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Author Topic: Justifying the Priesthood  (Read 1909 times) Average Rating: 5
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Rosehip
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« on: July 17, 2010, 09:49:36 AM »

So many Evangelicals I know are adament that the priesthood is not biblical, was not practised by the Early Church, and is a much later development. I know this has likely already been discussed here, but how can one "justify" it to such people?
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2010, 10:14:44 AM »

So many Evangelicals I know are adament that the priesthood is not biblical, was not practised by the Early Church, and is a much later developement. I know this has likely already been discussed here, but how can one "justify" it to such people?
You can always ask them what St Ignatius of Antioch meant in his letters. That will usually reveal their knowledge of the Early Church. This is from his epistle to the Trallians:
Quote
let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, and the presbyters as the sanhedrim of God, and assembly of the apostles.

You can agree with your Evangelical friends that we are collectively a royal priesthood (I Peter). Then consider what the Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 12 about there being different roles and responsibilities within the Church. Some are called to fulfill the liturgical role of being a priest.

Involved arguments won't get you anywhere. If you can encourage them to actually read the Apostolic Fathers, you might get them thinking.
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2010, 10:19:01 AM »

Thanks, but unfortunately many of these people HAVE carefully read the Fathers, and do know what they are talking about, and they always say that there was no such thing as the priesthood as we know it today in the New Testament. But thanks for the quote from Ignatius!
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2010, 10:25:06 AM »

Thanks, but unfortunately many of these people HAVE carefully read the Fathers, and do know what they are talking about, and they always say that there was no such thing as the priesthood as we know it today in the New Testament. But thanks for the quote from Ignatius!
Have they read Clement?

When dealing with such types, you should first nail them on a date when the Church supposedly fell, and proceed from there. Of course, there's always the "Gates of Hell will not prevail...I am with you always" promises that have to be explained.
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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2010, 10:33:26 AM »

St. Ignatius' epistles don't seem to indicate a "priesthood" per se. They certainly advocate hierarchy and authority, and even Real Presence in the Eucharist, and to deny it is heresy. St. Ignatius also calls out those who deny the real presence as not being a part of the Church.

So there is language in the letters where he basically says that the valid bishops (overseers) have to preside over the Eucharist with correct belief (orthodoxy, although that language is not used).

The language of "priests" is not used, but there is a threefold ministry of bishops, a council of presbyters (which functioned like a court of judges some kind, hence the Sanhedrin reference), and deacons. The bishops ran the show, and presided over what many Evangelicals would see as a "Magical" (Mystical?!?!) Supper, where Christ really gives his flesh and blood to the congregants. St. Ignatius calls the Eucharist the "medicine of immortality."

So even though a Christian priesthood is not explicitly mentioned any any early texts, it was left to those with Apostolic Succession to preside over Sacramental/Mysterious ceremonies were the grace of God is transferred by those in authority (to see this Apostolic Succession concept contemporary to Ignatius, read the epistles of Clement of Rome, because Ignatius does not use the concept in the short letters we have).

Finally, I think that the verses in Holy Scripture regarding the apostles having the authority to loose and bind sins are helpful in this regard, as I've yet to receive any Evangelical response to these verses and what on earth they mean from their point of view, but I would of course love to hear any reasonable responses.
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2010, 10:35:44 AM »

What is it exactly that they object to? Is it the authority or power given to priests, their sacramental ministry, or something else? I posted some thoughts here about the Church being hierarchical, and I would probably make some of the same points about the existence of the priesthood.
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2010, 10:43:19 AM »

Thanks, Alveus, that was a great post! Yes, I agree that Ignatius' words do not specifically refer to a priesthood as we know it today.

Aster, it seems to me that what is bothersome to these people is the general concept of Sacraments and the necessity of priests in order to administer them. And yet, they have pastors and bishops or elders who basically do the same thing-only, of course, they do not have the concept of sacraments.

Also, they feel there is too much power given the priesthood (often especially this negative impression is connected to the Roman Catholics whose laity they feel should have more power to dispose of corrupt clergy).
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« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2010, 10:58:52 AM »

Also, the whole "priesthood of all believers" concept was apparently also used in the Old Testament, and I think that someone once showed a verse from the Old Testament which demonstrated this concept was active in pre-Christ Judaism, even though they also simultaneously had a temple priesthood. So if someone can reference that verse it would be helpful.
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« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2010, 11:06:06 AM »

Also, the whole "priesthood of all believers" concept was apparently also used in the Old Testament, and I think that someone once showed a verse from the Old Testament which demonstrated this concept was active in pre-Christ Judaism, even though they also simultaneously had a temple priesthood. So if someone can reference that verse it would be helpful.

Fwiw, my Bible references a couple passages from the Old Testament that would seem to go in that direction, though I'm not sure if they were what you were thinking of...

