Christian laying on of hands

Last updated
Laying on of hands Finnish Lutheran ordination in Oulu Laying on of hands Finnish Lutheran ordination in Oulu.JPG
Laying on of hands Finnish Lutheran ordination in Oulu

In Christianity, the laying on of hands (Greek: cheirotonia – χειροτονία, literally, "laying-on of hands") is both a symbolic and formal method of invoking the Holy Spirit primarily during baptisms and confirmations, healing services, blessings, and ordination of priests, ministers, elders, deacons, and other church officers, along with a variety of other church sacraments and holy ceremonies.

Contents

In the New Testament the laying on of hands was associated with Christ healing the sick (Luke 4:40) and after his ascension, the receiving of the Holy Spirit (See Acts 8:14–19). Initially the Apostles laid hands on new believers as well as believers. (See Acts 6:5–6). In the early church, the practice continued and is still used in a wide variety of church ceremonies, such as during confirmation.

Eastern Christianity

Ordination of an Eastern Orthodox priest. The deacon being ordained is kneeling at the south west corner of the holy table and the bishop places his omophorion and right hand on the deacon's head and his left hand over his right and is reading the laying on of hands. Cheirotonia Presbyter 2.jpeg
Ordination of an Eastern Orthodox priest. The deacon being ordained is kneeling at the south west corner of the holy table and the bishop places his omophorion and right hand on the deacon's head and his left hand over his right and is reading the laying on of hands.

In Eastern Christianity, laying on of hands is used for the ordination (called cheirotonia) of the higher clergy (bishops, priests and deacons) which is distinguished from the blessing (called cheirothesia) of the lower clergy (taper bearers, readers and subdeacons) [1] as well as making an abbot or abbess or promoting a deacon to archdeacon, etc. Priests and deacons receive the laying on of hands by a single bishop, bishops are consecrated by three or more bishops.

The chrism (Greek: myron) which is used at chrismation and the anointing of sovereigns is believed to contain chrism which the Apostles blessed and laid their hands on, the former since some existing chrism is poured into newly consecrated chrism and the latter is stated in the prayer used in the consecration of chrism. This is consecrated and added to as needed by the primates of the autocephalous churches, and is dispersed to priests for their use in administering the sacred mysteries (sacraments). In the Eastern Christian Tradition, anointing with the chrism is the equivalent of laying on of hands. [2] The presentation of this chrism which has received the laying on of hands, together with an antimension is the manner in which a bishop bestows faculties upon a priest under his omophorion (i.e., under his authority).

The laying on of hands is also performed at the end of the sacrament of unction. This mystery should be performed by seven priests six of whom lay their hands on a Gospel Book which has been placed over the head of the one being anointed, while the senior priest reads a prayer.

Catholicism

At priestly ordination, the Catholic bishop imposes hands upon the deacon for ordination to the priesthood. Priestly ordination.jpg
At priestly ordination, the Catholic bishop imposes hands upon the deacon for ordination to the priesthood.
During the rite of ordination, after the bishop the priests present lay their hands on the ordinands Priesterweihe in Schwyz 2.jpg
During the rite of ordination, after the bishop the priests present lay their hands on the ordinands

In the Catholic Church, the laying on of hands is performed in the sacrament of Holy Orders and is the means by which one is included in one of the three major orders: bishop, priest, or deacon. Ordination can be administered only by a bishop in Apostolic Succession (valid), and should only be accomplished by a bishop who is properly authorized by the Holy See (licit). The laying on of hands to the priesthood enables a person so ordained to act in persona Christi ; i.e., "in the person of Christ." Ordination allows a priest validly to administer sacraments, most notably giving that individual the authority to celebrate the Eucharist. The sacraments of ordination and confirmation are, however, reserved exclusively to a bishop (with certain exceptions).

The sacrament of Confirmation is "the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost", and "brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace." [3] In the Western Latin-Rite Latin Church, the sacrament is customarily conferred only on persons old enough to understand it, and the ordinary minister of Confirmation is a bishop. Only for a serious reason may the diocesan bishop delegate a priest to administer the sacrament (canon 884 of the Code of Canon Law). However, a priest may by law confer the sacrament, if he baptizes someone who is no longer an infant or admits a person already baptized to full communion, or if the person (adult or child) to be confirmed is in danger of death (canon 883).

