Valid Holy Orders

Why don’t Protestant ministers have valid Holy Orders? What severed them?

Links to explanations would be fine.

A not uncommon topic, locally.

Relates, in most cases, to the concept of Apostolic Succession, what is necessary to transmit Apostolic Succession, validly, and who does, or does not possess it.


Holy Orders is the sacrament associated with the holding of apostolic office. Right in the book of Acts, you see the apostles ordaining (though the word itself isn’t used) a replacement for Judas Iscariot’s office after his suicide. Then Jesus himself appoint Paul as an apostle as the scope of the Church is grown beyond the Jews to include the gentiles, indicating that the office of apostle is NOT limited to the original 12 offices.
Every real bishop or priest has been ordained by a bishop whose line traces back to the apostles themselves.

Most protestant groups reject the idea of Apostolic Succession. Many reject even the concept of sacraments. Some that retain the idea of sacraments disbelieve in Holy Orders specifically. Others believe it, but have so fundamentally altered the idea of what Holy Orders IS that even if one of their bishops was validly ordained and even if he laid hands on a man and said all the proper words of ordination, it still wouldn’t be valid because his intent doesn’t align with what Holy Orders IS.

It’s complex, subtle and controversial. Theologians argue about it, which is probably a pretty good illustration for why we have a church with the authority to discern and rule on such things in the first place. Humans make a mess of pretty much everything we touch!

Historically, most Protestant ministers didn’t want Holy Orders, so they stopped passing them on.

Lutherans and Anglicans would dispute the notion of a lack of validity. As GKC said, it generally has to do with the view of the validity of the Apostolic Succession involved, and for some Lutherans such as my communion, the validity of presbyter ordination. We see it, historically and by divine law, as being valid.

The other issue that has crept into the issue in recent decades is female ordination.


it is ODD that Saint Paul did not recognize – the need for priests – to have sacrifices – and ceremonies-- especally if it ws a blessing to the people of the book-- who were followers of Jesus – and baptised in Jesus name–

Yes it is ODD that the Holy Spirit did not make it plain and clear-- oh well maybe it is not necessary

the – invention of having priests was and is a man made invention from Constantine from 325 ad–

and i have never met a catholic priest that – had any spiritual anointing–

BUT i have met many --ministers in the 5 fold ministry –

that was anointed by the Holy Spirit

Saint Paul – make it clear in the 5 fold ministry

Question: “What is the five (5) fold ministry?”

Answer: The concept of the five-fold ministry comes from Ephesians 4:11, "It was he who gave some to be

(1) apostles, some to be

(2) prophets, some to be

(3) evangelists, and some to be

(4) pastors and

(5) teachers."

Primarily as a result of this verse, some believe God has restored, or is restoring, the offices of apostle and prophet in the church today.

Ephesians 4:12-13 tells us that the purpose of the five-fold ministry is,

“to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

So, since the body of Christ definitely is not built up to unity in the faith and has not attained to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, the thinking goes, the offices of apostle and prophet must still be in effect.


Ephesians 2:20 informs us that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.”

Hebrews 6:1-3 encourages us to move on from the foundation.

Although Jesus Christ is most definitely active in the church today,

His role as the cornerstone of the church was completed with His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.

If the work of the cornerstone is, in that sense, complete,

What was the role of the apostles and prophets?

It was to proclaim God’s revelation, to teach the the assembly church would need to grow and thrive.

The apostles and prophets have a mission.

How? By giving us the Word of God. The RHAMA Word of God is the revelation of God.

The Bible contains the LOGoS church needs to know to grow, thrive, and fulfill God’s mission

(2 Timothy 3:15-16). The cornerstone work of the apostles and prophets

The ongoing work of the apostles and prophets is manifested in the Holy Spirit speaking through and teaching us God’s RHAMA Word.

In that sense, the five-fold ministry is still active.

Welcome to CAF.
Considering the OP’s question is about orders, I’m not convinced this relates to the topic.
To your point, however, the early Church, East, West, and the Lutheran reformers,felt that ordination was important. We can argue with our Catholic siblings about the nature of the sacrifice of the mass, but it seems orders and the priesthood are historically undeniable, by scripture and tradition.


