The Weekly Inter Ocean, November 17, 1912


Albany N Y, Nov. 17 As always, Pastor Russell got the crowds today. We report his discourse on ministerial ordination and titles. Very evidently it was a reply to an attack recently made upon him by a Mr. W T Ellis, field editor of "The Continent," and alias the "Religious Rambler." Ellis charged Pastor Russell with being unordained and claimed that his ordination as pastor is fraudulent. The address showed that Pastor Russell fully understands the situation. He fully justified his position before his vast audience and showed up the "rambler" editor in the unenviable light either of being ignorant of the subjects discussed or of attempting to deceive the public. His text was, "Not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead." (Gal. 1:1) He said: -

Evidently the time has come for telling the common people what the Bible teaches respecting clergy and laity, titles of ministers, and ordination to teach and preach. We have previously pointed out that the doctrine of Apostolic Succession started in the second century, A D The bishops claimed that they had the same authority that Jesus had originally given exclusively to the Twelve Apostles. On the strength of this claim they appointed and ordained the inferior clergy.

This custom still prevails in what are known as Catholic Churches Roman, Anglican and Greek. The principle is wholly wrong, unscriptural. According to the Bible, the Church of Christ is not composed of two parts, clergy and laity. Jesus declared, "One is your Master, Christ; and all ye are brethren." Therefore, "Call no man [Master or] Father." St. Paul's writings clearly show that in the early Church the ministers were the servants of the flock and not of a different, lordly caste. They, were of the people; and when chosen by the ecclesia by the stretching forth of the hand (Greek, cheirotoneo), they were recognized as of Divine appointment to the ministry through the Church.

The customs of centuries were so difficult to throw off that many of the reformers coveted the titles accorded the Catholic clergy. Nor did they care to tell the congregation that its word was supreme in the matter and that its ministers were merely by the grace of God its servants. Others of the reformers, realizing that Jesus and His disciples were not styled Reverend, Doctor, etc., declined to use these titles, preferring to be called pastors. This custom still prevails very generally in Protestant Germany and Scandinavian. My Christian friends and Bible Student associates well know my objection to the title "Reverend," and hence address me as "Pastor" shepherd. Furthermore, I am the elected pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle congregation, and also of the London Tabernacle congregation. I fail to see any ground for criticism of my course in this respect; nor do I make any attack upon Christian brethren who accept other and unscriptural titles.


There is no question that ordination is necessary to the proper holding of the office of Pastor. The whole question is: What constitutes an ordination to preach, teach and be a pastor amongst the people of God?

This question has received a wide variety of answers. The Roman, Anglican and Greek Churches, claiming Apostolic Succession, declare that the authorization to preach must come through their apostle-bishops. For this reason Protestant ministers have not been allowed to enter the pulpits of these denominations until the Episcopalians a year ago granted this concession. Their charge has been that Protestant ministers are unordained. Of course, if their proposition be correct, I am just as much unordained as all other Protestant ministers and no more so.

Only since the organization of the Evangelical Alliance (1846) have the different sects of Christendom acknowledged each other and each other's ordinations. Some of them recognize the word ordination in its true light, as meaning simply authorization; and others of less spiritual discernment see merely an outward ceremony. Each denomination does its own ordaining, and makes such ceremonies as it deems proper. If, therefore, the congregation of Christian believers in Brooklyn and the other congregation in London choose to ordain or appoint me their Pastor, it is wholly a matter of their own what ceremonies, if any, shall accompany that ordination or appointment. Who can dispute this? No Protestant denomination, surely; for their own ordinations are on this basis.


The entire subject of ordination of ministers of the Gospel seems to have fallen into confusion during the shufflings of the Dark Ages; and few seem to have gotten fully back to the Bible teachings on this subject as on other subjects. St. Paul is particular in emphasizing the fact that he did not receive his commission as preacher and Apostle of Christ from his brother Apostles. He distinctly declares himself an Apostle by Divine authorization. This is the general Scriptural principle underlying Divine Ordination to the ministry of Christ.

Before we proceed with an exposition of the Bible teaching or Divine Ordination, it will not be improper for us to note the practical operation of the different human organizations of men and by men merely.

Have all bishops of the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Greek Church been models of propriety, patterns to the flock? Have all given evidence of Divine authorization to teach and to preach the True Gospel? Their staunchest votaries must admit that many of them have been unworthy; and that from these very ones have proceeded doctrines and practices contrary to the Word of God. Of what value, then, are their ordinations by men and women? None whatever! On the contrary, the claim that they were Divinely authorized, and guided and [HGL570] inspired to be teachers of the Church, helped forward the errors which they promulgated. By reason of their claimed authority to

teach, the people believed them too implicitly and did not sufficiently criticize their utterances and practices in the light of the Holy Scriptures.

How is it today in the various Protestant denominations of Christendom? Are all those who receive sectarian ordination, of men and by man, benefited thereby? Has such ordination kept them free from weaknesses of the flesh to which others were exposed? Has it not, on the other hand, exposed them to greater temptations, because they were pedestaled by the people and thereby in injured with pride, haughtiness, etc. ? Has such ordination in any denomination preserved its ministers from doctrinal errors more than the people, who did not have a similar ordination of men and by man?

The answer is found in the numbers who have left various denominations and ordinations to go into other denominations and ordinations. It is answered also in the fact that today the great majority of ordained ministers in all denominations entirely repudiate the Bible as a Divine Revelation. Their ordination did not protect them from our modern infidelity, called Higher Criticism. Under its influence they have ceased to be teachers of Bible Christianity, and have become merely essayists, leaders in political and social reform and in humanitarian work. Manifestly their ordination of men and by man did not hold them to the "faith once delivered to the saints." (Jude 3) It did not assist them to appreciate the Bible as being sufficient that the man of God might be thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work.

