On The Eucharist: Why We Need a Presbyter at the Altar

The Rev. John Richardson, who blogs at The Ugley Vicar, recently wrote a post arguing, somewhat cautiously, for the Church of England to consider allowing lay people to preside at the Eucharist. Richardson is a very interesting blogger. His perspective often differs from mine, but he is usually well worth a read. In a follow-up post, he invites people to respond to his argument for lay presidency. So, though it comes as something of an aside in this larger series on the Anglican doctrine of the Eucharist, I thought I might give it a go.

Richardson’s argument appears to be that a kind of controlled lay presidency, in which certain lay people who have studied theology would be licensed to preside at the altar, would give the efforts of the Church of England at evangelization a shot in the arm. His position is bolstered by an argument for the equality of all Christians within the “priesthood of all believers”:

It has always seemed to me that the best argument for ‘priests, and priests only’ is the Roman (and Anglo) Catholic one: that priests are different in kind and can do different stuff. Once, however, you accept the notion of the ‘priesthood of all believers’, then rationalizations of the ‘priests only’ rule begin to look just like that.

The phrase “priesthood of all believers” is not found in scripture, but the general concept comes from 1 Peter 2 and a few similar passages. Peter says, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (verses 4-5). All Christians, including Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics, accept this. It is a basic Christian tenet. As those who have been united with Christ through Baptism, we are united with Him in every facet of His humanity. We are united to His crucifixion and His resurrection, as Paul explains in Romans 6. We are also united to His priesthood. Unlike the priests of an earlier era who needed to make sacrifices for their own sins as well as those of the people they served, we now have a great High Priest who never knew sin and who can, thus, make a single sacrifice that atones for all sin for all time (Hebrews 5:1-10). And in as much as we are one with Jesus, we too are priests. We too can, in this limited way, offer spiritual sacrifices, which is why, in the prayer book liturgy, we “offer ourselves to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.” We do this not under the strength of our own priesthood, but united under His.

Nevertheless, the Church has always set aside men to carry on the ministry of Christ to His people. This setting aside is itself begun by Christ when He breathes on His apostles, giving them the Holy Spirit and the ministry of forgiving sins (John 20). The Reformers often referred to this as the “pastoral office” or the “ministry of the keys,” after Jesus’ charge to Peter in Matthew 16:19 that He would give Peter “the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Rome has infamously asserted that this passage endorses the papacy since the keys are received by Peter, but the Fathers tend to argue differently, that Peter received the keys on behalf of the apostles and thus all bishops are in some sense successors of Peter. Either way, though, the contention that Richardson is making only makes sense if the pastoral office is not a separate office that men are called into by God but simply a role that any Christian can fulfill for any other Christian at any given time. A church having a pastor, then, is a convenience but not a necessity.

Richardson characterizes this as a Catholic vs. Protestant division, but it need not be. You do not need to believe in the Roman Catholic notion of ontological change at ordination—that the person ordained is irrevocably transformed into something different, imbued with a special marking at the level of his being—in order to argue that lay presidency runs counter to a biblical worldview. I use the word “presbyter” in the title of this post for precisely this reason. Even if you are uncomfortable with the sacerdotal implications of the term “priest,” you can still affirm the notion that it is only appropriate for those who have been properly called and ordained to be carrying out pastoral duties within the Church. And if sharing the Lord’s Supper is not a prime pastoral duty, I do not know what is.

Martin Luther and the Pastoral Office

In defense of his position, Richardson cites Martin Luther’s address to the Prague Senate, Concerning the Ministry, in which he says, among other things, that even women exercise a priestly ministry when they baptize, “for it is the greatest office in the church — the proclamation of the Word of God.” It is interesting to see Richardson make rhetorical use of this line from Luther since Richardson has become known through his association with Reform to be an avid opponent of women’s ordination. That said, what is most telling about this particular quotation is what Richardson does not include. Luther argues in this address, largely as a matter of rhetoric against papal ordination, that the power and authority of the ministry of the keys is shared by all Christians who may claim it as a right. Yet Luther simultaneously discourages lay Christians from acting on that right because the wider community has an even greater right to receive the Gospel by way of the pastoral office:

The community rights demand that one, or as many as the community chooses, shall be chosen or approved who, in the name of all with these rights, shall perform these functions publicly. Otherwise, there might be shameful confusion among the people of God, and a kind of Babylon in the church, where everything should be done in order, as the Apostle teaches [I Cor. 14:40]. For it is one thing to exercise a right publicly; another to use it in time of emergency. Publicly one may not exercise a right without consent of the whole body or of the church. In time of emergency each may use it as he deems best.

