Wednesday, June 25, 2008

ontological or functional?

on·to·log·i·cal (ŏn'tə-lŏj'ĭ-kəl)  adj.  

1.    Of or relating to ontology.

2.    Of or relating to essence or the nature of being.

  1. Of or relating to the argument for the existence of God holding that the existence of the concept of God entails the existence of God.

func·tion·al (fŭngk'shə-nəl)  adj.  

1.    a. Of or relating to a function.

            b. Of, relating to, or indicating a mathematical function or functions.

2.    Designed for or adapted to a particular function or use: functional architecture.

3.    Capable of performing; operative: a functional set of brakes.

4.    Pathology Involving functions rather than a physiological or structural cause.

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 25 Jun. 2008

As I have continued on the quest to discern my own calling into ordained ministry, I have had the opportunity to dialogue with others within the United Methodist tradition and other Christian traditions about their understanding and call to ministry with the church of Jesus Christ.  Recently, during a course I was taking on monastic spirituality, a fellow student (and fellow United Methodist) asked one of the monks when they had felt "the call" into monastic life.  His response was "when the sperm hit the egg, I guess."  This garnered  further discussion that led to some narrowing down the term "calling" into two categories: functional, as in receiving a "call from God to serve" (or towards some action) in ministry and ontological, as in God made me a minister/pastor/priest. I found this to be intriguing in that I have often felt, in the midst of a tradition that places great emphasis in one's "call story" during the process for an ordained ministry whose orders are defined by what they do, that I am ontologically called to minister with the church of Jesus Christ.  In other words, this is who God made me to be.  That may seem odd coming from someone with such an open theism as myself but I do believe I was made to minister, that my life has led to this path rather than been altered or diverted through some cosmic, spiritual experience in which I heard the voice of God calling me in a different direction. Though I don't believe the two to be mutually exclusive, I do feel, as I read literature re: the order of Deacon within the United Methodist tradition, I have been equipped to serve (there's that word again) in this role all along.  Still working through some of this and would love to hear your thoughts or how you might have struggled with this.     

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