Wednesday, April 8, 2009

OFFSPRING: Priest and Presbyter

There is a word in Latin called sacerdos, In Greek heirus, in Hebrew cohan: That is, a minister, an officer, a sacrificer, or a priest: Aaron was a priest and sacrificed for the people as a mediator between God and man. In the English language this title should have been something other than “priest.”

In fact, there is another word in Greek, called presbyter, in Latin Senior, in English elder, and is nothing but an officer to teach the younger, and to bring them into the full knowledge and understanding of Christ, and to minister the sacraments which Christ ordained, which is also noting but to teach Christ’s promises. It may well be asked, why the term priest was retained by the reformers to designate ministerial orders. The fact is that in so far as the etymological origin of the word priest is concerned, it is but another form of the word presbyter. (Theology of the English Reformers, P. E. Hughes)

What is apparent in the retention of the term “priest,” is that reforming the church to its original design and intent, is at least as much an art form as it is a science. When do we drop a corrupted practice? When do we correct and re-apply it? When do we take a different approach altogether? Not easy questions, nevertheless, many wrongfully conclude that issues such as terms like “priest” were merely carryovers from the middle ages. This really belittles the integrity and intellect of the reformers. The term priest is in fact a great model for what the reformers of the church struggled to achieve, they tried to restore all practices in the church to their proper and biblical use, while retaining the traditions to the maximum. They strove for Catholic Evangelicalism.

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