Returning to the study of the actual ministry, as seen in the New Testament and the Prayer Book, it is essentially pastoral, never mediatorial, but always concerned with the work of preaching, teaching, and guiding the flock.  The minister is a prophet from God to the people, and not a sacrificing or mediating priest, either in the old Jewish or in the medieval meaning of the term.  Such being the case, the ministry must never be considered apart from the church as a whole.  While there is a general service of the entire church, there is also a specific ministry for the purpose of order and progress but, in all this, the minister is a medium, not a mediator; a mouthpiece, not a substitute; a leader, not a director.  The idea of the church always determines the form of the ministry, for the church, as a whole, was prior to the ministry, and the minister was intended to serve the entire community.  We must, therefore, take the greatest possible care not to exalt the ministry above the community, for no ministry can fulfill its mission if it claims to control the church.  The New Testament exalts the Body of Christ, and no trace can be found of any direct divine determination of the precise development of the ministry.  Any isolation of the ministry, of whatever Order, is spiritually harmful as tending to make them unrepresentative of the church.  The ministry only exercises its functions in connection with the church.

From: The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles by W. H. Griffith Thomas (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1930), p. 321.


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