Anglicanism

Consecration of a bishop in the US Episcopal Church ConsecrationSparks.jpg
Consecration of a bishop in the US Episcopal Church

Laying on of hands is part of Anglican confirmation, [4] anointing of the sick, [5] and other parts of liturgy and pastoral offices. The Guild of St Raphael, founded in 1915, is an organization within the Anglican church specifically dedicated to promoting, supporting and practicing Christ's ministry of healing through the laying on of hands as an integral part of the Church. The laying on of hands is also performed in the sacrament of Holy Orders and is the means by which one is included in one of the three ordained orders of the church: bishop, priest, or deacon. Ordination can be administered only by a bishop in Apostolic Succession.

Pentecostalism

Members of the Pentecostal Church of God of Lejunior, Kentucky, lay hands on a girl during prayer in 1946. Laying on of hands.jpg
Members of the Pentecostal Church of God of Lejunior, Kentucky, lay hands on a girl during prayer in 1946.

Pentecostal Christians practice the laying on of hands as part of prayer for divine healing and the anointing of the sick. [6] While laying on of hands is not required for healing, Pentecostals believe that, in addition to its biblical origins, the act of touching is an encouragement to faith. [7]

Baptists

In Baptist churches, the laying on of hands takes place after believer's baptism. [8] This is one of the two points which was added in the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith in 1742. [9] [10]

In adherence to strict autonomy and autocephalocy, the Southern Baptist Church does not officially prescribe, reject, or affirm the practice of laying on of hands. Each church is expected to decide the matter for itself between its clergy and its congregation. In regards to ordination, the laying of hands is representative of authorizing, permitting, and recognizing the calling of the receipiant to the clergy.

Southern Baptist Christians employ the laying on of hands during the ordination of clergymen (such as deacons, assistant, and senior pastors) as well as situations of calling for divine healing.

The laying of hands generally encompasses three different variations. Some, all, or none of these are employed at each church, based on each congregation's preferences.

Like baptism and the administration of the Lord's Supper (the Eucharist), Southern Baptists believe the laying of hands to be a solely ceremonial action which, while still holy and important, does not empower or invoke the specific task it is used to call for. [12] In ordination, the laying of hands is not empowering the individual to serve in the clergy, but to authorize and recognize his spiritual gifts and his calling to do so. In healing, it is to ascribe urgency and importance, not to invoke actual healing. Southern Baptists do not believe that God's power can be invoked by man, but that the decision to heal or not heal is God's will alone.

Catharism

A Cathar Perfect, the highest initiate in the Cathar hierarchy after spending time as a Listener and then Believer, had to undergo a rigorous training of three years before being inducted as a member of the spiritual elite of the now defunct religious movement[ citation needed ]. This took place during a ceremony in which various Scriptural extracts were quoted, including, most particularly, the opening verses of the Gospel of John [ citation needed ]. The ceremony was completed by a ritual laying on of hands, also known as Manisola, as the candidate vowed to abjure the world and accept the Holy Spirit [ citation needed ]. At this point, the Perfecti believed, the Holy Spirit was able to descend and dwell within the new Perfect hence the austere lifestyle needed to provide a pure dwelling place for the Spirit[ citation needed ]. Once in this state of housing the Holy Spirit within themselves, the Perfect were believed to have become "trans-material" or semi-angelic, not yet released from the confines of the body but containing within them an enhanced spirituality which linked them to God even in this world, as expressed in the Gospel of Luke [ citation needed ]. The Cathars were decimated and annihilated as a sect during the Albigensian Crusade.

Mormonism

Along with others in the Latter Day Saint movement, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe the restoration of Christ's priesthood came about by the laying on of hands by John the Baptist to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

The laying on of hands is seen as a necessary part of confirmations and ordination to the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods.

