Friday, October 29, 2010

Priesthood of Believers

by Peter Leithart

This weekend, Protestants commemorate Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door, a call to disputation that marks the symbolic starting point for the Reformation. As Luther slashed through the corruptions of late medieval Catholicism, “priesthood of all believers” rapidly became one of the great slogans of the Reformation.

Every Christian is a cleric, Luther proclaimed in one of his earliest treatises, The Freedom of a Christian, and those who “are now boastfully called popes, bishops, and lords” are in reality “ministers, servants, and stewards, who are to serve the rest in the ministry of the word”—servants of the servants of God. Whether he knew it or not, Luther was ringing the changes on a patristic teaching that had never wholly been lost during the medieval period.

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