anoiting with oil

Discussion in 'Church Office' started by lukeh021471, Apr 15, 2008.

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  1. lukeh021471

    lukeh021471 Puritan Board Freshman

    Is anointing with oil over the sick by elders practiced in reform circles ever practiced or is practiced today.

    reference: James 5:14
  2. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    If it is it shouldn't be. :2cents:
  3. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Did it end with the fulfillment of the ceremonial law in Christ?
  4. Stephen

    Stephen Puritan Board Junior

    I was curious about your response. The Anglican church anoints with oil, does it not?
  5. Coram Deo

    Coram Deo Puritan Board Junior

    Oceanside United Reformed Church of North America has a paper I believe written by Pastor Danny Hyde in support of it from a Reformed View.. I will have to find it.....
  6. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    It was either a Near Eastern medicinal practice or it was a part of the miraculous period which has ceased.

    John Gill
    anointing him with oil, in the name of the Lord; which some think was only done in a common medicinal way, oil being used much in the eastern countries for most disorders; and so these elders used ordinary medicine, as well as prayer: or rather this refers to an extraordinary gift, which some elders had of healing diseases, as sometimes by touching, and by laying on of hands, or by expressing some words, and so by anointing with oil; see Mar_6:13 which extraordinary gifts being now ceased, the rite or ceremony of anointing with oil ceases in course:

    Matthew Henry
    We have particular directions given as to sick persons, and healing pardoning mercy promised upon the observance of those directions. If any be sick, they are required, 1. To send for the elders, presbuterous tēs ekkēsias - the presbyters, pastors or ministers of the church, James 5:14, 15. It lies upon sick people as a duty to send for ministers, and to desire their assistance and their prayers. 2. It is the duty of ministers to pray over the sick, when thus desired and called for. Let them pray over him; let their prayers be suited to his case, and their intercessions be as becomes those who are affected wit his calamities. 3. In the times of miraculous healing, the sick were to be anointed with oil in the name of the Lord. Expositors generally confine this anointing with oil to such as had the power of working miracles; and, when miracles ceased, this institution ceased also. In Mark's gospel we read of the apostle's anointing with oil many that were sick, and healing them, Mark 6:13. And we have accounts of this being practiced in the church two hundred years after Christ; but then the gift of healing also accompanied it, and, when the miraculous gift ceased, this rite was laid aside.

    John Calvin
    "...we have no dispute, whether anointing [with oil] was once a sacrament; but whether it has been given to be so perpetually. This latter we deny, because it is evident that the thing signified has long ago ceased."
  7. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    Certain Anglo-Catholic congregations may well do so but I have not come across it.
  8. Coram Deo

    Coram Deo Puritan Board Junior

    Here is an attachment called "Anointing the Sick With Oil: A Missing Aspect of Pastoral Ministry in the Reformed Tradition?" by Pastor Daniel Hyde

    Some Excerpts...

    James’ Use of “Oil” (Gk. λαιον)

    Our first step in approaching James 5:14, is to get a handle on what exactly the oil James prescribes for anointing is and then answer the question of what was James’ purpose for prescribing the use of oil. Generally speaking, in the ancient world, oil had two uses: first, as a medicinal agent, and, second, as a symbolic agent.

    The Symbolic View

    The second major view of the oil mentioned in James 5:14 emphasizes its use in Scripture as a visible sign of something, whether the Holy Spirit or simply consecration to God. This is was the position of Calvin, and is that of this author, as James speaks of oil in a symbolic manner. There are two main reasons for saying this: First, throughout the unfolding of redemptive history in Scripture, oil was used by the faithful primarily as a symbol in order to visibly signify a spiritual reality. As Douglas Moo points out, Anointing with oil is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament as a symbolic action according to which what is anointed is set apart for God’s service or blessing[…]By anointing the sick person with oil, then, the elders are symbolically setting that person aside for the Lord’s special attention as they pray.8 We see this use of oil as a symbol in several representative texts. In Psalm 45:7 we hear the sons of Korah magnifying the king, whom “God has anointed[…]with the oil of gladness.” In the New Testament use of this part of Psalm 45, it is used of the King, our Lord Jesus Christ, and his being anointed with the Holy Spirit (Heb. 1:9).9 Even further back in the revelation of the Old Covenant is Exodus 29:7, in which Aaron and his sons were anointed with oil to symbolize their being set apart for priestly service.

    Finally, Psalm 133:2-3 describes the pleasantness of “brothers dwell[ing] in unity” with the simile, “It is like the precious oil on the head[…]It is like the dew of Hermon.” Again, the New Testament explains to us that this blessed unity spoken of among the brethren of God’s people, is a fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:3). Thus, oil in Scripture is used symbolically for the Holy Spirit, consecration for God’s service, as well as the unity of the family of God which is brought about by the Holy Spirit.

