Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thoughts from Martin Luther on the Roman Catholic priesthood and mass

(The following from Luther is not to say that there is no such thing as pastors who are called to lead the flock, serve spiritual needs and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper--that's clearly not what he intended. Instead, he’s showing that the teachings of Roman Catholicism on the priesthood and the so-called sacrifice of the mass are without proof of any kind in the Bible—strictly man made. On the otherhand, the Bible is clear Who the real Priest is and what that means for all true Christians.)

First, let us deal with the priesthood. Every true Christian really ought to know that in the New Testament there is no outward, visible priest, except those whom the devil has exalted and set up through human lies. We have only one single priest, Christ, who has sacrificed himself for us and all of us with him. Peter speaks of this in 1 Peter 3:18: “Christ died once for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us—dead in the flesh but alive in the spirit—to God.” And Hebrews 10:14 says: “For by a single offering he has finished and perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

This is a spiritual priesthood, held in common by all Christians, through which we are all priests with Christ. That is, we are children of Christ, the high priest; we need no priest of mediator other than Christ. “Every priest (Hebrews 5:1) is appointed to order that he might pray for the people and preach.” Thus every Christian on his own may pray in Christ (the high priest) and have access to God (Romans 5:2) as Isaiah has proclaimed in chapter 65:24: “It shall come to pass that before they call I will answer, and while they are speaking I will hear them.”…Hence it comes that Christ says in John 6:45: “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’”

…Go to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves build up on him, to be holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5).” And a little further on (1 Peter 2:9): “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy people, dearly bought, that you may declare the might of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Let this be the first assault on the fictitious popish priesthood: how strong and mighty an assault it is, let every pious Christian judge. Here all the splendor and pomp of the popish mass comes to naught (nothing)…For the priesthood and law change together (Hebrews 7:12). If now the priesthood and the law are nothing, then the sacrifices and the works which are supposed to take place through the priest…are even less. From this it follows that the pope’s law is sheer deceit and falsehood; the papal priesthood is nothing but a mask and outward show, and the papists’ mass, which they call a sacrifice, is idolatry and a shameful misuse of the holy sacrament.

Pages 138 – 142 Luther’s Works Vol. 36 Word and Sacrament, The Misuse of the Mass