"And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel." - Ex. 19:6

"But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves." - Is. 61:6
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« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2010, 11:11:10 AM »

Aster, it seems to me that what is bothersome to these people is the general concept of Sacraments and the necessity of priests in order to administer them. And yet, they have pastors and bishops or elders who basically do the same thing-only, of course, they do not have the concept of sacraments.

Also, they feel there is too much power given the priesthood (often especially this negative impression is connected to the Roman Catholics whose laity they feel should have more power to dispose of corrupt clergy).

Ahh, ok, well that's a tough one, because it'd probably help if they accepted sacraments, which I think can be shown through passages (biblical and otherwise) that indicate that God bestows grace through material things. Regarding too much power being given to priests... I think I agree with them to some extent  angel Frankly, I have met few priests who I would trust with very important and intimate decisions. Besides, various saints indicate that a lot of priests/bishops are corrupt or worse... even St. Symeon the new Theologian, when speaking of how you should relate to a spiritual father, says to check what the spiritual father says against what the Scripture/Fathers says, and to discard any advice that doesn't match what the Scripture/Fathers say.
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« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2010, 11:36:16 AM »

Also, the whole "priesthood of all believers" concept was apparently also used in the Old Testament, and I think that someone once showed a verse from the Old Testament which demonstrated this concept was active in pre-Christ Judaism, even though they also simultaneously had a temple priesthood. So if someone can reference that verse it would be helpful.
Fwiw, my Bible references a couple passages from the Old Testament that would seem to go in that direction, though I'm not sure if they were what you were thinking of...

"And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel." - Ex. 19:6

"But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves." - Is. 61:6

Perhaps those verses are what I was thinking of, and if so, then they don't provide any exegetical slam-dunk. Those verses can be interpreted in ways that are for the Orthodox position, or for the low-church position.
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« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2010, 03:15:57 PM »

Quote
The language of "priests" is not used, but there is a threefold ministry of bishops, a council of presbyters (which functioned like a court of judges some kind, hence the Sanhedrin reference), and deacons.

The English word 'priest' is just a corruption of 'presbyter'.
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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2010, 03:31:02 PM »

So many Evangelicals I know are adament that the priesthood is not biblical, was not practised by the Early Church, and is a much later development. I know this has likely already been discussed here, but how can one "justify" it to such people?
Ask them to justify how their teaching of sola scriptura is biblical, particularly in light of St. Paul's exhortation that we follow what he and, by extension, the rest of the Apostles taught us both by word of mouth and by their epistles.  If there's no biblical justification for sola scriptura, then there's no biblical justification for rejecting anything not found in the Bible.
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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2010, 06:36:12 PM »

Thanks, Alveus, that was a great post! Yes, I agree that Ignatius' words do not specifically refer to a priesthood as we know it today.

Aster, it seems to me that what is bothersome to these people is the general concept of Sacraments and the necessity of priests in order to administer them. And yet, they have pastors and bishops or elders who basically do the same thing-only, of course, they do not have the concept of sacraments.

Also, they feel there is too much power given the priesthood (often especially this negative impression is connected to the Roman Catholics whose laity they feel should have more power to dispose of corrupt clergy).

St. James commands the presbyters (the origin of the word priest (its usage by Hellenist Hebrews shows it already had more of a clerical meaning thatn "elder")) to pray over the sick, anoint them, and that the sick man's sins would be forgiven him. Note: St James tells the sick man to call on the presbyters, not on the Lord Himself, i.e. he is directed to an intermediary. And as we know from Titus, such presbyters are appointed by those the Apostles commanded to do so. Do we have a single instance in the NT of a congregation raising their own presbyters?
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« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2010, 07:06:21 PM »

Thanks, Alveus, that was a great post! Yes, I agree that Ignatius' words do not specifically refer to a priesthood as we know it today.

Aster, it seems to me that what is bothersome to these people is the general concept of Sacraments and the necessity of priests in order to administer them. And yet, they have pastors and bishops or elders who basically do the same thing-only, of course, they do not have the concept of sacraments.

Also, they feel there is too much power given the priesthood (often especially this negative impression is connected to the Roman Catholics whose laity they feel should have more power to dispose of corrupt clergy).

St. James commands the presbyters (the origin of the word priest (its usage by Hellenist Hebrews shows it already had more of a clerical meaning thatn "elder")) to pray over the sick, anoint them, and that the sick man's sins would be forgiven him. Note: St James tells the sick man to call on the presbyters, not on the Lord Himself, i.e. he is directed to an intermediary. And as we know from Titus, such presbyters are appointed by those the Apostles commanded to do so. Do we have a single instance in the NT of a congregation raising their own presbyters?