    Returning to our reasons for understanding that the oil of James 5:14 is not merely a healing agent, but an outward sign of a spiritual reality, is the second reason for saying this. As we alluded to above, the anointing in James 5:14 is linked not only to physical healing but spiritual healing, the forgiveness of sins in 5:15, which says, “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

    We must note, in passing, but importantly nonetheless, the pastoral explanation we must give of this text. Note well that James does not link inseparably sickness with sin. There is not necessarily a link between the two, nor an inevitable conclusion to be drawn about a sick parishioner who needs the prayer of his/her elders. All one has to note are the words of our Lord on this matter (John 9:2-3). What James does state, however, is that when a person is healed physically by the means of anointing and prayer, a person is forgiven if he/she has sinned and has confessed that (v. 16).

    Truly, something more is going on in James 5 than mere physical healing, which
    we see in the forgiveness of sins which comes solely from the Lord, not from the oil. The medicinal view cannot account for this aspect of the text. After all, how does ordinary recuperation from a common remedy effect the forgiveness of sins? The oil of James 5:14, then, is not merely medicine, but a symbol of something beyond itself, something mysterious. That “something” is the One we call the Holy Spirit.

    What is the Meaning of James’ Symbol?

    So since James is speaking of “something more,” the question is, what exactly is the meaning, and more importantly, application, of this anointing. As far as I can tell, there are three major opinions regarding the meaning and ongoing function of the oil in James 5:14 among those who take it as a symbol.

    The Historical Reformed View

    It was in the context of polemical theology with Rome that Reformed exegetes came to their position. Reformed exegetes from the Reformation and through our day, understand this anointing with oil and subsequent healing as being something that is no longer to be practices by the Church. This was the position of Martin Bucer (1491- 1551), John Calvin (1509-64), Zacharius Ursinus (1534-83), Johannes Wollebius (1586-1629), John Owen (1616-83), Francis Turretin (1623-87), Matthew Henry (1662-1714), and B.B. Warfield. Their reasoning went like this: since the supernatural “sign” gifts of the New Testament apostles have ceased, and since the outward sign of anointing with oil signified not an uncertain healing, but a certain, miraculous, healing, therefore, to continue administering the outward sign of oil without the gift of healing would be to lie and give a false testimony to sick, wounded sheep.

    Response to the Historic Reformed View

    Contemporary Reformed theologians and pastors generally agree with the Reformed exegetical tradition on these verses in rejecting the Roman Catholic application of James 5:14 to extreme unction, in maintaining that the anointing is not medicinal but rather for healing, and in holding to the “cessasionist” view of the “sign” gifts of the apostolic age.

    Yet this writer disagrees with the conclusion that because of the cessation of the miraculous gifts, the anointing with oil in James is also to cease among us. This author disagrees because James 5:14 speaks not of the apostles doing the anointing, praying, and healing, but of the ordinary, established church leaders, “the elders of the church.” As well, the general context of James 5:13-18 is the “prayer of a righteous person,” which has “great power,” and the specific qualifier James mentions in healing the sick is “the prayer of faith.” To these points we shall return below under our application.

    Contemporary Application

    While we do not agree with either Rome nor Pentecostalism, James’ command that the sick call for the elders of the church to administer anointing with oil accompanied by prayer should continue in the Church today – including Reformed churches. This conclusion is based on the following. First, the primary purpose of James’ instructions at the end of his epistle is for Christians to be engaged in prayer. The ancient church historian Eusebius described James himself as a man of prayer saying, “His knees grew hard like a camel’s because of his constant worship of God, kneeling and asking forgiveness for the people.” In the immediate context of the verses at issue here, is the sharp contrast between swearing “either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath” (5:12) with “The prayer of a righteous person[…]in the name of the Lord” (5:16, 14). The anointing with oil and even the healing are peripheral, even superfluous matters, in the flow of James’ argument. What matters is that the elders of the church pray for those who “call” for prayer. We miss this if we emphasize too much on how oil is to be administered, what kind of oil is to be used, how are we going to implement this? What James calls us to is a ministry of prayer we have missed for generations.

