CSC: WELS Topical Q&A: The Church and Its Ministry: Divine Call: Apostolic Succession / Transmutation Authority
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Q:Doesn't Acts Chapter 1 suggest the requirement that a 'laying of hands' is part of the methodology that the Apostles used to select a replacement for Judas and all other future ministers of the Church? If this is not required to become a minister of the Church, how are ministers ordained and given authority to transmute the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ?

A:Acts 1 contains an example of how the apostles filled the vacancy left by the suicide of Judas. It contains no commands of what we are to do today. There is no command to draw lots to determine who will serve in the public ministry.

Acts 1 contains no referrence to the laying on of hands. Perhaps you are referring to Acts 6 and the choosing of the seven deacons. After they chose these men they laid hands on them. Again we have an example of what was done but no command that this is how we must do it.

Ordination does not confer any special grace or power to "transmute the bread and the wine into Christ's body and blood." That is Roman Catholic teaching. Christ's body and blood are present in the Lord's Supper together with the bread and wine by virtue of Christ's institution and the Word of God and promise connected with the Lord's Supper.

A person enters the public ministry through the divine call. God through his people places a person into the public ministry when they ask a qualified individual to proclaim the gospel and administer the sacraments in their name and on their behalf and he accepts the call. The divine call confers the office, not ordination. Ordination is the public declaration of the man's fitness for office and the public recognition or confirmation of the legitimacy of the call that was extended and accepted. Although it is still our custom to lay on hands during the right of ordination, the laying on of hands is not commanded by God and is not necessary.

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