Non Ordained Theologians

Discussion in 'Puritan Literature' started by Scott Bushey, Mar 6, 2018.

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  1. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I am studying through some of Thomas Boston's works and came across the Marrow Controversy, written by a lay-person, Edward Fisher. It is interesting that Fisher was never ordained, especially after the effect his book, the Marrow of Modern Divinity' had on it's hearers. It seems to me that given that he was not an ordained churchman, this played a part in the rejection of his work by some of the ruling Presbytery.

    Does anyone have any other details or book suggestion on Edward Fisher? I'd like to hear more about him.

    Are you aware of any other lay-person theologians? It's interesting that the title is given them, since they are laypersons.
     
  2. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    It interesting that title is given. I know some people say "everyone is a theologian". Not a real fan of such thinking but c'est la vie.
     
  3. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Westminster divine, John Selden, was a lawyer, though maybe he doesn't count in this reckoning as the character of his work was far different, more historical but still he attempted to undermine the claims of Presbyterian government. He was one of the Erastian members (as opposed to Presbyterian or Congregationalist).
     
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  4. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Believe that was the title of Dr Sprouls theology book also.
     
  5. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    Just because everyone is a theologian, that doesn't mean everyone is a good theologian. I think the point of the saying is simply that everyone thinks something about who God is, who people are, what the point of life is, etc., which are all fundamentally theological questions.
     
  6. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I agree, as to the OP was Edward Fisher a theologian in the proper sense?
     
  7. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    James Durham would call the term "lay-person theologian" an oxymoron.

    Below are a few excerpts from his article entitled: (Please consider reading this entire article - very interesting.

    Concerning a Calling to the Ministry,
    and Clearness Therein

    from
    A Commentary Upon the Book of the Revelation
    by: James Durham
    Revelation 1:19-20
    Lecture IX (part.)
    pages 66-83 (of 60-83)​

    Verse. 19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

    Here are a few sentences from the introductory paragraph: Here's the article - https://goo.gl/9qXFSe

    This command of writing, was particularly set down, vers. 11. Here again, it's renewed; and afterward, Chap. 2. and Chap. 3. is seven times repeated, with respect to every Church he writes unto: which certainly is to show, of what concernment clearness of a Call is, and that both in general, and particular; and is done amongst other reasons for this end, to clear John in his Call, and to warrant the People in their receiving of his Message. From which we may gather this, That a Minister that taketh on him to edify a Church in the name of the Lord, had need to be clear of his Call thereunto from the Lord: it's not the general that we now insist on, to wit, that there is such a peculiar Calling, or, that none but the Lord can authorize for it; but it's especially concerning that clearness which every Minister ought to have in his Call, that with holy boldness he may go about the work, having peace in himself (what ever he may meet with in it) as one who hath not run, whereas the Lord did not send him, Jer. 23:21. That this is exceedingly requisite to a Minister, we suppose will be out of question to all who know that Ministers are but Ambassadors; and so for them to want [lack] clearness of the Lord's Call, is to be uncertain whether they have a Commission or not: and therefore they who look not to it, can neither have that confidence of the Lord's owning them, or accepting of them in their duty, except there be some satisfaction herein, to wit, that the Lord hath sent them, or doth send them. It will be a puzzling question to many one day. Man, who made thee a Minister? Who gave thee Commission to treat for Christ? and although others may have peace in the use-making of such a man's Ministry; yet himself can have none, he being ever liable to this question, Friend, how enteredst thou hither? and how obtained thou this honor? Doubtless from the defect of this trial, it is, in part, that many thrust themselves into the work at first, whose after-carriage and way proves them never to have been sent: which they durst not have done, had they walked by this rule of waiting for a Commission thereto.

    Here is just one sentence to whet your appetite to read the whole article.

    2. To write of the holy things of God, is to take on us, to tell what God thinks, and what is His will, which is a most concerning thing; especially to do it solemnly in writ, lest it prove, at least, a taking of God's Name in vain; when without a Call we do it.

    PS - I loved the Marrow, though I thus speak. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
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  8. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    To argue that a lay-person may not be a theologian is to reject the priesthood of all believers in favour of clericalism. What is the point of ministers teaching people if they do not grow in knowledge and excel as theologians?
     
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  9. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Interesting question. I was talking to a Minister about Lawfully Ordained Ministers last night. I think the Reformed Camp wouldn’t consider Baptists Theologians or Ordained Ministers. So they would probably consider them laymen. Can anyone expound on this please. I know the Reformed Churches wouldn’t let a Baptist preach or administer Sacraments from what I recall.
     
  10. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    May I ask if you think your point goes towards a TE and his duties? :) For in my opinion a official theologian should be a TE, who are the professionals our Lord ordained to teach and baptize.
     
  11. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Haven't been around the PCA much I take it.
     
  12. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    No, only one PCA church a few years ago. I usually only go around the Conservative Reformed Churches in my area.
     
  13. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    A Spiritual Treasury for the Children of God, by William Mason, is a daily devotional published in 1765 and recently re-published by Reformation Heritage Books.

