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Discussion in 'Formal Debate Threads' started by whitebeaches, Jan 28, 2014.

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  1. whitebeaches

    whitebeaches Legend Supporter



    2 Participants: MarkRohfrietsch and Athanasias.

    3. Rounds: Maximum 10 (discussion may be shortened or closed on mutual agreement of both participants)

    4. Alternating rounds starting each with Athanasiasbeing the first post for a total of 20 posts.

    5.Time limit between posts: 2 weeks maximum, there is no minimum.

    6 Maximum length for each post: Limited to 5000 words

    7 Quotes and References are allowed; Please note that all quotes will fall under the 20% rule.

    8 Special stipulations: None

    9. Proposed Start Date: Any time.
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  2. whitebeaches

    whitebeaches Legend Supporter

  3. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    I want to thank my good friend and fellow brother in Christ MarkRohfrietsch for allowing me this opportunity to do a friendly prayerful dialog with him on this important issue. Lately I have been seeing that true ecumenical dialog(that is prayerful discussions and listening to one another even when we disagree) is the way to go when it comes to issues that divide us and unite us. I say this because I feel its in line with what our Lord would want as he desires us all to be one as his high priestly prayer of Jn 17 shows and because I believe its in line with the authentic Spirit of Vatican council II (Which is the Holy Spirit) and the message and example of our last 3 Holy Popes. Just so readers of this know. This is not formal debate per se. This ecumenical dialog is not intended to have a winner or loser. This is intended to listen to one another prayerfully and the take all the info from both sides we read and do further research and prayer on so to develop our understanding of these important issues and to pray to grow closer to our fellow Christians who unfortunately do not share table fellowship with us. I strongly desire table fellowship with my devout confessional Lutheran brothers and sisters yet I know there still remains some issues that divide us before we can. This issue of priesthood and it nature is one key issue that needs to be overcome before we can. So I pray for unity again some day. My heart is with my Lutheran friends.

    So I offer a prayer to start. Heavenly Father you love us and even when we sinned and went far away from you you did not leave us to die but gave us your Only begotten Son Jesus so all of us who have fallen may look upon him with a living faith can have a sharing in your divine life and love and come to be with you. I ask you Lord if it be in your wisdom and mercy to grant both Mark and I clarity of thought, humility, and charity when dialoging on these issue that separate us. If heat begins to happen in this dialog then let there be your light to replace that. Help all of us Catholic and Non-Catholic Christians who read this gain a better understanding of each others positions and of Each Churches positions and a better grasp on the biblical, historical, and logical, reason why each of us hold what we do. You are the Lord of truth and are truth itself. You lived and died for truth. Help us to see your truth on this and other issues so it may glorify You and Your death and resurrection. We ask this through Christ our Lord! Come Holy Spirit Come! Fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your Love. Amen.


    This is one area where Catholic and Lutherans(and I guess all protestants) disagree with us and the Eastern and Oritental Orthodox Christians. I personally feel this is a tragedy and it tugs at my heartstrings. I want to praise Dr. Luther for the good he did stand up for and He was right on many things when bringing up abuses. In fact out of the 95 theses the Church accepted about half of them. But there is one area that I feel that Dr. Luther may have innocently overlooked and that is this area of the nature and reality of the priesthood. I think there is very strong biblical(from Old to New testaments) and historical evidence for the Catholic and EO understanding of Priesthood.

    I will not go to deep into this in the first post as I will allow Mark to really help me understand more fully Dr. Luthers teachings on this subject since he may have a far better grasp of Dr. Luthers reasonings. What I will do is just give the basic Catholic and historical Christian understanding of priesthood in a nutshell. There is just so scripture to get to that I will just kinda give the basic Catholic understanding and then in each post we will unpack more and more of the evidence that I as a Catholic see for our understanding of this.

    So Catholics(And I know Protestants also see this in many things) believe that God is a God of order. We see this with the universe and the human body and nearly everything created and given to us by God. This is clear in Genesis 1-2. God creates and loves to create in a sacred order or what is known as Hierarchy. That term Heirarchy is not a popular one today because it carries baggage with it and people tend to think of oppression and such. But theologically speaking its a beautiful truth. God creates in Hierarchy or sacred order and sacred order is important to him. St. Thomas Aquinas listing scripture shows how God does this with the 9 choirs of angels. One thing is true we can all agree on. God is a God of order.

    So Catholics believe that God created a hierarchy or sacred order to the offices He gave for the building up, teaching, and sanctification, and guiding, of His people. So in Catholic theology we believe that the Christ gave us a priesthood which is a sharing in his priesthood to certain degrees but this priesthood that we believe in entails 3 hierarchical levels. They are 1) High priesthood
    2). Middle ministerial priesthood
    3). Universal priesthood

    We believe that these grades of priesthood are consistent with the scripture as a whole, history, and God's way of creating sacred order. I will leave it at that for now and we can unpack the rest in later post. Has this been helpful? Was it too confusing? I look forward to your dialog Mark. Thanks so much. God bless you my friend!
  4. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

    Most merciful God, we beseech you to cast the bright beams of Your holy light upon Athanasius and mysef; upon our Churches which strive to remain faithful to Your Will, that being instructed by the doctrine of the blessed Apostles, we may continue to walk in the light of Your truth, to the end that we may attain to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

    Amen. :crossrc::prayer::crossrc:

    Athanasius, thank you for the excellent preamble:thumbsup: and the most thoughtful prayer.:)

    Helpful, yes; confusing, not so much.:):thumbsup:

    I would like to start with some historical background to give some context to where our Churches were at the beginning of the reformation (circa 1530)

    Note: All quotes from the Lutheran Confessions and the Roman Confutation of 1530 are taken from Welcome to the Book of Concord

    From the Augsburg Confession:
    From the Roman Confutation (Confutatio):
    It's interesting to note that there was little disagreement, regarding article V, being mindful that Article V is very general in nature.:):thumbsup:

    Moving on... again from the Augsburg Confession (AC)

    And again from the confutation.

