Rabbis and PriestsPosted: January 17, 2008
So because i’m reading a lot of churchy history right now, i noticed this “house church” trend that’s picking up steam today. I am very sympathetic toward the house church idea- and am weekly concocting ideas and systems for that format because i can’t quite get it out of my head for some reason i can’t explain.
Coupled with the “house church” thing is the idea of a clergy-less assembly (sarcastic note: we want leaders but we don’t want to pay them- nice job, now go back to work at your other job), complete with open meetings. Honestly, i think open meetings aren’t all bad- i’m rather fond of them, having grown up in them. But…
These two revolutionary ideas seem to come from this argument: “Christ is the Temple, and Christ is our High Priest- we also, as His body, are the Temple and we are all priests. Therefore, we should not have a church building or paid clergy. There is no Biblical precedent for either of these things to continue.”
Everytime i see/hear this argument i think: What? What does the Temple have to do with a local/regional meeting place? and What does the priest-hood of all believers have to do with clergy- that is, individuals paid to study and teach the word of God to the people of God? How is there no biblical precedent for buildings or clergy?
Or, are you looking in the wrong place and getting yourself confused? There’s a difference between Rabbis and Priests. There’s a difference between Synagogue and Temple.
The Bible records that the Word of God was given to Moses. Moses gave the Word to the Judges, the Judges to the Prophets, the Prophets to Ezra, and Ezra gave the Word to the 70 scribes- later called Rabbis. It was handed down thru the ages- God entrusting the Word to people- and we honor that by reading from all of these men and women and interestingly, treat it all as the Word of God.
Uh, Ezra is a rock star and needs to be given props, kids.
The clergy of the church, the pastors, are of the tradition (biblically based tradition, mind) of rabbinical teaching- appointed to study and understand the Word so that the people might hear and understand. So Jesus, a Rabbi whose yoke we seek to understand and carry on, spoke in the Temple? No, that doesn’t make any sense. Jesus, a Rabbi with a New Yoke, taught as all Rabbis did (and still do) in the local synagogue, a place dedicated to the study and teaching of the Word.
As a complete sidenote, if the Temple is an old idea that needs to be done away with, why did Jesus so forcefully defend it? Anyway…
Today, pastors study the word and teach it to the people in the (albeit loose) tradition of the rabbis and teachers of the law in local congregations or assemblies. The teachers of the law of God (worthy of double honor?) are provided for so that they may devote themselves to the reading and studying of scripture and to teaching. What does that have to do with the sacrificial-system based Temple or Priests? Seriously. Tell me I’m wrong on this.
Biblically, local synagogues and the resident teachers were independent from the Temple and the priests there. They served completely different functions. Different people. To say that we don’t need a local church because we are the Temple is like saying we don’t need a ladder because we often go fishing on the weekends- completely seperate ideas and there’s no basis for a valid or sensible argument there.
If we’re going to talk about the doing away with church buildings and pastors, let’s make sure that we have our history and traditions straight, please. If the anti-building/pastor argument starts with an exploration of the Maccabees and the time between the Temples, I’m interested in what’s said- but i think if you start with accurate history and biblical tradition, then it’s hard to refute the basics (the basics, mind) of the, gasp, institutional church of today.
This, i guess, is a perfect example of why i hate it when xians co-opt or flat out steal other people’s ideas and and call it a xian idea. Because then we have this quandary where we forget we stole it and then have something we think we made up and then discount it as stupid because we made it up. So confusing.
Throw up or throw down?
The DIY: don’t take my word for it!
1. What exactly is/was the Tabernacle/Temple and what was it’s function?
2. What exactly is a synagogue and what is it’s function?
3. 1&2: Are they similiar or different?
4. Does the local assembly-place of xian believers (don’t use the word church to describe the building) have more in common, functionally, with one or the other? or not at all?
5. Do you see similarities between how Ezra organised and how Jesus organised. Dis-similarities?
6. Jesus organised things?
8. What about the Priests/Rabbis thing? Similiar or different? Do the clergy at your local assembly remind you of rabbis or priests. Is that good or bad?
9. What do you know about the Great Assembly? Wiki it. What are the ramifications of this kind of understanding of Jesus and His disciples (esp. the 70 of Jesus and the 70 of Ezra- that is, is Jesus honoring or replacing Ezra’s 70 by appointing70 of His own?).
10. Was Jesus a Pharisee or a Sadduccee or neither in His teaching? Why?
11. Are there some biblically sound arguments for house-based open meetings as the exclusive community functions of a local assembly?
12. Need more?
Bonus: why DID Jesus defend the Temple so fiercely if He came to do away with it?