Women in ordained ministry? Anabaptists baptizing one another privately? Calvin & Clark weigh in.

“Now since this charge [the Great Commission from Matthew 28] is expressly given to the apostles along with the preaching of the word, it follows that none can lawfully administer baptism but those who are also the ministers of doctrine. When private persons, and even women, are permitted to baptize, nothing can be more at variance with the ordinance of Christ, nor is it any thing else than a mere profanation.” [1]

“By divine institution, they are public, ecclesiastical sacraments, to be administered publicly by the visible, institutional church. . . . A king is an office. Jesus is, in distinct ways, King over the church and the world. As King over the church, where he exercises his special, saving providence, he has instituted offices and sacraments. He has not empowered all the people to do everything. . . . So, no, the laity may pray, give witness to their faith and to the faith, and serve Christ and his church in many ways, but administering the holy sacraments is not one of those ways. Christ has instituted an order in his church, the embassy of the Kingdom of God to the world.”[1]

Calvin and Clark urges the church today to return to Scripture to test our doctrine of ordination. To whom did Jesus give the keys of the kingdom? To whom did Jesus give the call to preach the Word? Who do we see baptizing in Scripture? Though our democratic society has coached us in egalitarianism, perhaps it would be wise for us to return to Scripture (and church history) to consider once again who should be ordained and who should administer the sacraments.

[1] John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol. 3 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 385.

[2] R. Scott Clark; https://heidelblog.net/2022/08/should-lay-people-administer-the-sacraments/

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Jonathan Shirk

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