    I think such is a good place to start. We see that in Article V that there was/still is little dissension in the basic view of the office of the Holy Ministry. It is interesting to note also in Article XIV as it stands, there is little for Catholic, Protestant, or Lutheran to take exception to; yet in the Confutatio we see a response that there was exception taken, and I believe that it was arrived at not based on the AC, but on the assumption that the Lutherans, Anabaptists and Enthusiasts were one and the same. Rome did not differentiate between the groups that were in disagreement with them, nor was the fact that these groups that were at odds with Rome, were also at odds with each others considered when the Confutatio was composed. It's also interesting to note that the first version of the Confutatio was rejected by Emperor Charles V as being too polemic and verbose. I contend that today most Catholic Theologians and Scolastics would see the final version as also being "too polemic and verbose" also.

    Charles V had the Confutatio read to the Lutherans but would only provide them with a copy on the provision that they would not reply to it; naturally they did not agree, so no copy was forthcoming. Rather, transcripts were made during the reading, and a reply known as the Apology or Defense of the Augsburg Confession was composed, but never presented to Charles V.

    While the Confutatio was (at least in my mind;)) very polemic, the Appology was equally, if not more so.

    Fortunately, beginning 1620's to 40's with a unified effort to defend against Calvinism by Lutherans and Catholics, and even more since Vatican II, that we have been able to put aside much of the polarized rhetoric, and concentrate on where our true differences (and similarities) lie; in the Authority of the Church in place of Papal Authority; our views on the sacramental nature of Holy Orders, versus Holy Orders as a sacrament; and on our divergent views on Apostolic Succession versus Apostolic Authority. In these also lie the rather subtle differences in the duties of our Pastors, Ministers, Deacons, Bishops and in the case of some Synods Presidents an Vice Presidents; also in the case of some Synods, Consistory Ordination vs. Episcopal Ordination. These are the differences by which Rome has defined valid vs. invalid orders an licit vs. illicit orders.

    Conversely, Lutherans, while (historically) questioning the motives, actions and methods of Popes, Bishops, Priests etc. we have never questioned the validity or licit nature of Roman Catholic orders, nor the office of Pope as being Primate of the RCC, only Papal supremacy and inerrantcy.

    I hope that this has given a bit of perspective, and that it's no more rambling and confusing to you than it is to me;):).
  5. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    Thanks Mark for your prayer and response on this topic. Clearly both sides came out with more polemical responses to each other in the 1500’s at the wake of the protestant reformation. I would say as there is in every age of the Church there was abuses, sin, pride, prejudice, and polemic on all sides of the table. I love the council of Trent and as a Catholic I do believe its beautiful and infallible in what is says and in what it did for the Church and is one of the best places to go to study what we have to hold dogmatically as Catholics but can be also be considered somewhat polemical in areas. What I have found is that after just 50 years of ecumenical dialog our two communions have discovered we have misunderstood each other on some area’s and as a result have lifted some of the excommunications on each other. This is a big step. We have a long way to go but I found out for example that what Trent condemns as Sola Fide is not the same meaning of what Luther may have meant for sola fide. I know that although is another subject which we may eventually go down in another dialog in the future but it helped me see the greatness of looking at each others actual teachings currently and prayerfully listening to one another on what they mean. Now back to Priesthood. LOL

    What I would like to do is just keep slowly unpacking the Catholic and historical understanding of Christian priesthood if I can. And maybe then you can explain in your own words the Lutheran understanding of priesthood and leadership. I will try not to be too technical or over do it on what we see as evidences as this is not a scholastic debate but a prayerful dialog to consider. Please forgive me though if I do get too complex as in my opinion there is so much of a riches of evidence on this topic from our point of view. So As I said we Catholics believe that God creates in sacred order or hierarchy and this is seen in creation, in the world all over, in angels, and in the bible in the offices God has created and given to man to lead, sanctify, teach, serve, and build up His body on earth. Catholics teach a strong covenant theology and tend to see a lot of typological fulfillments from the Old Covenant to the New. We think God is very consistent in how he works and fulfills. So we believe there are 3 types of priesthood given to man by God that can be found in both old and new testament. 1) High priesthood 2) Middle ministerial priesthood 3). Universal priesthood.

    The early Church in the first century like us saw a typological connection to the Old and New covenant priesthoods too. This becomes clear when one reads Pope St. Clement of Rome in the first century in his epistle to the Corinthians around chapter 40 in which he beautifully show how God creates order and hierarchy in the priesthood from Old to New covenants. In fact some patristic scholars argue Clement may have even been semetic himself in seeing these points. This point of his semetic backround himself is disputed by scholars but his comparison of NT offices and OT ones are very typological and shows us what the early Church thought on these instances in the first century in apostolic times. They taught essentially the same thing we as Catholic teach. That the Old testament had an office of High Priest ie who was..Aaron (Exodus 31:30) a ministerial priesthood ie…Aarons sons( Ex 28:21) and a universal priesthood of all believers which was all Israel (Ex 19:6). Clement alluded to this parallel with the new covenant Christian priesthood in his time in the first century and we see this in every century of Christianity both from ancient East and West that that had these levels of priesthood. So we too believe that the New covenant has high priesthood(Jesus par excellance, and by extension in some ways the Bishops), Middle ministerial priesthood(Catholic priest or presbyters) and universal priesthood(all Baptized believers as St. Peter and Dr. Luther rightly brought out).

