Dear Protestants,

Please stop misrepresenting Catholics. It’s starting to get out of hand.

KentonS on Scot McKnight’s blog writes the following comment:
“I get all that and I pretty much agree with your characterization of the man. At the same time, let’s at least acknowledge that this is hardly an organization that advocates for a priesthood of all believers. (Indeed he has already shut the door on allowing women in the priesthood.) I don’t see how the charge of “ecclesial elitism” couldn’t come back to the man himself. I hate saying that because I do love the man. I think he’s truly a breath of fresh air in the world today.”

Here’s the problem, the priesthood of all believers is not expressed in the Bible. The closest area in the Bible that comes to this teaching is found in 1 Peter 2:9. If you’ll note, it never once says “all believers are priests”. In fact, most scholars concur that 1 Peter is a baptismal homily. The reality is that 1 Peter 2:9 agrees with Catholic doctrine, not Protestant doctrine. It teaches the priesthood of all the baptized which Catholic doctrine emphasizes and adheres to.

There are three tiers of priesthoods for Catholics–the priesthood of all the baptized of which Mary is the first and foremost, the sacramental priesthood that administers the sacraments, and the high priesthood of Jesus. Protestants disregard the middle one because for them, God is not continually pouring himself out as a sacrifice (that’s because Catholics teach that while God operates in time, he is also ultimately timeless and does things eternally, Protestants reject the idea that God is timeless and so the idea of a continued sacrifice is impossible). But Protestants believe in the first two. The point though is that the priesthood of all believers is an eisegesis. The priesthood of all the baptized is the historic Christian orthodox teaching and is an exegesis.

With respect to Francis’s position on women’s ordination…in dialogue with another person who wouldn’t define himself as holding a position on women’s ordination, I once complained that the Catholic Church was being misogynist on this topic. He gently reminded me that they do have 2,000 years of Church tradition going for them whether we like the position or not. But Catholics are hardly ecclesial elitists. Clericalism is something that Protestants are quite susceptible to as well. It is important for Christians to remember in the debate over women’s ordination that the problem is clericalism, nothing else and nothing less. We may or may not agree that women should be ordained but a man who is a priest who does not support women’s ordination is not necessarily an ecclesial elitist. Pope Francis has also asserted that the only hierarchy there should be is over sacramental administration.

We should not create further separation between ourselves and Rome stating “we are better than them” somehow. I would agree that I can be far more Catholic than many Catholics out there but I do not take swipes on the Catholic Church, I take inspiration from them. As we all should. They’ve been around a lot longer than our own Protestant denominations and we need to respect that.


About newenglandsun

A student. Male. Passionate. Easily offended. Child-like wonderer. Growing in faith, messing up daily.
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