Why You Should Think of Your Pastor as a Priest

Christ High Priest Enthroned iconIn keeping with the theology of the Old Testament, some Christian churches (including many Lutheran ones)[i] have retained the custom of referring to clergy as “priests.” Now it is not my purpose to argue for a return to this terminology or to disparage the use of the designation “pastor.” However, when we react against this terminology as if it were from the devil, we operate with a deficient understanding of pastoral ministry.

In my own mind there has been wall of separation between the word “priest” and anything that our Lord might expect of a pastor. Part of this is because I was raised Roman Catholic, and that fact in itself has sometimes made Lutherans suspicious of me.[ii] Worse, I desire to retain the historic liturgy and customs of the Church.[iii] It’s no wonder I’ve sometimes been accused by Lutherans of being “too catholic”!

Practice shapes the way we think, and I’m no exception to this. I have never belonged to a Lutheran congregation where a pastor was thought of as a priest, much less called one. The oft-given rationale for this is what Old Testament priests did is no longer valid in the New Testament (e.g., we no longer offer animal sacrifices). Occasionally I’ve even heard that any association between pastors and priests is a denial that Christ has offered the once-for-all sacrifice and robs us of the Gospel!

This despite the well-known apostolic designation of New Testament believers as a “holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5). Granted our sacrifices are spiritual (e.g., intercessory prayer, praise, etc.), but they are sacrifices nevertheless. What’s more, a priest was required to continually appear in the presence of God on behalf of others. Are these things not still essential aspects of the Christian life? If living in the presence of God and intercession are expected of Christians in general, how much more of those whose vocation it is to bring the gifts of God to bear in the lives of Christ’s flock?

The use of the term “pastor” is surely a beneficial custom. Our Lord Himself is the Good Shepherd. What an honor describes the pastoral task in these terms (St. John 21:15–17)! But we lose something important when we focus on the image of tending to the exclusion of other vital functions of pastoral ministry.

When we divorce the idea of priesthood from the pastoral office, pastoral ministry can become a secular job rather than a holy vocation.[iv] In the pastor-as-shepherd model, the burden of the work can easily shift from Christ to the pastor. Sometimes we forget the pastor is the undershepherd, and that the work of feeding actually belongs to Christ. The pastor is there to hand over what has been received (1 Corinthians 11:23). This becomes difficult, if not impossible, when pastors get so busy feeding that they forget to eat!

When the priestly function of pastoral ministry is neglected, the pastor can forget how important it is to appear before God both on behalf of himself and others. Just as there is continuity between the work of the Good Shepherd and pastors, so also there is continuity between the work of the Great High Priest and His priests. When pastors fail to exercise priestly service, neither the pastor nor his congregation receive necessary spiritual care.

Whether or not the term “priest” is used for clergy isn’t the point. What matters is that the pastor is appearing before God on behalf of himself and those whom he serves. A closer identification of the pastoral office with the priesthood can only aid in our recovery of this important practice.



[i] This is a common designation for pastors in Lutheran church bodies in Africa and Scandinavia. See Rev. Larry Beane’s excellent Reformation homily.

[ii] This despite the fact that my experience of Roman Catholicism was anything but high church. Many of the Roman services I attended in my childhood were led by guitar and could be characterized as folk mass.

[iii] “Worse”, of course, in the minds of those who despise the catholicity of the Church.

[iv] This is Eugene Peterson’s language. See his Under the Unpredictable Plant. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.


Why You Should Think of Your Pastor as a Priest — 39 Comments

  1. This is one of those rare times that I’d disagree, just somewhat from my friend, Pr. Andersen. I think Luther tended to move away from the term “priest” for ordained clergy over the course of his career because of the sacrificial understandings of the Mass that tend to keep creeping back in (whether in our day “sacrifice of the Mass” or “praise service”). Interestingly, while Luther moved away from the term “priest” for ordained clergy, he located it more and more in the vocations of the royal priesthood of the baptized, rather than chiefly in the sanctuary during the Divine Service. I think we appreciate the gift that both the office of the holy ministry is as well as the royal priesthood of the baptized by seeing them as the unique things that they are by God’s establishment of them each within their own realm.

