Exodus 19:6 - The priesthood of all believers


#1

"’…Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."
Exodus 19:5-6
The Israelites did not live up to their end of the covenant, so a kingdom of priests never materialized among them.

But if God wished for a kingdom of priests, why does Catholicism have its priestly class system instead of something more like the Lutheran concept of the priesthood of all believers?


#2

In a kingdom, there is a hierarchy (a word which literally means holy rule), with the king, princes, and subjects. So, I don’t think that a “kingdom of priests” means what you think it means. It doesn’t mean an egalitarian society of priests; there would be some kind of division.

Such a division is present in the Catholic Church. In actuality, the Church does recognize the universal priesthood of believers. It is precisely because of this that there needs to be a seperate ministerial priesthood, to minister to the whole. That is why there exist apostles, bishops, and priests, who exist not for themselves, but for the whole Church.


#3

It does have the Priesthood of all believers. There is the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood.

This gets somewhat deep into theology. I don’t have my books with me right now to answer thoroughly, but I will have them later and I will be able to better answer then.

But for now, it is important to understand this: God created man in the first place as a kingdom of priests in Genesis. Every firstborn son was set aside as a priest to the Lord. This was the kingdom of priests that God created. It’s very important to understand that this is what the passage refers to, and not some priesthood of literally every single believer. Now, in Exodus 19, the Israelites are told they will be this kingdom if they obey God and keep His commandments. However, they don’t. They worship the golden calf. At this time, God punishes the people by stripping them of their right to have a priesthood of firstborn sons. Instead, only those descended from those who did not worship the calf, the Levites, were permitted to be priests.

That is what the passage in Exodus is talking about. :slight_smile:


#4

[quote=Angainor]why does Catholicism have its priestly class system instead of something
[/quote]

Instead? We do believe in the priesthood of all believers, so far as I know. If you’d like to read about how it is conceived in the Catholic Church, try the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Here is the first spot I dug up that mentions it:

1546 Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church "a kingdom, priests for his God and Father."20 The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are "consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood."21

1547 The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, “each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ.” While being “ordered one to another,” they differ essentially.22 In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace --a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit–, the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. The ministerial priesthood is a *means *by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.


#5

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1546
Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has mad of the Church a “kingdom, priests for his God and Father.” The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are “consecrated to be… a holy priesthood.”

1547
The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, “each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ.” While being “ordered one to another,” the differ essentially. In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace – a life of faith, hope and charity, a life according to the Holy Spirit – the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.
[end of Catechism quote]

So, the Catholic Church teaches that we all have a ministry, a priesthood, but that some are called to a very special serving of the Christian community through ministerial priesthood.


#6

[quote=Angainor]"’…Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."
Exodus 19:5-6
The Israelites did not live up to their end of the covenant, so a kingdom of priests never materialized among them.

But if God wished for a kingdom of priests, why does Catholicism have its priestly class system instead of something more like the Lutheran concept of the priesthood of all believers?
[/quote]

The Catholic Church does recognize the common priesthood of all believers. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states…

**Two participations in the one priesthood of Christ **

1546 Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church "a kingdom, priests for his God and Father."20 The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are "consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood."21

1547 The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, “each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ.” While being “ordered one to another,” they differ essentially.22 In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace --a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit–, the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.

There is a distinction between the priestly nature of beleivers, and the office of the ministerial priesthood. Both Catholic and Lutheran recognize that difference.


#7

[quote=Pug]Instead? We do believe in the priesthood of all believers, so far as I know. If you’d like to read about how it is conceived in the Catholic Church, try the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
[/quote]

My mistake, but I hope you can see how I made my error. From the outside there appears to be a special group called “preists”, and if there does exist a type of priesthood for Catholic layity, they do not appear to have any of the rights and privaliges thereof.

It appears, from the outside you understand, to be a priesthood in name only.


#8

The “priesthood of all believers” is a concept found in the OT as well as in the NT. The Israelites, as well as this larger concept of priesthood, also had a ministerial priesthood. It is the same for Catholicism. It is not “either/or”, but “both/and”.


