Thursday, October 18, 2007

Who Is a Priest?

Carl Olson's blog had an interesting article by Father Benedict Ashley. The question at hand is "Who is a priest?"

In the kingdom of Israel, priests were the sons of Aaron. They were assisted by the Levites (sons of Levi). The Israelites were blessed to have the physical presence of God in the tabernacle, and later in the temple (the Holy of Holies).

Sinners cannot be in the presence of God. Because of this, the high priest (eldest son of Aaron) was permitted access to the Holy of Holies only once per year (on Yom Kippur). During this time, the high priest would offer a sacrifice of atonement for his own sins, and the sins of the people.

This was a shadow (or type) for the true High Priest, Jesus Christ (see most of Hebrews, but particularly 2:17). Jesus (having no sins of His own) offers Himself, the perfect sacrifice, to God as the atonement for our sins (Hebrews 7:27, 9:7-12).

The other great symbol is the completion of work. The Israelite high priest remained standing, a sign of the need for continuing atonement. Jesus, however, after presenting His sacrifice, takes His seat at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:11-12), signifying that His work is done.

Thus, there is no more need for ceremonial sacrifice. The bread and wine shared by Christians is not a sacrifice. It is a remembrance of what Jesus did for us.

All Christians are priests (Revelation 1:6,20:6; 1 Peter 2:5,9). We are called to follow Jesus, and make ourselves a sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1).

In Olson's article (by Fr. Ashley), Ashley covers similar topics, until the final paragraphs. There he says,
"while the community can testify to the suitability of the candidate for priesthood ..., they cannot make the final decision as to his ordination, ... Only the bishops who have the fullness of the sacrament have the authority from Christ through their predecessors the apostles to confer this sacrament. This conferring of the same apostolic authority that Jesus conferred on the Twelve must be by some public act that makes it clear to the flock who their shepherds are. Otherwise the flock will be scattered by 'savage wolves' (Acts 20:29)."
This logic is flawed. Acts makes it clear that wolves will appear from within the church ("shall grievous wolves enter in among you"), and will have "sheep's clothing" (the outfit of a shepherd or pastor, Matthew 7:15). History has shown that ordination by successors of the apostles is no protection from heresy and apostasy.

The Bible makes it clear how the faithful (sheep) are to discern a wolf from a shepherd. John 10:3 makes it clear that the sheep must know the voice of The Shepherd (Jesus, our pastors are just shadow shepherds).

How do we know God's voice? By studying His Word. By hearing it read and examined, and reading and meditating on it (for those who can read and have Bibles).

Experts in investigating counterfeiting will tell you, "you prepare yourselves to spot a phony by studying the genuine article." So too with the Bible.


TheDen said...

"History has shown that ordination by successors of the apostles is no protection from heresy and apostasy."

While I agree that there have been wolves within the Church. I disagree with the above statement.

Please show me where the ordination did not protect against heresy and apostasy.

Please show me where the bishops or the priests "went off the rails" theologically and were not censured for their heresies.

nedbrek said...

But that's my point. Even after "proper" ordination, there must be monitoring done to censure heresy.