    No doubt there are things that pastors do that are priestly – prayer, intercession, etc. But I don’t think these are the chief biblical ways that GOd would have us understand the presbyteral-episcopal office in the church of the New Testament. It is a ministry of the Word, teaching, feeding, shepherding, and prayer. While I won’t say it is wrong to call clergy priests, it is a minor theme compared to the “from God to us” emphasis of other New Testament terms used for pastors. “Minister of the Gospel” is certain behind the general thrust of the Lutheran Confessions in AC V and in Apology XXIV on the term “Mass”.

    Interestingly, while Luther moved away from the term “priest,” in general, for clergy, he did not disavow the term “father” with regard to the spiritual fatherhood of ordained pastors. This is something to consider as we confess the office representing Christ to the church, the Bride of Christ. As we consider this thought also, it is important to note that “priest” tends to put the accent on an activity rather than speaking in the minds of many. This may help explain the tendency in the church of Rome to have “lay readers,” or “lay preachers,” including women, because they don’t associate the priesthood with the service of the Word centrally, whereas we see the Word as foundational for the holy sacraments and inseparable. On this point Rome is moving solidly away from catholicity. The point at question is not only the title or authority given to someone but what constitutes the exercise of that authority in the one Christ-instituted office and how both the functions of the office interplay with the order of creation. But I digress…

  2. @Rev. John A. Frahm #1

    Pr. Frahm,

    Good thoughts! I share the concerns you mentioned and think we should be careful to avoid those things. You’re right to point out that Luther moved away from the term because of the danger of sacrificial understandings of the Mass. We should certainly guard against that today, but I think the risk of misunderstanding is much lower today than it was in the 16th century. I’ve never met even a nominal Lutheran that regards the Sacrament through the Roman lens of sacrifice.

    Nor am I suggesting that priest should be the dominant understanding of the Office- only that it should be *part* of our understanding. Based on your comments, I think you’d agree. My concern is that little to no thought is given today to the priestly functions of the pastoral office, and that’s something we need to recover (without overstating our case, as I’m apt to do).

    My presentation of the priesthood was also designed to emphasize that major theme of “from God to us.” Without turning oratio into a means of grace, it is nevertheless an important part of preparing to receive God’s gifts. In prayer, as with all things, the emphasis should be on God, His Word, His work, etc.

    I think sometimes we forget that even priestly service was passive. Since the sacrifices were meant to point to Christ, they had an atoning function (e.g., Lev. 1:4). In this way, the priesthood was a type of the pastoral office. The 16th century problem was based, in part, on a false theology of the priesthood. Probably we need to do some work to recover a biblical view of priesthood. Where the priesthood is rightly understood, the New Testament’s emphasis on Gottesdienst is preserved.


    It is self-evident that the public ministry (das Pfarramt) does not stand in opposition to the general ministry (spiritual priesthood) of all believers, who as spiritual priests have the duty to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world, 1 Pet. 2, 9. The office of the public ministry rather presupposes the spiritual priesthood of all believers; for, on the one hand, the called ministers of the Word must themselves be spiritual priests, or true believers, 1 Tim. 3, 2-7; Titus 1, 5-9; and, on the other, they publicly, that is, in the name of the believers who have called them, administer the duties and privileges which all Christians have as spiritual priests.

    The relation between the public ministry and the spiritual priesthood of all believers is therefore obvious. That the two are not identical follows from the fact that Scripture sharply distinguishes between believers in general and shepherds, bishops, or elders (ministers) who are placed over the believer.

    We therefore rightly distinguish between believers as spiritual priests and believers as called ministers of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. [pp. 564-5]

    Excerpted from Christian Dogmatics A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology for Pastors, Teachers, and Laymen by John Theodore Mueller, St. Louis:CPH, 1934).

  4. No one distinguished between the spiritual priesthood of all believers and the public ministry more clearly than did Luther.

    On the one hand, he writes (St. L., V, 1038): “As soon as we have become Christians through this Priest [Christ] and His priesthood and in Baptism through faith have been engrafted into Him, we have the right and authority to teach and confess the Word, which we have from Him, before everybody, every one according to his calling and station. For though we are not all in the public office or calling, still every Christian should teach, instruct, exhort, comfort, and reprove his neighbor through God’s Word whenever and wherever any one is in need of it, as a father and mother must do with their children and servants and a brother, neighbor, citizen, or peasant with another. For a Christian can instruct and admonish another who is yet ignorant or weak in the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, etc.; and whoever hears this is in duty bound to receive it from him as God’s Word and to confess it publicly.” ( Cf. X, 1590.)