    Second, James speaks of the one who is “sick” (σθενε ), that is, who is “weak,” and “powerless”32 in the body and not just “spiritually sick.”33 As Douglas Moo points out, when this word is referring to some sort of “spiritual weakness,” this is made clear with a qualifying phrase, such as “in conscience” (1 Cor. 8:7) or “in faith” (Rom. 14:1,2). In the Gospels, which seems to have influenced James the most, this word always refers to physical illness (Matt. 10:8, 25:36, 39; Mark 6:56; Luke 4:40; John 4:46, 5:3, 7, 6:2, 11:1, 2, 3, 6). As well, the verbs “save” (v. 15) and “heal” (v. 16) are used in the Gospels (e.g., cf. Matt. 9:21-22; Mark 3:4; Luke 7:50; John 11:12) to speak of physical restoration.34 The term for “sick” in verse 14 is related to the word for “the one who is sick” (τ♠ν κ•μνοντα) in verse 15. This second term is only used one other time in the New Testament, in Hebrews 12:3, where it speaks of the one who is weary and worn out. It seems clear, then, that James speaks of one who is too weak to get out of bed and attend public worship; this is why he/she must “call for the elders of the church” to have them “pray over him.” What this means is that this text prescribes anointing by the elders for all those who are seriously sick. This is in contrast both to Rome’s restriction only to the deathly ill as well as Pentecostalism’s license in having “healing services” for any kind of illness or even just for those who desire to be anointed after a worship service and prayed for. The initiative is on the sick person, not the church to have special times of anointing and healing for anyone with fatigue, stress, or a cold. Practically, then, this means that the church must be educated on this topic, as well as be made aware of the elders’ practice so that they can knowledgeably call for the elders. This can be done in home visitation, new members’ classes, by way of a standing announcement in the bulletin, as well as through Christian education classes.

    Third, it is “the elders of the church” (το ϕ πρεσβυτϒρουϕ τ∠ϕ ≤κκλησ αϕ) whom we are told are to pray over the seriously sick. This group entails not just the minister, priest, healer, or “district elder,” but the entire “presbytery,” or corporate eldership. Therefore, the gathering of “the elders” for prayer over the seriously ill under their care is what is being alluded to here. As we said above, it is important to keep in view that James is speaking of the ordinary officers of established churches, as opposed to those with the extraordinary offices of apostle or prophet (Eph. 4:11) or those endued with the gift of healing (1 Cor. 12:9). The New Testament authors use the word “elder” (πρεσβ τεροϕ) fourteen times in relation to the ruling members of the local congregation. They are mentioned as been the fixtures of the church of Jerusalem (11:30, 15:2, 21:18) and having been appointed in the churches of Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, and Antioch (Acts 14:23 cf. 20:17), while in the epistles they are described in more detail (cf. 1 Tim. 5:17, 19; Titus 1:5; 1 Peter 5:1). In none of these texts are elders given supernatural power; rather, they are designated as shepherds (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1), rulers (1 Tim. 5:17), overseers (Acts 20:28) and some are even teachers (1 Tim. 5:17). This evidence is important because the gifts of healing and miracles were not tied to the elders in the New Testament, and thus, this practice did not cease when the apostles ceased. What this means for us is that we need to be aware that being an elder in a Reformed church entails being willing to assemble at a hospital or home over one of our brothers or sisters. The eldership has no place for fear, timidity, or sense of being uncomfortable. Our sheep look to us, and we must lead.

    Fourth, the oil James prescribes does not heal magically, nor even does prayer. Only the Holy Spirit can heal. When we anoint with oil we are setting aside a sick person as especially devoted to the Lord as an object of care,35 while confessing that it is the Holy Spirit alone, the “Lord and Giver of life” (Nicene Creed) who can raise the sick one up both from physical ailment (v. 15) as well as spiritual depths (vv. 15b, 16). What is so wonderful is that James’ epistle indicates that God the Holy Spirit does his healing work through the means of “the prayer of faith” of the elders, accompanied by the outward sign of oil. Thus we can answer those who say that healing was a necessary result of this anointing, by saying that James qualifies the “guarantee” of healing with the phrase “the prayer [vow] of faith.” Pastorally speaking, then, when a person is not healed, it is not their lack of faith (per “Faith Healers”) but in a real sense, even the weak prayers of the elders; ultimately, though, whether the Lord will heal or not is his prerogative and a part of his secret counsel. In view of this we must lift up our eyes in hope and respect.

