A recent comment by “3circlescommunity” on one of My Story posts, “Who canonized Scripture?” touched on a number of topics and some comments regarding the Catholic faith. I plan to take the time to address some of the issues brought up in this comment. If you would like to read the comment and dialogue thus far then click here.
TOPIC: The priesthood of all believers.
Amen and amen. On this we can agree. The Catholic Church teaches, and I believe, that indeed all baptized Christians belong to the priesthood of the faithful.
- “For the body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given one Spirit to drink” (I Cor. 12:13)
- “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27-29).
In light of the fact that the Jews believed the covenant was for them the Apostles explain instead that indeed all of us are called to one body and to be holy and in that way we are all a chosen race, a royal and holy priesthood.
- “You are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…You are a chosen people a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light…” (I Peter 2:5, 9).
As members of this holy priesthood we are called to offer up our bodies:
- “…as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1).
- “Thus being transformed into his likeness, with ever-increasing glory…” (II Cor. 3:18).
- “…approach[ing] the throne of grace with confidence so that we may find mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Praise God! We can agree that under the new covenant we are all a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood–all of us are called by grace into the family of God.
While I agree with you that we are all a part of the priesthood of the faithful, I respectfully disagree with your interpretation of Scripture and suggestion that Peter taught there should be no formal hierarchy within the church.
Quote from “3circlescommunity” Comment: “…we are all members of the Royal Priesthood, both male and female”. The purpose of this quote was to show Peter’s continuing growth in understanding. Just as he had to be shown the vision of the sheets and animals, forcing him to accept that God’s word should also be given to the Gentiles, so Peter moved from a strict hierarchical church structure with Pope and Bishops and priests, to a deeper understanding that we were all indeed, “Members of the Royal Priesthood”.
Yes, God had to reveal to Peter through a vision that indeed the Gentiles were part of the promise of the covenant (Acts 11). Peter shares this revelation with the other apostles. (Note: Notice that Peter is the one to whom God gave this revelation. I’ll touch more on that later). Back to the point…The fact that the Apostles taught we’re all part of a royal priesthood doesn’t mean that under the new covenant there was to be no church hierarchy, such as presbyters, bishops or even a pope. The teaching of the priesthood of the faithful does not necessarily disprove the validity of an ordained priesthood and signal the end of church hierarchy.
In my next response I’ll address the following topic:
Does Peter (or the Bible for that matter) teach that there should be no formal church hierarchy such as priests (presbyters), bishops (episcopate or overseers), deacons or even popes?