In addition to these confirmations and ordinations, worthy Melchizedek priesthood holders lay their hands on the head of one receiving a blessing of healing, comfort, or counsel. [13] [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

Anointing of the sick Religious anointing

Anointing of the sick, known also by other names, is a form of religious anointing or "unction" for the benefit of a sick person. It is practiced by many Christian churches and denominations.

Holy orders Sacraments in some Christian churches

In certain Christian churches, holy orders are ordained ministries such as bishop, priest, or deacon, and the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Churches recognizing these orders include the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and some Lutheran churches. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination as a sacrament. The Anglo-Catholic tradition within Anglicanism identifies more with the Roman Catholic position about the sacramental nature of ordination.

Anointing ritual act of putting aromatic oil on a person

Anointing is the ritual act of pouring aromatic oil over a person's head or entire body.

Chrismation Initiation rite also known as confirmation

Chrismation consists of the sacrament or mystery in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, as well as in the Assyrian Church of the East initiation rites. The sacrament is more commonly known in the West as confirmation, although Italian normally uses cresima ("chrismation") rather than confermazione ("confirmation").

Ordination religious process by which individuals are consecrated as clergy

Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity class to the clergy, who are thus then authorized to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination vary by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is undergoing the process of ordination is sometimes called an ordinand. The liturgy used at an ordination is sometimes referred to as an ordination.

Confirmation Rite where baptism is confirmed in several Christian denominations

In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of Christianity created in baptism. Those being confirmed are known as confirmands. In some denominations, such as the Anglican Communion and Methodist Churches, confirmation bestows full membership in a local congregation upon the recipient. In others, such as the Roman Catholic Church, confirmation "renders the bond with the Church more perfect", because, while a baptized person is already a member, "reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace".

The laying on of hands is a religious practice. In Judaism semikhah accompanies the conferring of a blessing or authority.

Minister (Christianity) religious occupation in Christianity

In Christianity, a minister is a person authorized by a church or other religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. The term is taken from Latin minister, which itself was derived from minus ("less").

Presbyterium college of priests

Presbyterium is a modern term used in the Catholic Church and Eastern Catholic Churches after the Second Vatican Council in reference to a college of priests, in active ministry, of an individual particular church such as a diocese or eparchy. The body, in union with their bishop as a collective, is a symbol of the collaborative and collegial nature of their sacerdotal ministry as inspired by the reforms made during the Second Vatican Council.

Chrism anointing oil

Chrism, also called myrrh, myron, holy anointing oil, and consecrated oil, is a consecrated oil used in the Anglican, Armenian, Assyrian, Catholic, Old Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Mormon, and Nordic Lutheran churches in the administration of certain sacraments and ecclesiastical functions.

Chrism Mass

The Chrism Mass is a religious service held in Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Anglicanism.

Conversion to Christianity Process of religious conversion in which a previously non-Christian person converts to Christianity

Conversion to Christianity is the religious conversion of a previously non-Christian person to Christianity. Different sects of Christianity may perform various different kinds of rituals or ceremonies on a convert in order to initiate them into a community of believers. The most commonly accepted ritual of conversion in Christianity is through baptism, but this is not universally accepted among Christian denominations. A period of instruction and study almost always ensues before a person is formally converted into Christianity, but the length of this period varies, sometimes as short as a few weeks and possibly less, and other times, up to as long as a year or possibly more.

Anglican sacraments

In keeping with its prevailing self-identity as a via media or "middle path" of Western Christianity, Anglican sacramental theology expresses elements in keeping with its status as a church in the catholic tradition and a church of the Reformation. With respect to sacramental theology the Catholic tradition is perhaps most strongly asserted in the importance Anglicanism places on the sacraments as a means of grace, sanctification and forgiveness as expressed in the church's liturgy.

The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.

The sacraments are viewed as vital ministries in Community of Christ for both individual and community spiritual development. They are viewed as essential to the mission, identity and message of the denomination, providing a common foundation for religious practice across the world. The sacraments practiced by Community of Christ are baptism, confirmation, the Lord's supper, marriage, administration to the sick, ordination, blessing of children, and evangelist's blessing. These latter two are not widely practiced as sacraments in other Christian denominations. Community of Christ does not observe confession as a sacrament.

