The history of sacramental authority is key to understanding United Methodist ministerial orders.
While sacramental authority is and has been misunderstood and misused, it remains interwoven into United Methodism and is a significant element of the history of Christian ecumenical conversations about ministry. This book traces the changing provisions relating to ministerial orders and sacramental authority in American Methodism, from the formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784 to the current position of The United Methodist Church and will enable readers to have a richer appreciation and deeper understanding of the context of contemporary discussions about these issues.
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Praise for Ministerial Orders and Sacramental Authority
Rex Matthews maps a wide and varied historical landscape to unpack the complexities of Methodism’s understanding and practices of ordination and sacramental authority. His carefully researched contribution is a helpful resource to inform current dynamics and debates related to this important topic.
—Laceye C. Warner,Associate Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Methodist Studies, Duke Divinity School
Characteristic Matthews scholarship—careful, exacting, penetrating research on sacraments and ministry; tracking the evolution of significant Methodist policy and practice; providing a readable overview of denominational history; moving readers to fresh understanding of critical ongoing and current theological and ecclesial issues; and probing such with hard-hitting concluding questions.
—Russell E. Richey, William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Church History Emeritus and Dean Emeritus of Candler School of Theology
One of the most transformative experiences in my life was as Rex Matthews’ student and teaching assistant at Candler School of Theology. His disciplined, insightful, and creative scholarship paired with his deep for love for the Christian faith, Wesleyan tradition, and our denomination contributed greatly to my formation as a pastor and a scholar. His contribution to the history of sacramental authority within our denomination is the most recent example of this creative scholarship and offers a useful resource for our continuing conversation regarding an articulation of a theology of ordained ministry for The United Methodist Church.
—Greg Bergquist,Associate General Secretary, Division of Ordained Ministry, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, The United Methodist Church
Rex D. Matthewsis Professor in the Practice of Historical Theology and Wesleyan Studies, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.