This is consonant with the Augsburg Confession which says that God instituted the ministry for the sake of passing on the Gospel and building the faith (Article V) and that “no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called” (Article XIV). Here we have exactly what Richardson has said does not exist, a purely Protestant argument which accepts the priesthood of all believers but still countenances the need for the Church to maintain an ordained ministry with normative authority over the administration of the sacraments.

Episcopal Exceptionalism

A much stronger case can be made, however, from a purely Anglican perspective. While Richardson makes the claim that Thomas Cranmer was in favor of a sort of lay presidency—a claim which I would be interested to see substantiated—it has to be acknowledged that our authoritative formularies leave no room for such a possibility. Article XXIII tells us that “It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.” The manner of this calling is clearly ordination, which Article XXXVII affirms as being after the manner found in the ordinal. And, of course, in the Ordinal we find that “No man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon in the Church of England, or suffered to execute any of the said functions, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted thereunto, according to the Form hereafter following, or hath had formerly Episcopal Consecration or Ordination.” Not only is it necessary for the man presiding at the altar to be one set apart for ministry, he must specifically be set aside for ministry by the ordination of a bishop.

Why is this necessary? Because the presbyter stands in the place of Christ amongst the people, receiving from God that which we need and giving to us the same. That is his office, which is to say nothing of his person. This is not a question of validity. It is a reasonably open question whether a Eucharist celebrated by a lay person would truly confer to the faithful the same Body and Blood of Our Lord as a Eucharist administered by a priest. Luther seems to think it would. But that is beside the point, both for Luther and for us. The question is not what is possible under duress. The question is what is appropriate and in the best interest of the Body of Christ. Given how muddied the understanding of the relationship between pastor and people has already largely become, a move towards regularized lay presidency would only further serve to disconnect people from the Gospel. The Augsburg Confession rightly points out that the ordained ministry was established by Christ Himself, given as a gift through which we may hear the Word preached and be drawn to faith. If God calls certain men to carry out this ministry, then it may just be possible for us to receive God’s Word in the way that God intends for us to receive it. But if suddenly every man becomes his own pastor, than the Word is heard by nobody. The ensuing chaos in the Anglican Communion if lay presidency were to become commonplace would make the last ten years seem like a day at the beach.

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About Fr. Jonathan

Your average traditional crunchy Christ follower with a penchant for pop culture, politics, and puns.
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27 Responses to On The Eucharist: Why We Need a Presbyter at the Altar

  1. R Lewis says:

    We have for long authorised lay people to publically preach the goeple as lay readers; and if there is a genuine equality of word and sacrament, then there is an argument to licence lay people to minister the sacraments

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      I think what you’ve actually done here is to make an argument for why we should not authorize lay preachers.

    • MichaelA says:

      Hi R Lewis, first just to let you know where I am coming from: I am a lay person in diocese of Sydney, very low church, calvinist (in the sense of absorbing Calvin’s “Institutes” and T C Hammond’s “In understanding be men”), PTC from Moore College, etc.

      My question is, why do we have to believe that there is “genuine equality of word and sacrament”? I have heard this point made a few times as a foundational reason for lay presidency, and I just don’t follow it. For example, I have never heard anyone say: “there is genuine equality of baptism and holy communion”, or “there is genuine equality of justification and regeneration”. They are each different concepts with different functions.

      In the same way, why are word and sacrament “equal”, and what is the scriptural basis for saying so?

  2. cymrucadog says:

    I hesitate to wade into this debate … not that I lack opinions (just ask my wife!) but because I do not consider myself sufficiently versed in either Scripture or church tradition to comment.

    Furthermore, my perspective has been formed from a decidedly not-Anglican body of experience: I only recently came to the Anglican Communion, after years of consideration and many more years of life in the protestant (so-called) evangelical community (n.b.: when I described myself as a “former evangelical” to my priest, he gently admonished that there are positive attributes to the label. Like, maybe, the good news of JESUS’ gospel … so once again and necessarily, I was humbled by my own hubris).

