Today’s topic: Do you need to be ‘called’ to be ordained?
Why is it that many free thinking well-balanced churchgoing individuals (and others) suddenly adopt excessively spiritual language when they talk about ordination or becoming a minister? Much of this language revolves around ‘being called’ or ‘following ones calling’. There is a discussion thread on a well known Christian website entitled ‘Vocations and Walking the Discernment Path’, which is a splendid example of this absurd overspiritualisation of things.
I can understand, on one level, why such people talk this way. The belief that one must be ‘called’ to be a priest is right there in the ordination service:
The bishop turns to the ordinands and says:
Do you believe that God is calling you to this ministry?
I do so believe.
It seems to me though that the people who use these terms would never talk about other occupations in this same spiritual language. This tends to lead me to the conclusion that being ordained is a more ‘important’ role than doing anything else, a conclusion that doesn’t seem to be backed up by the Bible or my general understanding of things. Though I do not regard the latter as a particularly reliable source.
I’m not sure if I believe in the need to be called to an occupation before you do it. For one I don’t know what that says to the large percentage of people who do a job because it is a job and for no other reason. And also the requirement to be ‘called’ does not seem to be a teaching that I can find in either the Bible or my general understanding of things, the latter, as I have explained, being subject to unreliabilities, confusion and error.
PS I am not thinking about being ordained. Not least because my general understanding of things would lead me to answer ‘no’ to the bishop, at which point I would be ushered out by Security.