Moreover, in debating this with low-church Protestants, you might want to ask them why they have graceless elders!?! If they have presbyters, what is it they think makes a 'presbyter' a 'presbyter'? If it's just a man made distinction, then how do they justify that? if it is the Grace of God that makes an elder, then sorry, but that πρεσβύτερος is an ιερέυς. Whoever heard of an office in the Church that was not a charism? Well then, does God consecrate a presbyter or does man? In the Orthodox Church we accept that God gives the grace of the priesthood. Low-church Protestants allow themselves to be ruled by leaders who admit they have no God-given gift to lead.
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« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2010, 07:11:38 PM »

Thanks, Alveus, that was a great post! Yes, I agree that Ignatius' words do not specifically refer to a priesthood as we know it today.

Aster, it seems to me that what is bothersome to these people is the general concept of Sacraments and the necessity of priests in order to administer them. And yet, they have pastors and bishops or elders who basically do the same thing-only, of course, they do not have the concept of sacraments.

Also, they feel there is too much power given the priesthood (often especially this negative impression is connected to the Roman Catholics whose laity they feel should have more power to dispose of corrupt clergy).

St. James commands the presbyters (the origin of the word priest (its usage by Hellenist Hebrews shows it already had more of a clerical meaning thatn "elder")) to pray over the sick, anoint them, and that the sick man's sins would be forgiven him. Note: St James tells the sick man to call on the presbyters, not on the Lord Himself, i.e. he is directed to an intermediary. And as we know from Titus, such presbyters are appointed by those the Apostles commanded to do so. Do we have a single instance in the NT of a congregation raising their own presbyters?

Moreover, in debating this with low-church Protestants, you might want to ask them why they have graceless elders!?! If they have presbyters, what is it they think makes a 'presbyter' a 'presbyter'? If it's just a man made distinction, then how do they justify that? if it is the Grace of God that makes an elder, then sorry, but that πρεσβύτερος is an ιερέυς. Whoever heard of an office in the Church that was not a charism? Well then, does God consecrate a presbyter or does man? In the Orthodox Church we accept that God gives the grace of the priesthood. Low-church Protestants allow themselves to be ruled by leaders who admit they have no God-given gift to lead.

Yeah, they wil go call them teacher or rabbi, but not "father."
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« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2010, 07:24:53 PM »

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Yeah, they wil go call them teacher or rabbi, but not "father."

Exactly! Thus revealing them for the legalistic Pharisees, and what is to say the same thing, sophists, that they are, despite their protestations (pun intended) to the contrary.

IMO, we never ever should even pretend we have anything to 'justify' to the Protestants. We have the Tradition, we have the Scriptures(which we wrote and canonized), and moreover, "we have the mind of Christ." It is the Protestants that should be on the defensive to justify their traditions of men.
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« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2010, 01:31:09 AM »

Perhaps someone on here can explain the way terms like "priest" and "High Priest" are used in the New Testament and the Septuagint?

If "priest" is indeed an English corruption of "presbyter", then what are the Greek terms throughout the Holy Scriptures and how were the understood. As I cannot understand the Greek alphabet, using the Latin alphabet when writing out and explaining the terms would be very helpful to me.
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« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2010, 01:55:00 AM »

The Hebrew word for 'priest' is כהן kohen. 'High priest' = כהן גדול kohen gadol. Greek for priest (Latin, sacerdos) = ιερέυς iereus or hiereus (as in hierarchy or hieroglyphics). High priest = αρχιερευς archiereus. The latter term is used sometimes of Orthodox bishops. The English 'priest' (or archaic 'prester') is derived from the Gk. πρεσβύτερος presbyteros or presvyteros, meaning 'elder'.

'Bishop' is from Gk. επίσκοπος episkopos = epi + skopos, 'over-seer'. In Old English the sound combination s+k becomes pronounced like 'sh', so it's not hard to see how episkopos became biscop (pronounced like modern English 'bishop').

In the New Testament, the terms episkopos ('bishop'); presbyteros ('presbyter' or 'elder'); and διάκονος diakonos ('deacon') all occur. However, the distinction between episkopos and presbyteros was not as clear as it is nowadays. When St Paul writes to the Hebrews of Christ as our "high priest", the term he uses is archiereus, which in this case serves to translate Hebrew kohen gadol.

Does that help at all?
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« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2010, 02:55:09 AM »

I will try to post some more information here soon on the usage of these terms in the Septuagint, New Testament, and Church Fathers.

As a start, ialmisry's point about St James is spot on: the fact that the laity (from Gk. λαός laos, 'people') are directed to go to the presbyteroi for anointing indicates that those presbyteroi or 'elders' had a priestly, or 'sacerdotal', function.