    Too many protestant churches have gone WAY too far in extending the title/office of “pastor.” Not too long ago, in most traditions, this was a special title, based in the NT word for “shepherd”. It was also directly tied to ordination, which even in the most congregational churches required the candidate to defend his faith before an ordination council and undergo the laying on of hands by those already ordained, in the presence of the church body.

    Why, therefore, should the office/title of “pastor” (or, in the present context “presbyter”) be little more than a job title, which may be conferred upon anyone deemed worthy — not by a council, nor by the community of faith — but merely on the preference of the “Senior” or “Lead” pastor?

    Yet, in today’s seeker-friendly churches, this is exactly what is happening in the conferring of the title “pastor” (shepherd). Seminary training (admittedly extrabiblical) and the recognition of an apostolic overseer (bishop) — extremely bibilical — are too often altogether absent.

    OK, so that is my soapbox. And it actually has only a little to do with why I, as an Anglican, hesitate at the prospect of lay administration of the sacraments. If I properly understand a conciliar approach to faith and practice — I must rely on the three-fold gift and premise of Anglicanism: that scripture, reason, and tradition will harmonize to guide us in proper administration of Christ’s church. This would, at the very least, give great pause to the lay administration of sacraments, except in extreme circumstances (which I believe both the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions recognize). Thus, I conclude that it is neither necessary nor advisable to confer broad sacramental authority upon unordained individuals, though doing so does seem terribly democratic and American. Which is further evidence that it is probably the wrong thing to do.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      I think you hit the nail on the head. “Pastor” is not just a title we can throw around as if it has no meaning. God calls pastors–Bishops and Priests and in a different way Deacons–to carry out a ministry of the Gospel that is represented not just in what the pastor says but in the pastor’s very existence. That there is a pastor set over us says something to us about the reality of God and our relationship with Him. When we subvert that principle, ironically out of a desire to evangelize, we actually make it more difficult for people to truly receive the Gospel.

  3. Joshua Bovis says:

    While I acknowledge that there is no Biblical prohibition for lay people to preside over the Eucharist, I think the notion of lay presidency is not a good idea for three reasons:
    1.Although it is not heretical, it is not Anglican in that it departs from the Anglican understanding of the threefold order of Bishops, Priests and Deacons and their respective roles. And this I believe will create a massive stumbling block for other Anglican brothers and sisters. If it harms a Christian brother or sisters conscience, to do this would be very unloving. For argument’s sake – just say that those who are wanting LP think that those who don’t are the weaker brother or sister, would not Romans 15:1 apply? By the way I am not suggesting that those are against lay presidency (myself included) are weak, but all of God’s people are obligated to strengthen, encourage and build up each other.
    2. I have noticed that those pushing for lay presidency are Reformed-Evangelical Anglicans. Yet there are many Reformed-Evangelical Anglicans who disagree with lay presidency and want nothing to do with it. If it causes division and concern amongst Anglicans of the same ilk then I don’t believe it is worth it. There are bigger hills to die on.
    3. I believe that Presiding over the Eucharist is an act of headship and therefore is to be reserved for the Ordained Priests/Presbyters of the Parish.

  4. R Lewis says:

    And I suppose Deacons too must be forbidden to preach since they do not preside; and unordained theologians ; and evangelists be forbidden the pulpit. But to be serious; we blunderingly discern the call of God in all sorts of people and all sorts of ministries; and the church has a work of order. These things are not in dispute. There is at lest a serious question whether some lay people have not received the gifts necessary to preside. I’d want a better answer to the question why not – given our flexibility on lay preaching – than the one above. Yours RL

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      “There is at lest a serious question whether some lay people have not received the gifts necessary to preside.”

      If a lay person has “received the gifts necessary to preside,” then there are two important questions that need to be answered. The first is, what is the point of ordaining anyone at all? If the gift of presiding is an inherent gift, having nothing to do with the receiving of the Holy Spirit at ordination, then ordination seems to be a rather useless enterprise. But if we are going to maintain ordination, then the second question becomes, if someone has gifts that seem to indicate that they could or maybe even should preside at the table, or preach from the pulpit, then why wouldn’t we ordain them? What is the point of having an entirely separate group of people in the Church who are neither lay or ordained but who fall somewhere in between?

