From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles
Therefore, as the ancient examples of the Church and the Fathers teach us, we ourselves should and will ordain suitable persons to this office. Their own laws do not allow them the right to forbid or prevent us. Their laws declare that even those ordained by heretics should be regarded as ordained and remain ordained. In addition, St. Jerome wrote of the Church at Alexandria, that was originally governed without bishops by priests and preachers in common.
Pulling It Together
If there are no bishops to ordain pastors, or if the bishops will not do so, it remains the Church’s responsibility to make sure new pastors are prepared, ordained, and called to serve congregations. The Church will always have this need, as the Gospel must continually be preached everywhere. Therefore, the Church must never allow bad leadership or the lack of oversight that can sometimes occur, to stand in the way. At such times, as in Luther’s time, those who are already ordained overseers serving the churches—their pastors—must ordain new pastors, until traditional oversight is restored. If the Church does not see to this responsibility, God himself will do so, and deal with the Church accordingly.
Prayer: Place faithful shepherds over your Church, Lord. Amen.
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