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Authority of the Church

Thank you Ivy and Sean for the good discussion on the first half of Chapter 5. It helped flesh out a lot of what I had read (this is actually my 3rd time through this book! Perhaps 3rd time is a charm.)
You touched briefly on page 144 about Bonhoeffer being against the humanist tendencies in the church. But what did Ravi mean when he said “Luther’s biggest obstacle was the Church. He was not so much against the abolition of priesthood as he was the abolition of the laity.”


I have no idea what book is being discussed here, but as for the statement that Luther was not so much for the abolition of the priesthood as he was for the abolition of the laity, that I can understand from a biblical perspective perfectly!

Are you familiar with the concept, “the priesthood of every believer”? It is one of the distinctives of Baptist churches around the world and across the centuries.

It comes from statements like I Peter 2:5 and 9, where the apostle elevates all believers to the status of a holy priesthood…a royal priesthood.

Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 say that Christ has made all of His followers kings and priests - although the kingly reigning is future (5:10), but the priesthood is now.

This priesthood is not a continuation of the Old Testament priesthood under Levi - Hebrews 7 explains that the OT priesthood has been changed to a whole new order with Christ, Who was never a Levite, as its High Priest.

So how exactly is a humble believer like me or you a priest?

Well, think about it - what do priests do? They primarily offer sacrifices to God and intercede on behalf of others.

And every Christian since Pentecost has been charged to offer to God the sacrifice of praise continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. And he adds that we must not forget to do good and share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased - Hebrews 13:15-16.

And as for interceding for others, it is well known that every Christian is called upon to pray for one another and for the lost.

How many times has a Christian been approached by a friend or family member, a neighbor or co-worker asking that Christian to pray for some crisis they were going through? It may have even been someone who had given the Christian a hard time in the past. But when a crisis struck their life, they knew that the Christian with the good testimony had an inside track with God. And they came asking for the Christian’s prayer.

They came asking the Christian to intercede for them before the heavenly throne just like a priest!

That’s why I don’t think those biblical statements about Christians being priests are figurative at all. A child of God really does have “prayer clout” that a lost man doesn’t - and lost people intuitively recognize it. As a disciple of Christ, you really are a priest!

And with that understanding, I say “Amen” to Luther’s abolition of the laity and promotion of the priesthood.

I hope this helps you!

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Brenda, I agree that Ravi was referencing Luther’s belief in the priesthood of all believers. I think he meant to use the word for in the sentence rather than against. Then it would read the way James stated it, “Luther was not so much for the abolition of the priesthood as he was for the abolition of the laity.” When all Christians are priests, there is no laity. :slight_smile:

It’s probably a slight mistake that no one catches until they read the book three times. Congratulations on your persistence!

And thanks for bringing up this topic. You made me pause and think again about how amazing it is that we have instant access to the throne room of the God of the universe because He’s our Father.

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:18 (ESV)


Thank you both. That completely makes sense to me ( Lutheran that I am)!