Thursday, 30 May 2013

Ontological change

I was having a very nice conversation with a Roman Catholic yesterday, (non-priest) about the parlous state of both our churches
And he rather exploded about the notion of priestly ordination creating 'ontological change'
That is, a change to the essential being of a person.
So when you are ordained you are ontologically changed from being (presumably)  a non-priest to being an essential (ontological) priest.
I (half) jokingly said that I believed I was ontologically changed at ordination...so now at ordination "I am a priest forever..."
This is more, it seems to me, a poetic endeavour  than a theological one.
But there is a more important point to be made. There is indeed essential (ontological) change when we are baptised into Christ. We move from being unredeemed to redeemed, from being less than Christ to being Christ-like.
That is what baptism does.
At baptism we all come to share in the universal priesthood of Jesus. Because we become like him.
Being a Jesus-priest by virtue of our baptism into him means that we share in that universal priesthood which is proclaimed by his life, death and resurrection. It is eternal. So there is indeed ontological change; because we go from being mortal (threatened by death) to being immortal (released by resurrection). From being an old man (Adam) to being a new being (Jesus).
I think this is mind blowing stuff.
But this is baptismal rather than priestly.

The sacramental priesthood does not proclaim something new.
 I (as a sacrament...an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace) am a sacrament to the people of God of what their baptism does/is for them. It changes them ontologically and makes them Jesus-priests.)
It is not ordination that makes this ontological change.
It is baptism.
Ordination sacramentally realises what has already happened.
We share in the priesthood of Christ.
The ordained (formally ordered) priest proclaims as an outward and visible sign what is already realised through baptism in each Christian person.
It is, as it were, a reinforcer of the notion in human form.
What responsibilities does this place upon the priestly sacrament...ie. me and those others so ordered...
We live our lives in a human way, broken and restored, forgiven and penitent, fleshly yet touching the divine.
Although we often do this in a representative way, the reality is that we are priests by virtue of our baptism. We handle holy things, the principle 'thing' being our humanity by virtue of the ontological change which takes what is clay (Adam) and makes it Godly (Jesus)

Mind blowing stuff....and true ontological change. For all the baptised

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"parlous state of both our churches"
Well fix it!!!

stephen clark said...

Thanks for that comment (under the cloak of anonymity)
Can I assure you that I do what I can to fix the parlous state of the Church. This largely involves calling people back to its true roots, which is faith in Jesus. (I think my RC friend is trying to do likewise, with a strong commitment to social justice and caring for the poor...what he said to me yesterday is "Which is what I believe the church should really be on about!"
The fact that we name the state of the Church as 'parlous' is a place to begin.

cecil said...

What are the opening hours of your church on coro Parade please?

cecil said...

I was referring to
All Hallows Church, 37 Coromandel Parade, Blackwood

stephen clark said...

cecil
We try to keep AH open as much as possible. This mean s 24 hours a day if we can
While I am here (am presently on LSL) this is relatively easy to do, but sometimes it gets locked and I am not there to keep it open.
While I feel fairly strongly about leaving buildings open (it allowed a couple of homeless people to 'camp' in the Church during bleak weather last year for a couple of weeks)
This has done little to address "the parlous state of the churches"...maybe a little about the parlous state of my own heart...but the state of the churches is not essentially about the buildings

stephen clark said...

cecil
We try to keep AH open as much as possible. This mean s 24 hours a day if we can
While I am here (am presently on LSL) this is relatively easy to do, but sometimes it gets locked and I am not there to keep it open.
While I feel fairly strongly about leaving buildings open (it allowed a couple of homeless people to 'camp' in the Church during bleak weather last year for a couple of weeks)
This has done little to address "the parlous state of the churches"...maybe a little about the parlous state of my own heart...but the state of the churches is not essentially about the buildings

cecil said...

Pity more do not follow your example in relation to keeping the church open.

Anonymous said...

Re ontological change :as a layperson from the reformed tradition, I must agree that ontological change resides in baptism and not ordination. I wonder what Christians of the first three centuries would think of this concept,assembling as they did in houses and other convenient places, and where the Lord's Supper was often presided over by laymen - and dare I say it, occasionally by laywomen. Adeodatus.

stephen clark said...

I think the question about 'ontological change' is not about whether it is to do with baptism or both…it could be…and, indeed I think, IS about both about baptism…as the primary sacrament…and about ordination as the proclamation of our shared priesthood .
Would I be happy with lay presidency at the Eucharist…I think this is actually a diversion.
The reality is that all Christians are changed by their identification with Christ (expressed formally through Baptism)…we embrace the Eucharist not as an hierarchical mystery, but as an expression of our Godliness.
We Catholics (as an Anglican so I define myself) find this a bit scary

Anonymous said...

stephen - my first thought was to think of instances when I believe lay presidency is appropriate.
My second thought is to wonder why I even want to debate the issue - there are so many similar matters where Christians take different and sometimes passionate stances,blurring our unity in Christ.
Unity is a gift of the Spirit and won't be found in endless debates on theological and liturigal matters,(which I admit I am inclined to enjoy all too readily!).The small congregation of which I am a member,regularly prays for all Christians ...that we may be drawn towards each other in truth and love. When this is a sincere purpose then any 'judgement'of other Christians must go out the window ... open to the Spirit, we should be ready to be led in ways that none of us could now imagine.
Adeodatus