SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2012.
OATH TAKING AND THE ORDAINED MINISTRY
Generally, oath is a solemn vow, a declaration made in good faith especially in the Anglican Church for men going into the Holy Orders. To all intent and purposes, it is put in place to act as a check and to enable those who make themselves available for the work of ministry to be cautious about their calling.
In all, six oaths are put forward to be sworn to either by the Episcopus elect or a Priest or Deacon wishing to perform clerical functions.
First, are the declaration of belief which is an affirmation on the authority of the Holy Scriptures and the use of approved forms of service allowed by the Church’s Canon. In this time of revisionist agenda, the Anglican Church normally insists that those who offer themselves for the ordained ministry affirm publicly their belief both in the Holy Scriptures and forms of service used. Intrusions are not allowed and so those who lead the Church fall in line with what the Church has inherited from the apostles.
Second, has to do with submission to Synod. Be it General or Diocesan Synod they are convocations governed by rules. These rules are made from time to time to govern the life of the Church. The Anglican Church is not a personal Church, owned and run by few individuals, but is one that is ‘episcopally’ led and ‘Synodically’ governed too. Impliedly, it helps to ensure that people obey rules and regulations made by a given Synod.
Third, borders on oath of canonical obedience. This oath calls for total obedience in all matters for those in Holy Orders. It is not to be conveniently obeyed but totally as a matter of fact. Men in Holy Orders are not expected to violate this oath across the board. There may be pockets of violation here and there but this keeps the ordained in check to avoid excesses as they serve God in His Church.
Fourth, the oath of submission which is undertaken by the ordained. It is expected that is, if there are infractions in ones duty he is immediately to submit to any sentence depriving him of the rights and emoluments appertained to a said office whether as a Bishop, Priest or Deacon. This sentence allows for due examination of issue or issues before a sentence is passed; I think this agrees with the cardinal principle of fair hearing in law.
However, those who offer themselves for the ordained ministry do not constitute themselves into a nuisance and therefore when they err, they are rightly tried and sentenced and they too humbly submit to punishment to be meted out to them.
Fifth, this has to do with Allegiance to God. The biblical teaching is true, ‘no one can serve two masters at the same time,’ Matt 6v24. The ordained publicly affirm that they are not members of any known secret cult and if they lie, that the wrath of God should fall upon them. Expectedly, those who were members before coming into the Holy Order at this point are given opportunity to renounce and be forgiven. Thank God our Lord says: ‘I do not delight in the death of a sinner rather that he should repent and come to knowledge of Him,’ Ezek. 18v32
The Church uses this public confession of allegiance to ensure that those in good standing are allowed into the clerical office and at the same time, purge those who could have contaminated the communion by their previous unconverted background.
The sixth is the declaration that one is not a homosexual, bisexual or lesbian. These are negations and are contrary to scriptural teaching. Those who indulge in it are sick and need to be helped. Therefore, for the Anglican Church, this oath is taken to avoid such a great evil and ungodly act from spreading and staining the ordained ministry.
Therefore with joy Last Sunday at Holy Trinity Church, Ibaa in Ikwerre Diocese, 4 persons were called into the Holy Orders of Priesthood. These men of God went through these six oaths. It was done to ensure that they were in good standing for the ministerial office. The elated Bishop of the Diocese, Rt Rev. Blessing Enyindah fervently called upon God to help the newly ordained Priests to be true to their calling.
In the same vein today, to the glory of God, at St Bartholomew’s Cathedral, Diocese of Kubwa, the Primate, Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh in a solemn service of consecration would lead his brother Bishops to consecrate the new Bishop of Ifo Diocese and expectedly the new Bishop will undertake the six oaths to ensure that the ordained ministry in Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion) remains faithful to her vows. We call upon God to continue to bless men who sincerely keep to their vows as they do their ministerial work.Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.