#9

[quote=Angainor]My mistake, but I hope you can see how I made my error. From the outside there appears to be a special group called “preists”, and if there does exist a type of priesthood for Catholic layity, they do not appear to have any of the rights and privaliges thereof.

It appears, from the outside you understand, to be a priesthood in name only.
[/quote]

Actually, thanks for making this topic. I was interested in learning more about it after reading an excerpt from Luther’s Address to the Christian Nobility of a German Nation in my history class.

Luther’s idea is interesting, but, I’m a Catholic, and I reject it. :stuck_out_tongue:

The Lutheran idea seems to be that every believer has the power and priviledges that an ordained priest has (at least what Catholics see as an ordained priest, i.e., for the Eucharist), because we are all born into a ‘royal priesthood,’ but can only exercise them when chosen by the community to be a priest (or something like that… Luther presents his shipwrecked on an island, could they ordain a priest scenario).

This is the problem I run up against. Not all the members of the baptismal priesthood have the inherent power or priviledge of the ordained or ministerial priesthood. Why? Because women most certainly cannot effect the consecration. This is simply one of the most obvious traditions of the church in relation to the ministerial priesthood. Women are inelligible for it. Christ chose only men. As far as I know, Lutherans and Catholics rightly agree on this point.

But, under the theory that the baptismal priesthood grants you the same priviledges or powers as the ordained priesthood, it seems as if there is no reason that women cannot be priests. But we know that women can’t be. This is the most immediate logical problem I see with the idea that the baptismal priesthood extends all the powers of the ordained priesthood. If the baptismal priesthood grants the powers of the ordained priest, and since all Christian women are baptized, then women have this power, and they most certainly can effect the consecration (forgive me if consecration is the incorrect wording for Lutherans). But this seems wrong.

Perhaps my reductio ad absurdum was amiss, but I still see this as a serious problem to the Lutheran theology on the priesthood.

As to the universal priesthood… the Catholic participates in it by bringing forth the gifts prior to the consecration and by uniting himself with the priest during the Mass.


#10

[quote=Robert in SD]There is a distinction between the priestly nature of beleivers, and the office of the ministerial priesthood. Both Catholic and Lutheran recognize that difference.
[/quote]

True. I find it a bit ironic since it was Martin Luther himself who thought of the “priesthood of all believers.” But I verify your comment on Lutheranism - my MS Lutheran cousins (including my uncle-pastor) don’t think women should be allowed into the pastor-hood (although he is married and has four daughters), and they do go through seminary, etc.

But then, they do believe in consubstantiation, as opposed to the Eucharist being purely symbolic.


#11

[quote=cardenio]True. I find it a bit ironic since it was Martin Luther himself who thought of the “priesthood of all believers.”
[/quote]

I have been informed that this could be interpreted to mean that Catholics do not believe that we are a royal priesthood. This isn’t true, and isn’t what I meant. The priest uses the phrase “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people set apart” (1 Pet 2:9 - thanks, Rob) at Mass.


#12

[quote=RobNY]This is the problem I run up against. Not all the members of the baptismal priesthood have the inherent power or priviledge of the ordained or ministerial priesthood. Why? Because women most certainly cannot effect the consecration. This is simply one of the most obvious traditions of the church in relation to the ministerial priesthood. Women are inelligible for it. Christ chose only men. As far as I know, Lutherans and Catholics rightly agree on this point.
[/quote]

Actually, Lutherans and Catholics do not agree on this point. Women can effect the consecration, it is just that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod does not call women into this role.

In the extraordinary circumstance that a group of Lutheran women were stranded on an island, they could celebrate the sacrament.


#13

[quote=Robert in SD]There is a distinction between the priestly nature of beleivers, and the office of the ministerial priesthood. Both Catholic and Lutheran recognize that difference.
[/quote]

I am quite sure Lutherans do not acknowledge such a difference.


