Sunday, July 03, 2016

Saint Jerome on the Tri-fold ministry

I do not know the identity of this writer who merely uses the initials M.G. (out of humility?), and wouldn't mind knowing it. The article is well worth reading.

Jerome on the Tri-fold Ministry
In this post I will attempt to address texts in St. Jerome which are alleged to challenge the view of the tri-fold ministry’s origin, structure, and necessity held by Roman, Orthodox, and Anglican Cathlics.  I will argue that Jerome agrees with their view of the ministry.

Charles Gore’s The Church in the Ministry is an excellent piece of apologetic for the tri-fold ministry. Though his biblical arguments are helpful, they are not as great as those of Cirlot’s Apostolic Succession: is it True?. Where Gore really shines is his treatment of the patristic texts that are used against the view of the tri-fold ministry held by Orthodox, Roman, and some Anglican Catholics. On our view, the tri-fold ministry of bishop, presbyter, and deacon is three distinct offices. These offices are Apostolic institutions, and intended to be permanently distinct. Only bishops can actually confer the gift of ministry through the laying-on of hands in ordination.  Call this the first view of the tri-fold ministry.

You may read the rest at this link


Anonymous said...

Thank you (and, in the first place, MG!) - very interesting!

I would have to reread repeatedly and study it further, but it would seem a possible explication that St. Jerome thought the monoepiscopate was conveniently developed such that presbyter-episcopoi could elect a monoepiscopos out of their ranks, after which he would be conveniently delegated uniquely to ordain further presbyter-episcopoi and deacons (and perhaps even neighboring monoepiscopoi).

I don't see that it need imply "that bishops have the power of ordination that presbyters lack; second, that the trifold ministry is a necessity of the Church produced by Apostolic institution; and third, he implicitly denies that presbyterian ordination is, has been, or could be Christian practice" or that "These offices are Apostolic institutions, and intended to be permanently distinct." A monoepiscopal three-fold ministry could be according to Scripture (while not exclusively so) and consuetudinally (most) convenient, without being a development somehow made thenceforth necessary.

Semi-Hookerian (but, blushingly, still no master of LEP Books VI-VIII)

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I believe he explained in detail why only bishops can ordain, and that it precisely why the presbytery was what changed into a separate order. I will add that for the Church it is enough that the Apostles themselves made it so, and that we ought to conclude that it was, therefore, the Holy Spirit, and that an apostle of any ruler is, by definition of the word, acting with the full authority of the sender.

I came across this because I wanted to read the letter itself again. I find in Jerone's letter the possible origin of the term "Apodtolic Succession, saying of bishops, "They are all alike successors of the Apostles."