Home > Uncategorized > The Case for Voluntary Clergy. Roland Allen

The Case for Voluntary Clergy. Roland Allen

The second qualification which we demand and the apostle [Paul] omits is a readiness to resign all means of living other than that of the sacred ministry. Of this there is not a trace in the apostle’s list of qualifications: there are, on the other hand, many points which suggest the opposite.

The men whom he desired to see ordained were all men who were capable of maintaining themselves and their families without any assistance from the church. They had in fact been doing so, and there is nothing to suggest that they would cease to do so.

They were men of a well-established position in life. They might, of course, cease to earn their living in their accustomed way when they were ordained, but it is hard to imagine that they would necessarily do so; for there is not a hint that it was considered necessary or desirable by the apostle. It would have been quite simple, and to us quite natural, to have put in a clause to the effect that the bishop [elder] must abandon all worldly pursuits and give himself wholly to the care of the church, but there is not a word about it. Such silence rather suggests that the man will continue to live his life as he has been living it and providing for his family as he has been providing for it.

The stipendiary system [paid clergy] grew up in settled churches and is only suitable for some settled churches at some periods: for expansion, for the establishment of new churches, it is the greatest possible hindrance. It binds the church in chains and has compelled us to adopt practices which contradict the very idea of the Church.” (The Case for Voluntary Clergy, 1930)

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