    In the Catholic Church we believe that Christ is consistent and did not do away with the hierarchy of offices but fulfilled them. All priesthood offers some sacrifice and acts as some form of mediation. We believe this is beautiful and how God has shown he works in the world through old and new covenants. So standing at the high priesthood is Jesus Christ himself our High priest par excellance (Heb 3:1) Sometimes the Bishops of the Church are also called high priest by documents like Lumen Gentium from Vatican II. This is because we believe they share most intimately in Christ priesthood and have received the fullness of orders that Christ works through to teach, govern, and sanctify. This we believe is alluded to in many scriptures such as Matt 18:15-20 which seems in our understanding to show the Bishops as a type of New covenant priests and judges like those mentioned in the parallel to this passage in Deut 17:1-13. To us this is very obvious that this is where Jesus was going with Matt 18. Hence the Bishops hold a place of priestly service and also a judgeship or governance in the Church of Christ too as they “oversee” the rest and make ruling judgments by juridical powers of binding and loosing. This is seen in apostolic historical tradition from both east and west when you read the fathers too. We believe that Christ acts through them and the ministerial priesthood when they are in a liturgical setting doing liturgical acts such as Mass or confession or anointing etc. So Christ is the principle “actor” in all the sacraments working through them to teach, sanctify etc. We believe this is alluded to by St. Paul who when forgiving sins said he did this “in persona Christi” or in the person and presence of Christ.(2 Cor 2:10).

    The average Catholic priest or presbyter would be considered the “middle ministerial priest” of the new covenant. Biblically we believe they are given certain duties that reflect the priesthood and show them to be ministerial priest. One of these duties is to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice of our Lord on behalf of the Community as we see commanded by Jesus in (Lk 22:19) which in English says “Do this in remembrance of me”( I am no Greek scholar so I had to get this from both protestant and Catholic scholarship) which can also be translated in Greek also as “Offer this as my memorial offering or sacrifice” . Who is to offer sacrifice but a priest? And this sacrificial langue that Jesus used at the last supper also reflects the sacrificial language of ordination of priest as shown in (Leviticus 8 31:34) as some Catholic bible scholars such as Fr. Mitch Pacwa has talked about. We believe that St. Paul alluded to this in ( 1 Cor 10:16-22). This is how all the early Christians understood this as the Fathers of the Church show over and over and as early documents such as the first Catechism called the “Didache” which dates to the year 70 A.D. according to many scholars. This I found is admitted to even by many solid orthodox protestant Church historians such as J.N.D. Kelly in his book Early Christian doctrines page 196.

    Another priestly duty Catholics see addresses to the apostles in the NT would be the duty of forgiving sins in the person of Christ as I mentioned earlier with St. Paul. At least this is how we see it. It has always been God’s pattern to use his priest to take part in the reconciliation of man. In the old covenant if a man committed serious sins he would go before the priest of God, take a sin offering with him, confess that sin before the priest and the priest would take part in the reconciliation of that man before God and make the sin offering.(Lev 5:5-6). In our Catholic understanding and in the early Churches in the New covenant Christ fulfills this and He is the priest par excellance and God who can alone forgive sins(Mark 2:7) but after His resurrection and soon to be physically ascended it seems to us and the early Church that He sent his apostles with the priestly power to act as he did and “as the Father sends me so I send you”(John 20:21-23) and he gave them this priestly power an duty of forgiving and retaining sins. Just as the priest of the old covenant in Leviticus acted as ministers of reconciliation between God and man and Christ fulfills them so now in the New covenant the Bishops by Christ very own command and the presence of Him acting through them have this priestly power and are ambassadors of reconciliation between God and man.(2 Cor 5:18-21). We see later in James 5 that this priestly duty of reconciliation of forgiveness of sins and anointing is given to the presbyters of the Church. Sometimes presbyters and Bishops in scripture had a fluid understanding of office and they still do today to an extant. But it also seems clear that by the end of the first century and beginning of the second century there were clearer distinctions that developed upon reflection of these offices from apostolic times and this is seen in Ignatius of Antioch in his writing in 110 A.D. and in Clement of Rome in the 1st century.

    In our understanding Catholics also believe that St. Paul talked about the middle ministerial priesthood that is separate from the universal priesthood of all believers in Romans 15:16 where he addresses himself as a "minister of Christ with specific priestly duties." There are many other passages that we see making this connection that the early Church also saw but I will try to leave it at that now and later we can bring up other ones that I feel may be even stronger. But in a nutshell that is how we see this distinction in hierarchy with the priesthood.

    Each priesthood holds distinct priestly mediator duties like in the old covenant. The universal priesthood of all baptized believers also holds these mediator duties and offers sacrifices of their prayers, and their bodies(Rom 12:1) and intercedes for on another (1 Tim 2:1-4). This does not mean that Christ cannot do this. Christ indeed does do this but he acts through others many times and desires these types of mediation like intercession as it is good and holy as 1 Tim 2:1-4 shows. This also does not mean that we can never go to Jesus ourselves. We can and must develop a relationship with Christ but we believe that Christ set up a hierarchical priesthood to show us his love so we can see and hear His forgiveness in confession, and the other sacraments and because we are not pure spirit but matter and spirit and Christ wants to get as personal with us as he possibly can. By giving us Himself through the physical priest on earth He shows us the depth of his love for our created nature and us. So when we hear the words “You are forgiven” We actually hear Christ. When we see the priest say “This is My body given for you” We see Christ giving himself on the altar as he did once on Calvary and allowing us a share in the paschal mystery in time and space. When we are anointed we feel Christ anointing us comforting us. To us it’s a wonderful mystery but a most personal mystery given our body/soul nature. Well I hope that helps a little and I did not confuse you. Let me know. There is so much still evidence to look at but I will keep it simple for now. Thanks for listening. I look forward to hearing from you my friend on the Lutheran understanding of this.
  6. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

    I must apologize for taking so long to respond, as my previous response was lost (I think I forgot to hit the "submit reply" button:blush::blush::blush::doh::doh::doh:).

    I'll resume here;

    I have referred to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part Two, Article 6.

    As I understand what you have written:

    1. The High Priesthood is that of Jesus Christ "high priest after the order of Melchizedek"; in this, both of our Churches agree.
    2. The middle ministerial priesthood, would be what we call the "office of the Holy Ministry.
    3. The universal priesthood; or the priesthood of all believers.
    We believe, based on Scripture, that the prime purpose of the Church is the forgiveness of sins, through word and sacrament ministry. We know that Christ has given this authority to His Church. It is how this authority is administered by our two confessions where the main differences arise.