      The point that I was trying to make above is that presiding at the Table is a significant expression of the pastoral relationship. If those who are not pastors preside in this way, it does damage to God’s intended order, just the same way that two people co-habiting do damage to that order. A man and a woman can live together in every way like husband and wife, fulfilling all of those roles, but without actually being husband and wife, they diminish, often unintentionally, the order that God has established. The same can be said of a church community with pastors who aren’t really pastors fulfilling the primary pastoral responsibilities.

  5. Andy Ryland says:

    This is a very interesting discussion indeed, and one that is alive in some parts of the Anglican Church. In particularly in rural areas where ordained people thinner on the ground. The question then comes do we just have services of the word, which seems to be disobedient to the words “Do this in remembrance of me”

    I also feel that in consideration of the issue of the weaker brother too often people seem to look to a brother who might come from a higher church tradition. However how about looking the other way for a moment and seeing the block to unity that not have having lay presidency has for other churches form the lower end of the spectrum.

    Whilst using the word lay I think we must also remember the origin of the word which is Laity or “People of God” and this relates to all God people and not a class or group within the body of Christ.

    I have recently read a book by Frank Viola which I do recommend, if nothing else to get us thinking about some of the issues. http://www.reimaginingchurch.org/ Reimagining Church

    A question I posed to another blog was what happens in the case of a Local Ecumenical Partnership with a Baptist Church, where a communion service could in theory by run by someone who was not ordained.

    Does this in fact mean that Lay Presidency is all ready occurring. It would be interested to hear from either Anglicans or Baptists form such LEPS.

  6. Mike says:

    You keep talking about the ‘altar’. We don’t have altars in the Church of England. We have ‘the Lord’s Table’.

  7. Joshua Bovis says:

    R Lewis,

    Perhaps a look at the Articles may be helpful?

    Article XXIII
    Of Ministering in the Congregation

    It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of publick preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have publick authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.

    Regarding lay preaching, according to the Anglican formularies (the Articles, BCP, and the Ordinal) there seems to be little room. Also the polity of Anglicanism is not democratic, nor is it congregational. Ordination I think affirms and confirms calling. Though I don’t think this rules out lay preaching, as Bishops can and do licence lay people to preach. The practice in the Anglican Church is that not every Tom, Dick or Harry can get up and preach, but that they must be licensed by the Bishop. In the diocese in which I am a part of, the Bishop takes this responsibility very seriously. For example a bishop licences a lay preacher because the Rector recognises that the Holy Spirit has equipped the man in question with the gift of preaching; he tell his bishop and the Bishop gives the licence.
    Perhaps other diocese are looser on the whole issue of licencing a lay preacher, I don’t know.
    The lay preacher is also under the authority of the Rector of the parish.
    My point is that the Anglican norm is ordained ministers are ministers of Word and Sacrament.

    Does this help?

  8. Eugene says:

    Hi, Fr. Jonathan,

    You mention that “priesthood of all believers” is not found in Scripture. I might mention that neither is “Real Presence” found in Scripture. “Real Presence” is not a concept that the early Church fathers found necessary to employ. Why does the Anglican Church then employ it?

    Eugene

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Hi Eugene,

      Wonderful to hear from you again.

      The reason I mention that the phrase “priesthood of all believers” is not found in scripture is merely as an aside. The concept, of course, is found in scripture, as I also mentioned. There are lots of phrases that we use rather commonly in the Church that do not appear in scripture. For instance, you will not find a single scriptural use of “the Trinity,” though we know that scripture reveals that God is Trinity. We should not be afraid to use words that are not in scripture to point to God’s truth, so long as the words we use describe what scripture actually reveals and not some concept of our own making.

      Along those same lines, while neither the Bible nor the Fathers use the term “Real Presence,” both speak volumes on the subject. In an earlier post in this series on the Eucharist, I went through both the scriptural and patristic arguments for the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. It only became necessary, of course, to explicitly say that we believe in the Real Presence after the sixteenth century when people started to deny it, but the same thing can be said in earlier centuries about the Incarnation, the Trinity, the Theotokos, and a host of other deeply important Christian doctrines.

