Luther and Calvin on Christ's Priesthood

Gerald O'Collins and Michael Keenan Jones

in Jesus Our Priest

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199576456
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723032 | DOI:
Luther and Calvin on Christ's Priesthood

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When expounding the priesthood of Christ, Luther recognized his public ministry of preaching to be priestly. All the baptized share in that priesthood, with its duties of proclaiming the word, interceding for others, and bearing each other's burdens. As much as their cultic service, preaching and humble service should distinguish the ministry of ordained priests, Luther insisted. He denied a sacrificial import to what Christ did at the Last Supper and seemed to play down the active role of Christ's self‐sacrifice on the cross and to make him (largely?) the passive victim of the divine displeasure. Calvin took up the priesthood of Christ within the scheme of his triple office as priest, prophet, and king. The death of Christ, by which he appeased the anger of God and made propitiation for human sin, was central to Calvin's vision of Christ's priesthood. Calvin championed the priesthood of believers, but, unlike Luther, did so only rarely. Calvin emphasized the ascension of Christ into heaven, his priestly intercession ‘at the right hand of the Father’, and all the benefits that it brings. Like Luther, Calvin denied a sacrificial value to the Lord's Supper; it is simply a ‘remembrance’ of Christ's historical sacrifice and a communion through a shared meal.

Keywords: ascension; cross; Lord's supper; preaching; priesthood of believers; propitiation; sacrifice; triple office

Chapter.  14536 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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