    It is my understanding that the Catholic Church believes and teaches that the Ministerial Authority to govern the Church was given by Christ to St. St. Peter, and that this authority has been passed, without interruption through the Bishop of Rome (St. Peter's successors); that through the Pope, this authority is passed to the Bishops; which is then conferred upon the Priests, Deacons and lay religious.

    It is our belief that Christ gives this authority not just to and through the Pope, but has given it directly to the Church based on the Church Confessing, as did St. Peter when asked who he thought Jesus was: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God".

    Our position regarding this authority is well stated here:

    So, while we have no issue with Apostolic Succession, we do believe that such is not required for a valid ministry. (some Lutheran Synods have maintained AS, and take pride in that fact, and I understand that Rome recognizes this in some of the various Synods of the Lutheran Church). That being said, when we Lutherans confess belief in "one Holy catholic and apostolic Church", apostolic means adhering to and in accord with the Apostles.

    Christ gave authority to govern itself to the Church, through the Church confessing that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God. Therefor we believe that there are not 3 priesthoods, but 2; the high priesthood of Christ; and the priesthood of all believers. We teach and believe that the office of the Holy Ministry is an extension of the priesthood of all believers; therefore it is Christ that ordains through the Church, the bride of Christ, not via St. Peter, or his successors.

    So, at the bottom of the quote above we have reference to St. Jerome noting a traditional practice which involved the Church calling and ordaining it's own clergy and bishops. We note also the uncontested acclimation of the lay politician by the citizens of the city of Milan, St. Ambrose.

    In Lutheranism, the authority comes from Christ to the Church; the Church calls/elects and ordains/consecrates Deacons, Pastors, Bishops/Presidents, Archbishops/Synod Presidents. These offices also serve the Church and it's members; but the Church is the final authority.

    Further Biblical and historic/traditional references in support of the Lutheran practice are noted in The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope; in particular:
    So, for these reasons, the sacramental and sacrificial duties that you speak of being the purview of the "middle priesthood" belong to the Church corporate; the clergy perform these duties by the command and in the stead of our Lord Jesus Christ; on behalf of the Church.

    We too believe that when we receive the Eucharist, that we receive it from Jesus Christ vicariously through the celebrant; when we are absolved, it is not our confessor who is absolving us; it is Jesus Christ.

    Likewise the duties of the office of the Holy Ministry include that of mediation; in the liturgy on behalf of the Church, for the Church and for those outside the Church; outside the liturgy, the same... but we too are to mediate (pray) for the Church and for all mankind.

    I hope that this has helped clarify our position, and I look forward to your response. (No hurry;))

    Blessings and peace.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  7. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    Hi Mark,

    Thanks so much for the great dialog so far. I am sorry about the delay in my response. This had been wonderful as I have gotten to get a real closer understanding of Lutheran theology and I know the same must be true for you too with Catholic theology. What a blessing! I am just blessed that you took time to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is a sure norm for doctrine on this issue. That is too cool! That will give you a real good understanding in addition to our dialog on this and I always recommend that book. Thanks so much for looking up solid Catholic sources. God bless you friend.

    Well so far I have learned some really cool stuff about Lutheran theology I never knew. For example you described a very similar understanding of your Pastors when they do the sacraments that it is Christ working through them to forgive etc. This is very close to if not the same as the general Catholic understanding of each priest acting in the person of Christ in every sacrament. St Paul who the Catholic Church sees as speaking about the ministerial priesthood(Rom 15:16) uses that term in the "person of Christ" when doing sacraments like forgiving sins(2 Cor 2:10). This is awesome that you guys also see this perhaps? Am I right? Therefore this is why we both can say to our southern baptist friends that the sacrament of baptism is not a "good work" of the priest(or in your case pastor) to get salvation to a person by earning it via our works but rather it is THE work of Christ through the Holy Spirit applying those graces from the cross in the laver of regeneration in time and space to a person who is baptized(TItus 3:5-7).

    This opens up all kinds of new possibilities in dialog if you all believe the same thing. This is big and could lead to a closer view of the Holy sacrifice of the Mass as we both see Christ as the principle "Actor" working through the minister in the sacraments so they are His work and his way of applying the paschal mystery to us, not ours. But that is another discussion that we could eventually talk about later(hopefully).

    I see there is an opportunity for me to clear up an innocent misconception that several people seem to have about the Catholic Church. We do not see Peter being directly responsible for all priesthood or its authority. Only the see of Rome. Priesthood in the Catholic understanding comes to the Church by Christ the high priest(Heb 3:1) who we believed ordained not just Peter but the twelve too at the last supper when he said "do this in memory of me" or another translation as the fathers understood it is "offer this as my memorial sacrifice"(Lk 22:19). This language is sacrificial and language of ordination that reflects the Old covenant ordinations of ministerial priest(Lev 8:31:34) which of course were separate from the “universal priesthood” of the Old covenant(Ex 19:6). We believe therefore that in those passages Jesus show us that He that called out and gave only to His 12 apostles to do(not the whole church or universal priesthood) this type of ministerial priestly authority. So high and ministerial priesthood comes from Christ and is a sharing in Christ priesthood which he gave to all the apostles to teach. sanctify, and govern, and not just Peter alone. This to us is made clear in passages like Matt 18:15-20 which Christ in our understanding is paralleling the apostles with the priest and judges of Deut 17: 1-13 and uses similar langue to show that.

    Christ here we believe is showing them(the apostles and not just every Christian) to be reflecting biblically a New covenant priestly office and a judgeship or governance rooted in the Old covenant style and over the rest of the flock or the rest of the universal priesthood, the Church. I think that part in Matt 18:15-20 seems very clear to me on this. What are your thoughts on this? In these passages and others we Catholics and the early Church see Jesus setting aside the 12(not just any Christians or the universal priest) and paralleling them with the old covenant high and ministerial priesthood. So to us it makes complete sense that just as in the old covenant there were 3 types of priesthood, that Jesus also reveals in the New covenant there are also 3 types of priesthood. We Think Christ is consistent on this. Another sign of this is in Johns Gospel in Chapter 13 where Jesus washes the feet of the apostles and commands them to do the same. There are many levels of meaning in that. One of the levels of meaning that Catholic bible scholars see is an ordination ceremony parreling the purification rites of God’s ordained priest even though they were clean of washing there feet(Ex 30:17-21).

