Reemphasis on the ministry of the whole Church is one of the gratifying turns in contemporary theology. Until the recent Montreal study conference this subject had not appeared on an ecumenical faith-and-order agenda for twenty-five years. While Montreal settled none of the central problems, aspects of the recent dialogue mirror some of the main issues under debate.

A new framework in biblical and dogmatic studies is expanding the discussion of apostle and apostolicity far beyond the unique role of the Twelve, even beyond the task of the ordained ministry, to emphasize that the apostles serve also as prototypes of all who follow Christ. Is Christian ministry, it is asked, really the exclusive prerogative and duty of the clergy-man? Much is being said about a rediscovered ministry of the laity. Are churches to slam the door on laymen who think they have a genuine “ministerial” call outside the pastoral office? Such concerns are shaping a self-conscious study of the larger implications of ministry, and particularly of the relationship between all ministries and the special (often called the “ordained”) ministry.

The “general” ministry is increasingly discussed not simply in the specific context of Christ’s pastoral ministry to the Church, but also in the broader context of Christ’s evangelistic ministry to the world, and even in the context of the doctrine of creation. New emphasis is thus given to ministry as service to and for the world, and not merely as service in and for the Church. In many circles the formula minister-church-world views the minister in relation to the world (as contrasted with the missionary) like the queen bee who stays in the hive while the others penetrate the world. Is the missionary then the exception, ...

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