Ordination Exams II

Well, except for the Exegesis Exam, I’m done for this go-round. I pulled a classic Doug move and misread the instructions on the first question of the Polity Exam, making it basically a guarantee that I’ll fail. Having gone through it, though, I can say that it wasn’t quite as hard as I’d expected, and I’m not that worried about having to take that one, or any others, again.

Of course, there’s no telling what an elder volunteer somewhere in the country will think of my answers. That’s another question entirely. I figure that if you volunteer to read Ords, then you probably have a very strong agenda in mind to motivate you, which probably isn’t such a great thing for a lot of the rising Inquirers and Candidates. I guess we’ll see.

In class we had a brief discussion about our frustration that, right now, the denominational fights are taking place in the realm of ordination requirements. This is unfortunate, because the result is that many of those who are dragged into these fights are unable to defend ourselves, as it were, since we are not yet colleagues of equal standing with the partisans of each side.

I understand this as a tactical move on either side. Just fill the denomination with people who only agree with our view on certain issues. It is also, I think, a little cowardly. Unable to face each other and work out our disagreements, the response is to stack the deck in favor of what we’ve already decided is true and let the numbers win for us. (And yes, I know before the comments appear that we all have excuses why the other side can’t be tolerated.)

In the meantime, I can vouch for myself and almost all of my fellow Inquirers and Candidates – the anguish is considerable as we go through this process, and it doesn’t need to be this way. Despite the efforts of many to be gracious and hospitable, which I always deeply appreciate, there is still the fact that we seem to be stuck in a crossfire. In some places, the bullets fly thicker than others.

For a career that boasts a 50% burnout rate in five years, this frankly does not bode well.

7 thoughts on “Ordination Exams II

  1. Doug,I appreciate your frustration. It is incredibly unfair that our struggles hit those who are working for ordination. Such as life, my friend. Just get through it. Don’t worry about the polity exam. One of my readers gave me a passing grade because they couldn’t read my handwriting that well, but thought I did ok!You have your supporters…like me Mr. Heretic.

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  2. “The denominational fights are taking place in the realm of ordination requirements.”You’re right. And these Ords are absolutely ludicrous. As if some person who has never met you in your entire life should be able to invalidate your ordination based on one written test. Never mind the seminary professors who get to know you for three years, and never mind the committee who oversees you. Their opinions can be swept away by someone who may have no experience in the pastorate and may have a huge agenda for keeping certain views out.I can’t believe we still have these things. It’s like some bizarre hazing ritual.

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  3. I had to take several twice. Neither I, nor my CPM adviser could figure out quite what I did wrong on the one- I think it was exegesis. He was a theology professor, and essentially said, “I guess this reader just didn’t like you.” There are very competent readers, but I suspect, it also functions as much as a rorschach for the reader, as an indicator of competency.Doug, I couldn’t disagree more with your theology, but- honest- I feel your frustrations with these exams. praying for you, dm

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  4. “I figure that if you volunteer to read Ords, then you probably have a very strong agenda in mind to motivate you”Not necessarily. For what its worth, my father agreed to proctor an ordination exam to help out the presbytery. I imagine the same could be true of readers: i.e., they view it as service to the church, not a chance to grind their own axes.You might be interested in this old post from another blog I found the other day: http://arielgoestocali.blogspot.com/2005/12/presbyterian-ordination-exams.htmlAll that being said, I feel for your frustration. Good luck and God bless as you continue your preparation for ministry.

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  5. Yeah, I’ve had a couple people talk to me and my view here has changed. It seems more likely that some may have axes to grind, but most are probably not just motivated by their own agenda. That was a generalization made without a lot of concrete evidence beyond some frustrated students and a couple inappropriate comments and grades from past years’ Ords…

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