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Author Topic: Priesthood: Laity vs Ordained  (Read 1003 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 16, 2010, 05:17:50 PM »

What is the priesthood of all baptized Christians?

How is this different from the Ordained Priesthood?
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2010, 06:50:08 PM »

What is the priesthood of all baptized Christians?

How is this different from the Ordained Priesthood?

To make an analogy, it is like citizenship, which in the US both gives Constitutional rights (witness the different handling that has had to occur with Jihadists that they have picked up outside of the US) and the power to exercise the authority of US sovereignty, i.e. vote. The Ordained Priesthood resemble those who hold office under the US Constitution.
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2010, 07:07:51 PM »

My question continues, and I probably should have posted this originally, with where it started. I accidentally stumbled onto a LDS blog about Orthodoxy and one of the comments was:

Quote
I appreciate your interest in the iconostasis but it should be noted that its not about separating the “priests” from the “lay people”. In Orthodox Christianity all Christians, including women and children are priests (that is they are people who can and do offer worship and service) but only a few are clerics. When an Orthodox Priest serves the liturgy he is doing so as a Priest leading priests and, in fact, in traditional Orthodox churches there are no pews as everyone stands with the Priest at the altar, some nearer, some closer, but all fulfilling their ministry.

It seemed he was trying to make a parallel to how Mormons 'ordain' all the men, showing a connection between the two faiths. It struck me a bit of a stretch, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly how or why.

Perhaps I just got the hebbie-jebbies trying to link Mormons and real Christianity.
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2010, 08:48:57 PM »

My question continues, and I probably should have posted this originally, with where it started. I accidentally stumbled onto a LDS blog about Orthodoxy and one of the comments was:

Quote
I appreciate your interest in the iconostasis but it should be noted that its not about separating the “priests” from the “lay people”. In Orthodox Christianity all Christians, including women and children are priests (that is they are people who can and do offer worship and service) but only a few are clerics. When an Orthodox Priest serves the liturgy he is doing so as a Priest leading priests and, in fact, in traditional Orthodox churches there are no pews as everyone stands with the Priest at the altar, some nearer, some closer, but all fulfilling their ministry.

It seemed he was trying to make a parallel to how Mormons 'ordain' all the men, showing a connection between the two faiths. It struck me a bit of a stretch, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly how or why.

Perhaps I just got the hebbie-jebbies trying to link Mormons and real Christianity.
Tell me about it. One thing, though, is that their "bishop"'s role mimics how the presbyter-priest's functioned in the Early Church. Even creepier, their distinction between the priesthood of the Order of Melchizedek and the Aaronic priesthood (so called-neither have anything to do with Melchizedek or Aaron) does present an analogy with the distinction between the ordained and the lay priesthood of the Orthodox Church.

As for what the Orthodox said, that is why the priest faces the same direction as the people-facing God; rather than facing the people when celebrating DL. They are participating together in the one priesthood of Christ, offering worship and service.  The priest does turn to face the people when he blesses in the name of Christ and His Church.
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2010, 09:25:24 PM »

It seemed he was trying to make a parallel to how Mormons 'ordain' all the men, showing a connection between the two faiths.

Well, we are all ordained in the sense that we all receive the royal/priestly chrism during the initiation rites, when the Holy Spirit is sealed in us. So in that sense, we are all anointed ones, all christs, as we have the chrism.
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2010, 09:38:43 PM »

If we are all priests, what sets the laity apart from those with 'Holy Orders'.

I can't seem to wrap my head around it. I keep thinking... It's the same... Yet different... But...

I'm having one of those nights.
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2010, 09:44:45 PM »

How about this?

We believe that all Christians are part of a royal priesthood, but that not all Christians are sacerdotal elders.

Ask any Protestant if they believe in the eldership of all believers.
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« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2010, 09:52:58 PM »

That works. I think I'm so used to thinking laity/priest instead of priests/elder that I was confusing myself.

I suppose I don't see myself as a priest.
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« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2010, 10:14:49 PM »

That works. I think I'm so used to thinking laity/priest instead of priests/elder that I was confusing myself.

I suppose I don't see myself as a priest.

Well, in the English language priest is a loaded term with a lot of different connotations. In Orthodoxy, as I understand it, we fulfill our priestly function in that we are not merely "stewards" of the earth, but that we are actually priests of the cosmos. This is why when we are being truly united to God, the saints gain control of the natural world and the material elements. Calming storms, walking on water, etc. So we are not merely caretakers, but rather meant to serve and to minister to the whole creation; to bring life into everything around us, reversing the consequences of the Fall. So it is in this way that we are all priests. But we are not all bishops, presbyters (priests), or deacons, or even readers or whatever. So there certainly is a distinction between a presbyter and any ol' layperson. They have been given a special gift to confer sacramental grace through the Mysteries. This is not something that just any Orthodox Christian can do.
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« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2010, 10:23:58 PM »

That works. I think I'm so used to thinking laity/priest instead of priests/elder that I was confusing myself.

