Jonathan A. Malone is Pastor of the First Baptist Church of East Greenwich, Rhode Island. His dissertation "Changed, Set Apart, and Equal: A Study of Ordination in the Baptist Context" (University of Dayton, 2011) was supervised by Dennis M. Doyle.
The American Baptist denomination is often characterized as an ecclesiological grass-roots organization. The theology of such a denomination is practiced organically by the people and is seldom articulated by the academy. Thus one cannot find a well articulated theological understanding of what ordination means for the individual and the community in the Baptist context. A synthesis of Geertz's thick description, Lindbeck's approach to doctrine, and McClendon's understandings of speech-acts and conviction will offer a methodology through which one can articulate a theology of ordination. In doing so, we will find that the "call" and a relationship with a congregation are essential for ordination to occur. Such a theology will suggest that one is changed through ordination, and this change is relational in nature. The Catholic concept of Sacramental Consciousness offers a way to articulate the community's awareness of the pastor's relational change while at the same time maintaining the egalitarian nature of a Baptist community.
Posts in this series:
Jeffrey Cary on Jenson, Williams, McClendon, and free church ecclesiology
Aaron James on language, Eucharistic identity, and the Baptist vision
Scott Bullard on Eucharist, Unity, and Baptists
Derek Hatch on Mullins, Truett, and de Lubac
Jonathan Malone on Baptists, Ordination, and Catholic "Sacramental Consciousness"
Cameron Jorgenson on "Bapto-Catholicism"