  9. R Lewis says:

    I agree entirely that lay readers need to be called in due order and ‘sent’ by authority of their bishops to preach; that it in fact what we mean by a lay reader. Preaching by lay people in general is another matter. I have no objection to the view that ordained minsters of word and sacrament are the Anglican norm; I’m merely pointing out that with lay readers we have departed from the norm in a very significant way in response to specific pastoral needs. What I said at the beginning is that there is an argument for lay presidency along the same lines – ie that the notion deserves at least consideration rather than automatic dismissal
    And see next
    R Lewis

    • MichaelA says:

      Hi R Lewis. I am not meaning to pick on you. This is my second reply to one of your posts, only because you raise some interesting points!

      I don’t think we have “departed from the norm” by authorising lay preachers:

      I agree that the Book of Common Prayer specifies that Holy Communion is to be presided over by the Priest (an Old English term for the Greek “presbyteros” or elder). However, I can’t see anywhere in BCP where it is specified that preaching may be done only by the priest (or by an ordained minister for that matter). In fact, I think it clearly implies the opposite:

      The BCP contains numerous “rubrics” or directions about who may say what. However, there is never a requirement that the sermon must be delivered by an ordained minister. The services for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer do not deal with the sermon at all, and the rubric in the service for Holy Communion just says “Then shall follow the sermon…” – unlike most of the other rubrics, there is no stipulation that this must be done by the priest. Note also that the service for Evening and Morning Prayer specifically contemplate that there may be no priest present.

      So I suggest the “norm” is that lay preaching is possible, but lay presidency is not.

      NB, this doesn’t mean it was open slather in regard to lay preaching. The priest is the head of the congregation, and nothing can be done except by his authority, so lay preachers must be authorised by him, and the priest is accountable for what they teach.

  10. R Lewis says:

    As regards Fr Jonathan’s reply, I am quite happy to accept the account of the relationship between gits and ordination you lay out. But suppose a busy school principal, who cannot possibly commit to the standard of commitment to minstry laid out in the ordination service, is a member of a local church in a consortium of seven churches. They can currently become a lay reader. They cannot minister the sacraments; but they may well be licensed to adminster that rather unanglican beast, extended communion as its known in New Zealand.
    On the other hand the church can and does sometimes ordain headmasters in church schools although they may only preach twice a term and celebrate occasionally. And in fact the Anglican norm includes all sorts of chaplaincy situations where the description of Anglican ministry given above does not fit the bill. We end up using ordination because we are unwilling to think flexibly about the increasing complexity of pastoral situations that we face. Its all very well to appeal to the 39 articles; I wish it happened more often; but like every source of authority including the Pope, they have a wax nose. The society in which they were written was hierarchical not democratic; it was Tudor bureaucracy not a modern social (democracy? tragedy?). They liked forbidding things.
    The Vicar of a parish might well be able to say of their congregation; that one preaches better than me; that one is better spiritual director than I; that one is a far better evangelist; that one is a far better deacon; that one teaches in a way I cannot. And yet they can know they are the one called to be ordained, or to be the chief pastor of that congregation. What they cannot currently do is say, and that one could minster the sacraments in a way superior to me.

  11. Rev. Daniel says:

    A couple of random thoughts: The concept of the priesthood of all God’s people is often emplyed to argue against the necessity of ordained clergy, but this line of reasoning does not hold up Biblically. The concept of the priesthood of all God’s covenant people is not unique to the NT, but is also found in the Old Covenant (see Exodus 19:6) – the whole people were a priestly nation, yet only those set aside (ordained) as priests could offer the ritual observances of the temple (indeed, if I am not mistaken the consequences of non-priests usurping the ritual functions were grave). So if the OT community was a kingdom of priests yet nevertheless was commanded by God to maintain a set apart priestly order, the fact that the New Covenant people are also a kingdom of priests does not in any way argue against such an order existing. Quite the opposite in fact if we (as Wesleyans like myself do) believe in a basic continuity of the Old and New Covenants.
    Secondly, I think an argument can be made in favor of restricting sacramental celebration to the ordained based upon the Eucharistic theology of 1 Cor. 10 – we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. The sacrament not only signifies but also edifies the unity of the church. Because we must receive it at the hands of a bishop or those ordained/authorized by a bishop, it means that the community must gather together around the bishop or his authorized presbyter – the community must be in one place at one time to receive. This is one reason that no one can “follow Jesus without the church” since Jesus commanded us to “Do this” holy supper, and we must be present with a presbyter to do so. If every man could consecrate his own communion, think how chaotic that would be and damaging for the actual unity of a gathered body of Christians. This is I think similar to the point that St. Ignatius of Antioch was making about the necessity of heeding the bishop so as to keep doctrinal unity.
    Finally, though this may sound odd considering what I’ve just said – I wonder if a bishop were to license laymen to consecrate the sacrament if that would not be functionally equivalent to ordaining them? They would have been set apart for a sacramental (and therefore by necessity, pastoral) ministry – is that not essentially what ordination is (regardless of what ordination rite one uses)?

