Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is an ordained Christian minister.
That’s right! You, too, can be ordained as a clergyman.
Just go online to the Universal Life Church and click on the button “Become an Ordained Minister.” It will cost you a few bucks, but in a brief “Abracadabra!” moment, you can print off your ordination certificate and a ministerial license number.
Then, off you go to the Bahamas to have a few cold ones and marry your best friend.
The ordination of ministers is a joke.
But here’s the surprise. The joke is not the electronic paper mills ordaining societal celebrities as reverends.
I’d never tell the Rock that he’s a joke because he’d give me a Rock-felt poke,
I’m telling institutional churches that ordaining men or women is a joke.
Ordination is to the church what mail-order doctorates are to institutional ministers. It makes everyone feel good.
The precedence of ordaining religious clergy is cultural, not biblical.
Ironically, though, the harm ordination can bring to Christ’s church can be biblical in proportion.
Ordination “turns upside down” the biblical intent that all Christians – not just the paid or ordained ones – serve the world as members of one body who look to Jesus Christ alone as the head.
You will fruitlessly search the Old and New Testaments to find even one verse that speaks of “ordination.”
It’s not in the Bible.
But before you get upset, realize that many things the institutional Christian churches do in practice are not practices of New Testament Christianity.
Things like sitting on cushioned pews, turning down the air conditioner, turning up the heating, paying someone to teach, sing, or perform, then applauding as if you are the audience rather than God are all not modeled in New Testament Christianity.
Doing things that are not found in the Bible should not be classified as ‘sins.’
Time changes. Culture changes.
Sometimes Christ’s people change how they live to accommodate the culture in which they live.
I served three institutional churches that treated my family very well. The churches had a long legacy of cultural religious traditions cherished by long-time members, including putting on a musical celebration of the birth of Christ. They called it a Pageant.
I constantly reminded my church family not to spiritualize institutional traditions and think of them in terms other than what they were.
Tradition. That’s all.
Over thirty years, I did all I could to lead church members to think biblically about their Christianity, and not traditionally.
Some members, good people all, cherished their institutions and traditions more than critical thinking that is based on the principles of biblical Christianity.
That’s okay. I love traditions, too! However, when people begin thinking of their traditions as Divinely appointed and coming “from God,” then I become an obstacle.
I become a thorn in the flesh for those who categorize man-made traditions on the level of biblical Christianity. I become a thorn by accident, not intentionally.
You see, traditions can’t be considered sins until Christian people place them on a level ‘ordained’ (pun intended) by God and command or forbid other Christians in relation to their beloved traditions.
People get unintentionally stuck by thorns when attempting to insert plastic roses into living rose bushes.
The thorns aren’t aggressive; they’re just protecting living rose bushes from the insertion of dead substitutes for the real thing.
Kingdom harm comes to Christ’s people when institutional religion places traditions and practices as a collar of servitude on members and then cut-off truth-tellers from speaking spiritual reality to those in religious bondage.
Prophets are thrown into dungeons not because they are dangerous to the people but because they are dangerous to false practices.
When an institutional religious entity like the Southern Baptist Convention kicks Saddle Back Community Church for “ordaining” women, the Southern Baptist Convention has a religious institutional problem of tradition, not a biblical problem.
THE SADDLEBACK PROBLEM IS ONE OF ORDINATION
Rick Warren, the founder of Saddleback Church (a Southern Baptist Church from its inception), has done much for the Kingdom of Christ. From his book, The Purpose Driven Life, to founding Celebrate Recovery, many people have been led out of sin’s bondage to the freedom found in Christ through Rick’s ministry.
But Saddleback, like many religious institutions, fell into the religious trap of ordaining “professional clergy.” Saddleback began ordaining females. Saddleback then demanded that the Southern Baptist Convention accept their female ordinations.
The Southern Baptist Convention should not be accepting female ordinations.
The Southern Baptist Convention should not be accepting male ordinations.
The mistake of recognizing religious clerical ordination is one that Roman Catholics and Baptists share together.
The concept of religious ordination works like this:
ROMAN CATHOLICS: Peter the First Pope commissioned the early priests, and every new priest obtained his spiritual authority from the Popes who subsequently succeeded Peter. Without ordination from the Holy Roman Catholic Church, you have no authority in the Roman Catholic Church.
