On the Divine Institution of the Three-fold Ministry

in Ecclesiology
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Abstract

Working within a largely Roman Catholic framework this paper explores the possible meanings of the notion of divine institution of the three-fold order of ministry. By locating that meaning within the realm of practical intelligence, viewing institutions as efficient and effective means for meeting recurrent needs, it argues for a position on divine institution which both recognises some normativity in relation to the three-fold structure of bishop—priest—deacon and allows some flexibility in relation to that structure, a flexibility evident within the Roman Catholic tradition itself. It is hoped that this approach creates an ecumenical space for consideration of the validity of other forms of church order.

On the Divine Institution of the Three-fold Ministry

in Ecclesiology

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