#14

[quote=The Augustinian]In a kingdom, there is a hierarchy (a word which literally means holy rule), with the king, princes, and subjects. So, I don’t think that a “kingdom of priests” means what you think it means. It doesn’t mean an egalitarian society of priests; there would be some kind of division.
[/quote]

This makes it hard to undersand 1 Samuel 8. When Israel asked for an earthly king, God was disappointed, and he said so to Samuel.
"Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt [see Exodus 19] until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so now they are doing to you.
1 Samuel 8:7-8


#15

[quote=Angainor]I am quite sure Lutherans do not acknowledge such a difference.
[/quote]

Really? Hmm…

So… this is going to sound ruder than I intend; apologes… but do Lutherans believe - no, does the MS Lutheran church teach - that if you say the words, the bread and wine are consecrated, regardless of who you are? If this is the case, it is like Catholic baptism - where anyone can do it, but only the priest/pastor should, except in case of an emergency or something. Okay, that makes sense.

But then, my uncle is a pastor, and my cousin (his nephew) wants to become a pastor, so why does he go to seminary? He already has the words memorized; I’ve heard him.

Hmm… I suppose there would be a certain amount of theological study at seminary, which would be important. But, what else?


#16

[quote=Angainor]Actually, Lutherans and Catholics do not agree on this point. Women can effect the consecration, it is just that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod does not call women into this role.

In the extraordinary circumstance that a group of Lutheran women were stranded on an island, they could celebrate the sacrament.
[/quote]

How can women work in persona Christi? Christ was male, and those who act in his name saying his words in the consecration This is My Body act in the person of Christ. I just don’t see how women can do this.

If it “is just that the LCMS does not call women into this role,” then it seems to me that you claim that women could act in the ministerial priesthood if the church so decided. But that would seem to violate Timothy’s dictum that “I do not permit a woman to have teaching authority over a man” [1 Tim. 2:1].). This is one of the most important roles of the ministerial priesthood. So, it cannot be that the LCMS merely deigns not to bring women regularly into the ministerial priesthood, it is that they cannot.


#17

[quote=cardenio]Really? Hmm…

So… this is going to sound ruder than I intend; apologes… but do Lutherans believe - no, does the MS Lutheran church teach - that if you say the words, the bread and wine are consecrated, regardless of who you are? If this is the case, it is like Catholic baptism - where anyone can do it, but only the priest/pastor should, except in case of an emergency or something. Okay, that makes sense.
[/quote]

Yes, it is like that, except there really isn’t such thing as an “emergency Lord’s Supper” so it is understood that only pastor should ever administer the sacrament.

[quote=cardenio]But then, my uncle is a pastor, and my cousin (his nephew) wants to become a pastor, so why does he go to seminary? He already has the words memorized; I’ve heard him.

Hmm… I suppose there would be a certain amount of theological study at seminary, which would be important. But, what else?
[/quote]

It is a grave sin to disrespect the Lord’s Supper, so the Lutheran Church only allows pastors to administer it. Pastors are entrusted to administer the sacrament with respect. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.


#18

[quote=Angainor]Yes, it is like that, except there really isn’t such thing as an “emergency Lord’s Supper” so it is understood that only pastor should ever administer the sacrament.
[/quote]

Hmm, I’m confused again. Can you explain what you meant about the women on an island?

It is a grave sin to disrespect the Lord’s Supper, so the Lutheran Church only allows pastors to administer it. Pastors are entrusted to administer the sacrament with respect. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.

This is new. I’ve debated the “all sins are equal” with my MS Lutheran cousins several times. They seem to believe that all sins are equal, quite vehemently. But here, with “It is a grave sin to disrespect the Lord’s Supper,” you sound very Catholic. Since you have linked to the MS Lutheran site, I assume you belong to the MS Lutheran church, the same church they belong to. Now you seem to contradict each other. What does the MS Lutheran church teach on the equality or inequality of sins?


