Thursday, November 15, 2007
The Grammarian, XII
By the way, the priesthood of all believers is not in the Bible.
The passage everyone loves to quote is this, from I Peter 2.9:
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."
Now it's evident that the "ye" here refers to the faithful of God, and that therefore they are "a royal priesthood." But the term "priesthood" here is collective, and it goes together with "royal" and also with "holy nation."
What you Synodical types have gone and done is to try to tap into this in such a way as to give a divine imprimatur to everything a congregational voters' assembly does. I think you need a lesson in grammar, to say nothing of your theology.
The Apostle is clearly exalting the status of the Church, as opposed to "them which stumble at the word, being disobedient," listed just prior to this verse. Contextually, he pours on these descriptions of the Church, to indicate thereby just what a great gift the grace of God has made her: a chosen generation, that is elect in Christ; royalty, that is, bound to the King of Kings; and a priesthood, that is, bound to Him who is our High Priest before God. This is why the Church is also an holy nation: holy in Christ; a peculiar people, separate from all people on earth, again, in Christ.
The entire context here is that of magnifying the grace of God which makes the Church the royal, priestly Queen of all Creation. And each descriptor is collective, that is, in the singular.
So, boys and girls, don't go blathering on about the priesthood of all believers as a license to make divine decrees by reason of your voters' assemblies, as though the majority in them somehow constituted the living voice of God. (In case you're wondering, the living voice of God is what comes out of Jesus' mouth, and out of the mouths of "holy men of God moved by the Holy Ghost," etc.)
The phrase you love to use, "all believers," is not there. The term "believers" would be plural, and would divide and individualize the Church; but it isn't there. Although the plural pronoun "ye" is used, it is at once related to a long string of collective terms. It is abundantly evident that this is a reference to a unified whole, the body of Christ; and Christ is also one.
There's no counting going on here, no rule by majority. The Church is one, because Christ is one. He rules His Church, by His grace.
So don't go misusing the Bible, and remember your grammar.