Note: This article was written in 2009.
From time to time we encounter people who wonder about the validity of ordination with the NACM. There are two perspectives from which this question is asked:
- 1) From the perspective of a minister in our organization
- 2) From the perspective of a non-member of our organization
Whether or not a person is a member, generally the question stems from the understanding that we are a virtual boundaryless organization. In the early years of the Internet people were not trusting of anything associated with it. For this reason news reporters capitalized by reporting on the fear and dangers of meeting stalkers, criminals, and murders online. After things settled down a bit, in 2000-2002 there was the great dot-com bust where many online companies went bankrupt causing investors to lose terribly in the stock market. Unfortunately, this also contributed some distrust for things related to the Internet.
Today things have changed. State funded public school systems are offering their classes online from K-12th grade. Additionally, you can pay your taxes online, apply for a mortgage, receive Federal Student loans, and even purchase auto insurance. Universities have shifted from traditional training methods and are now offering classes and degrees to students who study online. This has resulted in the organizing of fully accredited virtual universities such as Walden and Capella University. Massive companies have been formed such as Amazon.com and eBay.com, and billions of dollars are exchanged each year in the Internet economy. Needless to say, public opinion of the Internet is dramatically shifting and quickly becoming an inseparable part of the civilized world. We see this as a huge opportunity to unite the Body of Christ, and to send the Gospel unto every nation and tribe on the planet.
Hands on Ordination “the laying on of hands”
First it should be clarified that ordination with the NACM is not necessarily “online ordination.” We have Elders all over the U.S. and even in some foreign countries. Their purpose is specifically for offering the “laying on of hands blessing” to people who have recognized ordination status with the NACM. In such cases, ordination is a hands on experience.
1) From the perspective of a minister in our organization
A thought from Elder Mooney:
Credentials (in most cases) have more to do with the person presenting them, than with the organization from which they come. In every case that I entered a hospital or jail, I have never had to present my credentials. In fact, no one in all my years of ministry has ever asked me to see them. Some have asked if I was an ordained minister, to which I simply replied “yes”. It is much like college. I tell people that I have degrees in Religion, Business Administration, and Psychology. Almost never does anyone ask me where I went to school.
An even better example may be in that of a driver’s license. For those who have a license to drive an automobile, how many times has anyone asked you to see your credentials? The answer is probably “none,” other than during times of interacting with police. (This question is asked in the context of driving, not when writing checks, or purchasing something like tobacco.) Now for those who have ridden in a car with someone else. How many times have you insisted on seeing their credentials before having them give you transportation? The answer is probably “none.” Why? Simply because they appeared and behaved as someone who had the knowledge, skills, and authority to drive an automobile!
Credibility comes from the minster. If people think that you are a con-artist, they will not care if the pope himself ordained you. In like manner, if you approach a jail (or anywhere else) and they ask for credentials simply present them and say nothing unless asked a question.
Think about the last time you heard a guest speaker at a church. Did you think, “I wonder if they are an ordained minister?” Most likely you did not. Why? Because it really did not matter whether or not they were a licensed minister. All that mattered was: 1) that you trusted them; 2) the message they presented was relevant; and 3) that they were acting in the role of a minister. With these three elements present, your mind never considered the need to check their credentials -that is of course if you agreed with their message. When we disagree with a person’s message, a typical human response is to question their credibility… Ironically, as long as we agree, they are “valid” in our eyes.
In light of these things, if you find yourself regularly being asked for validity, you may want to consider what it could be about your presentation, body language, message, etc. that is generating suspicion. This is not to say that some officials will not need to check your credentials, but when this occurs, it should be because they are simply following protocol.
Ordination is something that is granted by a religious organization. Pentecostal churches will not generally honor the ordination of Baptist churches, which will not likely honor the ordination of Methodist churches, and so on…yet they are valid. These ordinations do not lose validity simply because another religious group does not recognize them. To be very frank, I know of Baptist churches who will not honor the ordinations of ministers from other Baptist churches. Nevertheless, if a minister believes that people are ministers because of the recognition of men, then they might need to present their hearts before the Lord. It is He who calls, and He who appoints because He is the head of the church.
The bottom line
Ordination is a Biblical practice, but our society expects it as a means by which to qualify who should and should not enter places like prisons and shelters, etc. Therefore, ordination is more for our secular society, than anything else. Our credentials have been honored in many cases where people have applied to county offices to perform weddings, enter jails, hospitals. etc. This really is the only reason we license ministers in the first place -so that they may go to these places with the Gospel. If you are looking for ordination that is valid across denominations, you will not find it because such does not exist, Hence the reason we have denominations in the first place. One group of people think that another is theologically wrong, therefore, they branch out to practice their theological purity.
Theological Validity of Online Ordination
In this present day and age, there is not one person who has actually fellowshipped with Jesus or the original disciples in physical form. We are at least 2,000 years removed from their recorded existence -which includes the birth of the church. This means that no one on the planet received their ordination by the imparting of a spiritual blessing at the hands of these original church fathers. Some will argue this point with the concept of apostolic succession. That is the concept that Jesus appointed Peter who laid hands on others, who laid hands on others, to the present day. The only people who could even attempt to claim this concept would be the Catholic church -because they are the oldest denomination of Christianity. However, even they are not recorded in scripture, so the whole idea lacks sound support.
THEREFORE, this means that everyone ordained today has been appointed by nothing more than faith in words that are written on pages in a book -the Bible. Every person’s ordination today is traced back to its beginning where someone read the Bible, believed it, and started appointing ministers. Does this mean that those ordinations are invalid simply because they came from a book? The answer is “no.” But yet, come ask a very similar question, “Is ordination that comes from a website valid?” Can you see the irony in this?
2) From the perspective of a non-member of our organization
A non-member will fall into one of three categories: 1) the State; 2) the Christian believer; or 3) the non-believer.
The State is not supposed to validate religions:
The First Amendment (made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth) Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 67 S.Ct. 504. There was said:
- Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force or influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion….
Will either support unity among denominations, or they will choose to discriminate. Obviously, those who support unity will welcome your credentials ad those who do no will reject them. Then of course, there is the person who was raised as a Christian but is not taking their faith seriously. These people do not typically know the differences between Christian quarrels over doctrine. Therefore, they are not likely to question credentials.
People who do not believe in our faith can take any position regarding your ministerial status. After all, even though we are not Islamic, it is unreasonable to think that their religious leaders are not also ministers of their faith.
Ordination: Bottom Line
Ordination is the recognition of a ministerial calling by a religious community. Its most tangible value is not found in the churches, but rather in the secular world. Churches argue among themselves and discriminate against one another. Therefore, they will continually question one another in matters of validity. However, the U.S. government is not supposed to validate religions. To do so is a violation of our constitution -but this is not to say that some people with hidden agendas will not at times stand in your way. For this reason, ordination is beneficial to accessing public areas like jails, shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes.
When it is all said and done, credibility stands with the minister. If they draw negative attention to themselves, or give people reason to question their validity, they have become their own stumbling block. However, if they act in the role of a minister while showing others the love and respect that scripture commands, most will never question them.
Bottom line: It is God who ordains. Is He with you or not?
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31 MKJV)