If you read the readings today, you know what I mean. “For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep.” The Protestant will say, “Ha, if God is taking the sheep from the shepherds and tending them himself, then Christians don’t need any earthly mediators!” How do you respond to the Protestant?
Then I guess we should all stop praying in general then! After all, God is already looking out for us. Praying is a clear sign of a lack of trust in God, anyone who prays to Him doesn’t believe that He holds us in His hands!
In the context of the passage, Ezekiel is railing against the unfaithful shepherds of Judah and Israel, the kings and priests primarily. God will take them out of the hands of the abusive shepherds and will care for them himself. He is rendering judgment upon the unfaithful shepherds. Incidentally, If you continue there is a similar judgment even upon the sheep for the sin they had against one another.
Ultimately he does this through Jesus Christ, being the fulfillment of the Good Shepherd who feeds his sheep. God is the one who will ultimately provide for his sheep through the coming of Christ, the giving of his Word (the bread which gives eternal life) and his laying down his life on the cross. In addition, you would be wise to point out that the Holy Spirit directed the appointment of people to serve in special office to teach and preach to his people. We see this all throughout the epistles (1 Timothy and Titus being great examples).
Most Protestants who know their doctrine and look at scripture in context and all of scripture would not argue what you think they would here. Not saying there aren’t foolish people, there are plenty of them. But it would be an aberration from Protestant doctrine.
Just one piece of advice. Generally, when someone argues something from scripture that sounds wacky, you should probably go ahead and read what comes immediately before and immediately after. Just follow the line of argument the author is making and clearly explain it within the greater context of the whole passage. Not saying this will convince the foolish, but at least you will be on sound footing in your understanding of the passage.
Ask the Protestant then: why then did Jesus tell St Peter: if you love me, tend my sheep? the problem is most Protestants don’t understand the concept of the communion of saints.
Is this Protestant interpretation saying that churches shouldn’t have pastors?
Pastors/Priests are considered Shepherds of their congregation.
Protestants believe that when Christ died and rose again, and the veil in the temple was rent, access to - i.e. mediation - with God shifted from earthly Levitical priests to Christ himself - the great High Priest. Since we now can go directly to God, we believe that all believers are priests - a “royal priesthood”. See Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 Peter 2; Rev 1:5-6. This doesn’t mean that we don’t need pastors - the NT is full of references to pastors and the need therefor. Protestants just believe that the section of earthly priests’ job description as mediators with God has been superseded by Christ.
Generally speaking, Protestants are taught that scripture interprets scripture. So we hold the aforementioned scriptures (many of which arguably were written by Peter himself) in tension with Matthew 16:16-20 (sort of - it’s a bit more involved and some Protestant is going to probably jump in and say we interpret it totally differently, but we all think different things because we don’t have the RCC like you guys, which believe me, some days I would kill for, but I digress). So, for example, most mainline Protestant denominations will, in their liturgy, follow a general corporate confession with an assurance of pardon given by - you guessed it - a pastor (priest).
I think it would be a bit odd for a Protestant to use the passage in Ezekiel to support the doctrine of the priesthood of believers.
Agree. Take the text out of context and you are left with a con.
Ask him to read Hebrews. God has taken the sheep from the Levitical priesthood and replaced them with the Great High Priest.
(Of course, he’ll then counter with, “if we have a High Priest, then there is no need of sacrifice”, to which we respond, “No new sacrifice – correct! We merely re-present Christ’s one perfect sacrifice!”)
Ask them why they have pastors. The word pastor means “shepherd.”
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