Priesthood in the Catholic Church One of the three ordained holy orders of the Catholic Church

The priesthood is one of the three holy orders of the Catholic Church, comprising the ordained priests or presbyters. The other two orders are the bishops and the deacons. Church doctrine also sometimes refers to all baptised Catholics as the "common priesthood".

Consecrations in Eastern Christianity can refer to either the Sacred Mystery (Sacrament) of Cheirotonea of a bishop, or the sanctification and solemn dedication of a church building. It can also be used to describe the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at the Divine Liturgy. The Chrism used at Chrismation and the Antimension placed on the Holy Table are also said to be consecrated.

Priesthood (Eastern Orthodox Church) priesthood in the Eastern Orthodox Church

Presbyter is, in the Bible, a synonym for bishop (episkopos), referring to a leader in local Church congregations. In modern usage, it is distinct from bishop and synonymous with priest. Its literal meaning in Greek (presbyteros) is "elder."

Sacraments of the Catholic Church Catholic visible rites

There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which according to Catholic theology were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition. The sevenfold list of sacraments is often organized into three categories: the sacraments of initiation, consisting of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist; the sacraments of healing, consisting of Penance and Anointing of the Sick; and the sacraments of service: Holy Orders and Matrimony.

Comprising about ten to fifteen per cent of the total population in Egypt, Coptic Orthodox Christians rely on the many services of the Orthodox Church and its dogma. Because the Copts compromise a small percentage of the population, most live in remote areas around Egypt mostly in the Zabbaleen, a poverty stricken area located in the Mokattam Village, Assuit, Akhmim, Girgeh, Luxor, Kuft and Nagada. As part of their core belief, Copts practice and accept the “Seven Sacrament,” which are explained as channels in which believers receive the sanctifications of the Holy Spirit. In Greek, the word “Sacrament” translates to “mystery” and Copts use this term specifically because of the unexplainable absolution that may derive from it. The Seven Sacraments are affirmed and derived by contemporary Orthodox Catechisms and textbooks. Although there are more than seven official Sacraments of the church, the Orthodox Confessions in the 17th century, endorsed by local councils against the Reformation such as Metrophanes Critopoulos in 1625, Peter Mogila in 1638 and Dostheos of Jerusalem in 1672, determined that there were seven important Sacraments to a spiritual life and the Orthodox Church accepted this. The Seven Sacraments are in order of: baptism, confirmation, repentance and confession, communion, matrimony, anointing of the sick, and priesthood. Here, we will further examine the sixth Sacrament, ‘anointing of the sick’, but first we must briefly contextualize Orthodoxy in Egypt to understand the hierarchy of the Church among Egyptians in Egypt and worldwide.

References

  1. Parry (1999), p. 117
  2. Pomazansky, Protopresbyter Michael (1984), Orthodox Dogmatic Theology , Platina CA: Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, pp. 270–71, loc # 84-051294
  3. Catechism of the Catholic Church , paragraphs 13021303.
  4. "for example: Book of Alternative Services – Anglican Church of Canada, p. 628".
  5. http://stmarks.byethost9.com/ for example: Book of Alternative Services – Anglican Church of Canada, p. 555
  6. Christopher A. Stephenson, Types of Pentecostal Theology: Method, System, Spirit, OUP USA, USA, 2012, p. 64
  7. Assemblies of God, Laying on of Hands and Anointing the Sick with Oil Archived 2016-10-29 at the Wayback Machine , accessed October 29, 2016.
  8. John H. Y. Briggs, A Dictionary of European Baptist Life and Thought, Wipf and Stock Publishers, USA, 2009, p. 296
  9. William H. Brackney, Historical Dictionary of the Baptists, Scarecrow Press, USA, 2009, p.525-526
  10. Bill J. Leonard, Baptists in America, Columbia University Press, USA, 2005, p. 76
  11. "Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord." Holy Bible, James 5:14 (NIV)
  12. "Departments Archives - Baptist Standard". Baptist Standard.
  13. Saints, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day. "Laying On of Hands". ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
  14. Oaks, Dallin H. "Healing the Sick - Dallin H. Oaks". ChurchofJesusChrist.org.