Thursday, August 29, 2013

FW: Martin Chemnitz' Church Order on Election, Examination and Ordination of Pastors




Feed: Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison
Posted on: Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:34 AM
Author: Rev. Matt Harrison
Subject: Martin Chemnitz' Church Order on Election, Examination and Ordination of Pastors



Chemnitz put together the Church Order for his Duke (Julius) for Braunschweig=Woelfenbuettel in 1568/69. We've been working on publishing this in English for quite some time (thanks especially to Jacob Corzine and Andrew Smith). Here's a nice section on the office of the ministry.


Pastor H. 



On ministers of the church, how they are to be received into service


Accordingly, no one should be called or appointed to be a pastor, preacher, chaplain, or other minister of the church, unless he first bring believable, appropriate testimony regarding his birth, ancestry, behavior, deeds, and what he has retained or avoided in doctrine and life. He must further also be first examined by our appointed theologians, first and foremost concerning the following necessary points, thoroughly, privately, and in Latin. Subsequently, in public, in the presence of our appointed theologians, he must be heard and approved of preaching a sermon. And, at any rate, things shall proceed regarding him and he shall be dealt with on the basis of the following regulations.


On the election and examination of minister of the churchs


It is true that, among all the offices that are laid upon mankind by divine order, no more difficult office is found than that of properly governing the churches of the Son of God. Thus should much more seriousness and diligence be applied in seeking a minister of the church as one may dangerously err if one commends a church to be governed by a man who is stained with false teaching or shamed with offensive and rude living. Thus we command that no one should enter into this divine office without a proper call. Accordingly, as often and as frequently as our appointed consistory should desire and appoint a minister of the church, they should primarily pay good diligent attention to three points:


First, to the doctrine of the minister of the church, what type of religious doctrine he has learned, and how he is inclined toward the true doctrine.

Second, to his life, how he, since his youth, has conducted his life, and what type of life he leads in the current time.

Third, to his age, whether he be too young, for Paul says [I Ti 5:22; 3:6], „Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands (that is, electing someone to church's office), indeed he must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil."


For this reason, if someone, whose doctrine and life, customs and manners are unknown, should offer himself for service in the church, he should first of all, before he is admitted and allowed into the examination, present and bring forth public, believable testimony and documentation concerning his origin and life, either from his teachers, or from the secular authority under which he has been living, or from his colleagues with whom he has served in church office.


Then, in so far as the same testimonies are proper, he shall be heard and examined afterwards concerning the articles of our Christian faith by means of the holy, divine, prophetic, and apostolic Scriptures, and the Augsburg Confession. But he shall be heard primarily concerning the articles, in which at this time there is division and fighting not only with the papacy and false religions and faiths of others, but also with all manner

of sects. For this purpose, we have had outlined a brief register of questions regarding these same articles. Our theologians should ascertain the view of the one being examined regarding these articles, one after another, as follows.

On God

Whether there is one God? And whence does one know that there is one God?

Whether there is only a single God?

Whether in the one divine essence there are three distinct persons?

What is the particular attribute of each of the three persons?

On the Son of God

Whether the Son of God is true, eternal God, born of His Heavenly Father before the creation of the world, from eternity, of the same essence, power, and majesty?

Regarding the Holy Spirit.

Whether the Holy Spirit is a true, eternal God, who proceeds from the Father and the Son from eternity?

On the angels

Whether the angels were created by God or existed from eternity?

Whether the angels were all good after their creation and remained steadfast with God?

What is the office of the good angels?

On the creation of the world

Whether this world was created in the beginning by God from nothing or existed from eternity and will thus remain for eternity?

Whether there is only a single world and no others?

On the fall of man

Whether man was created in the beginning by God as good, righteous and pious?

Whether he persisted in such goodness and righteousness?

Whether he after the fall, when he sinned and lost the Holy Spirit, still retained enough virtue and power that he by his natural abilities may turn himself to God, and become righteous and saved?

What original sin is, and whether it stretches over all who stem from Adam by natural birth?

On the incarnation of the Son of God

Whether the Son of God was at his designated time a true man, conceived of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary and born of her(as the holy prophets promised)?

