Thursday, July 19, 2007

Job Descriptions

My training incumbent and I are meant to come up with some sort of working agreement so its useful to be reminded of some sort of job descriptions by Calvin:

“As to the pastors, whom Scripture sometimes calls elders and ministers, their office is to proclaim the Word of God, to instruct, admonish, exhort and censure, both in public and private, to administer the sacraments and to enjoin brotherly corrections along with other elders and colleagues.”

(Articles concerning the Organization of the Church and of Worship at Geneva proposed by the Ministers at the Council January 16, 1537 Calvin, John, Calvin: Theological Treatises Library of Christian Classics Volume XXII, Translated with Introduction and Notes by J. K. S. Reid (London, SCM Press, 1954))p58)

“The office proper to doctors is the instruction of the faithful in true doctrine, in order that the purity of the Gospel be not corrupted either by ignorance or by evil opinions. As things are disposed today, we always include under this title aids and instructions for maintaining the doctrine of God and defending the Church from injury by the fault of pastors and ministers. So to use a more intelligible word, we will call this the order of the schools.

The degree nearest to the minister and most closely joined to the government of the Church is the lecturer in theology, of (p62) which it will be good to have one in Old Testament and one in New Testament.

But because it is only possible to profit from such lectures if first one is instructed in languages and humanities, and also because it is necessary to raise offspring for time to come, in order not to leave the Church deserted to our children, a college should be instituted for instructing children to prepare them for ministry as well as for civil government.” (p63)

I think it’s a bit tricky to find “doctors” in the New Testament. It helps if one takes “pastor-teacher” in Eph 4 as two separate offices. Perhaps its better to think that all ministers of the gospel will have a pastor-teacher ministry, but some may be further over on the scholar / theologian side while some may be more the shepherd / leader sort?

Its interesting to note Calvin’s emphasis when it comes to the purpose of education too: not so much so that you can get a good job but “in order not to leave the Church deserted to our children” and “for instructing children to prepare them for ministry as well as for civil government.”

“There were always two kinds [of deacons] in the ancient Church, the one deputed to receive, dispense and hold goods for the poor, not only daily alms, but also possessions, rents and pensions; the other to tend and care for the sick and administer allowances to the poor. This custom we follow again now for we have procurators and hospitallers.” (p64)

Interestingly, there are also two kinds of deacons in the Church of England: transitional and permanent. And then there’s the whole question of deaconesses too.

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