Also, when the Bible speaks of the 'priesthood' of all Christians, the term is ιεράτευμα ierateuma, i.e., all Christians are ιερῆς ierēs, 'priests', but not all Christians are presbyters (or bishops, or deacons).

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood [ierateuma], an holy nation, a peculiar people [laos]" (1 Peter 2:9).
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« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2010, 02:00:01 PM »



"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood [ierateuma], an holy nation, a peculiar people [laos]" (1 Peter 2:9).

But since 1 Peter 2:9 is actually quoting the Old Testament, I wonder about a few things:

1.) what word is used in the O.T. LXX for "priest"? (I've forgotten which book he is quoting from, is it Deuteronomy?)

2.) What is the form of that word (ierateuma) used throughout the O.T. LXX, or was it used just the one time?

3.) What word does the LXX use to translate the Hebrew word Kohen everywhere else in the OT? Does it use prebyteros to translate kohen, or another word? (again perhaps a form of ierateuma?)

4.) And what does the Hebrew of that passage actually say? When it says ye are a royal priesthood, is the Hebrew a form of the word kohen, or another word entirely? I'm just curious because I've never really looked that deep into the issue, but the answers to those questions might have some significance to the discussion/question at hand.

Plus, I've honestly never dug too much into this subject...I simply read Pope Shenouda's book, "On the Priesthood" and felt his arguments were so strong that I never really gave it a second thought. In fact, he may have addressed all these things, but it's been so long since i read the book, I've long since forgotten.

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« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2010, 02:26:33 PM »

What about John 20:23 in which the Lord conferred priestly duties to the apostles? In Acts 6:7 many Jewish priests were obediant to the new faith; did many retain their office? It was the Jews who discontinued the office not the Christians.
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« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2010, 03:31:06 PM »

The problem seems to lie in the Western mode of thinking, wherein the Roman Church seemed to have devalued the Royal Priesthood of Believers and conflated the concept of priest with that of overseer. In the Old Testament, the priests were the only ones who could approach God. In the New Testament, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the relationship between God and men was radically altered, to the point where we now "dare" to address God as Father and pray the Lord's prayer. The problem with Protestants, aside from their fanatical insistence on Sola Scriptura, is that they have generalized too much the concept of the priesthood, to the point of conflating Royal Priesthood of the Believers with the ordained priesthood, who act in our name. I think that this distinction may be an "aha" moment for Protestants, particularly Evangelicals. Take all of the definitions that Isa and JLatimer have posted and ask the Evangelicals to consider whether their approach betrays Roman Catholic thinking patterns.

I would add a few things:

1. It is clear in the scriptures that local churches are to be headed by overseers (bishops) and that they are to be assisted by deacons. It is also clear that churches contain elders who, among other things, anoint the sick and assist the bishop. In our practice, we also have deputy Bishops or rectors as we have too few Bishops to head up each congregation of a local church. However, these deputy overseers do not detract from but re-enforce the Biblical practice.

2. It is clear that the Old Testament priests made the artificial sacrifice (the original and most important function of a priests). In the New Testament, the head of a local church is also its head priest. Now, if we all are priests, one of us must be the head one--ergo the bishop of his designated deputy, the priest. That is why the vast majority of the priestly prayers are made on behalf of the entire people of God. During the Anaphora, for example, only a few prayers by the Priest are made for himself and the deacon only and those are asking God to them to do their part as priest and deacon for all the people (I am not addressing the prayers during the Fraction, which are nothing more than the necessary actions of the Priest as prompted by the Deacon, and during Communion of the Clergy, which are necessarily private).

3. Saint Ignatius' most memorable description of a local, ontologically complete church was "One bishop, surrounded by his priests, deacons and laity." This is not fundamentally different from the New Testament description of a church that consists of a bishop, deacons and the laity. The role of the priests in the Ignatian model is nothing less than Deputy Overseer, because by the time of Saint Ignatius, the overseer of the local church was based in a city with more than one congregation and, since the bishop could not be in more than one place at any given time, he had to rely on Deputy Overseers, who like him also carried priestly functions.

I think that evangelicals may understand better if you substitute the word "pastor" for "Overseer " or bishop. You can then point out that Acts and the Pauline letters refer to churches that are in effect city churches, overseen by one pastor. The Biblical Church did not have but one such overseer. However, it does stand to reason that as the number of congregations increased, there had to be a chief pastor for all of the congregations in a given city and pastors for each congregation that were in fact deputies of the one and only Biblical overseer, called bishop in modern English.

However, the problem is not the existence of bishops/overseers, elders or pastors. The problem is that many evangelicals do not believe in the sacraments or mysteries. I would only point out to them that it would be dangerous to risk misunderstanding the plain words of our Lord:

Mark 14:22-24 "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them."

because He also said

John 6: 53-58: "Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."