Whether Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Mary, is one person, yet with two distinct natures, namely the divine and the human nature?

What office the Son of God fulfilled here on earth and what office did he establish?

Whether He came to give a new law and merely to set forth an example of a divine life?

On the ecclesiastical or preaching office

Whether the preaching office is the keys of the kingdom of heaven and a tool through which the Holy Spirit not only gathers the church of the Son of God from all peoples, but also grants and confirms faith into the heart, and also preserves believers in obedience?

On the Law

How and in which way is the law of Moses done away with and lifted?

Whether one is responsible for being obedient to the Ten Commandments which are a brief summary of the entire divine law?

Whether the obedience which we are able to perform here in this life toward the Ten Commandments attains forgiveness of sins from God for a man, and makes him righteous?

Which is the correct use of the Ten Commandments or the divine law?

On the Gospel

What the use of this term 'gospel' is in the church?

What is the proper distinction between the law and the gospel?

Whether the gospel was only first preached by Christ the Son of God when Christ came into this world and sent out His apostles into the entire world, or whether it has also been preached since the beginning of the world?

On the justification of man

Whether man is justified, i.e. absolved and freed from sins and unrighteousness, through the merit of his work or only through faith in Jesus Christ, who alone has merited the pardon of sins through his suffering and death?

Thus if the merit of our works does not obtain for us the forgiveness of sins, why should we then do good works?

Is it also correct to say that faith alone makes us righteous?

Is it also correct to say that good works are necessary for salvation?

Since we have the remission of sins through faith alone, on account of Jesus Christ, is it also necessary that we be renewed through the Holy Spirit and here in this life begin to do good works until we become completely pure and holy in the life to come?

On baptism

Whether baptism, which was begun by John, and commanded by Christ, is necessary for our salvation?

Whether baptism is merely an external sign of the inner baptism, or rather also a tool of means through which we are reborn and renewed in Christ by the Holy Spirit?

Whether one should also baptize children?

On the Holy Supper of the Lord Christ

Whether the bread and the wine in the supper of the Lord Christ are, as his word says (Take and eat, this is my body; take and drink, this is my blood, etc.), the proper and true body and blood of Christ, and whether the same are also truly, essentially, and presently[1]distributed through the wine and bread?

Whether the bread is changed into the body and the wine into the blood of Christ such that there remains neither bread nor wine, but only the forms of the bread and wine?

Whether the unworthy also receives the body and blood of Christ in the supper?

Whether one should make a mass out of the supper of Christ, in which one sacrifices the body and blood of Christ for the sins of the living and the dead?

Whether one should regard the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ such that one thereby holds no proclamation of the death of Christ and does not distribute it to the church, according to the institution of Christ, but encloses it in a tabernacle or carries it carried about in a monstrance?

On the absolution

What is the absolution?

Whether one should use the common and also the particular or private absolution?

To what end does the absolution serve and of what benefit is it?

On repentance

Whether a person who after baptism has fallen into mortal sin and blasphemy, may come again to the grace of God and the remission of sins through repentance?

Which are the proper parts of Christian repentance?

On prayer

Whether one should only call on God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit or also through the saints?

Since the Turks and the Jews also call on God, what is the difference between these and the proper Christian form?

On the Christian church

Which is the true Christian church, and how does one recognize it?

Can one obtain the remission of sins and eternal life outside of the proper Christian church?

On marriage

Whether the estate of marriage is instituted by God or man?

Whether the estate of marriage may be forbidden to any class by human regulation?

On temporal authority

Whether the temporal authority is established and instituted by God?

Whether a Christian may in good conscience bear the office of temporal authority?


Many more points and articles of Christian doctrine might indeed be listed, which in part are also treated by the Augsburg Confession, and in part treated extensively in the writings of the theologians associated with the Augsburg Confession. In the previously mentioned articles approximately all points in which we are at odds with our opponents at this time have in general been alluded to. The theologi examinatores (theologian examiners) will know well how to deal in these matters according to the gifts God has granted them and according to the evidence and demonstration of the one to be examined.