    At any rate most people do not realize that the Catholic church teaches that all the apostles had a governing and priestly authority by virtue of their ordination. Now Peter as the first Pope historically does have a office of prime ministry over them all but its not an overlording one and its it one of collegiality. Vatican II speaks about this in Lumen Gentium or the Dogmatic constitution on the Church. The successors to the apostles we call Bishops as we see in (Acts 1:16-26). They all have this priestly authority too. So to a Catholic every Bishop is a priest even ones independently from Peter and this is why we believe that even the Eastern Orthodox Christians have valid Bishops and valid priest and confect valid Liturgies with valid sacraments. So while Peter and all his successors, the Bishops of Rome are definitely priest and hold a office of prime ministry over the Church, his office of Pope has nothing to do with whether one is a ministerial or high priest or not. Those offices of high and ministerial priesthood will depend on if that office can go back to any of the apostles who we believe were made new priest and judges of the new covenant and who handed on those offices to their successors.

    So we do not really need to address the Papal office at all in this dialog or how Bishops were chosen in various time in the Church. What I am trying to discuss is what priestly offices of ordination did Christ empower the Church to have and what are their nature or the nature of the Christian priesthood. The Popes office is not an ordination at all or is it to a new priesthood. Every Bishop around the world from different sees such as the Byzantine Catholic Patriarch also enjoys the same high and ministerial priesthood by the virtue of their offices given by Christ and handed down to them by the apostles. So we can save TPPP for another dialog when we talk about the Papal office as there I think is much confusion innocently on this from good hearted non Catholics. It is interesting though I was reading through Jerome that the smalcald articles quote and in that very writing he mentions the Bishops and Presbyters and basically calls them priests which I know he saw separate from the universal priesthood of all believers.

    We should come back to the Pope though and do a dialog on his office in another thread. Its very very Jewish in nature and very clear in our understanding from early Church history and scripture. A lot of good stuff there in history and scripture. I wrote a 9 page paper once on it in undergrad. But that is another dialog for the future.

    Now lets see in my opinion and in other Catholic theologians opinions there is one really very very strong passage in the New Testament that we believe perhaps Dr Luther innocently accidently looked over when he rejected the ministerial priesthood in favor of the universal priesthood alone. That passage gets read over accidently all the time without anyone ever noticing it. So I will go into it a bit from our Catholic understanding. That passage is from Jude the smallest book of the bible. Here Jude warns us of the sins one can fall into in the new covenant and reminds them of those same sins in the old covenant. What is one of those deadly mortal sins?

    “Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error, and perish in Korah's rebellion. “(Jude 11)

    Now if you have a good bible it should footnote what Korah’s rebellion is. Its found in the book of numbers chapter 16: Lets take alook:

    ““Now Korah . . . and Dathan and Abiram . . . took men; and they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men; and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said . . . ‘You have gone too far! For all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them; why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?’ When Moses heard it, he fell on his face; and he said . . . ‘In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy . . . Do this: take censers . . . put fire in them and put incense upon them before the LORD tomorrow, and the man whom the LORD chooses shall be the holy one. You have gone too far, sons of Levi! . . . s it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel . . . would you seek the priesthood also? Therefore it is against the LORD that you and all your company have gathered together; what is Aaron that you murmur against him?’” (Num. 16:1-11).

    Now if you continue to read you will find out that God killed them for rebelling against Moses and the High and ministerial priesthood at the time. What is overlooked is that Jude in the New covenant warns that Christians can perish in the sins of Korah ie they can say as members of Israel did “but we are all Holy why do you separate yourselves from us” Remember all Israel was also called to be Holy universal priesthood(Ex 19:6) but the sins of Korah was they would not recognize the distictions in the priesthood that God has shown them as they thought they were all priest and holy and sought to usurp the ministerial priesthood as a result and so they rebelled from the High and universal priesthood and died as a result. Peter reflects well what Ex 19:6 says, that basically in Christ (the High priest) we are all universal priest and Holy( 1 Peter 2:5-9). But this is nothing new as Ex 19 shows Israel had the same thing. Just as Israel’s universal priesthood was distinct from the from High and ministerial priesthood so also too is it that way in the New covenant. Jude makes this very clear that we can still perish in the sins of Korah even in the New covenant. Hence there is a real distinction between the ministerial and universal priesthoods in the New covenant and we ought not confuse them as they did in the Old covenant or this could be dangerous. The early Church fathers all knew this and saw a typological fulfillment of priesthood from the old to new covenant as Pope St. Clement of Rome did in his letter to the Corinthians in the first century and as later Jerome and Augustine and others would see the same distinction’s of priesthood.

    If we look at this strong evidence for the Catholic side and keep in mind all the other passages that Catholics and the early Church see as typological fulfillments of the ministerial and high priesthood in the Old covenant it begins to make a lot of sense. For example Christ gave his Apostles, Bishops, and presbyters the power to take part in the reconciliation of sins of man( 2 Cor 5:18-21, Jn 20:21-23, James 5:15) this of course was a priestly duty reflected in the old covenant by the ordained priesthood( Lev 5:5-6) and not just by any universal priest of the old covenant. So it makes sense in the new covenant it would be the same. Likewise St. Paul shows us he has been charged as a minister of the Gospel with priestly duties hence making what Catholic call the ministerial priesthood explicit(Rom 15:16). There would be no real rejection of the High or middle ministerial priesthood in the new covenant even if there is a universal priesthood of all believers that St. Peter talked about. This is nothing new under the sun to us or the Jews. But what is real is that even in the new covenant we can perish in the sins of Korah.