    However, on the other hand, Luther also writes (St. L., V, 1037) : “Though we all are priests, yet we all neither can nor should for this reason preach, teach, or rule. But from the whole throng we must select and choose some to whom we entrust this office; and whoever conducts it is not a priest on account of his office (which they all are), but a servant of all others. And if he can no longer preach or serve, or if he should no longer desire this, he again steps among the common throng, entrusts his office to another, and is nothing else than an ordinary Christian. Thus you must distinguish between the ministry, or the office of service, and the common priesthood of all baptized Christians. For this office is nothing else than a public service, which is entrusted to one by the whole congregation, who are all priests at the same time.” ( Cf. X, 1589.) [p. 565-6]

    Excerpted from Christian Dogmatics A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology for Pastors, Teachers, and Laymen by John Theodore Mueller, St. Louis:CPH, 1934)

    Thus a pastor, as a Christian, is a priest. But extending the use of “priest” beyond this will cause one to fall off into the Romish ditch of sacerdotalism. Note also that, according to Luther (and Walther), once a pastor has relinquished his Call, he still remains a priest along with his fellow laymen.

  5. Dear BJS,
    I do have one question to the Editors? Why do we not enforce a blogger to state his real name on this site? I do believe Carl Vehse is Richard (seems that is where the trail leads), but if this is to be public comments, state you real name and a place where we can contact you offline.

  6. Even as parishioners, we pray for the whole Church on earth and we pray for our pastors (priests). We stand in priestly intercession as the Body of Christ. My experience is that the pastor takes the lead in teaching us to pray, guiding us, and inviting us to intercede for the whole world. We also perform right sacrifices or praise and thanksgiving in ways no less than the pastor.

    There are no intercessory acts performed exclusively by pastors. what you say is true of the pastor passing along to us what has been given into his charge to pass along. But that is quite different from the “priestly” intercession and sacrifices. Whether it is absolution or communion, these things are not given by God in response to the pastor’s intercession. Rather, they come freely through him.

    Truly, this is an office within the priesthood and designating such a person as priest is not improper. But the office, as a whole, is one of teaching, preaching, guidance, stewardship, and example as are all vocations. It is distinguished not by its being a higher or more demanding calling, but a unique calling based on that which the office is given to steward. If anything, it has the advantage of having days immersed in the Word and in prayer as opposed to the banal practicality of work. Surely, this is demanding and can be tiring but what I wouldn’t give to trade in my spreadsheets for a Bible discussion or two, even time to read, the hours spent responding to emails and in meetings for prayer and meditation with and for others, the dull phone calls for visits to the sick and sharing Christ.

    Not everyone labors in one’s calling (unless you think people are actually called to be cashiers, toilet scrubbers, burger flippers). We can always be the best we can be at where we find ourselves but, that’s a generic laborer’s duty applicable to any house painter or car salesman. Now, remind the toilet scrubber and cashier that they are still a royal priesthood, each and every minute of every day with cranky customers and loads of well, you know, on their hands – there’s a challenge that needs pastoral care, not a priest.

  7. @Pastor Prentice #5

    Why do we not enforce a blogger to state his real name on this site?
    Because: WNDITWB?
    Why Rick? His bio can be found, with his name, on Lutherquest, which is more than you can say for most of the pseudonyms here.

  8. I have no problem calling an ordained Lutheran clergyman a “priest,” or even referring to him as “Father”.

    No problem whatsoever.

    It’s historic and traditional, and at least the term “priest” is found in the Lutheran Confessions.

    But note that my reasons are based on tradition, tradition still utilized in some Lutheran communions.

    Rev. Andersen isn’t forming an argument based on tradition, and that’s what is disturbing with this piece.

  9. The term “priest” as one who makes a sacrifice, e.g., sacrifice of the mass, already has been mentioned.

    Interestingly, the emphasis of pastors also being members of the priesthood of the baptized is what some, e.g., in the ELCA, have used to support women’s ordination.

