Part Three - For the Life of the World: Chapter 7 - Prophets, Priests, and Kings
Today we begin the third and final part of the book. Part I dwelt on “A People Without ‘Laity and Clergy.’ Part II reflected on being “Summoned and Equipped by God.” In the last three chapters we will examine what it means to be the Church “For the Life of the World.” In case you haven’t noticed, the headings for each part can be linked together into a sentence that forms the basic thesis of Stevens’ book:
“A people without ‘Laity and Clergy,’ summoned and equipped by God for the life of the world.”
With chapter 7, we now turn more directly to the mission of the Church.
Three Roles, One Body.
As we examine the Old Testament we find three functions for which there was a divine anointing. Priest, Prophet and King:
- Priests – Maintained the sanctuary and sacrificial system, guarded and taught the scriptures, acted as judge in matters of ritual uncleanness, and discerned God’s will.
- Prophets - Told forth the future and told forth God’s purposes in specific contexts so as to bring people to repentance and faith. They kept the people’s past with God before the people and ministered hope about the future. They were the faith barometers, as Stevens puts it.
- Kings – Anointed representatives of God to bring order, justice and peace to the nation.
Through his life, death, and resurrection, Christ has taken all three of these roles unto himself. He is the threefold officeholder (munus triplex) of priest, prophet, and king. He exercises these offices through his body the church of which he is the life-giving, animating head. Within the Roman Catholic tradition there has been a tendency to see specific individuals called to a particular office like priest. Stevens makes the case that it is the body of Christ collectively that occupies these offices and not specific individuals. None of us alone are priests, prophets or kings, yet we offer priestly, prophetic and kingly service to the world.
We will briefly look at each office over the next three posts.