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'To be a priest Perspectives on Vocation and Ordination'. Edited by Robert E. Terwilliger and Urban T. Holmes. Contents, preface, foreward

To be a priest

Perspectives on Vocation and Ordination

Edited by Robert E. Terwilliger and Urban T. Holmes,
The Seabury Press, 815 Second Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017, 1975.


FOREWORD John Maury Allin vii
PREFACE Robert E. Terwilliger and Urban T. Holmes ix

Part I. What is a Priest?

1. One Anglican View Robert E, Terwilliger 3
2. Another Anglican View C. FitzSimons Allison 11
3. An Orthodox Statement Thomas Hopko 21
4. A Roman Catholic Catechism Quentin Quesnell 29

Part II. The Priesthood in the Bible and History

5. Priesthood in the History of Religions Joseph Kitagawa 45
6. The Priesthood of Christ Myles M. Bourke 55
7. Priesthood in the New Testament Louis Weil 63
8. Presbyters in the Early Church Massey H. Shepherd, Jr 71
9. The Ideal Parson of the Newly Reformed English Church Frederica Harris Thompsett 83
10. The Meaning of Ordained Priesthood in Ecumenical Dialogues Herbert T. Ryan 91

Part III. Priestly Functions

11. The Priest and the Eucharist Louis Bouyer 103
12. The Priest as Professional Frederick H. Borsch 111
13. The Priest as Authority on the World John M. Gessell 117
14. “Because Beset with Weakness . . .” Michael J. Buckley 125

Part IV. The Priestly Vocation Today

15. On Vocation William B. Green 133
16. Priesthood and the Church as Community Arthur A. Vogel 141
17. Priestly Character John Macquarrie 147
18. The Bible, the Nature of the Church, and the Ordination of Women Harvey H. Guthrie Jr. 155
19. The Re-ordering of the Ministry Michael Marshall 163
20. The Priest as Enchanter Urban T. Holmes 173


By the end of the 1973 General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Louisville, I was convinced that the grave and potentially divisive issue of the ordination of women was one of those pastoral, theological and ecumenical problems which could not be resolved simply by voting. Some desired dramatic action immediately. Others seemed to be stalling for time, hoping the question would eventually go away.

I came to my new responsibility as Presiding Bishop convinced that the Church has the capacity as a community to resolve correctly and justly such problems when provided the opportunity and the means. Accordingly, I proposed to the House of Bishops that the Presiding Bishop-elect initiate a new process which would provide the membership of the Church, and any others interested, opportunity and means to share in this problem-solving. The bishops gave unanimous approval.

The purpose of the proposed process was to develop throughout the Church a clearer and more definitive understanding of the doctrine of Christian priesthood and a valid Christian concept of human sexuality. To secure a resolution of the ordination question in accord with the faith of the Church, a method was required to stimulate and enrich thoughtful discussions of priesthood and sexuality among church people.

The plan developed was to publish a book of brief essays on each subject. Representative and qualified authors were to be sought by co-editors who held differing views on the subjects. Each book was to include an extensive bibliography. I hoped each book would be a mosaic of written statements, each contributing to the form, depth, and color of the subject.

A committee was asked to check out the plan, suggest specific topics and titles and possible authors, and submit bibliographies. I asked John Goodbody and the Church Center Communication Staff to coordinate the process. The publishing services of the Seabury Press were available.

This book is the first mosaic. It is offered with the prayer that within it and from it some revealing light will be focused on priesthood. If from this book some questions receive answers, some answers receive clarifications, and some new questions are provoked, the purpose will be well served.

This book is not the official report of a “blue ribbon” committee. It is, rather, a sharing of understandings, a contribution to a process of community building, an attempt to clarify the meaning of priesthood and hopefully to reflect a clearer vision of Jesus, the Great High Priest.

I hope you will want to share this mosaic with others.

John Maury Allin
Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church


At this moment in the history of the Church, attention is being focused intensely on the nature of the Christian ministry. This concern centers particularly on the ministerial priesthood and the episcopate. The immediate cause of this is, of course, the debate about the ordination of women. There has also been the long-continuing “crisis in ministry” with its anguished questions of identity and personal vocation. The Church has, in consequence, the mandate to explore in depth a theological issue which has much wider ramifications than the relationship of sexuality to ordination. This book is a response to that opportunity in essays which embrace a wide range of related topics.

In selecting subjects and essayists the two editors have sought to present a balance of viewpoint, drawing on various traditions and sources. There is, by intention, considerable disagreement among the authors, since we believe it is important for the readers to be exposed to many points of view to stimulate their thinking. In a volume such as this not every essay is directed to the same audience nor written on the same level. Our intention is that these contributions should reflect the best in current scholarship, yet at the same time be intelligible to both priest and layman.

We think it is important for the readers to understand that the two editors themselves have differing opinions on the matter of the ordination of women. At the same time we found a freedom to work together, which combined a natural collaboration with a kind of independence. Each of us does not necessarily sponsor every article in the book, but we have found it easy to live in peace with one another in the presence of this fact. This is, we think, a sign that it is possible to have a basic difference of opinion and still be in Christian fellowship within the same Church. We are both committed to a thorough theological appraisal of the nature of priesthood and its relationship to the Church, which we think is reflected in this book.

It should also be clear that in contributing to the volume no author is endorsing the opinions of his fellow essayists; each article stands by itself. Only the editors of the book have read all the articles, and the opinions of one person should not be attributed to anyone else who is part of this study.

In assembling the essays, we have sought to follow a general outline, which should become apparent to anyone working through the contents. We have begun with four essays with distinct points of view on the definition of priesthood. This is followed by a number of articles on biblical and historical themes related to the ministerial priesthood. After that is a section that deals with the functions priests perform, and we conclude with an examination of the priestly vocation today.

The reader should keep clear in his mind the difference between ministry and the priesthood. We do not understand these terms in any sense to be synonymous, and this volume is directed only toward the issue of priesthood and the related subject matter of the episcopate. We do not claim that the volume is in any sense exhaustive of the subject, although we do think it is representative. Undoubtedly some will criticize it for not having a particular point of view or group represented among the essayists. We have made a conscientious effort to draw on both men and women, Anglicans and non-Anglicans who have a particular interest in the subject of priesthood, people who are in favor of the ordination of women to the priesthood, and people who are not, and scholars throughout the United States and elsewhere. Undoubtedly, in a venture of this kind it is not possible to have everything in proportion; and sometimes the inability—for good reasons—of some persons to comply with our request for an essay has upset that balance a bit more. However, we do think that this volume embodies a fair representation of opinion in the Episcopal Church and beyond.

We do hope that the readers of this book will not be Episcopalians only. The essays represent substantial work, and although they do not in every instance contain new scholarship, they do make available a valuable summary of considerable research in the field on the part of distinguished theologians, historians, biblical and liturgical scholars.

In conclusion, we would note that while these are times of deep division on some very basic issues in the life of the Church, they are not times of darkness. The belief of the two editors is that in such times light often breaks through the rifts in the unity of the Church of Christ, and we have great hope that a deeper understanding of the ministry, and particularly of the priesthood, in the life of the Church will be the result of the struggle in which we are presently engaged. This book is offered as a contribution to that understanding.

Robert E. Terwilliger Urban T. Holmes

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