Types in Hebrews - Appendix 1 - THE PRIESTS OF CHRISTENDOM


SINCE penning the strictures upon the priests of Christendom, contained in some of the preceding pages, I have taken up by chance a book that I had not opened for more than thirty years. I refer to The Doctrine of the Priesthood, by the late Canon Carter of Clewer, a book that is accepted as an authoritative defence of the errors which it advocates. It claims to prove that those errors are in accordance with the teaching (1) of the Church of England, (2) of the Church of the Fathers, and (3) of the New Testament. No fair-minded man would deny that, with very few exceptions, the errors of the Romish system are the fruit of the evil seed of Patristic teaching. Nor can it be denied that many traces of these evil doctrines appear in the formularies of the National Church. But it has been authoritatively decided again and again that those formularies are to be construed in the light of the Articles; and the testimony of the Articles is unequivocally Protestant. What concerns us here, however, is his appeal to the New Testament. In the following sentences he summarizes his main proofs that the ministry of the Christian Church is sacerdotal: -
“St. Paul is here (1 Corinthians 14:16) speaking of that act of ministry to which he had alluded previously in the same Epistle, as his own habitual office; ‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ?’ 2 Corinthians 10:16). Again, when St. Paul, writing to the Romans, dwells on the grace that is given to him as an Apostle, he uses throughout terms of Priesthood; ‘that I should be the minister (Leitourgos, lit. a Priest, so used, itself or its derivatives, Hebrews 8:2-6; 9:21; 10:11; Luke 1:23) of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles; ministering (Jerourgounta, lit. as a Priest) the Gospel of God, that the offering up (prosfora, a sacrificial offering) of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost’ (Romans 15:16)” (p. 81).
This is what passes for argument and evidence with writers of this school! Let us analyze and test his statements. What a commentary upon his statement about the Apostle’s "own habitual office" is supplied by such Scriptures as Acts 20:7, and 1 Corinthians 3:5! And here I would refer to Lightfoot’s words quoted earlier in this work. Carter’s argument from 1 Corinthians 10:16 depends entirely on the emphasis he lays on the pronoun we (the italics are his). Will the reader believe it that there is no pronoun in the text! Leitourgos, he tells us, means literally a priest. But Grimm’s Lexicon tells us that it means "a servant of the State, a minister, a servant, servants of a king, servants of a priest." And the Concordance tells us that the word occurs but five times in the New Testament. Besides Romans 15:16, and Hebrews 1:7 and 8:2, the Apostle uses it only of Roman magistrates who enforced the payment of taxes (Romans 13:6), and of the bearer of the money and other gifts sent him by the Philippians during his imprisonment in Rome (Philippians 2:25). Leitourgia is used in that same connection (Philippians 2:30); and again in the same sense in 2 Corinthians 9:12) (service). Again in Philippians 2:17 (service). These, with (Hebrews 8:6; 9:21), are its only occurrences in the Epistles. The verb leitourgeo occurs only twice in the Epistles - viz. in Hebrews 10:11 and in Romans 15:27 (where he enjoins on the Gentiles their duty to minister to the poor Jews in "carnal things"). As to Prosphora I need but refer to earlier in this work. In scripture neither offering nor killing a sacrifice was essentially a priestly function at all (See earlier in this work). And Grimm’s meaning for hierourgeo is "to be busied with sacred things, to minister in the manner of a priest." And Bengel’s note upon the verse is (referring to the three words in question), "This is allegorical. Jesus is the priest; Paul the servant of the priest." Philippians 2:17, where the Apostle speaks of his being poured out as a drink-offering, is another striking instance of an allegorical use of liturgical terms.
It is untrue that any one of these words "means" what this writer says it means - as flagrantly untrue as if he said that doulos means a Christian minister. It is sometimes used of Christian ministers, just as these other words are sometimes used in the sense he claims for them. But they were words in common use among Greek-speaking Gentiles; and the Christians in Rome and Corinth would naturally give them their common meaning?1 This last remark applies with peculiar force to another of the "proofs" to which these men attach special weight. Canon Carter writes: -
"Nor is it of little moment to our inquiry to observe that the original words translated in our version ‘Do this in remembrance of Me,’ had in the ears of a Jew a fixed meaning, long hallowed in the usage of the people, as connected with sacrifice. ‘Do this,’ in the language of the Septuagint, means, as it meant among heathen writers, ‘offer as a sacrifice’" (p. 84).