The bottom line: the Orthodox Church is the one who fully respects and believes in the Word of God as we do not pick and choose from different verses--unlike the Evangelicals. Our core beliefs have withstood the test of time because they did not change from the very beginning. They are based on what the Lord and His Holy Apostles said and as we certified when the accepted books of the New Testament were put together: that the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of the Apostles, as assembled in the New Testament, conform to the Apostolic teachings that were passed on faithfully from disciple to disciple.

I agree that we have nothing to prove but that we can explain quite easily, all based on the Holy Scriptures as they were understood by the earliest Church. It is up to the Evangelicals to prove that their interpretation of the Scriptures is in any way superior to the understanding of the Church.
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« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2010, 05:14:01 PM »

What about John 20:23 in which the Lord conferred priestly duties to the apostles? In Acts 6:7 many Jewish priests were obediant to the new faith; did many retain their office? It was the Jews who discontinued the office not the Christians.

Actually, the Jews did not discontinue the office, though they did discontinue (or the Romans 'discontinued') the ritual sacrifices. (!!!) The descendants of Aaron still retain their status as kohanim (if you've ever known a Jewish man with the last name Cohen, it's likely he is a priest), and they have special duties in the Synagogue; for example, giving the priestly blessing "May the LORD bless you and keep you..." with hands stretched out over the people (Leonard Nimoy, who is Jewish, appropriated the hand figuration with which the kohanim bless the congregation in this way for the Vulcan "live long and prosper" thingy in Star Trek; interestingly, as he is not a priest and should have had his head bowed during the blessing, he perhaps never should have seen the way the priests were holding their hands  Smiley - and no, I'm not making this up).

Kohanim still only marry within the Patrilinear line descending from Aaron. The Jews, of course, hope to rebuild the Temple and resume the sacrifices, at which point the kohanim would resume their duties in the Temple worship.
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« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2010, 05:26:14 PM »

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However, the problem is not the existence of bishops/overseers, elders or pastors. The problem is that many evangelicals do not believe in the sacraments or mysteries. I would only point out to them that it would be dangerous to risk misunderstanding the plain words of our Lord:

Mark 14:22-24 "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them."

I think it's always important to remember as well that in this passage, in which the Eucharist is actually instituted, unlike John 6, ONLY the Twelve are present, which seems odd if you follow the Evangelical way of thinking that this isn't a Sacrament to be celebrated specifically by those with Apostolic authority to do so. Not even the Mother of God is present, only Christ and the Twelve.
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« Reply #25 on: July 19, 2010, 05:56:08 PM »

Maybe I'm stating the obvious,but could it be said that the reason Paul and the other writers didn't use the Greek word "hiereus" to describe a Christian minister,was because of the negative conitation associated with the word ,as a reference to priests of pagan temples?
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« Reply #26 on: July 19, 2010, 06:02:24 PM »

Maybe I'm stating the obvious,but could it be said that the reason Paul and the other writers didn't use the Greek word "hiereus" to describe a Christian minister,was because of the negative conitation associated with the word ,as a reference to priests of pagan temples?

But they do use that word to refer to Christians. I think the question here is if all Christians are priests, are some Christians more priestly than others or something like that lol
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« Reply #27 on: July 19, 2010, 06:17:28 PM »

What about John 20:23 in which the Lord conferred priestly duties to the apostles? In Acts 6:7 many Jewish priests were obediant to the new faith; did many retain their office?

I must admit this detail about the Jewish priests has always slipped past me! Fascinating!

