Were I to believe that Jesus did not found a “priesthood” as some on this blog believe, I think I might also have to believe that I have also wasted the last 51 years of my life since I entered seminary on the 27th September 1970.
So I do not believe I have wasted 51 years and I do believe that Christ founded a “priesthood”, or a certain type of ” discipleship”.
Jesus chose the 12 and sent them out. In each place they went they founded “local churches”.
Very early on members of those local communities emerged as “elders” – both men and women.
As communities grew a “college of elders” emerged for two reasons:
1. The communities were getting bigger and needed “officers” to guide and administer.
2. Many heresies crept in and these elders were there to teach truth and oppose error.
Eventually the colleges of elders chose a senior elder to be their”overseer” (episcopus)
We can see in the Scriptures from the time of Stephen, the developement of the diaconate – both male and female.
This leaves us with the three basic “orders” the deacon, the elder (priest) and overseer (bishop).
It is made quite clear in the New Testament that none of these people were to lord it over anyone else, but to be their brother, shepherd and servant.
We Catholics believe that there are two sources of God’s Revelation – Scripture and Holy ( as opposed to unholy) Tradition.
Cardinal Newman speaks a lot about the “development of doctrine”. Of course, that means that there can be good, bad neutral development.
I believe that the Holy Orders of today – deacon, priest and bishop are in keeping with the practice of the early church.
But other bad things happened:
1. The Christian Church aligning with Constantine and the State – leading the church, very wrongly, to take on the trappings of an empire.
2. The development of the three orders of servants becoming officers of an empire – leading eventually to the creation of a canonical clerical caste and a domineering hierarchical structure.
In one fell swoop, the servants had become the masters 😭
THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS:
I believe that the “development” of the sacraments was, in itself, in keeping with the intentions of Jesus and the early church.
Jesus was BAPTISED.
Jesus sent the Spirit – CONFIRMATION.
Jesus commanded his followers to break bread – EUCHARIST.
Jesus instructed his followers to bind and loose on earth – PENANCE.
From the beginning Jesus and the early church laid hands in people who were appointed to new ministeries – HOLY ORDERS.
James ordered that the elders pray over the sick – SACREMENT OF THE SICK.
MARRIAGE was a late startes and the church only took it serious from the 12 th onwards.
Of course Jesus never laid down who was to preside over the BREAKING OF THE BREAD.
SUCCESSORS OF THE APOSTLES
RC bishops are very wrongly described as “the the successors of the apostles”.
With one or two exceptions, the apostles were NOT the overseeing elders in individual churches.
The apostles were missionary and had a function to perform for all the churches.
John certainly was the overseer in Jerusalem and later Antioch.
Peter’s presence is Rome is not established without doubt and controversy.
Peter was never the bishop of Rome.
The papacy is one of those very, very bad, not Christ intended traditions.
Only a fool would claim that the church, in history, has not added on to the New Testament and early tradition – and not always for good reasons.
The secret for us Christians today is to remove the man made ivy that has overgrown the House of God, and return to the values and practices we find in Jesus and the early church
THROWING OUT THE BABY WITH THE DIRTY WATER is not the Christ option, in my opinion.