Tuesday, March 12, 2024

The Meaning of Ordination: Beyond the Traditional Channels

"If one believes that the ordination practices of ULC are some kind of joke or can have no real meaning, I invite you to consider a few names of those who progressed through more traditional channels of ordination: Jim Bakker, Billie James Hargis, Jimmy Swaggart, an unknown percentage of Roman Catholic priests, and on and on. Add to those the sellers of snake-oil and prayer cloths and splinters from the cross, toss in a little Inquisition, mix in a dash of Protestant burnings and beatings of Quakers and the occasional Jim Jones." - Rev. Brian Robertson, quoted in The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement, by John P. Plummer

This quote by Rev. Brian Robertson invites us to reconsider our perceptions of ordination and its meaning. The traditional channels of ordination, while revered, have not been immune to controversy and moral failings. From high-profile scandals to historical atrocities, the path of traditional ordination has been marred by actions that stray far from the spiritual ideals they are supposed to uphold.

The Universal Life Church (ULC) and other non-traditional ordination bodies often face skepticism and criticism for their unconventional approach to ordination. Critics argue that these practices lack the depth, rigor, and sanctity of traditional ordination processes. However, the quote challenges this notion by highlighting that the mere act of going through traditional channels does not guarantee moral superiority or spiritual authenticity.

The essence of ordination, whether through traditional or non-traditional channels, should be measured by the actions and intentions of the individual, not solely by the process they underwent to achieve their title. The true meaning of ordination lies in the commitment to serve, guide, and uplift others in their spiritual journey. It is about embodying the values and teachings one professes to believe in.

As we reflect on the diverse paths to ordination, it is crucial to remember that the legitimacy and impact of one's ministry are not solely determined by the method of their ordination. Instead, it is the integrity, compassion, and dedication with which they carry out their duties that truly define their ministry. Let us embrace a more inclusive and open-minded perspective on ordination, recognizing that the divine call to serve can manifest through various channels, each with its own unique value and potential for meaningful impact.

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