Here is a relevant passage from the Goldenmouthed:
Quote
And a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.— There arose murmuring against the Hebrews— for that description of people seemed to be more honorable— because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Acts 6:1-7 So then there was a daily ministration for the widows. And observe how he calls it a ministration (διακονία), and not directly alms: extolling by this at once the doers, and those to whom it was done. Were neglected. This did not arise from malice, but perhaps from the carelessness of the multitude. And therefore he brought it forward openly, for this was no small evil. Observe, how even in the beginning the evils came not only from without, but also from within. For you must not look to this only, that it was set to rights, but observe that it was a great evil that it existed. Then the twelve, etc. Acts 6:2 Do you observe how outward concerns succeed to inward? They do not act at their own discretion, but plead for themselves to the congregation. So ought it to be done now. It is not reason, says he, that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. First he puts to them the unreasonableness of the thing; that it is not possible for both things to be done with the same attention: just as when they were about to ordain Matthias, they first show the necessity of the thing, that one was deficient, and there must needs be twelve. And so here they showed the necessity; and they did it not sooner, but waited till the murmuring arose; nor, on the other hand, did they suffer this to spread far. And, lo! They leave the decision to them: those who pleased all, those who of all were honestly reputed, them they present: not now twelve, but seven, full of the Spirit and of wisdom: well reported of for their conversation. Acts 6:3 Now when Matthias was to be presented, it was said, Therefore must one of these men which have companied with us all the time Acts 1:21: but not so here: for the case was not alike. And they do not now put it to the lot; they might indeed themselves have made the election, as moved by the Spirit: but nevertheless, they desire the testimony of the people. The fixing the number, and the ordaining them, and for this kind of business, rested with them: but the choice of the men they make over to the people, that they might not seem to act from favor: just as God also leaves it to Moses to choose as elders those whom he knew. Numbers 11:16 And of wisdom. For indeed there needs much wisdom in such ministrations. For think not, because he has not the word committed unto him, that such an one has no need of wisdom: he does need it, and much too. But we, says he, will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4 Again they plead for themselves, beginning and ending with this. Will give ourselves continually, he says. For so it behooved, not just to do the mere acts, or in any chance way, but to be continually doing them. And the saying, we are told, pleased the whole multitude. (v. 5, 6.) This too was worthy of their wisdom. All approved of what was said so sensible was it. And they chose, it says (again it is the people (αὐτοί) that choose,) Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the Apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. They separated them from the multitude, and it is the people (αὐτοί) that draw them, not the Apostles that lead them. Observe how he avoids all that is superfluous: he does not tell in what way it was done, but that they were ordained (ἐ χειροτονήθησαν) with prayer: for this is the meaning of χειροτονία, (i.e. putting forth the hand,) or ordination: the hand of the man is laid upon (the person,) but the whole work is of God, and it is His hand which touches the head of the one ordained, if he be duly ordained. And the word of God, it says, increased: and the number of the disciples multiplied. Acts 6:7 It is not for nothing that he says this: it shows how great is the virtue of alms and good order. And as he is about in the sequel to enlarge (αὔξειν) upon the affair of Stephen, he puts first the causes which led to it. And many, he says, of the priests were obedient to the faith. For since they perceived such to be the mind of their ruler and teacher [Gamaliel?] they put the matter to the test of facts.— It is also a subject for wonder, how it was that the multitude was not divided in its choice of the men, and how it was that the Apostles were not rejected by them. But what sort of rank these bore, and what sort of office they received, this is what we need to learn. Was it that of Deacons? And yet this is not the case in the Churches. But is it to the Presbyters that the management belongs? And yet at present there was no Bishop, but the Apostles only. Whence I think it clearly and manifestily follows, that neither Deacons nor Presbyters is their designation: but it was for this particular purpose that they were ordained. And this business was not simply handed over to them without further ceremony, but the Apostles prayed over them, that power might be given to them. But observe, I pray you, if there were need of seven men for this, great in proportion must have been the sums of money that flowed in, great in proportion also the number of widows. So then the prayers were not made in an off-hand way, but with much deliberate attention: and this office, as well as preaching, was thus brought to good effect; for what they did, they effected mostly by the means of these (their prayers.) Thus they were enabled to give their attention to things spiritual; thus were these also free to undertake long journeys; thus were these put in trust with the word. But the writer does not say this, nor extol them, but that it was not reason that they should leave the work given to them. Thus they had been taught by Moses's example not to undertake the management of everything by themselves.
The rest of the homily can be read here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/210114.htm

I'm having some trouble parsing this. He seems to imply this group of seven (which mat or may not include the converted priests) were made bishops, but I was always under the impression that Acts 6 describes the institution of the diaconate. Huh

Could someone help me figure this out?
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« Reply #28 on: July 19, 2010, 10:25:28 PM »

Quote
The problem seems to lie in the Western mode of thinking, wherein the Roman Church seemed to have devalued the Royal Priesthood of Believers and conflated the concept of priest with that of overseer. In the Old Testament, the priests were the only ones who could approach God. In the New Testament, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the relationship between God and men was radically altered, to the point where we now "dare" to address God as Father and pray the Lord's prayer.


Let's not forget the symbolism of Orthodox church architecture, which is a direct result of the change between the OT to the NT notion of priesthood:

The narthex, portico or vestibule, is where those who are not baptised into the Faith may stay. In earlier times, they were dismissed after a certain point in the Liturgy (a very small number of parishes still do).

The nave, corresponding to the Holy Place of Jewish tradition, where only the priests could occupy, is now expanded in size, and it is where the congregation stand or sit.

The Holy of Holies, into which the Jewish High Priest could only enter once a year to offer the blood sacrifice, has now been transformed and fulfilled, through the tearing of the veil of the Temple at Christ's sacrifice, into the ieron/altar, in which the ordained Orthodox priest offers the bloodless sacrifice at every Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #29 on: July 19, 2010, 10:31:52 PM »

What about John 20:23 in which the Lord conferred priestly duties to the apostles? In Acts 6:7 many Jewish priests were obediant to the new faith; did many retain their office? It was the Jews who discontinued the office not the Christians.

