Protestant ordinal theology

Hello all,

I wonder if anyone could enlighten me on protestant ordinal theology. The Catholic Church, the Anglican Churches, and the Eastern Churches all believe that their bishops are consecrated in an unbroken line from the original apostles, using the consecration of St. Matthias as an example. These bishops then ordain priests and deacons.

Methodists generally trace their ordination from Church of England priests John and Charles Wesley, as far as I know. So in their view, presbyterial ordination is valid, and by their view, their ordination also comes through the apostles.

Do Presbyterians have the same view? Where did their orders come from?

What about Lutherans (who like American Methodists, now have bishops)?

What about Baptists? What is their theory of ordination? Is ordination more of a choosing and consecrating to service of a pastor without reference at all to apostolic succession?

What about Quakers, and “Non-Denominational” churches? What about the Church of Christ, the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

This is a tall order, but since my only experience is either Methodist (as a youth) or Anglican, I am curious about other Protestant theology/theory of ordination.

Thank you in advance.

I could be wrong, and maybe you or someone else can enlighten me, but I remember reading somewhere that while they do claim that they would have apostolic succession, Methodists don’t necessarily believe that Apostolic Succession is necessary for ordination. Does anyone know? Also, isn’t claimed that Wesley was consecrated a bishop by some eastern church leader in Apostolic Succession?

I think the Scandinavian state churches have maintained bishops uninterrupted since the Protestant Reformation.

Since Baptist churches are autonomous, they would approach this in whatever way they feel is correct. Typically, a person would need to testify to having a call. If the church believes a he has been called to pastoral ministry its common for there to be a council of other (Baptist) pastors review his testimony of salvation, pastoral calling, and his qualifications, such as theological preparation and scriptural qualifications according to 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:7-9. Some Baptist churches may want a pastor with seminary training; others don’t see it as necessary. Based on the interview, the church itself decides to ordain or not. When choosing a pastor, churches usually require a majority vote by the congregation.

Non-denominational churches are usually like Baptist churches in that anyone who testifies to receiving a call is eligible to be considered for licensing or ordination. Each church will have its own process for how that is tested and discerned. Usually, the ministers will be licensed under the senior pastor. There can be a special service with prayer and laying on of hands. Each church is different.

The Lutheran reformers believed in the importance of orders of the clergy from a standpooint of good order in the church. They did not see it as divinely set down, but as a human tradtiion that was worth continuing. Some Lutheran communities, particularly in Scandinavia, maintained succession and the office of Bishop. In other areas of Europe they did not, mainly because the bishops would not ordain them (and the reasons are known).
In America, most Lutheran communities came from areas where succession was not maintained, so that condition - presbyter ordination - was been the standard practice here.

A little over a decade ago, the ELCA came into full communion with the Episcopal Church. In order for that to happen, The ELCA nows ordains pastors with the presence of an Anglican Bishop to lay on hands, and so succession is now restored there (I know Catholics will dispute this) through Anglican lines, including the “Dutch touch”, etc.

In the LCMS, we don’t refer to them as bishops (district president) but their duties include the kinds of duties on finds a bishop responsibile for.

Don’t know if that answers your question.


I was raised in the so called “church of Christ” southern accapella, and they do not ordain their preachers at all. A church of Christ preacher can’t do anything another male member can’t do.

They have no educational requirements, tho many attend bible colleges and preaching schools, but that is optional.

Really in that denomination all you have to do is get the elders of a congregation to hire and pay you.

I don’t see what it would matter. Apostolic succession isn’t a magic gift passed from one bishop to another. It requires the fulness of the faith. Anyone that does not have the Apostolic faith cannot claim Apostolic succession. The Anglicans seem to have forgotten that, but this is why we do not accept their orders as valid, even after they tried to rectify that by having Old Catholic bishops consecrate them. The transmission of the Apostolic faith is the reason for and the proof of Apostolic succession. The Protestants don’t have one, and therefore they don’t have the other. There’s just no way around it. That is why our Holy Father refuses to call them “churches”.

There is nothing in my original posting, and nothing in subsequent posts that addresses Roman Catholic views on Anglican orders.

Also, by the logic of this posting, Anglican bishops who were ordained by Old Catholic bishops are no more bishops than my cat. This because they do not keep to “apostolic faith”. Thus, the ordinations of bishops in the Eastern churches are also suspect.

This is not the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

I have only expirienced Calvary Chapel ordination which was much like the aforementiond Baptist, which is really much like the consent of the governed in any social order I suppose. They do have another “pastor” from within their Christian community anoint the to be “pastor” with oil, lay on hands and pray over, which is supposed to be an outward expression of an already present reality :shrug:

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