Friday, May 16, 2008

historic questions

nicolas poussin - "the ordination" 1647

two weeks from today i will be getting ordained into the united methodist church as an elder. as i have written about previously, this is the result of a very long journey full of hard work and affirmation, joy and grief, inspiration and frustration. and there are still a couple of small steps yet to go before it is finalized. one of those small steps is that i will be asked the 'historic questions' before ordination. these are questions that have been asked of those being ordained as methodists since john wesley. in that sense, they bear a great deal of significance in terms of connecting me to a long history of elders in this church. on the other hand, many of them are quite dated and reflect a different culture, a different time, and a different way of living. here they are, for your reading pleasure:

1. have you faith in Christ?

2. are you going on to perfection?

3. do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?

4. are you earnestly striving after it?

5. are you resolved to devote yourself wholly to God and his work?

6. do you know the General Rules of our Church?

7. will you keep them?

8. have you studied the doctrines of the United Methodist Church?

9. after full examination, do you believe that our doctrines are in harmony with the Holy Scriptures?

10. will you preach and maintain them?

11. have you studied our form of Church discipline and polity?

12. do you approve our Church govenernment and polity?

13. will you support and maintain them?

14. will you diligently instruct the children in every place?

15. will you visit from house to house?

16. will you recommend fasting or abstinence, both by precept and example?

17. are you determined to employ all your time in the work of God?

18. are you in debt so as to embarrass you in your work?

19. will you observe the following directions?

a)be diligent. never be unemployed. never be triflingly employed. never trifle away time; neither sppend any more time at any one place than is strictly necessary.

b)be punctual. do everything exactly at the time. and do not mend our rules, but keep them; not for wrath, but for conscience' sake.

so these are the questions i have to answer two weeks from today. we spent some time with the bishop of our conference yesterday going over them one-by-one, unpacking them and understanding their application for us as church leaders at such a time as this. at the very least these questions serve as a reminder that i am joining a long line of leaders, many of whom have gone before me and paved the way; and possibly much more: that i am answering a very serious call that does not just demand my attention from monday to friday 9-5. this is a call that demands my all, asks that i give my best, and pushes me to work at it for the rest of my days.


Emoly said...


Seriously, good luck with that. I will look at my pastors with more awe and reverence then I might have before.

It's probably pretty easy. I mean, everyone knows the right answers. But when you add in your morals, can you truthfully answer those questions.


pete s said...

Was John Wesley ordained as a Methodist, or as an Anglican? I thought it was only the latter, but I understand that it could also be the former.

How on earth did the UMC and ELCA agree to full clergy swappage?

2: After I die and am united with Christ, sure.
3: No way. I only expect to confess my sins and receive forgiveness.
4: Does God love me any more or less because of what I do, or does God love me because of the blood of Jesus?

Ooh, here's my favorite:

18: Yes, because seminary costs so damned much.

Sorry to be annoyingly Lutheran these days.

greg. said...

pete, the answer to 18, for all of us being ordained is, of course, yes. again, the questions are from another time and require some exegesis.

as to the issue of perfection, it doesn't mean what we tend to think of as perfection. remember, the king james told us to "be perfect as i am perfect." so, in that sense its pretty scriptural. and wesley would not argue that it is only by the grace of God. he would just argue that once that grace was understood, it would necessarily lead to acts of mercy and love. that is the perfection the questions are asking about.

as to his denomination, he was an anglican, as you thought. but he began ordaining methodists.