SOUTHERN BAPTISTS: John the Baptist baptized Jesus. The disciples received their baptism from either Jesus or John the Baptist and went out to fulfill the Great Commission, making new disciples and baptizing them. Ordination in how the ordinances” of the Church – baptism and the LORD’S Supper – are kept sacred. Without ordination, there is no property authority over the Church.
The religious concept of ordination is built on the faulty premise of ‘spiritual authority.’
When a pastor or priest speaks of “subverting my spiritual authority,” you know they’ve become hoodwinked by Fraudulent Authority.
And, when baptism and the Lord’s Supper are called “ordinances of the Church” rather than what they are called in Scripture “ordinances (commands) of Christ,” then the Church begins the practice of excluding all followers of Christ from baptizing others and participating in the preparation and dispensing of the Lord’s Supper because leaders of the Church have falsely seen themselves as the only ones “ordained” by the Church to oversee the ordinances.
Wherever I served, I made it clear that anyone who had the privilege of leading another to faith in Jesus – a mother her child, a husband his spouse, a worker his or her co-worker, etc. – had the privilege of baptizing that new convert. Also, the Lord’s Supper could be shared in any home, at any time, by any followers of Jesus because the command is from Him, not the church.
THE BIBLICAL MODEL OF SERVICE IN CHRIST’S KINGDOM
In New Testament Christianity, gifted men and women the church called to serve others have hands laid upon them as a symbol of dependence on the Holy Spirit to fulfill their gifted service.
Whether it be waiting on tables, teaching the Word, carrying a love offering to starving people in another city, hiding a gospel letter in the fold of a robe on the way to Rome, or showing mercy to the sick, all of God’s people shepherd other people in the Kingdom. All of us are ministers.
The laying on of hands is not ordination. Laying hands on the head of a Christ-servant symbolizes dependence on the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of that servant’s Gospel mission.
Most of those who object to the biblical teaching of Spirit-gifted anointed service in the Kingdom of Christ are paid, professional clergy.
There is no better illustration of capitalism in the religious market than professional fights over who can – and cannot – be ordained.
Everyone either wants a certificate of ordination or wants to keep others from getting a certification of ordination. Males, females, LGBQT+ activists, Hollywood celebrities, and your next-door neighbor all want a certificate of ordination or keep other groups from receiving them.
I argue that biblical Christianity rips the certificates and empowers the gifted.
By the way, the gifted ones most celebrated in the Kingdom of Christ are those with gray hair. They are simply called “elders” because they are “older” and have a lifetime of good character that empowers them in their Kingdom missions.
Eldership has nothing to do with spiritual authority and everything to do with a lifetime of good character.
Many of my professional religious friends in ministry may feel like throwing me into Jeremiah’s dungeon for this post.
I, however, speak the truth.
And while I’m speaking the truth, I close with a suggestion that THE STATE has NO BUSINESS ordaining marriage.
If two gays wish to be “married,” and the State wants to give them a tax credit, so be it. I’ll fight for the civil liberties of my gay friends to live together for tax advantages from the State.
But regarding biblically sanctioned marriage, I’ll place advocates of gay marriage in the same category as my professional religious friends who advocate for ordination.
I’ll leave you alone, but don’t go and make me approve your practice as ordained by God.
I recognize that you may be comfortable with your traditions; you may be protecting what makes you happy, but the claim you have biblical principles backing you up and sanctioning what you’re doing is something I’ll oppose like Jeremiah opposed the practices of Judah.
Any religious institution that mandates unbiblical practices and demands forced acceptance of their unbiblical practices – be it gay marriage or clerical ordination – will come to a tragic end if it insists their institutional, dead practices be imposed on Christ’s living church.
I’ll go ahead and be that thorn who speaks the truth.
P.S. (For my Christian evangelical friends). If you feel it necessary to give allegiance to the State, then license a person to Christian ministry. The State recognizes Christian licensing and ordination as the same. However, the State also approves atheists, witches, lesbians, and anybody with a certificate of license as a minister. Give the State the license they may require, but don’t throw your pearls of Spirit-gifted service in the body of Christ before swine. And, for Christ’s Kingdom’s sake, don’t go and give the big head to the guy (or gal) that receives the State ministerial license certificate from you. He or she is no better than the Rock with that piece of paper. However, with the good character of a long-lived life for Christ (elder), and with the simple “laying on of hands” empowering Spirit-gifted people (regardless of gender) to fulfill their called ministries, the servant/leaders of Christ’s church will succeed where the State of religion fails.