A “priesthood of all believers” can be messy – 1

synodofdortThe Synod of Dort

If you’ve ever been to a Synod, you’ll quickly find out that “truth” is determined by numbers.

So remarked a Catholic contributor on a Protestant forum recently. Is this a fair criticism of Protestant disunity? How should we Protestants reply? Thanks to James Jordan’s teaching, I think I can offer an answer.

One of the greatest themes of the Bible is of growth to maturity. The Old Testament priesthood was about simply obeying the rules. They didn’t have to think, just obey. This period peaked with Solomon’s wise but perhaps culturally limited reflections on the Law.

After the captivity, applying God’s Law in new situations and under new conditions (Gentile emperors) required greater wisdom. Not only did scattering Israel enlarge the mediator-nation’s sphere of influence, it was a move from the simplicity of priestly ‘bread-making’ (follow the rules) to the tricky process of kingly ‘wine making’ – ie. tough decisions.

This culminated in the last supper, when men were finally invited to drink wine before God as kings.

Now, the Catholic church might create ‘unity’ through its central system of doctrine (and I would argue that this is unity in error), but the Protestant system is a brave application of this process of maturity. We have to work things out under new conditions, and in many situations which would have been unimaginable in previous generations. Not everything is spelled out for us in the New Testament. We are commanded to ask God for the wisdom of Christ, our Greater Solomon.

Perhaps this is the reason Catholics were denied wine at Mass, congregational participation was kept to a minimum, and in a recent survey among all Christian denominations, Catholics dragged the “Bible knowledge” average down. It was the logical result of their revived Old Covenant priestcraft.

This is the New Covenant, and we are required to think. The time of spoon-feeding is over, and every believer is expected to learn to feed themselves. This is a glorious, albeit at times messy, process.

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