The most helpful parts of Francis Dewar’s book Called or Collared? are those dealing with the idea that you must believe that you are ‘inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost’ in order to be ordained. (These words, from the Book of Common Prayer, have been removed in more recent ordination services, I’m pleased to note.)
This requirement, Dewar explains, ‘is relatively recent in the history of the Church’, not appearing ‘in church ordinals before the sixteenth century’ (p. 9). He quotes H. L. Goudge, who described it in 1938 as ‘nothing less than a disaster’:
It has probably lost to the ministry hundreds of men who might have made admirable clergy; and it tends to cause painful searchings of heart in times of depression to many rightly ordained (p. 11).
Instead, Dewar emphasises the role of the church in the process of ordination:
Remember, you do not choose yourself for the ordained ministry. Nor does it depend on your personal feelings about it. ‘You did not choose me: I chose you.’ It is Christ in his Body, the Church, who chooses you. Rest in that assurance, and know that if you are chosen, he will be with you in your heart and beside you in those who are, please God, pastors to you (p. 116).
What of the rest of the book? This kind of thing:
Blessed are those who follow the deepest law of their God-given nature (p. 89).
Most of the book is not far from saying, ‘God calls you to be true to yourself’. Now, there is undoubtedly something to be affirmed in our culture’s longing for individual authenticity. But to make that the heart of Christian spirituality, as Dewar appears to, strikes me as somewhat, well, syncretic.