    Lastly, although the apostolic age and the “sign” gifts have ceased, no one can limit or negate the sovereign power of the Holy Spirit throughout the generations. We must recapture our sense and reliance upon the Holy Spirit as Reformed Christians. Remember, it was the Calvinists’ who re-emphasized the work of the Holy Spirit in their writings, preaching, and confessional documents. As professor and pastor Sinclair Ferguson, says,

    No right-thinking Christian would deny that God continues to be active in the world, to do wonderful things for his people, and especially to answer their prayers in keeping with his promises. It is still appropriate for the sick not only to consult a doctor but to ‘call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord’. The promise remains that ‘the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up’ (Jas 5:14-15). People continue to be healed by God — through, above and even against means. Indeed, writes John Owen, ‘It is not unlikely but that God might on some occasions, for a longer season, put forth his power in some miraculous operations.’ Thus, it is precisely because we as Calvinists believe in the Holy Spirit, “the Lord and Giver of life,” that we need to add to our elders’ existing ministry of prayer and care, the anointing and prayer over the seriously sick in our day. This is not only exegetically respectable, but also pastorally necessary.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2008
  9. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks for that, but I found his argument somewhat confused and so I think I will stick to the traditional Reformed view advocated also by Martin Bucer, John Calvin, Zacharius Ursinus, Johannes Wollebius, John Owen, Francis Turretin, Matthew Henry, John Gill and B.B. Warfield.

    I think it notable that this rite which was distinctively and traditionally Jewish appears only in James which was the earliest and most Jewish epistle. :2cents:
  10. Coram Deo

    Coram Deo Puritan Board Junior

    His arguments might be confusing because I pasted excerpts... You need to read through the Attachment completely....

    It was too large to paste everything into a post...

    My :2cents:

  11. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    I have printed it off to read later. We know that oil was used medicinally in the Near East. We know that James was writing primarily to Jewish Christians. We know that this practice is not in any other epistle. So I think there is a prima facie case to say that this was a temporary and cultural practice of the Jews and was to do with physical healing as opposed to spiritual healing. :2cents:
  12. Coram Deo

    Coram Deo Puritan Board Junior

    He does cover the medicinal view in the attachment....

    I agree with his response to the Medicinal View...
  13. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    Adam Clarkes' comments are worth reading:

    Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders - This was also a Jewish maxim.

    Rabbi Simeon, in Sepher Hachaiyim, said: “What should a man do who goes to visit the sick? Ans. He who studies to restore the health of the body, should first lay the foundation in the health of the soul. The wise men have said, No healing is equal to that which comes from the word of God and prayer.

    Rabbi Phineas, the son of Chamma, hath said, ‘When sickness or disease enters into a man’s family, let him apply to a wise man, who will implore mercy in his behalf.’“ See Schoettgen.

    St. James very properly sends all such to the elders of the Church, who had power with God through the great Mediator, that they might pray for them.

    Anointing him with oil -

    If a miracle was intended, it could have been as well wrought without the oil, as with it.

    It is not intimated that even this unction is to save the sick man, but the prayer of faith, James 5:15.

    What is here recommended was to be done as a natural means of restoring health, which, while they used prayer and supplication to God, they were not to neglect.

    Oil in Judea was celebrated for its sanative qualities; so that they scarcely ever took a journey without carrying oil with them, (see in the case of the Samaritan), with which they anointed their bodies, healed their wounds, bruises, etc.

    Oil was and in frequently used in the east as a means of cure in very dangerous diseases; and in Egypt it is often used in the cure of the plague. Even in Europe it has been tried with great success in the cure of dropsy. And pure olive oil is excellent for recent wounds and bruises; and I have seen it tried in this way with the best effects.

    But that it was the custom of the Jews to apply it as a means of healing, and that St. James refers to this custom, is not only evident from the case of the wounded man ministered to by the good Samaritan, Luk_10:34, but from the practice of the Jewish rabbins. In Midrash Koheleth, fol. 73, 1, it is said: “Chanina, son of the brother of the Rabbi Joshua, went to visit his uncle at Capernaum; he was taken ill; and Rabbi Joshua went to him and anointed him with oil, and he was restored.” They had, therefore, recourse to this as a natural remedy; and we find that the disciples used it also in this way to heal the sick, not exerting the miraculous power but in cases where natural means were ineffectual. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them; Mar_6:13. On this latter place I have supposed that it might have been done symbolically, in order to prepare the way for a miraculous cure: this is the opinion of many commentators; but I am led, on more mature consideration, to doubt its propriety, yet dare not decide. In short, anointing the sick with oil, in order to their recovery, was a constant practice among the Jews. See Lightfoot and Wetstein on Mark 6:13. And here I am satisfied that it has no other meaning than as a natural means of restoring health; and that St. James desires them to use natural means while looking to God for an especial blessing. And no wise man would direct otherwise.

    St James orders this anointing for the cure of the body

    The anointing with oil, if ever used as a means or symbol in working miraculous cures, was only applied in some cases, perhaps very few, if any...
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