Actually, the Jews did not discontinue the office, though they did discontinue (or the Romans 'discontinued') the ritual sacrifices. (!!!) The descendants of Aaron still retain their status as kohanim (if you've ever known a Jewish man with the last name Cohen, it's likely he is a priest), and they have special duties in the Synagogue; for example, giving the priestly blessing "May the LORD bless you and keep you..." with hands stretched out over the people (Leonard Nimoy, who is Jewish, appropriated the hand figuration with which the kohanim bless the congregation in this way for the Vulcan "live long and prosper" thingy in Star Trek; interestingly, as he is not a priest and should have had his head bowed during the blessing, he perhaps never should have seen the way the priests were holding their hands  Smiley - and no, I'm not making this up).

Kohanim still only marry within the Patrilinear line descending from Aaron. The Jews, of course, hope to rebuild the Temple and resume the sacrifices, at which point the kohanim would resume their duties in the Temple worship.

Btw, a DNA study of Cohen concluded that they descended from a single male 3,000-3,500 years before present.
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« Reply #30 on: July 19, 2010, 10:50:02 PM »

I appreciate what Second Chance says, particularly about word choice. "Priest" for Protestants almost always conjurs up Roman Catholic priest. As an elder in the United Methodist Church, I have been given authority by the church to practice the ministry of word (teaching and preaching), sacrament (priestly function), and order (administration and oversight function). I am usually called Pastor Kevin, or Reverend Orr, or just Kevin. I've only been called "Father" when walking around with a collar and was innocently confused with being a Roman Catholic priest.

I think, for many Protestants, we would consider those called out for ordained, representative ministry to certainly have a priestly function, but commonly choose the identifier of pastor, minister, or reverend.
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« Reply #31 on: July 20, 2010, 12:28:35 AM »

As an elder in the United Methodist Church, I have been given authority by the church to practice the ministry of word (teaching and preaching), sacrament (priestly function), and order (administration and oversight function). I am usually called Pastor Kevin, or Reverend Orr, or just Kevin. I've only been called "Father" when walking around with a collar and was innocently confused with being a Roman Catholic priest.

I think, for many Protestants, we would consider those called out for ordained, representative ministry to certainly have a priestly function, but commonly choose the identifier of pastor, minister, or reverend.

A big difference would be the belief in how God works in the sacraments and what He does. Here are just a few examples.

Baptism.
Protestantism has a wide variety of beliefs concerning baptism. Some are pretty close to Orthodox belief that at baptism - one is crucified with Christ, buried in the tomb with Him, and raised from the dead to live with him. One is grafted into the Body of Christ and their sins are forgiven. Other denominations may see it as an outward expression of an already existing inner faith (nothing actually happens to the person), a formal method for accepting church membership, in some cases something that "saves" you in the "once saved always saved" sense of the word, or something that doesn't necessarily get one into heaven but must be done in order to get into heaven.

Chrismation/ Confirmation.
Most protestants either don't do this or simply see it as a formal declaration of faith or church membership. In Orthodoxy, it is "the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit" which is supposed to be done with baptism and as i've heard it described before, the ordination to the royal priesthood of the believer.

Communion.
With all the varying beliefs of what happens to the bread and wine (or juice depending on the church), what the person presiding is doing, what the participants do, and what happens to the participants, please forgive me for not listing the (countless) details and just simply saying that I don't think that any Protestant denomination believes what the Orthodox believe (unless maybe a particular group's beliefs are moving toward Orthodoxy).

Confession.
Protestants either don't do it or simply see it as a way to get something they want to talk to someone (anyone in some cases) about off their mind.

Ordination.
This can mean anything from a piece of paper saying one has studied for and is qualified to perform a certain ministry or function, to permission to perform the duties of a pastor. In Orthodoxy, ordination is the grace of the Holy Spirit to be a particular member of the Body of Christ given by God through the laying on of hands by a member or multiple members (the case with ordaining bishops) of the Body which have the grace and spiritual authority to confer the grace of that particular ordination.

These are not meant to be definitive, just general statements to demonstrate that there is a very real difference in belief. It's not that Protestants and Orthodox have different names for the same things, but just simply have different things which may or may not share the same name.
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« Reply #32 on: July 20, 2010, 10:37:08 AM »



ialmisry wrote:

Quote
Btw, a DNA study of Cohen concluded that they descended from a single male 3,000-3,500 years before present.

