You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. … But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light
1 Peter 2:5,9
Peter here is not addressing the clergy of an imaginary Church but all true believers in Jesus. Yet, if you go to your local Church you find no such idea reflected in the practice of any major denomination. All separate the clergy and laity and of course, the Church licenses the clergy to perform the religious rituals which the laity receive. So, how does this practice square with Scriptural injunction? The fact is that it does not.
It is time we revisited this biblical vision of the priesthood. We need to examine the failure of establishing structures that bear more than a passing resemblance to the Old Testament Aaronic Priesthood to maintain the integrity and centrality of Scripture in God’s Church. The structures bear a resemblance but the principals underpinning it do not – the licence to preach is not issued by the Church but by God Himself, something made abundantly clear when He says “The Levites are mine”. Herein lies another problem – priests exist principally to glorify God, not serve the Church.
If we look to the Pastoral Epistles of Paul we can see clearly that Paul never intended for the Church to become what it has become. Consistently in both the letters to Timothy and Titus, Paul makes constant reference to elders and therefore clearly is advocating collective leadership for the Church. This is sound doctrine because it is a truism that a one man ministry will take on the character of that man. A Church that is collectively led (not governed) however has an in-built check on false teaching and any drift into heresy by one individual.
God and His Church are estranged to the point of open hostility on both sides. Words come from the lips of Church ‘leaders’ which offer empty words of praise to the Lord but their actions, the defilement of God’s House with sin and perversion of Scripture show a greater concern for their office than there flock – an office which they have no right to occupy when rather than glorify God they insult Him. Restoring God to headship in His House means restoring His Word to its true position as the living flame at the centre of the Church. It will also mean going right back to the Bible, accepting that things have gone drastically wrong and that we now need to follow, to the letter, the instructions given to us therein and to chart a new course for a new Church.