Do ordinations require consenting adults?

Let me begin by congratulating The Postulant. Will the blogger take on a new nom de plume? Yes, “The Postulant” is now surely “The Candidate.”

Nowhere does it say that ordination invitations can’t be “in a tongue not understanded of the people,” so this one is in Latin. I like that. Who could accuse ECUSA of being a “new religion” when ordination invites are sent in Latin? Well, anyone who reads the first line of this one, and many other invitations. The Postulant’s invitation begins with Deo volente populoque consentiente. God willing and the people consenting. Most ordination invitations seem to start that way now.

Remember the old days? “God willing, the Right Reverend…” Back in the day, there were no people in the first line. I don’t think they should be there.

It’s not that I believe people aren’t important. It’s not that I dismiss the people’s consent and participation in liturgy. But it’s redundant. If you believe in God’s will — and if you didn’t, why have the line there — then the people’s consent, or lack thereof, will also be God’s will. So you don’t really need that line. More to the point, it seems theologically counterproductive. It equates the people’s consent with God’s will. This is one of the great problems of the 21st century church. We’ve elevated ourselves to God’s level. Or more likely, we’ve demoted God to our level.

I’ve been meaning to rant about this for some time now. It really has nothing to do with The Postulant. The wording may have been prescribed in some diocesan policy or something. I wish The Postulant all the best. His ordination will be a great day for the church, God willing. If I knew the postulant personally, I know just what I would get him.

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4 Responses

  1. Darn, I wish you *did* know me personally.

    Sadly, my real invitations will go out in English. I don’t know whether they’ll say “and the people consenting.” In fudging up some pretend Latin I just went with an expression I’ve seen before. Now you have me worried.

  2. the people aren’t consenting to God’s willing; the people are consenting to the Rt. Rev.’s ordaining.

    Is it necessary? In the Episcopal Church, yes. See the first question on pp. 517, 527, and 539. The bishop may not ordain without the people’s consent. No matter how sure the bishop and candidate are of God’s will, if the people do not consent, there may be no ordination.

    Back in the day, the Prayer Book also did not require the people’s consent, so, not surprisingly, the invitations did not mention it either.

    I take your point, but I’m still not sure what you think would be better.

  3. Scott Gunn says:

    Thomas,

    Yes, as I said above, I do not dismiss the people’s consent. My point is that, on the invitation, the phrase “and the people consenting” is not needed, and it’s theologically confusing.

    What I think would be better would be to just say “God willing, the Right Reverend…”

    My concern is that we Americans have a tendency to think of people as sovereign. That’s certainly true in our political life, but it isn’t true in our Christian life.

    Pax,
    Scott

  4. Scott Gunn says:

    T.P.

    There’s nothing to worry about, except for one cranky blogger. Most invites these days say just what this one did, but in English. I think you get points for Latin.

    By the way, I grew up in your ordaining diocese, though I wasn’t an Episcopalian then.

    Hope it’s a great day for you! Congrats.

    Peace,
    Scott

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