I suppose I don't see myself as a priest.

Well, in the English language priest is a loaded term with a lot of different connotations. In Orthodoxy, as I understand it, we fulfill our priestly function in that we are not merely "stewards" of the earth, but that we are actually priests of the cosmos. This is why when we are being truly united to God, the saints gain control of the natural world and the material elements. Calming storms, walking on water, etc. So we are not merely caretakers, but rather meant to serve and to minister to the whole creation; to bring life into everything around us, reversing the consequences of the Fall. So it is in this way that we are all priests. But we are not all bishops, presbyters (priests), or deacons, or even readers or whatever. So there certainly is a distinction between a presbyter and any ol' layperson. They have been given a special gift to confer sacramental grace through the Mysteries. This is not something that just any Orthodox Christian can do.

Ok. This makes it all make much better sense for me.
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2010, 12:39:20 AM »

Also, this distinction can be clearly proved by the Holy Scriptures, although it doesn't need to be. But it is helpful if you're coming from a "Sola Scriptura" background, or in this case to debunk a false notion of "priesthood" as perpetuated by most Protestants contra Roman Catholicism.

The one example I can think of this offhand is:

The Catholic Epistle of St. James the Brother of God 5:14 -

Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders (read: presbyters/priests) of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Why couldn't any of the laypersons have done this? Why did it have to be the presbyters? Simple enough - it is because Holy Unction is a Sacrament/Mystery of the Church and sacerdotal grace can only be conferred by a validly ordained leader in the Catholic Church of Christ, who is either a successor to an apostle (bishop/episkopos), or an administrative extension of the presence of the bishop, which is the parish presbyter/priest.

Now God is certainly free to work the Mystery of healing through others, but this would not be the same as the sacramental Holy Unction which is given to an Orthodox Christian who approaches their priest in need of healing. I hope this additional point is helpful.
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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2010, 08:44:19 AM »

Also, this distinction can be clearly proved by the Holy Scriptures, although it doesn't need to be. But it is helpful if you're coming from a "Sola Scriptura" background, or in this case to debunk a false notion of "priesthood" as perpetuated by most Protestants contra Roman Catholicism.

The one example I can think of this offhand is:

The Catholic Epistle of St. James the Brother of God 5:14 -

Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders (read: presbyters/priests) of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Why couldn't any of the laypersons have done this? Why did it have to be the presbyters? Simple enough - it is because Holy Unction is a Sacrament/Mystery of the Church and sacerdotal grace can only be conferred by a validly ordained leader in the Catholic Church of Christ, who is either a successor to an apostle (bishop/episkopos), or an administrative extension of the presence of the bishop, which is the parish presbyter/priest.

Now God is certainly free to work the Mystery of healing through others, but this would not be the same as the sacramental Holy Unction which is given to an Orthodox Christian who approaches their priest in need of healing. I hope this additional point is helpful.

Your example is flawed because it says elder and thus means elder. Anyone who is strong in the faith can heal. In the Orthodox Tradition spiritual fathers need not be ordained. In fact, in countries which had a strong government penetration of the Church the non-ordained spiritual father played a much more important role than priests do today.

Think of it in another context; do you only pray to saints which are ordained ministers. No, we Orthodox pray to many types of saints for healing and intercession even ones who were laymen.
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« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2010, 09:42:02 AM »

Also, this distinction can be clearly proved by the Holy Scriptures, although it doesn't need to be. But it is helpful if you're coming from a "Sola Scriptura" background, or in this case to debunk a false notion of "priesthood" as perpetuated by most Protestants contra Roman Catholicism.

The one example I can think of this offhand is:

The Catholic Epistle of St. James the Brother of God 5:14 -

Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders (read: presbyters/priests) of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Why couldn't any of the laypersons have done this? Why did it have to be the presbyters? Simple enough - it is because Holy Unction is a Sacrament/Mystery of the Church and sacerdotal grace can only be conferred by a validly ordained leader in the Catholic Church of Christ, who is either a successor to an apostle (bishop/episkopos), or an administrative extension of the presence of the bishop, which is the parish presbyter/priest.

Now God is certainly free to work the Mystery of healing through others, but this would not be the same as the sacramental Holy Unction which is given to an Orthodox Christian who approaches their priest in need of healing. I hope this additional point is helpful.

