3 priesthood of all believers

priesthood of all believers

   In the first of his crucial essays of 1520, the "Appeal to the German Nobility," Martin Luther called upon the Christian leaders of Germany (all of them laypeople) to support his demand for reform; he supported his call with the idea of the priesthood of all believers. Luther suggested that all Christians were, by virtue of their baptism, consecrated to act as priests; in fact, baptismal consecration was higher than the ordination offered by a bishop or pope. The congregation of such priests summons and appoints one of its number to act as worship leader, preacher, and speaker of God's forgiveness of sin. Such a person is a mere functionary. Falling back on I Corinthians 12, in which St. Paul spoke of the church as one body, Luther suggests that each church member engages in his/her own work the better to serve the whole.
   Luther singled out the princes as possessors of the temporal authority to punish the wicked. If the leaders of the church had been guilty of wrongdoing (and Luther believed they had), then it was the Christian princes who should move against them.
   Luther was not challenging the essential priestly role of ministers in serving the sacraments or hearing confession (part of the office of the keys for the binding and loosing of sins as mentioned in Matt. 16:19). At the same time, he challenged the exclusive right of ministers to priestly activities. As all are priests, each Christian can, for example, pray for others and teach others.
   Once freed upon the Protestant constituency, however, the doctrine of the priesthood of believers took on a spectrum of connotations far beyond those intended by Luther. In their most extreme form, Protestants have argued for a thoroughgoing rejection of the ordained ministry in favor of a layled church. BAPTISTS have found the idea compatible with their understanding of the traditional sacraments as ordinances, and their rejection of any form of clericalism and sacerdotalism.
   Within liberal Protestantism, the doctrine was used to affirm the role of the laity in ministry. This has led to the establishment of educational programs for laypeople, who often assume various professional and semiprofessional roles such as preaching, diaconal services, or teaching. Lay members are admonished to develop a personal ministry directed to serving either the congregation or the larger world.
   Further reading:
   ■ Cyril Eastwood, The Priesthood of All Believers: An Examination of the Doctrine from the Reformation to the Present Day (London: Epworth Press, 1960)
   ■ Larry Richards and Gib Martin, Lay Ministry: Empowering the People of God (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Ministry Resources Library, 1981)
   ■ Herschel H. Hobbs, You Are Chosen: The Priesthood of All Believers (New York: Harper & Row 1990)
   ■ W. Norman Pittenger, The Ministry of All Christians: A Theology of Lay Ministry (Wilton, Conn.: More-house-Barlow, 1983).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Priesthood of all believers — The universal priesthood or the priesthood of all believers, as it would come to be known in the present day, is a Christian doctrine believed to be derived from several passages of the New Testament. It is a foundational concept of Protestantism …   Wikipedia

  • PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS —    the PROTESTANT BELIEF based upon the NEW TESTAMENT that under the new COVENANT GOD no longer requires SACRIFICES offered by a distinct PRIESTHOOD but that all BELIEVERS offer themselves to his service and act as PRIESTS through PRAYER and… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • priesthood of all believers —  ; priesthood of the faithful  ; priesthood of the laity    These expressions refer to the belief that allChristians, by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, share in the priesthood of Christ. (See CCC 783 786, 1119, 1546) …   Glossary of theological terms

  • priesthood of all believers — a doctrine of the Protestant Christian Church: every individual has direct access to God without ecclesiastical mediation and each individual shares the responsibility of ministering to the other members of the community of believers …   Useful english dictionary

  • priesthood of all believers — ▪ Christianity       cardinal doctrinal principle of the churches of the 16th century Reformation, both Lutheran (Lutheranism) and Reformed (Reformed and Presbyterian churches), and the Protestant Free churches that arose from the Reformation… …   Universalium

  • priesthood of all believers —  Священство всех верующих …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • priesthood — /preest hood/, n. 1. the condition or office of a priest. 2. priests collectively. [bef. 900; ME presthed(e), presthod(e), OE preosthad. See PRIEST, HOOD] * * * Office of a spiritual leader expert in the ceremonies of worship and the performance… …   Universalium

  • Priesthood (Catholic Church) — The ministerial orders of the Catholic Church includes both the orders of bishops and presbyters, which in Latin is sacerdos . [Catechism 1547] The ordained priesthood and common priesthood (or priesthood of the all the baptized) are different in …   Wikipedia

  • Old Believers — Surikov, Vasily, Boyarynya Morozova …   Wikipedia

  • Christianity — /kris chee an i tee/, n., pl. Christianities. 1. the Christian religion, including the Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox churches. 2. Christian beliefs or practices; Christian quality or character: Christianity mixed with pagan elements; …   Universalium

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