Now, maybe we'll get a module on this! But I need a bit of help.
I am trying to get my head around the idea of the priesthood and the accompanying changes. Now, I always think of Tim Goodbody's ordination story, about how he was positively slain in the Spirit at his ordination and did not kneel before the Bishop out of duty but simply collapsed because he was so overcome. I do not doubt how powerful the work of the Holy Spirit must be at this moment. And to be honest, I am a little nervous about what might happen to me because I know how 'otherworldly' it can be and there will be quite a few people whom I'll be inviting for whom my falling over or tears will have them wanting to call doctors or console me, for they will not understand.
But I have a problem. I do not know whether I am happy thinking of what might happen as an ontological change. Perhaps I do not fully enough understand what the word 'ontological' conveys, when it is used in this sense. I have looked at its use in the sense of the ontological equality of the persons in the trinity and the ontological equality of the genders so I know that it conveys something about essence.
If, as I heard today at my ordinands' Christmas retreat, that ordination brought about an ontological change in the curate who stood at the front to tell us of his experiences, am I to understand that his essence is changed by this ceremony? Will I be ontologically changed? My essence - changed? If I deny that this can happen am I blocking the power of the Spirit - that I would never want to do? But if I think of myself as ontologically changed because I am a priest, isn't that almost like saying I am super-holy? I don't get it, aren't we all saints (Ephesians 1)? Aren't we all consecrated by God, set apart, if we are 'in Christ'? What does this kind of talk do to the idea of the 'ministry of all believers'? Didn't the reformation aim to break down some of the divides between laity and clergy and isn't a claim to clerical ontological change recreating the divide?
Can any one recommend any decent reading, Michael Ramsey aside? Can you share your views? Do you consider yourself ontologically changed and what do you mean by this?
Calvin wrote in the 1543 edition of the Institutes, “There remains the laying on of hands. I concede that it is a sacrament in true and lawful ordinations” but whilst it has no power or efficacy in itself it does have power and efficacy that “depend solely on the Spirit of God.”
...perhaps all I should really do with all this is leave it up to God, through the power of his Holy Spirit he will either ontologically change me or not.