#19

[quote=RobNY]How can women work in persona Christi? Christ was male, and those who act in his name saying his words in the consecration This is My Body act in the person of Christ. I just don’t see how women can do this.
[/quote]

. The Priest is referring to his own body? He is standing in for Christ? I admit I don’t know enough about what you are talking about to give a good comment, sorry.

[quote=RobNY]If it “is just that the LCMS does not call women into this role,” then it seems to me that you claim that women could act in the ministerial priesthood if the church so decided. But that would seem to violate Timothy’s dictum that “I do not permit a woman to have teaching authority over a man” [1 Tim. 2:1].).
[/quote]

Yes, that passage from 1 Timothy is one of the reasons we don’t call women in this role.
“Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.
1 Corinthians 10:23

[quote=RobNY]This is one of the most important roles of the ministerial priesthood. So, it cannot be that the LCMS merely deigns not to bring women regularly into the ministerial priesthood, it is that they cannot.
[/quote]

You say that with such certianty, but it is just not true. Maybe this will help you to understand:

The LCMS does not bring women into the role of pastor, but there are other Lutheran Churches that do. We disagree with them, but we are not so presumptuous that we would take it upon ourselves to declare their sacrament invalid.


#20

[quote=Angainor]. The Priest is referring to his own body? He is standing in for Christ? I admit I don’t know enough about what you are talking about to give a good comment, sorry.
[/quote]

The priest acts in the person of Christ. So, when he says the words, it is really Christ saying the words through him. Uh, I just realized, does the Lutheran pastor even say a consecration in the same way a Catholic priest does? Can you give me a link to the text of the consecration?

Yes, that passage from 1 Timothy is one of the reasons we don’t call women in this role"Everything is permissible"–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.

1 Corinthians 10:23

[left]Well, I know you like that chapter in Corinthians. :wink:

My point with the Timothy quote is that women cannot perform the role, in no small part because of what Timothy says. It’s not as if we could just change our minds about women not having teaching authority over men in church.

I have to say, I’m not quite sure what you mean by that quote, though. Certainly that passage can’t be interpreted to mean that everything is permissible, as it is talking specifically about eating meat sacrificed to idols, and the issue of causing scandal to other Christians. And I don’t think you’re trying to say everything is permissible, in that we no longer have to follow the laws of Christ. No orthodox Lutheran would say that… so that is exactly why I’m perplexed by what you’re saying. Yes, liberty should be used to the common good, it should be constructive, it should build-up… but the liberty we have as Christians is the freedom to follow Christ, not to disobey Him (that would be license). And if women can’t be part of the ministerial priesthood, then we still have to abide by that. [/left]

You say that with such certianty, but it is just not true. Maybe this will help you to understand:

Preaching is one of the important duties of the ministerial priesthood-- but there are other more important ones, such as the Lord’s Supper. Nevertheless, the emphasis on preaching from the clergy was added to by Protestants compared to what Catholics traditionally held (after all, the Catholic priesthood really can be centered only on its sacramental function-- that of the Eucharist and Confession). I didn’t think a Protestant would deny the importance of preaching from the ministerial priesthood, but, perhaps I was wrong.

The LCMS does not bring women into the role of pastor, but there are other Lutheran Churches that do. We disagree with them, but we are not so presumptuous that we would take it upon ourselves to declare their sacrament invalid.

As you said about the Lord’s Supper:

[quote=Angainor]It is a grave sin to disrespect the Lord’s Supper,
[/quote]

What’s so presumptuous about that? It isn’t something to be taken lightly. I think it is presumptuous not to be highly protective of the most Holy Sacrament the Lord gave to us. And what if their sacrament is invalid? How many people are being led horribly astray by this problem if that is so? If we take Jesus’ word that he who does not eat his flesh or drink his blood has no life in him seriously, then I think we have to answer that yes, this does matter deeply. I understand the impulse not to want to cause friction with them, but I have to disagree here.

Oh and, by the way, your screen name rocks! Go Tolkien! (Uh, right?)


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