b-greek-digest V1 #641

b-greek-digest             Friday, 31 March 1995       Volume 01 : Number 641

In this issue:

        lay ministry
        Re: Baptism


From: Tom Frieze <tfr@ca1.leids.com>
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 95 14:24:38 PST
Subject: lay ministry

I have been following the discussion concerning Matt. 28 (commission for lay
ministry or Apostolic) as well as the discussions about Baptism and 
ecclesiastic authority and cannot get rid nagging concern that is raised by 
the very posing of these question.  ISTM that the clerical/lay distinction is 
an extra-biblical one that is being furthered here and that is potentially 
harmful to the ongoing mission of the church (making disciples).  Much could 
be said in this regard, but I believe one needs only read the first couple 
chapters of Paul's letter to the Galatians to understand this central point: 
It is the Gospel that conveys authority, not ecclesiastical office.  Note in 
particular Paul's attitude toward the "other" apostles in 2:6.  Paul 
emphasizes that the only thing Paul received from human agency was the 
"recognition" of the grace given him (2:9) by those who were recognized as 
apostles and that the criterion for judgment of authority is not 
ecclesiastical office but faithful presentation of the gospel (see esp. 1:8).  

- -- 
___|___ Pastor Tom
   |    tfr@ca1.hden.victorville.ca.us


From: Bill Mounce <bill.mounce@on-ramp.ior.com>
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 1995 16:47:54 -0700
Subject: RE:"Soundness" 

You can compare Paul's use of "gangrene" in his description of the Ephesian
opponents and see that he is using medical imagery to describe the gospel
vs. the Ephesian heresy. I would think that is the major thrust of the
terms. Mahlerby has an article on this terminology in the PE. It is a
question as to how far to push the imagery, though. Does the gospel
actually aid in physical health? Probably not.


Bill Mounce
also mounce@macsbbs.spk.wa.us (no files please)
AOL: Mounce
CIS: 71540,2140 (only if essential, please)

"It may be Greek to you, but it is life to me!"



From: Carl W Conrad <cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu>
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 1995 21:47:18 -0600 (GMT-0600)
Subject: Re: Baptism

On Thu, 30 Mar 1995, Michael I Bushnell wrote:
>    ...                                                        it 
>    appears that there is a gap--at least in our knowledge of the 
>    facts--between the establishment of the communities and intelligible 
>    evidence of an authority structure associated with performance of ritual 
>    and administrative functions.
> I don't think this is really the point.  Paul doesn't give us enough
> to recognize a particular ecclesiology--but that's not the question I
> was asking.  In every case where someone was baptized, it is clear
> that the baptizer had some particular authority.  The Corithians had a
> unity problem, in part because they divided themselves into factions
> based upon who baptized each one.  But this is actually evidence for
> my position: clearly, each faction saw the person who baptized them as
> an authority.  

I think you're jumping to a conclusion here. It may very well be that 
"each faction saw the person who baptized them as an authority" (that 
seems, at any rate, to be what Paul surmises), but the question remains 
concerning the legitimacy of that authority in institutional terms. The 
fact is that we just don't know who "authorized" these baptizers. I had 
sort of thought, from your argument yesterday, that you wanted to appeal 
to an unbroken apostolic succession of authority to baptize. I don't 
really see any CLEAR evidence of that in the NT.
> Paul doesn't contest the authority relationship, but he does give
> thanks that his authority does not derive from any role of baptizer he
> might have.  This supports further the idea that while leaders have
> the job of baptizing, it is God that baptizes, and the fact of baptism
> is vastly more important than which leader it is who baptizes.  So
> while we have very little understanding of the way authority happened
> in Corinth, it is clear that there were authorities, and clear that
> baptism was linked to the ministry of those authorities.  And, to
> repeat, it is also clear that Paul's authority did not depend on his
> being a baptizer, but on his apostolic commission.

I'm not really sure what you're trying to argue here: (a) the initiative 
in the action of baptism is God's (and therefore it is not really 
important who the human agent performing the baptism is), or (b) there 
really were authorities and authority depended on apostolic commission, 
but having such authority is not related to being a baptizer. Is the 
opposite also true: that being a baptizer doesn't depend on having 
apostolic commission?
>    (2) You refer to Philip as a "diakonos." While I know that tradition 
>    tends to view the "Seven" in Acts 6 as the first "Deacons" and derives 
>    the name from the function supposedly given them in that episode (waiting 
>    on tables, overseeing the distribution of food), I think Acts 6 offers us 
>    a very unsatisfactory account of the appointment and function of the 
>    Seven. First of all, they almost all have Greek names and so are clearly 
>    associated with the "Hellenes" who are said to be at odds with the 
>    "Ioudaioi." But then the functional division between the Twelve and the 
>    Seven is said to be that the Twelve are evangelists while the Seven are 
>    kitchen-and-warehouse administrators. Yet it is clear from Acts 6 itself 
>    that this is inadequate because Stephen here (and Philip later) are 
>    functioning as evangelists and Philip is baptizing. If Stephen had been 
>    only administering food distribution he would never have gotten into 
>    trouble with Jewish authorities. So: there are traditions underlying Acts 
>    6 that appear to point to emerging institutional structure, but the 
>    account offered us is rather murky. Where are you Luke/Acts people who 
>    know how to sort these issues out?
> It is true that the seven are not actually given the name deacon in
> the text.  But the objection that they can't have been deacons in the
> later Catholic sense seems to come from people who haven't really been
> paying attention to deacons.  Preaching and baptizing have always been
> associated with the diaconate right along with other forms of service.

I remain puzzled here. Again you insist upon a particular institutional 
authority as having "always existed," although the evidence for its 
establishment is by no means clearly to be found in the NT. Or are you 
reading something between the lines of what Luke tells us in Acts 6? It 
seems to me that Luke either (1) doesn't tell us the whole story about 
this office bestowed upon the elect 7, or (2) he doesn't know the whole 
story, or (3) he is himself confused. Personally I suspect that both (2) 
and (3) are the case. I really wonder whether these seven Greeks weren't 
really from the very beginning missionaries to Greek-speaking Jews at the 
same time that the twelve continued to carry on a mission to 
Aramaic-speaking Jews. Admittedly this is speculative, but it would imply 
a genuine basis for their holding apostolic authority that the 
food-distribution function would hardly seem to justify.
> My question was much more limited.  It was not "tell me all about the
> liturgical practice of baptism" but "are there any cases where someone
> not acknowledged to be a leader baptized another?"  The answer would
> seem to be "no".

Well, it appears that I have misunderstood you again. But here in this 
last paragraph it appears to me once again that you are assuming the 
answer in the form in which you put the question. "Are there any cases 
where someone not acknowledged to be a leader baptized another?" How can 
we say that the answer "would seem to be 'no'" when we don't know who 
authorized or acknowledged the baptizer (in the case of the Corinthians 
not baptized by Paul); and it won't do to say simply that those baptized 
acknowledged their baptizer as an authority. No doubt the friend whom 
Daniel Hedrick will be baptizing will consider Daniel an authority. But I 
don't think we have any evidence of apostolic authority clearly 
associated with these baptisms in the Corinthian congregation--those not 
performed by Paul. Those baptizers may have had such authority, but what 
we're told in 1 Corinthians doesn't constitute evidence for it. 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
(314) 935-4018
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu  OR cwc@oui.com


End of b-greek-digest V1 #641


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