]

William Weedon said...


I would think that Gerhard's comments could indeed apply to the LCMS ranking of SP/DP/Pastor. Yet, I will readily acknowledge experiencing a sort of cognitive dissonance in reading Gerhard and trying to see how Walther himself viewed fitting into that. Maybe the new translation of Kirche und Amt will provide some clues!