Fascinating! Do you have any links to any studies online about this subject? Not that I don't believe you, rather I find this . . .  well, really cool, and would like to read more about it. Smiley Thanks
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« Reply #33 on: July 20, 2010, 12:21:41 PM »

Let's not forget the symbolism of Orthodox church architecture, which is a direct result of the change between the OT to the NT notion of priesthood:

The narthex, portico or vestibule, is where those who are not baptised into the Faith may stay. In earlier times, they were dismissed after a certain point in the Liturgy (a very small number of parishes still do).

The nave, corresponding to the Holy Place of Jewish tradition, where only the priests could occupy, is now expanded in size, and it is where the congregation stand or sit.

The Holy of Holies, into which the Jewish High Priest could only enter once a year to offer the blood sacrifice, has now been transformed and fulfilled, through the tearing of the veil of the Temple at Christ's sacrifice, into the ieron/altar, in which the ordained Orthodox priest offers the bloodless sacrifice at every Divine Liturgy.

This idea that the layout of Orthodox churches corresponds directly with that of the Jewish temple of old is just that, an idea.  It provides an allegorical way of looking at how the church building is layed out.  It is only one interpretation offered.  In no way is it binding on Orthodox Christians to believe this interpretation.  I think that far too many people present it as doctrine instead of an interpretation of how to look at things, and because of this, I think it can be rather dangerous to use explantations like this.  I will edit this post or add a new on when I have access to a computer that is behaving itself.
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« Reply #34 on: July 20, 2010, 12:32:50 PM »



ialmisry wrote:

Quote
Btw, a DNA study of Cohen concluded that they descended from a single male 3,000-3,500 years before present.

Fascinating! Do you have any links to any studies online about this subject? Not that I don't believe you, rather I find this . . .  well, really cool, and would like to read more about it. Smiley Thanks
No problem. Substantiation is always nice, here's a start (the references that is):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-chromosomal_Aaron
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« Reply #35 on: July 20, 2010, 01:26:18 PM »


These are not meant to be definitive, just general statements to demonstrate that there is a very real difference in belief. It's not that Protestants and Orthodox have different names for the same things, but just simply have different things which may or may not share the same name.
[/quote]

Melodist, you are right, and this taps into the inner struggle that I face, being a United Methodist pastor while at the same time feeling a strong pull toward Orthodoxy. The beliefs, practices, and understandings among Protestants are legion.

I'm praying, learning, and trying to be as orthodox as I can within the constraints I find myself.
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« Reply #36 on: July 20, 2010, 03:48:02 PM »

Bless'ed Love To All,

I am very new to this forum and I would like to share knowledge with others and vice versa.  Now I have been thru this in other forums.  I am NOT qouting any CHURCH,  book or anything like that before I speak of these things.  My question is to my knowledge a High Priest is to perform as stated above and also things that I would label as cerimonial rights of passage.  How do you all see the position of High Priest today?  In the past these actions taken by the High Priest were customs of old that supposedly had to be performed in order to keep the tabernacle in line correct?  So if the duties of the High Priest were as such how is the tabenacle kept today if the High Priest is null and void meaning that these cerimonial rights of passage are not being performed.  Who are the High Priests of today and what Priesthood are they under.  I apologize if someone has already answered this question above I am actually still reading the comments but wanted to get that out before too many topics overwhelmed me and I couldnt get the question out... Se'lah
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« Reply #37 on: July 20, 2010, 03:59:57 PM »



Welcome, Ras. The answer to your question can be found in the Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Hebrews. Christ, who fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, is the Great High Priest, whom Aaron and the others prefigured, who is continually offering sacrifice and intercession for us before the Throne of His Father, in the ideal Tabernacle, which is in Heaven, and of which the earthly tabernacle was again a type.
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« Reply #38 on: July 20, 2010, 04:27:57 PM »

Bless'ed Love To All,  

Give Thanks Beloved,  I just wanted to make sure that I was not the only person here who has info on the priesthood and its dealings.  I've had a few bumps and bruises with some of the members of our great congregation about this subject.  I think that the mistake I made was giving an explanation from an informative view and not from a........ how would I label this, I guess a; religious view?Huh?  I dont know but because I didnt stay within other peoples guidlines I think I mightve offended a few people here.  To me religion is about more than just scripture that the church has accepted and I explained it from that type of point meaning my explanation crossed more than just religious borders and I thought that there was no way that this massive website of people have not correlated the scripture with fact outside of what the church says.  the Father's truth is just that the truth and whether we choose to discuss it from a knowledge point or a religious point the Father's truth is NOT going to change. It will reign supreme in all subjects.  I AM VERY SORRY TO ANYONE IF THEY THINK I AM TRYING TO CHANGE THE THREAD I AM NOT.  IM NOT TRYING TO GET OFF THE SUBJECT JUST WANTED TO EXPRESS MYSELF BRIEFLY SOLEY TO THE INDIVIDUAL WHO REPONDED TO ME.......Se'lah
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