Your example is flawed because it says elder and thus means elder. Anyone who is strong in the faith can heal. In the Orthodox Tradition spiritual fathers need not be ordained. In fact, in countries which had a strong government penetration of the Church the non-ordained spiritual father played a much more important role than priests do today.

Think of it in another context; do you only pray to saints which are ordained ministers. No, we Orthodox pray to many types of saints for healing and intercession even ones who were laymen.

You can ask intercession of anyone, some have the ability to heal, but only a priest or bishop can administer Holy Unction. 

His example is not flawed, in the original Greek the word used is "presbyter", which eventually became the English "priest"(by way of "prester").  A "presbyter" in the New Testament Church wasn't just any old person, it was an actual position requiring ordination (Titus 1:5 for the best example).
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« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2010, 10:13:56 AM »

Your example is flawed because it says elder and thus means elder. Anyone who is strong in the faith can heal. In the Orthodox Tradition spiritual fathers need not be ordained. In fact, in countries which had a strong government penetration of the Church the non-ordained spiritual father played a much more important role than priests do today.

Think of it in another context; do you only pray to saints which are ordained ministers. No, we Orthodox pray to many types of saints for healing and intercession even ones who were laymen.

You can ask intercession of anyone, some have the ability to heal, but only a priest or bishop can administer Holy Unction. 

His example is not flawed, in the original Greek the word used is "presbyter", which eventually became the English "priest"(by way of "prester").  A "presbyter" in the New Testament Church wasn't just any old person, it was an actual position requiring ordination (Titus 1:5 for the best example).

Correct. Here's an excerpt from a book on Orthodox ecclesiology His Broken Body:
Quote
...presbyters (including the bishops) are “priests” (i`ereu.j - hiereus) in the sense that only they can offer the bloodless sacrifice on behalf of the people. Yet, a particular presbyter is set aside as visible and permanent sign of unity, as Peter was set aside among the Twelve.
Excerpt from the book, p. 72
http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/media/documents/ecclesiology.pdf?noredir=1
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« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2010, 11:02:39 AM »

The point was in a "Sola Scriptura" context. Titus 1:5 not only reflects on an elder being the same as a priest but also an overseer or bishop as being the same. So the point made from a "Sola Scriptura" basis is that elders, priests, and bishops are all equivalent. In addition, there has been no citation of ordination made yet but only of selction by the laymen of a person to an office.

I am not arguing for a particular position here just pointing out the weakness of what is written in the context of teaching to a "Sola Scriptura" background.

Let me give the common retort so that you can be better prepared to give a sharper response in return. (Please, this is not my own personal opinion but rather a teaching tool.)


Oil in biblical times was an ordinary physiological treatment. In todays context it would be equivalent to medicine or the treatment from a physician. The passage cited therefore gives no allusion to Holy Unction but rather to God healing through modern medicine by a physician. Furthermore, it is the faith of the sick that effects the healing. Therefore any person could give any treatment (placebo) and the sick could be healed by God by their Faith alone.
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« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2010, 11:14:56 AM »

Your example is flawed because it says elder and thus means elder. Anyone who is strong in the faith can heal. In the Orthodox Tradition spiritual fathers need not be ordained. In fact, in countries which had a strong government penetration of the Church the non-ordained spiritual father played a much more important role than priests do today.

Think of it in another context; do you only pray to saints which are ordained ministers. No, we Orthodox pray to many types of saints for healing and intercession even ones who were laymen.

You can ask intercession of anyone, some have the ability to heal, but only a priest or bishop can administer Holy Unction. 

His example is not flawed, in the original Greek the word used is "presbyter", which eventually became the English "priest"(by way of "prester").  A "presbyter" in the New Testament Church wasn't just any old person, it was an actual position requiring ordination (Titus 1:5 for the best example).

Correct. Here's an excerpt from a book on Orthodox ecclesiology His Broken Body:
Quote
...presbyters (including the bishops) are “priests” (i`ereu.j - hiereus) in the sense that only they can offer the bloodless sacrifice on behalf of the people. Yet, a particular presbyter is set aside as visible and permanent sign of unity, as Peter was set aside among the Twelve.
Excerpt from the book, p. 72
http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/media/documents/ecclesiology.pdf?noredir=1

From a "Sola Scriptura" position as the previous post was made in, your citations are irrelevalent. In order to make a "Sola Scriptura" argument only the Bible should be cited.
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« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2010, 11:23:51 AM »

Your example is flawed because it says elder and thus means elder. Anyone who is strong in the faith can heal. In the Orthodox Tradition spiritual fathers need not be ordained. In fact, in countries which had a strong government penetration of the Church the non-ordained spiritual father played a much more important role than priests do today.