    Yes, all the baptized are a royal priesthood. But I’d rather focus on specific terms to designate the Office of the Holy Ministry that emphasis the one who stands in the stead and by the command of Christ and distributes the gifts. That one should think of the pastor as priest, one who makes sacrifice, can hide or at least cloud that emphasis. If in discussing the Office one simply speaks of the category of the royal priesthood then there is no distinction, “there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    May one call their pastor a priest? Of course. In the Office he often stands in a sacrificial position, making intercessions on behalf of the flock. The idea that one SHOULD call one’s pastor a priest (should, past of shall, indicating a duty or obligation, mandatory)? I’ll stick with “pastor,” thank you.

  10. Wait… are people suggesting that @Carl Vehse isn’t the actual guy from the 1800s? I always assumed he was some sort of ageless being with a flair for anachronistic thinking….

  11. @Donna #14: “I always assumed he was some sort of ageless being with a flair for anachronistic thinking….”

    A lot of assumptions about Dr. Carl Eduard Vehse, especially promulgated in the Missouri Synod in the past century are mostly malicious fairy tales. One good source of reality is Walter Forster’s book, Zion in the Mississippi, an expansion of his Washington University Ph.D. dissertation:

    “It was obvious that Vehse, H.F. Fischer, and Jäckel had stood alone–not in their disenchantment with Stephanism, but in their ability to see where the root of their problem lay and in the courage of their convictions. The shabby treatment they received from the pastors, the evasion practiced by the ministers in their one meager reply, and the continuance of the system favored by the clergymen, met with not a single formal protest from the other colonists. Criticism of Vehse was easy, criticism of the pastors called for more independence of spirit than most as yet possessed. Opposition to the clergymen and their supporters was to become general, but not until later.” (p. 472)

    “In the early months of 1840, Löber, Keyl, and Bürger drew up a formal withdrawal of their condemnation of Vehse’s various writings, and on June 29 they sent the letter to the St. Louis congregation. The three pastors admitted their unjust insinuations had been aimed at Vehse, and that they themselves had merited the distrust of the people, to whom they herewith apologized.” (p. 512)

    C.F.W. Walther also apologized, as he explained Dr. Vehse’s contribution to the Missouri Saxons at the 1841 Altenburg Debate:

    “With deep gratitude I must here recall that document which, now almost a year and a half ago, Doctor Vehse, Mr. Fischer, and Mr. Jaeckel addressed to us. It was this document, in particular, which gave us a powerful impulse to recognize the remaining corruption more and more, and to endeavor to remove it. Without this document — I now confess it with a living conviction — we might have for a long time pursued our way of error, from which we now have made our escape. I confess this with an even greater sense of shame, because I first appeared so ungrateful toward this precious gift of God.” (William J. Schmelder, “Walther at Altenburg”, Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, Vol. 34(3), October, 1961, pp. 65-81, referring to Walter A. Baepler, A Century of Grace, CPH, 1947, pp. 47-48, quoting from J.F. Koestering, Auswanderung der saechsischen Lutheraner in Jahre 1838, ihre Niederlassung in Perry-Co., und damit zusammenhaengende interessante Nachrichten, A Wiebusch u. Sohn, 1867, pp. 43-45)

    Walter Forster had this to say about Dr. Vehse’s contribution to the Missouri Saxons (and the Missouri Synod):

    “[A]ttempts to discredit and minimize his [Dr. Vehse’s] contribution have frequently been made in either or both of two forms: first, that of stressing the sense of pique, frustration, and resentment which he betrayed in the administrative phase of the quarrel; secondly, that of ignoring as fully as possible his real, individual contribution in the theological field. The latter is accomplished by giving much of the credit which should belong to Vehse, to C.F.W. Walther, who almost two years later defended a viewpoint strikingly similar to that expressed in the first instance by none of the clergymen, but by the doctor of laws.” (pp. 436-7)

    “Walther was ready to admit his indebtedness to the Dresden archivist. Keyl and Burger joined in this acknowledgment. Later writers with a less meticulous sense of fairness, however, have given Vehse little credit.” (p. 520)

    BTW, in debt, Vehse returned in 1840 to Germany, where he received an inheritance from an uncle of his deceased wife (d. 1837). Over the three decades Vehse became a lecturer, an advocate for modernization of the State Archive, and well-known author of over fifty historical books. Some of his books were banned in Saxony and Austria, and Vehse was imprisoned for six months in Berlin, because of his critical revelations about German nobility. Among the various contemporary intellectuals he had met, Vehse had sharply criticized the writings of Karl Marx, from whom he later received a threatening letter. Later Vehse traveled to Switzerland and Italy, eventually returning to Dresden a year before his death in 1870.