    Mason (1719-1791) was not an ordained minister or a professional theologian. He was a clockmaker, by trade. Yet, his book is deeply spiritual and thoroughly biblical, and very much worth re-publishing and reading.

    One doesn't need formal ordination in order to be a legitimate theologian.
     
  14. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    Hmm, Scofield comes to mind. I think he was a lawyer. Charles Taze Russell (founder of the Jehovah's witnesses) wasn't ordained as far as I know. And lets not forge the preeminent Joseph Smith founder of the 'they are such good people' Mormon Church. Other greats like Amy Semple McPherson (circus animals are okay with the regulative principle), Mary Baker Eddy, and D.L.Moody also come to mind. Yep there are a bunch of great non-ordained theologians. Of course there is Finney, he was ordained, but I think he let his membership run out, and then he really started being successful so he's kind of unordained. He was so successful that his former areas of ministry are virtual spiritual deserts. And who can forget the late Dr Graham who single handedly through ecumenism led millions upon millions of people to Christ around the world thus ushering in the Millennium of the Apostle John. You just can't see it, but its there. Its 'spiritually discerned'.

    Ordination does not confer special knowledge, or divine guidance in a way unavailable to the rest of us. But it does confer a discipline and hopefully a level of schooled integrity that free wheeling 'do-what-feels-right-and-seems-to-work' methods do not do.

    The Church in America has been plagued by amateurs experimenting with spiritual things, and we are reaping the horrors that come from their seemingly innocent antics. The Lord has always been patient with His Church in the OT and the NT, but in the end He will root out idolatry. And non-ordained quacks are nothing more than priests of Baal more often than not.

    Sorry if I offend those of you who are Graham supporters. He may be a brother, but he erred greatly and inexcusably and his errors need to be exposed less they be repeated (just as he repeated the errors of Finney and Moody).
     
  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Any kind of ordination or specifically TE ordination? Stephen the Apostle was only ordained as a deacon, yet he was arguably the most powerful debater in church history in the public sphere.
     
  16. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    He was ordained in February 1939
     
  17. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    Wow. So, if "spiritual things" are reserved for non-amateurs (assuming that leaves only "professionals"), whatever is left for the "amateur"?
     
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  18. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    We could also list innumerable cases of ordained ministers who turned out to be wolves in sheep's clothing. We also seem to be forgetting that there is a difference between doing theology and preaching/leading public worship. Every Christian must be a theologian, or how else could we "test the spirits", but not every Christian should be an ordained minister.

    Moreover, if you cannot see the irony of non-ordained people writing internet posts on a theological subject while condemning "lay theologians", then you must be blind.
     
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  19. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    :applause:
     
  20. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I know. I've read probably 20,000 pages of the church fathers, can read 5 languages (I speak as a fool), read through Calvin 3X, Bavinck 2X. I'm not ordained nor do I want to be. I love the pastoral leadership at my church (and I thank God everyday that he showed me he didn't want me to be in ministry).

    I think I know what I am doing, theologically, by the grace of God.
     
  21. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I am counting the number of non-ordained theologians (pre 17th century) on my pinky finger as we speak.
     
  22. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    TE ordination or also including diaconate?
     
  23. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Personally I know not one deacon off the top of my pointy head. Of course my point is that I find it a historical curiosity the lack of non-ordained teachers in the church which are not Pastors.
     
  24. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Jacob,
    We have a lot in common. :)
     
  25. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    It's a bit more complicated historically, since most professors at Oxford and Cambridge (the two universities in England for much of the historical period) would have been in holy orders, whether or not they were believers, and even if their specialist subject was mathematics, law or science. Isaac Newton was almost unique in not following that pathway (speaking of a lay person who did a fair amount of theology, though he certainly isn't a positive example!). So many people who wrote on anything and everything would have been "ordained", even though they had little or no interest in pastoral ministry. This was true even of those who were technically "pastors" - that is, they held a living somewhere. Prior to his conversion, the Scottish pastor and theologian, Thomas Chalmers once wrote that “after the satisfactory discharge of his parish duties, a minister may enjoy five days in the week of uninterrupted leisure for the prosecution of any science in which his taste may dispose him to engage!”
     
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  26. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I know. I am asking more towards the general idea: should we include deacons under the category of "ordained?"
     
  27. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I totally forgot. Was Wyclif ordained? He was a university professor and arguably the most brilliant theologian and philosopher alive at the time.
     
  28. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes and no (which illustrates the complexity). He became Master of Balliol College in Oxford in 1361, and the same year was presented by the College (which owned the rights of patronage) with a living in Lincolnshire, 140 miles away. So he was the "pastor" of a church he visited a couple of times a year. The pastoral work would have been contracted out to a poorly paid curate. The following year he added another parish 80 miles in the other direction. Was he ordained? Yes, technically. Was he a pastor? By no stretch of the imagination.
     
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  29. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Freshman

    Can one be a theologian by being merely an enthusiast of theology, or is "Theologian" reserved only for those who make their living thereby?
     
  30. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    We have had Baptists preach; the last one I recall was two years ago. And real Baptists don't have sacraments, they have ordinances. So of course a Baptist preacher couldn't administer the Sacraments.
     
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