2000 General Ordination Examination

January 1, 2000

Please review the General Instructions before you begin work on this set of questions and again when you put your answers in final form.

SET 1. Monday, January 10, 2000, 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


Limited Resources: Bible, in any edition and any authorized version,
and Book of Common Prayer.

Set 1 addresses principally the canonical area of Holy Scripture. Related canonical areas are Christian Theology and Contemporary Society.

Eschatology is prevalent in the Bible, and is fundamental to Christian doctrine. The Bible is framed by accounts, in Genesis, of the beginnings of the world and, in Revelation, of the end of the created order to make way for God’s "new heaven and new earth." The themes of apocalyptic endings and new beginnings are widespread in contemporary culture, and the frequent misappropriation of biblical apocalyptic imagery presents a challenge to Christians to sort out biblical teachings from cultural accommodations.

The Gospel of Matthew, chapters 24-25, presents an extended teaching on the subjects of eschatology and apocalyptic. You have been asked to lead an adult study group in Advent focusing on these chapters. As part of your preparation, answer the questions below, in three pages.

  1. Summarize briefly the following:
    1. Matthew’s placement of these teachings in the unfolding of Jesus’ ministry
    2. The use of Old Testament themes in Matthew’s description of the last days
    3. The circumstances of the community for which Matthew was writing
  2. Address the following:
    1. Identify the eschatological and apocalyptic teachings of Jesus in Matthew 24-25. What do these teachings say about Christian life in the present?
    2. Why do we hear eschatological and apocalyptic themes in the Advent liturgies?

SET 2. Monday, January 10, 2000, 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Open Book


Set 2 addresses principally the canonical area of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology. Related canonical areas are Holy Scripture and Contemporary Society.

The following questions aim at eliciting both theoretical and applied aspects of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology. They also ask you to consider the role of Holy Scripture in Christian moral deliberation, and to give an informed opinion regarding its bearing on a particular matter. Note that, although the question clearly has pastoral dimensions and implications, this is not a question concerning pastoral theology.

Divorce is among the most common and painful issues of our time. Currently, more than half of marriages in the USA end in divorce. The national canons which govern marriage in the Episcopal Church simultaneously insist on lifelong permanence in marriage and permit remarriage, but they do not make a clear statement of the Episcopal Church’s reasons for permitting divorce and remarriage.

How should we think about divorce? In an essay of three pages, address the following questions:

  1. How may the following passages, engaged in relation to one another, inform our moral reflection about divorce?: Genesis 2:23-24, Leviticus 21:14a, Jeremiah 3:20-24, Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:3-9, Mark 10:2-5, 11-12, Luke 16:18, 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, 27? Are there other Biblical passages that support or challenge these texts? Does Holy Scripture absolutely prohibit divorce? (Note: The emphasis here should not be on exegesis, but on the use of the Bible in Christian ethics.)
  2. The national canons of ECUSA implicitly acknowledge divorce. What moral theological warrants might underwrite such a position? In your answer, refer specifically to the work of one pre-20th century and one 20th-century moral theologian whose insights bear upon this question, even if they do not explicitly address the matter of divorce.

SET 3. Tuesday, January 11, 2000, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Open Book

Set 3 addresses principally the canonical area of Liturgy and Music. Related canonical areas are Contemporary Society and Theory and Practice of Ministry.

"The prayer books of the Anglican Communion differ from church to church, but they all draw together the belief expressed in Holy Scripture and the theological and moral traditions of the church as Anglicans have received and understood them. Consequently, it is to the Book of Common Prayer that we turn when we want to say, ‘This is the Anglican way of believing; this is what we mean when we say we believe in God.’" James Griffiss, The Anglican Vision (1997), p. 109.

There is growing diversity in liturgical life among provinces of the Anglican Communion. The liturgies celebrated at the 1998 Lambeth Conference embraced a wide spectrum of liturgical texts, as well as multiple languages, indigenous music, vestments, and ritual. Worship according to the Book of Common Prayer is no longer limited to peoples and cultures of English origin, and this is as true within the United States as it is globally.

You will be ordained to exercise authority and responsibility for the conduct of worship within the Episcopal Church. Making use of the Book of Common Prayer and other appropriate resources, write an essay of six pages that describes your understanding of the fundamentals of Anglican worship. Incorporate within it specific responses to the following:

  1. How do you distinguish those elements that are essential, and those that are permissible expressions and practices reflecting the needs and circumstances of a particular culture or local context? Illustrate with specific examples. Draw on your own experience, as well as your awareness of issues and tensions which have developed in the larger scene.
  2. Some local adaptations of language, order, and practice depart considerably from the rubrics of the BCP, the canons, or authorizations for special use by the General Convention and/or the diocesan bishop. The church’s challenge is to assure that worship is shaped with pastoral and cultural sensitivity in every place without threatening the unity of "the Anglican way of believing." How would you educate and lead your congregation to respond creatively to this challenge? Give examples.
  3. As the person canonically responsible for worship, you are charged "to see that music is used as an offering for the glory of God and as a help to the people in their worship." In fulfilling this responsibility, you are instructed "to seek assistance from persons skilled in music" and "together . . . see that music is appropriate to the context in which it is used." (Canons, Title II:6,1). Bearing in mind the needs of various constituencies within the congregation, what approaches, processes, and resources will you utilize to fulfill your charge?