    One can only imagine, if he were alive today, how Dr. Carl Eduard Vehse might “rock the boat” over the shenanigans in the Missouri Synod, and the U.S. political aristocracy. 😉

  12. Would the clergy return the favor and call the congregation members “priests” as well? Making a title out of what the entire congregation shares (the Priesthood of all believers) seems sort of “leveling,” like the “Comrade” nonsense in Communist armies. Frankly, I fear it’s corrosive effect on Pastoral authority, and the OHM in general.

    Lots to be said in favor of “Father” or “Pastor,” I can’t see much of a reason to go along w/ “Priest.”

    A solution w/o a problem I’m afraid.
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  13. Many of these comments miss the point. Nowhere do I suggest that we call clergy “priest”, so there’s no “favor” to return. As I say in the opening paragraph:

    “Now it is not my purpose to argue for a return to this terminology or to disparage the use of the designation “pastor.” However, when we react against this terminology as if it were from the devil, we operate with a deficient understanding of pastoral ministry.”

    My purpose here isn’t to promote a title, but rather to highlight the continuity between the priesthood and pastoral office. Since the priesthood is shared by the laity, there is also continuity between the pastor and laity in this regard. Nor have I suggested that the priestly function of the pastor is in any way different than that of the laity.

    This piece is merely a reminder that the priesthood is shared by pastors. The need for such a reminder is, I think, demonstrated by the strong reaction against this identification in the comments. Not every member of the royal priesthood is a pastor, but every pastor is a member of the royal priesthood. In this sense, every pastor is a priest. The church suffers when we forget this or operate with the notion that the priesthood is the exclusive possession of the laity.

  14. @Matthew Mills #16: Lots to be said in favor of “Father”

    Provided one ignores the clear proscription (Matt. 23:9) of our Lord Jesus Christ when He spoke to his disciples and to His followers in the context of how the religious leaders were not to be addressed.

    One might also employ the same sophistic arguments that are used to ignore or tapdance around our Lord’s command to eisegete on the basis of 1 Thess. 2:7 that St. Paul, speaking in the Spirit, directed the Thessalonians (and us today) to address him (and other apostles and pastors) with the honorific title of “Mommy” or “Nurse.”

  15. @Carl Vehse #18

    This one’s probably not worth the candle, but, my (actual physical) kids call me “father” should I make them stop? Are they transgressing against Matt 23:9 or is there something in the text making this admonition specific to clergy only? (Although first leveled against lay Pharisees, not clergy.) What about the use of “teacher”? (Matt 23:8) How about “master”? (Matt 23:10)

    Comrade Priest Vehse, the Disciples to whom Jesus gave the Matt 23 discourse used all three terms throughout the New Testament for numerous kinds of people as did Dr. Luther. If one of us is pulling a single verse out of it’s context, I don’t think it’s me.

    -Matt Mills

  16. @Matthew Mills #19: my (actual physical) kids call me “father” should I make them stop?

    Please reread my earlier post, which specifically referred to Mt. 23:9 in its “context of how the religious leaders were not to be addressed.” In verses 8-10, Jesus is commanding his disciples and his followers not to usw three specific title of address for themselves or their religious leaders. Jesus is not talking about what children call their father.

    Some try to claim passages such as 1 Cor. 4:14,17; 1 Tim. 1:2,18; 2:1; Titus 1:4; 1 John 2:1; 3:18 permit the use of the title of “Father.” If only these verses contained the word, “Father” (except in referring to God the Father), or commanded or even hinted that the honorific title of “Father” should be used in addressing clergy by those reading these verses; but, of course, these verses do not.

    In the similar Matt 23:10 proscription Jesus used the Greek word, kathegetes (it’s used nowhere else in the NT except in vs. 8 and 10), whereas NT writers used some form of the Greek word, didaskalos, to refer to a learned teacher or instructor. Jesus even addressed the Pharisee Nicodemus with that title, “didaskalos,” in John 3:10.

    @Pastor Eric Andersen #20

    “Call no man father…the definitive post” is by no means the definitive post.