You can write at length, say what you want, but Protestants having broken away from Rome don’t have Apostolic succession, one of the reasons being they were no longer interested in Believing in the Mass, in fact Queen Elizabeth 1 put anyone to death caught saying the Mass, so the Anglicans in England did not feel Apostolic succession was necessary, Henry X111 proclaimed himself head of the Church in England, wrote a lot of his own rules for the Church to follow while he was busy fornicating with all his mistress’s and 6 wives, either cutting of some of there heads, so he could remarry and have a son, but the Lord had the last laugh, after six wives and ( no son ) his two daughters came on the throne after him, only his two daughters, then that was the end of the Tudors, in the end he cut off the head of Ann Boleyn who he defied the Pope over in the beginning and turned England up side down, but he got a girl hence the second wife whom he broke from Rome for he beheaded.

This is Article 24 taken from the 39 Articles when the Church of England was established.

  1. Of the Traditions of the Church.
    It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have
    been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that
    nothing be ordained against God’s Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely,
    doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God,
    and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do
    the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the
    Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
    Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, Ceremonies or Rites of the
    Church ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying.

Henry VIII.

I suggest Scarisbrick’s bio of Hank, HENRY VIII, for a better grasp of history. I may have suggested this before.

Not to worry. Scarisbrick is a RC, active in the effort to have G. K. Chesterton beatified (at least), and the best man for understanding what was going on in Henry’s day that I have found, in 20 years of studying the old goat.


Why must we limit this thread to only Lutherans and Anglican? There are many more Protestants than just those two bodies and they all have clergy.

Ls and As are the only Protestants to care about Apostolic Succesion and not all of them care. I am fairly certain that many Anglicans believe that ordination by bishops is only for the good order of the church but not needed for the church to exist. Especially Anglicans of the Calvinist persuasion.
Other Protestants may have ordination by Elders, and yet others have ordination by the entire congregation.

And then in some they have no ordination at all. If a man wants to preach he just finds Elders who will hire and pay him to preach. Those bodies usually have no seminaries, but ‘bible colleges and schools of preaching’.

It varies widely. Not 30,000 but many variations.

The answer you get sort of depends on whom you ask, in fact.


However, Anglicans and Lutherans acknowledge a break from the exact practice of the Catholic Church, where the founders of Protestantism wished to emulate the bare descriptions of the rites found in Scripture, without the accompanying words or actions taught by Sacred Tradition. This was an explicit desire to break away from the perceived over complications of the rites found in the Church they were protesting.

While these groups may recognize Catholic Holy Orders as peers, it is because the Catholic ritual contains the bare minimum they consider necessary, superfluous additions notwithstanding. The “bare minimum” that Protestants historically believed is different than that taught by the Catholic Church. When the Pope ruled Anglican Orders invalid in the late 19th Century, many Anglicans said, “Good Riddance!” It was only in the early 20th Century that the Anglicans revised their rite of ordination to substantially emulate the Catholic rite. The differing understanding remains the same, however.

No, the sacramental form for orders which was alleged to be invalid in Apostolicae Curae, was that of the Edwardine Ordinal, of Elizabeth’s time. That form was cured in 1662, for reasons unrelated to the logic of the condemnation in Leo’s Apostolic Letter, not in the 20th century. The issue was not an “over-complication” but, in the logic of AC, an invalid concept of the sacrificial priesthood, coupled with an invalid sacramental intent, in the use of that form, resulting in a break in Apostolic succession.


Protestants do not have valid Holy Orders because they broke off from the true, Apostolic, Spotless Church of Christ and changed the rite of ordination. They are presbyters meant to preside over a service.

This is vaguely related to what was said, with respect to Anglicans, in Apostolicae curae. But the idea of not being in communion with Rome is not a part of that judgement.


I was listening to a spot on Catholic Radio yesterday that referenced this, but they said that, once the form was corrected, it did not restore the validity because those people were ordained by persons already having lost validity?

Is this why they are re-ordaining those that come into the Roman Communion?

Possibly (perhaps partially), since the form found invalid, in the Edwardine ordinal, was in use for around 100 years . But it also leaves open the Dutch Touch issue. It is a murky subject. But one would not assume that curing the form would do anything except (possibly) permit the form to be used to infuse the episcopal orders of someone validly possessing them, per the Dutch Touch question.

I am using, as best I can, the RC perspective here.


I was mistaken about the date the form of the orders was restored (by a couple centuries :frowning: - I think I confused it with the “Dutch Touch” when I was writing). However, I never meant to imply there was causation between the Papal Bull and the revision.

No problem. You should see the things I get confused.


I had a nightmare. I was back in 1960, and the nuns were making me diagram that sentence.

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