Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Laodicea - Canon 5

Courtesy of Stephen Pohl

Ordinations are not to be held in the presence of hearers.

This canon is peculiar without historical background.  Men were chosen generally from within a church, but also from elsewhere if necessary, as one recognized for his spiritual maturity and walk.  Upon examination by other overseers, he would be ordained for his position.  Because he is chosen by both groups—not by virtue of simple majority vote, but by overwhelming evidence—the ordination is also commonly called an election.  Problems had arisen in the early church from external secular influences, prompting this synod to prohibit those not in complete fellowship from participating in the election.1

In addition, part of the examination by a council of overseers would delve into matters about the elect person which may not be public but needs to be laid bare for conscience sake.  Should a "hearer" or other outsider discover the matter, there is a possibility for damage through gossip or animus.

1 John McClintock and James Strong, Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 8 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1879), 507.

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