  17. @Carl Vehse #21

    Two quick points:

    The Pharisees were not the “religious leaders” of the Jews so far as God was concerned. They were lay, and self-appointed. This is not about the office of the holy ministry.

    Count up for me the number of men who signed documents in the BOC 1580 using the titles of “Doctor” (doctor, doctoris, 3rd declension: teacher; instructor; trainer; doctor; (academic title)) and “Master” (magister, magistri, 2nd declension: teacher, tutor, master, expert, chief; pilot of a ship; rabbi). Now explain the selectivity of your objections.

    Happy Reformation Day (celebrated)!
    -Matt Mills

  18. @Matthew Mills #22: The Pharisees were not the “religious leaders” of the Jews so far as God was concerned. They were lay, and self-appointed. This is not about the office of the holy ministry.

    Please reread my previous comment where I stated, “In verses 8-10, Jesus is commanding his disciples and his followers not to use three specific title of address for themselves or their religious leaders.” He is not commanding them on what to call the scribes and Pharisees; whom, starting in v. 13, Jesus calls hypocrites.

    Count up for me the number of men who signed documents in the BOC 1580 using the titles of “Doctor”

    The title of “doctor” is related to the Latin verb, doceo (to teach). It is not related to kathegetes, which our Lord instructed His disciples and followers not to use as titles for themselves.

  19. @Carl Vehse #21

    You wrote,

    “Some try to claim passages such as 1 Cor. 4:14,17; 1 Tim. 1:2,18; 2:1; Titus 1:4; 1 John 2:1; 3:18 permit the use of the title of “Father.” If only these verses contained the word, “Father” (except in referring to God the Father), or commanded or even hinted that the honorific title of “Father” should be used in addressing clergy by those reading these verses; but, of course, these verses do not.”

    You’re right that the term “father” does not apply in *those* verses, but it does appear in 1 Cor 4:15 (right between v. 14 & 17, which you cited). Was St. Paul wrong to use this title of the pastoral office? (note, my reading of this text is supported by paragraph 158f. of the Large Catechism, 4th Commandment). Or was Luther wrong to apply the 4th commandment to the pastoral office?

  20. @Pastor Eric Andersen #24

    Paul does use “fathers” in v. 15, but in v. 16 he exhorts them, “I exhort you therefore become imitators of me” (parakalō oun hymas mimētai mou ginesthe). Paul does not state, “I exhort you therefore to address me as “Father.”

    And in v. 17, Paul informs the Corinthians that he is sending Timothy to them to preach the Gospel. Yet Paul does not inform the Corinthians they are to address Timothy as “Father Timothy.”

    And Luther, in the LC section on the 4th commandment, does not command that apostles or pastors, even those who organize a mission into a Lutheran congregation, be addressed with the title of “Father.” Instead Luther notes that, like the fathers in blood, or fathers of our country, “they are entitled to their honor”.

    That honor is described in various passages in the NT, but nowhere, contrary to our Lord’s proscription, does that honor include addressing pastors with the title of “Rabbi, “Father,” or “Kathegetes” (perhaps best translated “my Master,” as spoken by Darth Vader to Emperor Palpatine).

  21. @Carl Vehse #23

    Actually, Jesus starts calling the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites in 23:3. The three verses you’ve set aside are part and parcel w/ Jesus’ condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees.

    Still, I’m fine w/ your rule. “Rabbi” is forbidden but if we translate it into the Latin, “magister,” or English “master” it’s fine and dandy. Problem solved! “Father” is then good to go, but we will studiously avoid “patḗr” (I’m fuzzy on the Latin cognate, but we’ll avoid it just in case.) Ditto for “doctor” and “kathēgētḗs.” Seems a bit silly, but as I don’t generally converse in Greek, a simple enough rule to obey.

    -Matt Mills
    (I haven’t got much Greek, but I haven’t found a source for “kathēgētḗs” that doesn’t list “professor” in the definition. Which one are you using?)

  22. @Pastor Eric Andersen #17

    “This piece is merely a reminder that the priesthood is shared by pastors.”

    It’s been my experience that there is plenty of that view going around. Since “priest,” especially given your emphasis, is a law term, I’ll emphasize the pastor, in the stead and by the command of Christ, giving out the gifts, emphasizing the gospel. For, in the end, the Holy Ministry is about the forgiveness of sins.

