Forde, Gerhard O. The Preached God: Proclamation in Word and Sacrament. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 5, “Public Ministry and Its Limits” Loc. 1610-1797.
The public ministry to which Forde refers in this chapter is that ministry of the one ordained to serve in Word and Sacrament (Forde 2007, Loc. 1610). This ministry is limited in its scope, as it cannot reach beyond the biblical bounds of the Gospel (Forde 2007, Loc. 1613). Forde first considers the various rankings which are often identified in ministry and concludes that a distinction of deacon, pastor, and bishop is normally unwarranted (Forde 2007, Loc. 1623).
The ministry “is the actual doing of the divine election in the living present by setting bound sinners free through the Word of the cross” (Forde 2007, Loc. 1632). God simply works through the minister to do His will. This is contradicted by Rome’s view of a priest or Protestantism’s view of a teacher (Forde 2007, Loc. 1642). Within Forde’s view of public ministry, the ordination appoints the follower of Christ to a role of ministry which is public, rather than private (Forde 2007, Loc. 1651). This is borne out by articles 5 and 14 of the Augsburg Confession, as well as article 28 (Forde 2007, Loc. 1661). Forde discusses the rather terse wording of Augsburg Confession article 14, where the term “rite vocatus” is used for the call to public ministry (Forde 2007, Loc. 1676). This is God’s call but administered through God’s people (Forde 2007, Loc. 1681). The means of administration is purposely vague.
In discussing the public ministry, Forde considers it very important to find the biblical boundaries of the office (Forde 2007, Loc. 1714). Overstepping the limits of the office leads to abuse and tyranny (Forde 2007, Loc. 1728). The great task of the minister is delivering the gospel, serving rather than ruling. The Reformation clarified that. “The only authority bishops can wield by divine right is identical to that of an evangelical pastor: to preach the gospel, to forgive sins, judge doctrine, condemn doctrine contrary to the gospel, and exclude the ungodly from the Christian community” (Forde 2007, Loc. 1752). Forde concludes that the bishop has no other authority, regardless of the history of the office. It must be a biblical authority (Forde 2007, Loc. 1761).