The Importance of Ordination Vows
In the Epistle of James, the third chapter opens with these words, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”Those solemn words have caused many a would-be clergyman or those already serving, to step back and strongly consider whether or not they should enter into public ministry or what they are already publicly teaching. Why? Because it matters greatly to God. He holds people accountable for what they teach in his name.
In the BCP, our Ordinal makes this very plain by the way the vows are set out for all to read and hear.
“Will you be ready with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s word; and to use both publick and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole, within your Cures, as need shall require and occasion shall be given?”
Answer: “ I will, the Lord being my helper.”
In the Consecration of Bishops we find these two questions and vows.
“Will you then faithfully exercise yourself in the same holy Scriptures, and call upon God by prayer, for the true understanding of the same; so as you may be able by them to teach and exhort with wholesome Doctrine, and to withstand and convince the gainsayers?
Answer: I will do so, by the help of God.
Then repeated from the ordination as priest, we find this question and vow.
“Are you ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word; and both privately and openly call upon and encourage others to do the same?
Answer: “I am ready, the Lord being my helper.”
You may ask, why bring this matter up? Because vows matter. A vow is a bit of sworn testimony. Ordination and consecration vows up the seriousness because they are sacred in nature.
Why then focus on the above vows? Because we have so many strange and erroneous doctrines being promulgated by so many in parish and episcopal ministry. Bishops take the same vow twice.
Last edition, we pointed out the situation brought about by Stephen Knott’s appointment as Senior Appointments Secretary to the Archbishops. He is probably a very nice man but if 1 Corinthians 5 is still in the Bible, he doesn’t qualify for the post.
On 11 January, the Archbishop of Canterbury was widely publicised for having a Zoom meeting with various LGBT bishops from around the Anglican Communion. The meeting was in preparation for Lambeth 2022. There was no attempt fulfilling the promise to drive away their strange and erroneous doctrines contrary to God’s Word. No exhortation of wholesome Doctrine calling them to repent. It was all warm and affirming—of their unrepentant sin but bereft of the Gospel that saves.
We should pray that our leaders remember their vows and look to the Lord for help to keep them.