    I hope that helps explain the Catholic side better my friend. I am sorry if I was so technical. There is just so much on this topic from typology and the early Church and solid theology. Please let me know if I confused you.
    God bless you always. I look forward to learning more awesome things from you on this from the Lutheran perspective.
  8. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

    Greetings Athanasius,

    I too find our discussion most agreeable, but must apologize also for being so long away from this thread. It seems that both you and I are gaining much as we explore this topic; just a few hundred years ago such a discussion would not have been possible, not only from the point of technology, but in respect to the sociopolitical ecclesiastic climates of the times. We are blessed not only in sharing our differences and similarities, but also that we have been enabled to do so by the grace of God.

    Regarding the CCC; it is a convenient and exhaustive resource, so it's a no-brainer that one must consult it. The alternative is to go to GT and read what protestants post about Catholics; for they truly know it all:D^_^. Jack Chick would be another alternative to the CCC... Not! So for now, for me, my sources are the CCC and Athanasius.:thumbsup:

    Likewise regarding the Catholic Church. It is true; Sacraments and Sacramental acts are what God does; sacrificial acts are what we do. One difference is that in Lutheran theology, sacrificial acts do not earn merit, nor do they make one a Christian. Rather they are the fruits of one's faith; they are done because one is a Christian; this ties into the doctrine of Sola Gracia, which actually ties into any discussion of the Sacraments and Sacramental acts being means of Grace.
    This sums it up perfectly, and not only baptism but also in the Eucharist.:thumbsup:
    Indeed it does. Lutheran theologians tend to avoid the word "sacrifice" when speaking of the Mass as such is all to often misunderstood (you have been to GT and have seen these misunderstandings stating that the Catholic Church re sacrifices Christ at each and every Mass; my understanding is that it is not so) The participation of the congregation and Pastor/Priest in the Mass is a sacrificial act on our part, for we are doing 'stuff' when we take part. It is also (I hate this word, again because of the misunderstandings that reformed protestantism attach to it) a 'memorial' of Christs sacrifice; not a re-sacrifice but the once and for all sacrifice of Christ on the Cross at Calvary in the timeless eternity of God's creation. From one liturgy of Lutheran Mass following the Consecration (and, if it is the custom of the Congregation/Pastor, following the elevation) "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death until He comes".

    Thanks for the clarification regarding the Apostles and the Churches. With but a few exceptions, Lutheranism is "Western" and Lutheran Churches that have maintained "Apostolic Succession" in the classical Catholic sense, share the line back to St. Peter, and ultimately to Jesus Christ and as does the Catholic Church.

    When discussion theology, we need also to be mindful that the Chruch Militant (Catholic and non Catholic alike) continues to mature. The angles from which we view the same things are often different, and the words we may be using to describe similar things may be different because we have been 'physically" separated by time and space for some 500 years. While, as I stated previously, the office of the Holy Ministry is, from our perspective, part and parcel of the priesthood of all believers; however, not all believers receive the calling to that office, the vocation of Pastor. Every called and ordained Pastor is part of the the priesthood of all believers; however, few in the priesthood of all believers are called to the office of the Holy Ministry. Here we see the differences in perspective and differences in words. In practice, the "office of the Holy Ministry" and "Ministerial Priesthood" are one and the same; to the eye of the outside observer, one would see no difference. Catholic or Lutheran, the guy is at the front of the Church, the guy administers the sacraments, the guy preaches the gospel; and more often than not, the guy wears the same vestments.

    Matthew 18:15 directs how all Christians should deal with conflict; when this fails, yes, we believe it is the Church (with the Pastor acting on their behalf. In our tradition, it would be the Pastor and if the congregation directed, the 'elders' would be included (lay deacons) (I have served as such in two congregations where we were mandated to support the Pastor on matters of discipline).

    These passages, certainly do support, or at the very least do not conflict with the Christ centered Apostolic model; but neither does it conflict with a "Congregationalist" form of polity. Again, we stand with the Bible and hold that Christ is the High Priest; likewise we concur with the Biblical doctrine of the Priesthood of all Believers. But, for lack of a better term the office of the Holy Ministry is the focal point of the Priesthood of all believers, the epitome that priesthood. So in effect one could say with respect to the office of the Holy Ministry and the believers priesthood, that it is a matter of vocation. The feet washing in the NT is indicative of the aspect of servitude not only to Christ, but to the Church of those in authority; the passages in Exodus, to me, speak more of submission to God's will, and the ordained Priests vocation to serve God.

    There is no dispute on this matter; nor is there any dispute that Peter was (to borrow a phrase) first among equals regading the other Apostles; and their authority was from Christ. Nor is there any dispute of the validity of Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and other Churches that have retained the classic polity of Apostolic Succession. Nor is there any dispute regarding the validity of Anglican and liberal (non Confessional) Lutheran ordination (with the big exception of female ordination, ordination by female Bishops, and the ordination of practicing, unrepentant homosexuals).

    For us Lutherans; each Pastor is a Bishop of his Congregation, and a Bishop in Christ's Church (as was the case in many situations in the early Chruch). For us, apostolicity centers on the maintenance, adherence, and proliferation of the teaching of the Apostles. In our teaching it is Christ who ordains through the Church Corporate (priesthood of all believers, who ordains through it's Bishops; both titular and pastoral.

    We also believe that the Pastoral office does go back to the Apostles, and ultimately to Christ; and that while our procedure is slightly different, and our Synod (with a few exceptions) does not have titular Bishops; the succession of Clergy has been maintained through the Congregational Bishops (Pastors).

    Again, from our perspective, not seperate, but a different vocation/calling than that of the laity.

    One I'm not sure I want to tackle.;)

    You have a good point, however, Luther, scholar that he was, it would be no stretch of the imagination to assume that he did not overlook these parts of God's Holy Word. While we do not want to get into the office of the Papacy in this discussion; we can not overlook history. Luther's beef was not with the office of the Bishop of Rome; his beef was with both the abuse of authority and the spiritual neglect of the Church which was His charge; these are historical facts. Had the Pope gave Luther his ear the way that the Pope at the time of St. Francis did for Francis, it is likely that we would not even be having this conversation.:idea:
    Yes, the sins of Korah was the rejection of authority; in Luther's day, Pope Leo had rejected the authority given to him; namely his Pastoral duties to serve his Chruch. I believe that the sins of Kora are rejecting Apostolic Authority (Teaching, as found in Scripture), and as with Pope Leo, rejecting that authority with which he was entrusted; the dereliction of of his obligations, and the misuse of his authority.

