• June 7th, 2020

Jan's Corner: Authorised Ministry

Following the readings, the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN), is advocating for the regulation of churches by limiting the establishment of churches to those who meet basic criteria, including basic theological training of religious leaders. According to CCN, if a pastor wants to establish a church, he or she should have some form of training from a recognised bible school. It has been noted that some pastors come from outside and setup branches in Namibia while their main branch is elsewhere.

For centuries, peer review or certification, as it is called, has been the rule in authorising the practice of the three great-learned profession- medicine, law and ministry. Let us put the following question forth: Would you trust a politician to determine the competence of your physician? Or on the other hand, would you accept your physician’s own unsubstantiated word on the question? 

No, instead of either most of us would insist upon some sort of review. We can understand why certified competence is vital in the practice of medicine: the patient’s very life is at risk. And in the hands of an incompetent attorney, clients could end up with a fine or worst. But what harm can an unqualified religious leader do? And how is ministerial competence to do determined, anyway?

During my studies at the University of Zambia, our Professor in Social Worker and Development (Prof. Aguffu from Ghana), always posed this question to us as students, “Who decides and which spectacles did you use?” This statement reminds me that education is the first prerequisite to the three great learned profession- medicine, law and ministry. 
Later on, a formal professional education became the norm. even then, however, a diploma was not deemed sufficient proof of competence. Physicians still have to be certified, attorneys have to pass the bar, and pastors had to be ordained. A practical example, Zambia is busy with regulatory frameworks under the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Affairs to ensure that Religious Leaders belong to a recognised body. Furthermore, in Rwanda, the Government has already started with the implementation of basic criteria for religious leaders which includes basic theological training.

But what has anyone has to lose at the hands of an unauthorized Minister? When Martin Luther extolled the priesthood of the believer, he intended to remove all human intermediaries between the individual Christian and God. But he never meant that any layperson could baptize, or bless the elements of Holy Communion. Precise modes and standards of professional education have always been in dispute-not only in the ministry, but also in medicine and the law. But whether one study under the guidance of a mentor, or enrolled for three or more years in a formal course of study, there was only one way to be authorised to practice: Review and Approval by professional bodies within the field.

According to Dr. David Lewis Beebe, a church historian, in ministry there is even a further element: “the fact that to be ordained means to be under “orders.” According to this understanding, pastors are not freer than doctors or lawyers to begin their practice.
Because Christ Jesus is the head of the churches, therefore, outside the church there is no ordained Ministry!

* (Reverend Jan. A. Scholtz is a holder of Diploma in Theology, B-Theo (SA), a Diploma in Youth Work and Development from the University of Zambia (UNZA), BA (HED) from UNISA
This article is written in his personal capacity.

New Era Reporter
2019-03-06 10:32:32 | 1 years ago

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