They will know what they may ask and investigate in the examination regarding the Holy Scriptures, and also the Augsburg Confession. Thus at this time we shall let the articles numbered above suffice.


Now, after he has been examined on these points and articles, and, as noted here, has answered in a Christian manner according to the direction of the Holy Prophetic and Apostolic Scriptures, also the Augsburg Confession, our theologians and councilors shall not immediately send him to the church for which he is intended. Rather, because Paul requires of a minister of the church that he be apt to teach, so shall the one examined be required to prepare a sermon on a topic proposed to him by our theologians. In this way one may observe not only his erudition, but also his speaking and gesture during the sermon, and may inform him of that which is objectionable therein.


Furthermore, it is also our will and view that a minister of the church shall be forced on no church against its will, without especially proper and compelling cause. Therefore, after an individual who desires to be in church service has given his certain testimony, both to right doctrine and to honorable life, and he has thus been found apt to teach, before and prior to his being assigned to that church, he shall be sent to the superintendent

of the same district and to the official, with orders to first hold some public sermons in the presence of the superintendent in the church in which he is to lead and be assigned. If then the superintendent notes that the church of that place bears no abhorrence to the proposed minister of the church, rather may well suffer him in the churchly office, the superintendent shall, together with the official, report this in writing to our church council, so that what is further to be dealt with in this matter may be done in an orderly fashion by the same, our church council. And thus the church may have and hold her vocation also in an orderly manner.


Thereupon, and as soon as the minister of the church have handed over his testimonies by the superintendent and official to our consistory, and been approved by the church for which he is intended, he shall be admonished in approximately the following manner:


That he first of all consider with the utmost diligence and sincerely take to heart with what great care, effort, diligence, and labor he shall accept and carry out the governance of the church.


For the church is the bride of Christ, of the Son of God, which Christ so sincerely loves that he, in order to obtain for her salvation and eternal life, came down from heaven

and burdened himself with all sorts of human frailties, also shed His own blood and took upon Himself the most disgraceful death, so that he might redeem her from death. Therefore the minister of the church shall exercise his best possible diligence that he instruct the church not with human dreams, but with divine, heavenly doctrine, whereby she be awakened through the Holy Spirit, to hold with loyalty and faith to the Lord Christ, her bridegroom, and persevere therein steadfast and spotless, according to the example of Paul [2 Corinthians 11:2], who says: "I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ."


And the minister of the church shall always consider with the utmost seriousness where something in respect to the church is omitted or prevented through his laziness, negligence, failure, perversion, or offense. For this, Our Lord and God, the Heavenly Father, will require her blood from the hand of the minister of the church.


In this regard he shall preach and teach the holy, prophetic and apostolic scriptures, which were confirmed by divine, heavenly miracles, for they are a lamp to our feet (as the psalm states [Psalm 119:105]) and a light on our path.


And because the explanation of such articles, as, regarding matters of the faith, have been in contention in these times, is contained and set forth briefly and clearly according to the direction of the true catholic understanding of the Prophetic and Apostolic Scriptures in the Augsburg Confession and in attached declarations of our theologians, thus the needs of the church office demand that the minister of the church faithfully carry out his teaching in such articles according to the explanation and content of said confession.


Also, it is incumbent upon the office and vocation of the minister of the church that he not only serve the church with pure divine doctrine, but also with a good example and model, also that he ornament the doctrine, to the best of his ability, with his honorable life. Thus necessity additionally demands that everyone who undertakes to rule in the church, see that, by the grace of God, that his life takes on this form, that not only all his affairs and business, but also his speech, attire, demeanor, indeed also all his words and deeds are honor and virtue, so that what he builds with one hand he not tear down with the other and corrupt the church both with punishable vice and offensive example.


He shall also note that the words of Christ apply to him above all other men, Matthew 18. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck

and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.


And the minister of the church shall most diligently re-read and often repeat the epistles of Paul to Timothy and Titus, that he learn from them how he shall maintain himself both in doctrine and life, also how his own household is to be, and how he should govern it.


