Neo-Monasticism, Lay Ministry, and Korah

dirt-crevice-1-1353922Monasticism was one of the very things that the Reformation fought against by teaching the truth of God’s Word about vocation over and against the self-chosen good works of the papist monks.  Well, almost 500 years later we are still struggling with that.  This is subtle at times and pretty obvious at other times.

In the Lay Ministry debate there are those who are claiming that the effort to make sure we follow Augsburg Confession Article XIV by having ordained men preaching, teaching, and administering the Sacraments is “Clericalist”.  Besides the obvious attempt to divide God’s people in classes rather than make distinctions in callings (aka doing for theology what Karl Marx did for politics), this reflects a “new monasticism”.  The new monasticism is an effort to make the pew pale in comparison to the pulpit.  That is not how God has made distinctions in His Church.

This effort to divide God’s people and erase distinctions is nothing new.  It is Biblical (well, in a way).  The rebellion of Korah is mentioned in Numbers 16.  Go ahead and read it.  There is nothing new under the sun.  Those seeking to divide God’s people and advocating class warfare should pay close attention to the ground beneath them.

Every time we try to erase the distinctions that God has given we end up diminishing both things that were distinguished.  So when feminism tries to “elevate” women, it actually shows it devalues women by trying to make them into men (or to be more “masculine”).  When hearers (using the Small Catechism Table of Duties distinctions in the Church) are elevated to become preachers, then the vocation of hearer is devalued.  In this way, the “everyone a minister” movement has done great damage to laity.

The Church has preachers and hearers.  Its a distinction, not a division.  The best place for you in the Church is right where God has put you.  If ordained (publicly recognized as having a call), preach and teach.  If God has made you a hearer, then listen and be the hearer.  Both are great God-given vocations in the Church.  Both have more than enough opportunity for good works unto our neighbor.

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