    I found your last post most enlightening; I hope that I have been able to shed a bit of light on the variations within our confessions in this post as well.

    Blessings and peace dear friend.:liturgy::crossrc::liturgy:
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  9. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    Mark my friend. Thank you for your patience. I have truly enjoyed this awesome dialog with you on the meaning of the Christian priesthood. I have said pretty much all I know on this subject and have shot my ammo so to speak LOL. So allow me to at least look back on some of what I have learned from this good prayerful dialog about my Lutheran brothers and sisters and make some notes on what we can work toward in the future.

    Oh I almost forgot I made a typo in a earlier post that I quickly wanted to correct. I had quoted the wrong scripture(which may have been confusing to you) when referring to how Catholic scripture scholars also saw the washing of the feet to have the meaning of new covenant high and ministerial priestly ordination. The passage I should have quoted should have been (Ex 40:12, 30-32) which in our understanding again is a typologically fulfilled in the new covenant in the washing of the feet in John 13. This to our understanding again shows a continuity between the Old covenant priesthood and the New. Of course our infallible interpretation in our understanding lies in the other passage at the last supper when Jesus told his apostles to "do this in remembrance of me" or "offer this as my memorial sacrifice" in which Jesus uses language of sacrifice and priestly ordination going all the way to the old covenant as witnessed by the early Church fathers.

    Some Good Hope for the Future:

    What excites me is that it is at least possible that some of our theological differences may be due to semantics. This is what we are finding in our dialogs on justification for example between the Catholic and Lutheran bodies. There seems to be to me at least some hope for a common understanding of this as we both hold to a universal priesthood of all believers and a high priesthood. And if what you say is true ie that the office of ministry could possibly be synonymous with the Catholic concept of a ministerial priesthood then this is ground breaking. I understand right now there are some differences but also similarities. For example you see the office of ministry as an extension of the epitome of the priesthood of all believers as you said. We Catholics also see a connection of ministerial priesthood to the universal priesthood in the fact that it all stems from Christ same priesthood and sharing in that. We view the 3 levels of priesthood as participations in Christ priesthood at different levels. So every baptized believer is a universal priest which real duties and sacrifices to offer and they really share in Christ one priesthood. The Catholic priest however is also a universal priest but now has a greater sharing in Christ one priesthood and is called to Christ ministry and shares now in the ministerial priesthood of Christ via (Rom 15;16) which carry duties that the universal priest is not called nor able to do like offer the sacrifice of Mass or confession. The Bishops we believe share in the fullness of that same one priesthood of Christ but at the fullest level of high priesthood with governing authority that ministerial and universal priest do not share.

    If these understandings can be reconciled even using different words and language but with the same substantial theology this would bring our communions much closer and I have great hope for this truly my brother.

    I am thrilled that you truly get the understanding of the memorial aspect of the Mass. Yes you get it so well. Amen. Your right some others do misunderstand it but I think you Lutherans get it dead on. I was talking to 2 Lutheran seminarians last week who came into my store and we had a blast talking about the beauty of Liturgy and the Mass. They even gave me some new apologetic ways to explain why liturgy is so important and how it really brings heaven down to earth. I could have hung out with them all night.

    The biggest difference between us on the sacrificial aspect of the Mass is actually something that I do not think will hold us back because I think it can be reconciled. We believed that the Mass itself when offered or when baptism is apllied that it works simply by doing what Christ ask us and then trusting in his promise to work through it. So when we say we offer the sacrifice of Mass its 2 fold. In one sense we do offer ourselves and our lives and our families and problems and praises to God united to the other sacrifice that the priest offers ie the eucharistic sacrifice. But when we say the priest offers the "sacrifice of Mass" for souls or to propitiate sins what we believe is that it is Christ himself who offers himself in a timeless manner through the ministry of that priest to God so that sacrifice in essence is something that Christ is doing primarily and supernaturally through his earthly ministry. I think Lutherans actually get this at least in part but may use different language. Paul used the language of being "in the person of Christ" in Corinthians when doing sacraments and this is how Catholics understand it.So when we say the sacraments work ex opera operato or by the work performed itself we mean that however who is it that is performing the work? To us its Christ who is performing the work he has already done but he is perfomring it in time and space through his ministerial priesthood and applying His graces to us. All we do is what he commands us to do and do this in memory of Him. He is the one in our minds who offers himself to the Father at every Mass. So to us in this sense sola Christi and solo gratia could easily apply in our understanding.

    Some disagreements that still may need to be prayerfully worked out:

    One of these disagreements could be semantic and theological. It has to do with apostolic succession. Now to us and the early Church this is very important in regards to authority to confect the sacraments and preach and so on. The Catholic Church in general has a different understanding of this doctrine which I have not brought up because although it relates to the priesthood it is not as central as the understanding of priesthood itself. But perhaps we can do a short dialog on that sometime. It would not take more then a post or two to lay out the differences there. Catholics in general do not view most Lutherans as having valid orders or succession. This can seem hurtful to some. So I apologize as it can seem harsh. its part of our sacramental theology. We also do not view most Anglicans as having valid orders or priesthood either. However I am aware of some Lutheran bodies and Anglican who do have a more Catholic understanding of apostolic succession and have sought ordination outside of their communion usually by a Eastern Orthodox Bishops(who the Catholic Church does view as having real apostolic succession and priesthood and valid orders). Those that have done this (they usually are outside of the USA and in north America or other countries) in our view those who have done that do have valid orders and can confect real sacraments and even hold valid priesthoods even if they do not recognize it. So we would some Lutheran and Anglican Church bodies do hold valid priesthood and Eucharist etc.

