A response to "Coordinates of a theology of office"

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M. Eugene Osterhaven

Abstract

It is a privilege to respond to Paul Fries's paper, especially since he has given the subject much attention and is well qualified to address it. In the introduction, he says that he will offer some footnotes to a paper yet to be written. I saw in what he gav~ us much more.


The paper is faithful to the Reformed tradition of office, ordination, and mimstry. It is also faithful to John Calvin's heavy emphasis on order, particularly order in the church. I once reread Calvin seeking his contribution to the faith of the church. After a whole year, I concluded that it is order and the Holy Spirit. Calvin's temperament, schooling under the Neo-stoic teachers, association with Martin Bucer, Scripture, and the times in which he lived made order one of his major emphases. The Holy Spirit gave order to creation at its inception; civil government was ordained so that sin may be curbed and that there may be order in the state; salvation is the restoration of order; and, since the church is the body of Christ and the creation of the Holy Spirit, it is unthinkable that disorder be allowed in it. Calvin writes, "There is nothing in which order should be more diligently observed than in establishing church government; for nowhere is there greater peril if anything is done irregularly" (Inst. IV.iii. I 0). He believed that Scripture gives us instructions about church government. Dr. Fries shares Calvin's thinking.

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Keywords
Reformed Church orders; Reformed Church in America -- Clergy; Reformed Church -- Clergy; Church officers; Church officers -- History; Reformed Church -- Theology; Church work; Pastoral theology; Fries, Paul R. Coordinates of a theology of office. Reformed Review 56 no 3 Spr 2003, p 197-210. 0034-3064
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