Are there two classes of Christians?
The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers is clearly prescribed in the New Testament and totally ignored by most all Christians. We wonder why. It appears most Christians accept the two tier system where there is a “spiritually superior class” of Christians known as “clergy” and an inferior class known as “laity.”
It is sure Jesus taught of a classless Kingdom of Heaven where all are equal children of our Father God. This is “etched” in the stone of the opening statement of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father.” (Mt. 6:9). Even the Constitution of the United States affirms that our Creator created all people as equals.
Peter wrote for all Christians: "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; one you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.” (I Peter 2:9, 10 - RSV).
Paul wrote about Christian equality in Galatians 3:26-29 RSV. "For in Christ Jesus you are all God's children through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise."
Martin Luther, in the reformation, reestablished the doctrine of "priesthood of all believers" from Peter's statement and from Paul's equality teaching in Galatians. Yet most Christian denominations – religious systems – establish and enforce a two class society of “clergy” and “laity.” We must examine this anomaly, Christianity’s retreat from Christian classlessness back into European class privilege.
This is a return to monarchal times with the “upper class clergy” advertising their imagined spiritual superiority by adopting titles and wearing uniforms.
Before proving the equality of all Christians by using New Testament citations, we should examine this problem where most Christians reject and refuse their call and their authority to Jesus’ “priesthood.”
The tradition in Christianity that there are two classes, or two tiers, of Christians – clergy and laity - is long standing. The clergy’s privileged position arises from “ordination” by some religious system. The particular religious system determines the person to be ordained is called by God and has the talents and anointment to become “clergy” with authority and responsibility over the “laity.”
Once ordained, the clergy has the final word on all religious matters within the denomination, or religious system, which approved and provided the ordination.
This two tier system is so established that it is recognized in all areas of life including industry and government. Clergy are given special privileges and allowed special authority.
But this was never Jesus’ intention. Neither was its Paul’s understanding. Further, the existing Greek New Testament manuscripts show the words ordain, ordained, and ordaineth as used in the King James Version are wrongly applied.
Twelve different Hebrew words and fifteen different Greek words in twenty-seven different situations are forced into the single words of ordain and ordained. That is clear evidence of a theological agenda or bias influencing the translations from Hebrew and Greek into English by the King James translators.
If you wish to stand on the Bible as being the specific word of God, then stand on the most ancient and accepted documents rather than the later (1611 AD) King James Version translated by English Catholics after 1500 + years of Catholic tradition and theology. Catholic theological traditions were deeply entrenched in all the scholars involved in the KJV translation. Catholic theology permeates their translation.
The ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts do not support any concept of an ordained Christian clergy. A formal, ordained priesthood was established under Moses’ Torah and in the Old Covenant. Torah/Talmud Old Covenant theology ended with Jesus crucifixion (AD 33) and the Roman's destruction of the Temple (AD 70). As noted, no ordained priesthood was established under the New Covenant when it replaced the Old Covenant. PROOF: Matthew 23:8-12; 1 Peter 2:9, 10; and Galatians 3:27, 28.
The list of offices in Ephesians 4:11-16 clearly are gifts to be used for the good of the whole body of Christ. Paul did not imply or assign authority for one Christian to hold over another. It is obvious that Paul himself did not claim any absolute authority. He wrote about splits in his groups and competing ministers who collected their own followings.
The early church had several “branches” with divergent opinions. Many differences continue today as evidence there is no uniformity of Christian belief. That being so, it is an oxymoron for any “clergy” to claim spiritual authority since there is no common Christian belief system.
In each group meeting there must be order. A group leader must be designated to keep the meeting focused on its goals. The group leader’s authority does not imply any spiritual authority. That leader’s position is only administrative for the specific occasion.
Finally, the title of 'Bishop' appears six times in the KJV New Testament. Once again, the word 'Bishop' is an invented English word now carrying theological implications that are not in the early Greek manuscripts. The office of “bishop” was that of overseer, order keeper, and preserver of Jesus’ original teachings. As the preserver of Jesus words and ways, the 'bishop' was a historian who adopted the position of teacher, which was soon expanded to be "the final authority" with power over the church members. So, automatically church doctrine became the bishop's belief system with punishment for any who disagreed with him.
It appears, from current experience, few either know or care about Jesus’ original words and ways as recorded in the “Red Letters” found in the four Gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Too many Christians prefer to waste time and money speculating on fictional end times and invented theological theories and doctrines.
Simple observation reveals that preserving invented denominational doctrines and maintaining non-Biblical traditions are major goals of most of the ordained “clergy.”
By ignoring our call to the priesthood of believers and shirking those duties, we create two grave problems for Christianity. First, we allow the ordained “clergy” to think more highly of themselves than is justified (Romans 12:3-8). Second, we allow ourselves to believe witnessing is the duty only of the ordained “clergy.”
REMEMBER: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; one you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.” (I Peter 2:9, 10 - RSV).
If you know you are a child of God, you are in the priesthood of all believers. You are a preacher of the Good News, a pastor, a chaplain, and a sibling of all people. Admit and accept your call and speak up. You are the light of the world, do not “hide your light under a basket” (Matthew 5:15).
Why “hide your light under a basket?” You have much to give and you are called to be God's earthly head, hands, feet, and speaker when you receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. You are called to do all things Jesus did because you have the same Holy Spirit in you, guiding you, and empowering you. See www. holyspirit-101.info/
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