The ecumenical triumvirate is back and this time discussing authority. When Jonathan suggested the topic he thought that would just be talking about things like the hierarchy of the Pope or of Bishops or of Patriarchs and felt he would be able to stay under the radar within his own, sloppy, free-church, grass-roots context. Not so lucky.
The conversation moved to the question of one’s root of authority within the church and around ordination. Or in other words, what gives someone the right to preside over the table for Eucharist, or preach, or say whether or not someone is spiritually fit to be baptized or to take Eucharist.
What we find is that the church community is the place where authority is found, albeit in different ways. For some it is with that particular church community (the free church folks) that authority is given to be a pastor and for others it is with the broader church community in a very hierarchal sense (i.e. a Bishop) that authority is given. With both there is a real sensitivity towards discerning God’s calling and God’s will.
What this means is that authority is not claimed by an individual, but is given by the community whether it be a structured hierarchy or a local congregation. This makes authority relational by nature and when one breaks relationship with the community one’s authority as a clergy person comes into question. So be nice to each other!
Next episode: The rialage, scripture, and watcha’ into from this epic episode!