    Our Understanding of the problem Jude warns that goes to the heart of Numbers 16 and applies it to the new covenant to us does not just deal with authority in general but makes the strong case for real high and ministerial priesthoods in the new covenant outside of the universal priesthood of all believers. This makes sense to us then why early first century Christian like Pope St. Clement of Rome also saw the 3 levels of typology being fulfilled from High priesthood to middle ministerial priesthood in the new covenant in its priest and Bishops etc.

    We certainly do not disagree with our Lutheran brothers and sisters that there was corruption and need for reforms in the Catholic Church. I remember our theology teacher in 8th grade holding back nothing blasting the church for her abuses and sins and admitting the need for reform. For this reason I see Dr. Luther as a brave man with a strong conscience to do what he saw needed to be done. However what we disagree about is not that abuses were done(as even today the Church is in constant need of reform on different levels and thank God Pope Francis is doing this) but on what the solution to the problem would be. So we see some of the problems as being doctrinal in nature. This is why its very good we are dialoging on this stuff. I am really seeing a much fuller picture of my Lutheran brothers faith and am coming to appreciate it and really it gives me so much hope as we are not as far apart on some things as we may have thought. Some semantic issues and emphasis on certain things may have us separated but that does not mean that some of these cannot be overcome by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit. I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for my Lutheran brothers. They are very close to us Catholics and near and dear to my heart. I believe there is hope for reunion one day.The more we talk and listen to each other and pray and trust in God and realize the dignity we each have and understand our brothers and our own position better the more hope this gives me. I know of even one Lutheran Church body outside of the USA that has requested a Lutheran Ordinariate within the Catholic Church. It is obvious we need one another. The Catholic Church needs Lutherans and the Lutheran need the full unity of the Catholic Church. We share a common past, much theology, and our work together on moral issues is amazing. In my hometown the local LCMS seminary does regularly dialogs and host the Catholic seminarians over for dinners prayer and talk. They are friends who see each other as brothers and strive for unity under true ecumenism and not false pretenses. The LCMS seminary two years ago had its professors dialog with the Catholic sem professors on the Topic what needs to be done to have full communion between the 2 Churches. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that one. I know they listed 3 things. 1) Unity in government 2) unity in Liturgy/sacramental understanding and I forgot what the 3rd was. What it shows is both desire communion with each other. If this separation is just that a separation and not a permanent divorce then I will dance I jigg. It seems now after 500 years the kids of the parents that separated are realizing they are family, sitting down and listening to each other and urging mom and dad. And Mom and Dad have been talking and praying too so to speak. Catholics, Lutherans and, Anglicans share so much in common. I have hope one day to be united fully to each and share the same Eucharist under one common Church.

    It is an honor to talk to you Mark.

    here are some things to think about:

    It is my opinion that the thing that separates us the most is our understanding of authority. Sola Scriptura and not sola fide(As Pope Benedict has even mentioned that Catholics can use that term in a qualified sense the Gal 5:6 sense) is what I would say will be the hardest thing that separates us.

    But can it keep us apart forever? I do not think so. As time develops as we understand each other positions I think there is a possibility of a nuance stance on this. What I love about Lutherans is there love for sacraments, Liturgy and Truth so they are not opposed to nuance or theology like fundamentalist are. Just a teaser but there was a Catholic theologian name Yves Congar who wrote a book on Tradition and how it can play into the Catholic understanding of what we call "Material sufficiency". That is a topic for another dialog but just to tease you I will say that. And also blessed Pope John Paul II (soon to be canonized) taught a concept that some Catholics theologians are allowed to hold called prima scripture which is not the same as sola scriptura but its a very interesting kind of middle ground so to speak. At any rate. I thank you for this good dialog.

    May Almighty God bless you Mark!
  10. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

    Athanasias, you also have been most patient. I admit I was reluctant at first for two reasons; I have limited time and I felt that I may be getting in a bit over my head. Two thing negated these concerns, the first and foremost is that I have, for quite some time, considered you a good friend and fellow Christian, and secondly I have always admired your patience and respectful posting style. So here we are, coming to the end of a short walk on a long journey.

    Regarding: Some Good Hope for the Future...

    Like you and I, our Churches and their on going dialogue are considering these same issues, and they are realizing that much of what regular members of our Churches have viewed as profound differences were often due to semantics. Likewise, at the time of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession, semantics played a big part in how each side of the equation viewed the articles. Those on each side of the "Confession" viewed the other as antagonists. With hardened hearts, there was little hope of meaningful dialogue. Praise God that through the power of the Holy Spirit that hearts are beginning to soften and ears are being opened among both our theologians and lay members alike.

    I truly believe that the only issue that is separating us regarding the Ministerial Priesthood/Office of the Holy Ministry (these terms mean exactly the same thing for all practical considerations) is not in the office it's self so much, but where the authority of that office comes from. We believe that that authority comes from Jesus Christ, and is Apostolic in that it is in the maintenance and perpetuation of the teaching of the Apostles given to the Church, and administered on behalf of the Church by those called and ordained by the Church. Whereas, in the Catholic Church the authority comes from Jesus Christ, through the Apostles to the Church. (Apostolic Succession). I'm glad you addressed this in your post. Herein lies the biggest impediment regarding the Priesthood. Because of our view of the Apostlicity of the Church and the office of the Holy Ministry, we have no means of denying the validity of Catholic Clergy, Bishops and even the Pope as Patriarch of the Catholic Church. Where the true issue lies is in the fact that the Catholic Church, while very respectful of us Lutherans, presently does not recognize the validity of our Clergy, nor do they accept the validity and the efficacy of our Mass on that account.

    Regarding the theology of the Mass and of the Sacrificial nature, there is much in which there is little disagreement, but there is also much that needs to be worked through.

    It was for me also. We should consider continuing this type of dialog with some of the other issues which we view as dividing us.

    Well stated!

    We do indeed have our work set before us.

    God's grace, peace and mercy to you, dear friend and brother in Christ as we prepare this Holy Week to recall our Lord's passion, and His glorious rising, as we to shall rise in His glory!

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