    But oh how we love the law.

  23. @Pastor Prentice #5
    Because of the fear of being put on the “do not call that pastor list”, by the DP’s, by calling out false teachings by pastors telling the truth on this board. Maybe you are not afraid of this, but some pastors fear being reprimanded by so many liberal DP’s.

  24. @Matthew Mills #26: I haven’t found a source for “kathēgētḗs” that doesn’t list “professor” in the definition. Which one are you using?

    The Bible Hub site claims, “In Modern Greek this term refers to a ‘professor,’ Abbott-Smith” See A manual Greek lexicon of the New Testament, George Abbott-Smith, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1922, p. 223). Perhaps if religious professors in the Greek Church seminaries are still using that title, they should consider changing it to “didaskalos.”

    The Greek word, “kathegetes” is a compound of kata (definition: down from, according to) and hegeomai (definition: to lead, rule, command, of regal power, overseer, chief). Combined, these suggest an elevated, imperious, or despotic (down from) position of the leader relative to the led.

    One English word that comes from hegeomai is hegemony: the preponderant influence or authority over others, usually of one nation over another. An individual leader who practices hegemony is called a hegemonist.

    The Greek kata, can also be found as a prefix in English words. For example, a “katabatic wind” is a wind that rushes down from a mountain. In eastern Washington, a katabatic wind is known as a “Chinook.” And there is a company, Katabatic Gear, selling backpacking gear designed for hiking where those winds can occur. Many other English words use “c” instead of “k,” in the prefix, e.g., catharsis, catatonic, cataclysm, catastrophe, and in such religious words as catholic, cathedral, catholicity, and cathedratic.

    I think one could give a good argument that, if there is a prime religious example of our Lord’s proscribed words “rhabbi“, “kathegetes“, and “pater“, in vs. 8-10, it would be the Roman Catholic hegemony of “El papa,” the Pope (the Antichrist).

  25. @Carl Vehse #29

    The Thayer’s ref. on the link which you yourself listed reads:

    a. properly, a guide: Numen. quoted in Ath. 7, p. 313 d. b. a master, teacher: Matthew 23:8 R G, 10. (Dionysius Halicarnassus jud. de Thucydides 3, 4; several times in Plutarch (cf. Wetstein (1752) on Matthew, the passage cited.))

    I have trouble turning “guide” into “high blood-stained death-master,” and as to definition b. I’m not sure I’d consider Dionysius of Halicarnassus (60 BC-?) or Plutarch (45 AD-120 AD) to be “modern Greeks.” All things considered, it’s pure casuistry to use Matt 23:8-10 to oppose “Father” while having no scruples w/ “Doctor” or “Master.”

    Back to the point of the article though, “Priest” is, of course, a much worse idea than “Father,” “Doctor,” or “Master.”

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  26. I agree that it’s a bad idea to use “Priest” as a title for a pastor. Whether it’s a worse idea than flouting the proscriptions of our Lord Jesus Christ may be debated by others.

  27. @Matt Mills #30: All things considered, it’s pure casuistry to use Matt 23:8-10 to oppose “Father” while having no scruples w/ “Doctor” or “Master.”

    No. it is not casuistry. It is taking the plain meaning of Christ’s proscription in the context in which Christ spoke to His disciples, and His followers, against certain titles from being used to address the disciples and leaders in the church.

    What is sophistic eisegesis is the interpretation of Romanists and others that “Call no man your father on earth” really means “Hey, don’t listen to me. Go ahead and address your pastors with the title of Father, and while you’re at it, call your head pastor, Papa.” When one replaces God’s clear words with a sophistic interpretation of man it replaces the word of God with the words of an idol.

    Also, the word teacher, including a theologian, is more closely associated with didáskalos. As I’ve noted kathegetes appears to have a more extreme, arrogant, or overbearing meaning.

    If you want to narrow down on kathegetes being associated with “doctor,” one interpretation you can start with is the use the title of doctor for church leaders on their business cards, websites, church bios, articles, and when “greeted in the markets,” despite the fact that the title of address is purely an honorary one and not earned.

    In the meantime, the use of the title “Doctor” for a person with an earned academic doctoral degree, comes from the Latin doceo, which is closer to the meaning of didaskalos.