He shall also diligently observe our church order, as printed heretofore in this book, which we have instituted, and be obedient to his superintendents in their office and commands from us, and where there is a difference or misunderstanding between him and other of our minister of the churchs, officials, subjects, and attached people, he shall bring the matter to the superintendents or our consistory and seek a decision from them. But where such dispute has been created that those noted do not render a decision, and the matter instead must properly be remitted, he shall for this reason accept and acknowledge as just the decision and consequences to which we will direct him, as we according to the following are free to do. And he must be satisfied without refusal but with finality, and without appeal, and not quit his church office without our previous knowledge and will.


During the time which he occupies an office and service

in the church, he is a partaker of all the freedoms of citizenship, and of our land, no less than our subjects. Thus he shall advance what is to our benefit and warn of any dangers. And he shall promise and consent, by an oath with his own hand, to abide by all such things.


After this has been done he shall be ordained according to the order prepared by Doctor Luther, and first then, in the manner that follows, presented.

The form of ordination follows, as Dr. Martin Luther arranged it[2]


First, Veni sancte Spiritus[3] is sung and the collect is read. Then the superintendent reads the following texts:

Thus writes St. Paul in the first epistle to Timothy in the third chapter:

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit und fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.[4]

Thus St. Paul admonishes the elders of the church at Ephesus Acts 20:

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own

selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.[5]

Here you hear that we as bishops, that is those who are and should be called as preachers and pastors, have no command to guard geese or cows, but the church, which God purchased with His own blood, that we should feed it with the pure word of God, also be watchful and see that wolves and mobs do not break in among the poor sheep. For this reason he calls it a noble task. Also, personally, we should live disciplined and honorably, and keep and raise our house, wife, children and servants in a Christian fashion.

If you are now prepared to do this, so say, "Yes."

Then the superintendent, and the other ministers of the word who are present, shall place their hands upon the head of the ordinand. Then he shall say:

Let us pray.

Our Father, who art in heaven etc.

Merciful God, heavenly Father, You said to us through the mouth of Your beloved Son, our Lord

Jesus Christ: The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.[6]At this Your divine command, we sincerely pray that You would richly give Your Holy Spirit to these Your servants, together with us and all those who are called to Your word, that we with great crowds would be Your Evangelists, remain true and steadfast against the devil, the world and the flesh etc., that thereby Your name may be hallowed, Your kingdom increased, and Your will be accomplished. Do also finally direct and make an end of the detestable abomination of the pope and Mohammed and all enemies of Your Christians together with other mobs which blaspheme Your name, destroy Your kingdom, and oppose Your will. Such is our prayer (because You have commanded, taught, and assured it) - do graciously hear us, as we believe and trust through Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns in eternity. Amen.

So now go out and shepherd the flock of Christ that is commended to you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, not for shameful gain, but from your heart; not domineering over the people, but become examples to the flock. And thus, when the Archshepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.[7]

Benedicat vobis Dominus, ut faciatis fructum multum. Amen. (The Lord bless you, so that you may bring forth much fruit. Amen.)

But if the community, as the parish children, refuses a man with articulated and honorable cause, then no one should be attached to them against their will; only if the refusal is frivolous and made without honorable cause. To this our appointed church councils should pay especially close attention. Thus they should not let a servant, competent and approved for the ministerium, fall or come into contempt on account of frivolous things, without articulated cause, to the shame of the ministerium, but rather inform the congregation, correcting its misunderstanding and ignorance.

When all of this has happened in an orderly manner, each such minister of the church shall be presented, also recommended and installed, by our appointed special superintendents and officials in the form which follows.

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[1] warhafftig / wesentlich und gegenwertig.

[2] The following order corresponds to column 'R', WA 38,423ff. (see the translation in AE 53, 124ff.). Column 'R' represents the ordination agenda used in Wittenberg, and is dated to 1539.

[3] Wackernagel I, 160. Cf. LSB 497, Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord.

[4] 1 Timothy 3:1-7, ESV.

[5] Acts 20:28-31, ESV.

[6] Matthew 9:37, Luke 10:2.

[7] 1 Peter 5:2-4.