Think of it in another context; do you only pray to saints which are ordained ministers. No, we Orthodox pray to many types of saints for healing and intercession even ones who were laymen.

You can ask intercession of anyone, some have the ability to heal, but only a priest or bishop can administer Holy Unction. 

His example is not flawed, in the original Greek the word used is "presbyter", which eventually became the English "priest"(by way of "prester").  A "presbyter" in the New Testament Church wasn't just any old person, it was an actual position requiring ordination (Titus 1:5 for the best example).

Correct. Here's an excerpt from a book on Orthodox ecclesiology His Broken Body:
Quote
...presbyters (including the bishops) are “priests” (i`ereu.j - hiereus) in the sense that only they can offer the bloodless sacrifice on behalf of the people. Yet, a particular presbyter is set aside as visible and permanent sign of unity, as Peter was set aside among the Twelve.
Excerpt from the book, p. 72
http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/media/documents/ecclesiology.pdf?noredir=1

From a "Sola Scriptura" position as the previous post was made in, your citations are irrelevalent. In order to make a "Sola Scriptura" argument only the Bible should be cited.

I'm not have ever been Sola Scriptura. Alveus Lacuna was trying to help me out knowing I'm not Orthodox.

Now, being raised a traditional Anglican, I, like the Orthodox, already appeal to history for context and Patristics. The book I quoted was providing that historical perspective. 
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« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2010, 11:37:51 AM »

The point was in a "Sola Scriptura" context. Titus 1:5 not only reflects on an elder being the same as a priest but also an overseer or bishop as being the same. So the point made from a "Sola Scriptura" basis is that elders, priests, and bishops are all equivalent. In addition, there has been no citation of ordination made yet but only of selction by the laymen of a person to an office.

I am not arguing for a particular position here just pointing out the weakness of what is written in the context of teaching to a "Sola Scriptura" background.

Let me give the common retort so that you can be better prepared to give a sharper response in return. (Please, this is not my own personal opinion but rather a teaching tool.)


Oil in biblical times was an ordinary physiological treatment. In todays context it would be equivalent to medicine or the treatment from a physician. The passage cited therefore gives no allusion to Holy Unction but rather to God healing through modern medicine by a physician. Furthermore, it is the faith of the sick that effects the healing. Therefore any person could give any treatment (placebo) and the sick could be healed by God by their Faith alone.

Do I understand that you would apply a heterodox concept, i.e. Sola Scripture, in an Orthodox context? I am confused as such is clearly not an acceptable practice for us.
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« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2010, 11:48:05 AM »

The point was in a "Sola Scriptura" context. Titus 1:5 not only reflects on an elder being the same as a priest but also an overseer or bishop as being the same. So the point made from a "Sola Scriptura" basis is that elders, priests, and bishops are all equivalent. In addition, there has been no citation of ordination made yet but only of selction by the laymen of a person to an office.

I am not arguing for a particular position here just pointing out the weakness of what is written in the context of teaching to a "Sola Scriptura" background.

Let me give the common retort so that you can be better prepared to give a sharper response in return. (Please, this is not my own personal opinion but rather a teaching tool.)


Oil in biblical times was an ordinary physiological treatment. In todays context it would be equivalent to medicine or the treatment from a physician. The passage cited therefore gives no allusion to Holy Unction but rather to God healing through modern medicine by a physician. Furthermore, it is the faith of the sick that effects the healing. Therefore any person could give any treatment (placebo) and the sick could be healed by God by their Faith alone.

Do I understand that you would apply a heterodox concept, i.e. Sola Scripture, in an Orthodox context? I am confused as such is clearly not an acceptable practice for us.

That was the intent of Alveus.

Also, this distinction can be clearly proved by the Holy Scriptures, although it doesn't need to be. But it is helpful if you're coming from a "Sola Scriptura" background, or in this case to debunk a false notion of "priesthood" as perpetuated by most Protestants contra Roman Catholicism.

I think Alveus is right in that the argument can be made very strongly using only scripture it is just that he has not accomplished that yet. If you give him some time to respond I am sure he can make a very strong Orthodox case using only scripture.

Personally, I think all Orthodox doctrine can be made evident simply by praying to God and listening. Unfortunately, oftentimes we do not like what God tells us and try to justify ourselves in the most ludicrous ways. Trying to buy ones salvation is common today as someone who values money thinks money will get them anything including salvation. Secondly is trying to earn salvation through work, equally ludicrous.
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