SET 4. Thursday, January 13, 2000, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Open Book

Set 4 addresses principally the canonical area of Christian Theology. Related canonical areas are Church History, including the Ecumenical Movement, and Contemporary Society.

A recurring part of the consideration of full communion between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the extent to which the two churches share a common understanding of justification by grace through faith. The Episcopal bishop of your diocese has asked you to write two essays on this topic for use by clergy in ecumenical discussions. The bishop asks you to attend primarily to the way justification is understood in the contemporary church.

  1. In an essay of four pages, explain what is meant theologically by the phrase "justification by grace through faith." Explain the particular roles in justification of God, of Christ, and of the believer.
  2. In an essay of two pages, explain how justification by grace through faith may be "very full of comfort" (Articles of Religion XI) for contemporary North American Christians.

If the essay for A runs over four pages by a few lines, simply triple space and begin the essay for B. This will save paper and be easier to read.

SET 5. Friday, January 14, 2000, 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


Open Book

Set 5 addresses principally the canonical area of Church History. Related canonical areas are Liturgy and Music and Christian Theology.

Historical developments in church and society and shifts in accepted theology are reflected in liturgy.

In a three-page essay, focus on the historical and theological contexts of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

  1. Identify at least three major liturgical changes associated with each Prayer Book.
  2. For each Prayer Book, indicate how the changes identified in A (above) are related to significant movements in church history and shifts in theology.

SET 6. Friday, January 14, 2000, 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.



You may not use any outside references, printed, written, or electronic.

All questions test Theory and Practice of Ministry as well as the other canonical areas indicated. Unless it is otherwise indicated, assume that the questions are asked by adult members of the congregation. Responses should demonstrate pastoral sensitivity appropriate to the age or gender of the questioner. Respond to all 18 questions of Part A in a few sentences each. Allow at least one hour to answer Part B of this Set.


  1. "In our worship, why do the lectors say ‘The Word of the Lord’ after scripture in which God does not appear to be speaking?" (Holy Scripture)
  2. A young adult about to graduate from college asks, "As a Christian, how can I decide, in today’s world, if there are jobs I shouldn’t take?" (Christian Ethics and Moral Theology, Contemporary Society)
  3. A young adult active in your parish remarks: "The expression ‘missionary imperative’ came up in an article I was reading the other day. What is so imperative about mission?" (Christian Theology including Missionary Theology and Missiology)
  4. "My neighbor argues that the church shouldn’t spend time and money on charity but should try to change the systems that cause poverty. Is this right? What do you think?" (Christian Ethics and Moral Theology)
  5. A newly-elected vestry member asks, "Does the Episcopal Church have a retirement system for its clergy? If so, how does it work?" (Contemporary Society)
  6. A member of the parish who recently moved to this country from England asks, "Why doesn't the Episcopal Church recognize St. George? Can we celebrate St. George’s Day anyway?" (Church History)
  7. An elderly parishioner asks, "Jesus talked about everlasting life. What does that mean for me?" (Holy Scripture)
  8. A member of the congregation who is a state legislator says: "The death penalty is coming up for debate again in our state legislature. What is the Episcopal Church’s stand on this issue?" (Contemporary Society, Christian Ethics and Moral Theology)
  9. A godparent asks, "At the baptism this morning the priest used something called oil of chrism. What is it for? Do you have to use it?" (Liturgy and Church Music)
  10. Following the bishop’s visit to your parish, a 12-year-old asks: "Why did the bishop wear that funny hat in the procession last Sunday? Why don’t you wear one?" (Church History)
  11. From a 16-year-old: "My parents keep telling me not to be angry—but I read in the Bible that God gets angry. If God can, why can’t I?" (Christian Ethics and Moral Theology)
  12. "I've been seeing a lot about angels in books and on TV. How is the power of angels different from the power of the Holy Spirit?" (Christian Theology)
  13. When you return after a Sunday away, a young mother says: "On Mother’s Day the supply priest made no mention at all of this important day. I was hurt and confused." How do you respond? (Liturgy and Church Music)
  14. "In Rite II, one version of the Lord’s Prayer says, ‘Lead us not into temptation.’ The other says, ‘Save us from the time of trial.’ These don’t seem to mean the same thing. Why the difference?" (Holy Scripture)
  15. "I was baptized in the Baptist Church. Do I have to be baptized over again to be an Episcopalian? What's the rule about this?" (Liturgy and Church Music)
  16. "Why do we keep on praying for terminally ill people? How can that possibly help them?" (Christian Theology)
  17. A high school student asks: "I’m pretty sure one of my classmates cheats all the time on exams. What do you think I should do about it?" (Christian Ethics and Moral Theology)
  18. A teenage member of the confirmation class asks, "Why is the church described as ‘apostolic’?" (Church History)

PART B. Address both questions in the time remaining.

  1. Some members of the senior high class come to you, upset about all the reports of violence in schools. They want to know what the congregation (and they themselves) can do about it. How would you respond to their concerns? (Contemporary Society, Christian Ethics and Moral Theology)
  2. A parishioner comes to you asking you to help her discern whether or not she has a vocation as a foreign missionary. She wonders what the current "missionary thinking" of the church is. Does the Episcopal Church still support foreign missionaries? What opportunities would there be for overseas work?

    How would you respond to her request? What avenues of discernment would you suggest? (Christian Theology, including Missionary Theology and Missiology)