  12. RLewis says:

    You quote the article – It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same – in the first posting. The distinction made between preaching and minstering the sacraments is a party view in Anglicanism rather than core Anglican doctrine. At ordination we are given bible – expressive of the centrality of the word in the prdained ministry. So I am not presuaded by provoeging of the sacraments in this discussion.
    The point about headship is a good one. Nevertheless I doubt whether the maintenance of symbolic values should really trump genuine pastoral need, as long as there is proper oversight.
    Admittedly in the long run this would lead to theological reorientations; but its not as if we never have these.

    • MichaelA says:

      RLewis, you are correct that the Article does not make a distinction between preaching and administration of the sacraments. Rather, the Article lays down a general principle that such activities should be done with proper order and authority: by men “lawfully called and sent to execute the same”.

      But Anglican doctrine is not found in its entirety in the Articles alone, nor in the Ordinal alone. You and I cannot just create our own service, for instance. The Book of Common Prayer lays down the details of what is permissible in worship. It is in the BCP that we find the important details:
      (a) Any person may be authorised to preach;
      (b) Any “lawful minister” may baptise privately, but afterwards the priest must publicly ratify the fact of the baptism; and
      (c) Only the priest may preside over Holy Communion.

  13. Jeremiah C says:

    Great article. This is something that I have struggled with in my own thoughts. You lay out, what seems to be, a good argument for the ordained role in the eucharist. Thanks for that! I especially liked the point made through Luther that an unordained person could preside but that does not follow proper order. That is a deep reminder that the primary thing is the Word of God in regard to what makes a real sacrament, though maybe not fully valid (I think that follows).

    I think that there is a difference between preaching and presiding over the Eucharist, just as there is definitely a recognized difference between baptism and the Eucharist in that there are directions for an emergency baptism, but not for the Eucharist. There is the recognition that baptism gives something different in some degree than what the Eucharist does. I think that is found in the “one-time-ness” of baptism over against the recurrence of the Eucharist in our lives. You might could say that baptism gives binds us to Christ and the Eucharist maintains us in Christ. And yet, preaching is something that recurs as often as the Eucharist, but it can be licensed to a lay person. Again, maybe that difference is that preaching has more of a role of binding us to Christ and less of one of maintaining us in him. There is also something special that is happening in the Eucharist that does not happen elsewhere, that being the sacramental presence of Christ to be received through the bread and wine. That doesn’t happen anywhere else. That specialness of the Eucharist sets it apart and above everything else that is done and to me points out the need for a particular person set aside to do it.

    Some of the arguments that I have seen for lay presidency have rested on the lack of priests to consecrate and the need of the people to receive due to the specialness of the sacrament. That is truly a pastoral concern. People do need the bread and wine! However, the better answer seems to be to actually ordain people to do this, not create a new method for getting the sacrament to the people. If someone is good enough to be licensed to preside, why not just ordain them? I feel like you may have hinted at that in one of your responses above. It just seems like the best answer to me for solving the problem. But this is still something that I am working through, so I truly appreciate the post!

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Jeremiah, thank you for the note. Yes, I agree completely that there is not a logical reason why a person who has been prepared and deemed fit to be a lay presider couldn’t be ordained.

    • Brian says:

      Great post Jeremiah. As a relatively newly minted Anglican (1 year ago after almost 40 casting about various branches of Evangelicalism) these discussions are both interesting and instrcutive.

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