  28. In our Synod’s official German hymnal the word “Priester” appeared in both hymns concerning Holy Absolution. One can assume that Walther clearly had no objection to this. But somewhere around the beginning of the 20th century – long after Walther’s death – the word “Priester” was changed to (the awkward!) “Beicht’ger.” It would be fascinating to know who was behind this change. Here is some of the text(from an 1896 edition of Synod’s Gesangbuch) of Hymn 191 (TLH 331) “Wann uns der Priester absolvirt, sein Amt der Herr Christ durch ihn fuehrt…Wem der Priester auflegt sein Hand dem loest sich Christ auf der Suenden Band…” Hymn 192 (TLH 321) “Durchs Priesters Mund sprichst du,mein Kind, dir alle Suend vergeben sind…”
    It seems to be rather clear that the use of the word “priest” for the incumbents of the holy ministry continued to be common even in German Lutheranism for at least two centuries after the Reformation and has of course continued in uninterrupted use in Scandinavia until the present day. The Lutheran Symbols often speak of “our priests.”

  29. @Jonathan Stillman #28
    I do understand, but as a public figure, we must try and maintain an “out front” position, try not to hide. Of course, we do be careful when confessional type matters exist.
    And we truly, truly try to have the best construction, and listen before we speak, etc.
    But as I tell my kids, “when you speak, be prepared for whatever may come.”

  30. @Pastor Prentice #34

    I do understand, but as a public figure, we must try and maintain an “out front” position, try not to hide. Of course, we do be careful when confessional type matters exist.

    Allow the men at risk to “be careful” then. We’ve lost too many CTS seminary grads to liberal prejudice. [I would just say “seminary grads” but I suspect CSL is in no danger.]
    (As a ‘protected species’, I rather doubt that you do understand, Pr. Prentice. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.)

  31. @Pastor Prentice #36

    In my (admittedly limited to Texas) experience, the men who needed to be careful were the four year graduates from CTS, assumed to be confessional and therefore suspect in some districts. I don’t know if you remember it, but a bunch of them didn’t get calls from there to any district one spring. I knew some of those men.

    Things have not been quite so blatant some other years.

    If an SMP or other “alt. route” pastor has been pressured out of his call, it has not been mentioned in my hearing. I don’t think it’s happened in Texas.

    Does that help you?

    I think if you did understand, you wouldn’t need to ask why some men use pseudonyms. Even undergraduates at our Concordias have been warned against posting on BJS. I have been told as much personally. Some folks don’t like this list! ;(

  32. @helen #7

    For those who don’t know what that means, Carl Vehse is Dr. Rick Strickert. His idol, the real Carl Vehse, is described in the Lutheran Cyclopedia http://cyclopedia.lcms.org/

    Vehse, Carl Eduard
    (1802–June 18, 1870). Scholar, hist.; b. near Dresden, Ger.; studied law; curator Saxon state archives 1833; became adherent of M. Stephan* Sr.; to US 1839 with Saxon immigrants (see Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, The, II); returned to Ger. disillusioned December 1839. Works include Die Stephan’sche Auswanderung nach Amerika (Dresden, 1840; tr. R. Fiehler, The Stephanite Emigration to America [Marion R. Winkler Tucson, Ariz., 1975]). See also Altenburg Debate.

  33. Here are the links to Dr. Vehse’ 1840 book, Die Stephan’sche Auswanderung nach Amerika: mit Actenstücken and its translated version, The Stephanite Emigration to America With Documentation (trans. Rudolph Fiehler, Publisher: Marion R. Winkler, 1975).

    Claiming Vehse to be an “idol” is a hyperbole. As previously noted on BJS and on other blogs, “Carl Vehse” is a nom de guerre used against the residual Stephanism, ignorance, and fairy tales within the Missouri Synod concerning the Missouri Saxon events of 1839, and used to point out the influence of Vehse’s Protestation document on the Altenburg Debate, the formation of the Missouri Synod’s congregational polity, and the development of C.F.W. Walther’s Kirche und Amt.

    Perhaps when that nom de guerre is no longer needed, I’ll switch over to… oh, say a Lutheran scientist like Ole Christensen Roemer or maybe Bernard Riemann (a PK!). Most people have already heard about Lutheran scientists such as Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, Anders Celsius, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss, Heinrich Rudolph Hertz, Alfred Nobel, Lise Meitner, and Werner Heisenberg.

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