Let us consider the matter again, from another standpoint. Did any of these human ordinations of men and by man impart the Holy Spirit or give a mental illumination by which any of these humanly ordained ministers were qualified for preaching and teaching the Lord's people? The answer is, No! As deep spirituality and as deep insight into the teachings of the Scriptures are to be found outside of the pulpit as inside. The ordination, evidently, brought no enlightenment, no gift of the Holy Spirit the thing above all needed by those who would teach others and expound the Gospel.


The ordination of ministers, of men and by man, has been injurious in that it has perpetuated the misconception that the Church is divided into two-classes clergy and laity. The ordained have been injured by being puffed up to suppose themselves of a higher caste than their brethren. The unordained have been injured in that human ordination has helped to befog their minds in respect to the real ordination. Thus the "Laity" have been hindered from entering upon the very service which God intended should be their chief aim and object. In the early Church, the Elders were considered merely elder brothers of the Church not elders in years necessarily, but advanced ones in spiritual things, able to help the brethren properly to understand the Word of God and to attend to all the duties and privileges inculcated by the Gospel for their preparation for a share in Messiah's Kingdom. The ordination of reverend men to be rulers, and in some cases dictators of a Church, has taken away from the Elders the very services that the Apostle tells them were to be theirs. Instead, it appoints them the empty honor of passing the collection plate and the communion service. St. Paul, in his address to the Elders of the congregation at Ephesus, said, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the Flock, over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers [Greek, episkopos, literally, bishops], to feed the Church of God." (Acts 20:28) All of those Elders were under-shepherds, pastors, bishops, overseers. All of them had the commission to feed the Flock. All of them had opportunity for teaching, instructing the Church.


All will admit that if preachers are representatives of God, if they speak in His name, they must have some ordination from Him. Whoever has not Divine authority is usurping a holy office and placing himself in antagonism to God. As St. Paul suggests, "No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." (Heb. 5:4) The Apostle's argument is that the Aaronic priesthood was typical of the higher Priesthood of Jesus the Melchisedec Priesthood. Aaron and his sons belonged to the tribe specially called to the Divine service; and they were specially called out of that tribe to be the priests. The antitype is Jesus, the High Priest or Head Priest, over the under Priesthood all the true members of the Church of Christ. This St. Peter shows saying, not to the clerics, but to all the Church, "Ye are a Royal Priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Pet. 2:9

As Aaron received an anointing, qualifying him for the typical priesthood, so Jesus received an anointing of the Holy Spirit, qualifying Him to be the Head or Chief Priest over all the Church, the under-priesthood. The begetting of the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at His baptism. That anointing gave Him authority to preach and teach in the Father's name. There His ministry began, as He tells us Himself in His sermon in the Nazareth synagogue, where He read the opening verses of Isa. 61:1, and declared that their fulfillment had been reached in His own person: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek." Luke 4:17-21


While Jesus was with His disciples, He sent them forth to preach in His name, not in the Father's name; for the Father had not yet acknowledged them by giving them the anointing of the Holy Spirit, as we read: - "The Holy Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:39) But when Jesus having finished His ministry and sacrifice, was leaving His disciples He directed them not to preach, but to tarry at Jerusalem "until ye be endued with power from on High." Luke 24:49

The promised power from on High came at Pentecost. Immediately they began to preach and to teach; for they had received the Divine anointing constituted their ordination, their authority from the Father as members of the Body of Christ, the Royal Priesthood, to be His [HGL571] mouthpieces. This Divine anointing came not merely upon the twelve Apostles; but it has all through this Gospel Age constituted the blessed recognition of the Father and of the Son to all who receive it. In the typical picture Aaron had the holy anointing oil poured upon his head, and it ran down to the skirts of his garment. All the members of his body thus came under the anointing. So Jesus, the Head of the Church, received the anointing at the beginning of His ministry; and from Him at Pentecost by the Divine appointment it has flowed down over all the members of His Church. Every one receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit is a qualified ambassador of God to speak in His name. As St. Peter says, every such one is a Royal Priest. St. John refers to this same anointing, saying, "Ye have an unction [anointing] from the Holy One, and ye all know it." 1 John 2:20


From what we have said it must be clear that no one is entitled to speak for the Almighty unless he have this Divine Ordination of the Holy Spirit. Human titles and human ordinations are wholly inadequate to make a real preacher and teacher in the Church of Christ. But the Spirit-begotten are fully authorized to use their every opportunity under all circumstances and conditions. There is no division of these spirit-begotten ones along the lines of clergy and layity. God never recognized such distinctions and divisions. His ambassadors bear the marks of indemnification that none others have. They are guided by the Holy Spirit, step by step into the deep things of God.

We submit that if a knowledge of the Truth be an indication of an enlightening influence of the Holy Spirit, then not every preacher in the world gives evidence of a Divine Ordination to teach and to speak as a Divine Ambassador. We must put away

the foolishness of the Dark Ages, and the misconception that a few mumbled phrases were ever the Divine method of inducting the Royal Priesthood into their service as ministers of the Truth.


Let us note the Gospel which Jesus was anointed to preach, and which we as His members are anointed to preach- "Fear not! behold we bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people." "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek."

Poor humanity is already under the Curse; and the Gospel Message is "good tidings," that God has provided a way by which we may as a race come out from under the Curse. The Curse is death; and all of our aches and pains and sorrows and tears are directly or indirectly associated with that Curse. The Message of Jesus is good tidings, comfort to all broken-hearted ones, saying, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" there. Rev. 21:4

Prev   Next