How can we discuss such a question with any one with whom this sort of thing passes for "argument"? The question at issue is whether the Lord’s Supper is a sacerdotal rite; and there is no doubt that if this were established, the very common word poieo might be understood in that sense, as it is often so used in the Septuagint. But will some one tell us what other word the Lord could have used? For the word is as common in Greek as is do in English. And though it occurs many hundreds of times in the New Testament, it is never used in a sacrificial sense. The Passover in Egypt, moreover, was not a priestly rite (See earlier in this work); and the yearly paschal supper was merely a household celebration of Israel’s redemption on that memorable night. There was no priestly element in it. But "learned ignorance" confounds the Supper of fourteenth Nisan with the Feast which began on the fifteenth - a blunder which lends some show of plausibility to the error of supposing that the Lord’s Supper is a priestly and sacrificial rite, and leads to the further heresy of supposing that the four Gospels differ as to the events of Passion week.2. But to the passage last quoted Canon Carter adds: -
"So also the term ‘in remembrance of Me’ , or rather, ‘for a memorial of Me,’ is sacrificial; the memorial in a sacrifice being that portion of the victim which is laid on the altar and offered to God, in order to bring the whole oblation to remembrance before Him. The idea implied is not that of an act of memory on the part of man, but a memorializing of God" (p. 85).
These statements are wholly unfounded. The LXX do not use the word anamnesis of "that portion of the victim which is laid. on the altar." And the kindred word mnemosunon (which occurs in Matthew 26:13; Mark 14:9, and Acts 10:4 is never used by the LXX of a victim sacrifice, but only of meal offerings. And though it occurs in the Septuagint, ex. gr. in Exodus 12:14, it there represents a different Hebrew word. And in Exodus 12:14 it was not the paschal lamb, but the ordinance, that was to be a memorial. And that, not to God, but to the people. The words are explicit: "This day shall be unto you for a memorial."
As regards anamnesis (which occurs in Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24, 25, and Hebrews 10:3) I will appeal, not to Protestant expositors, but to the Lexicon. The meaning which Grimm gives of the word is "a remembrance, recollection" (and quoting Luke 22:19), "to call Me (affectionately) to remembrance." And referring to Hebrews 10:3 he adds, "The memory of sins committed is revived by the sacrifice."
The question here at issue, however, is not one of words merely. It is a conflict between divine truth and vital error. The Lord’s Supper is thus degraded by making the elements a memorial of a dead Christ. And this, mirabile dictu, to bring to God’s remembrance the death of His Son! It is the false cult of the Crucifix. This error would be impossible were it not that the words of our Divine Lord are either entirely ignored, as in the Mass, or relegated to an incidental and subordinate place, as with most Protestants. The Supper (as 1 Corinthians 11 tells us) is emphatically a showing (or proclaiming)3 of the Lord’s death: but first and pre-eminently it is not a memorial of His death, but (as Grimm puts it) an affectionate remembrance of Himself, in view of His absence and His coming again. His words are explicit: "Do this in remembrance of ME" - not a dead Christ, but an absent Lord. The added words, "Ye do show the Lord’s death till He come" were not uttered by the Lord Himself, but were given by Him through His inspired Apostle.
But "the Catholic Church" knows no Coming save the great day of wrath; and ignoring the living Lord, it appoints sham priests to do on earth what He is doing for us in the presence of God. It thus sets up "the first tabernacle again," which is a denial that the way into the holiest is open (Hebrews 9:8). And this again is a denial of the efficacy of the blood of Christ, and of the redemption He has wrought. This cult of the Crucifix is not merely unchristian but antichristian.
The "Holy Catholic Church" claims to be the oracle of God, and therefore it requires from its votaries an unreasoning acceptance of its dogmas. Protestantism, on the other hand, appeals to Scripture and reason in support of the doctrines for which it claims belief. But the attempt to defend Romish errors by Protestant methods is not only futile but foolish.