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Basic Christian Doctrines VI: The Doctrine of Christ. His Work as Prophet, Priest & King.

Updated: Jan 11

In the New Testament, the works of Christ attempts to tell a story which illustrates how Jesus actually effects Salvation. The purpose of this paper is to explore the three traditional Christological themes of Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King. It will also explore how the tasks or offices of Jesus Christ work in the modern world. The paper will conclude with a description of the dynamic tensions between the three traditional offices of Christ and a possible solution for the betterment of the Faith Community.

(1) The Prophetic Tradition Of Christ

It was the Prophets who proclaimed God's Justice and Enmity to all forms of oppression. There are places in the Gospel which portray Jesus in ministry taking up the tradition of the prophets and making it his own. Jesus was the conveyor of the Good News and a masterful interpreter of the old law. The word "Christ" comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew "Messiah", which means "Anointed". It became the appropriate name for Jesus, because only he accomplished perfectly the divine mission of "the Christ".

At is His home synagogue, Jesus proclaimed that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him and his mission in life was to release the captives, give sight to the blind and free those who were oppressed. He was a very brave man, considering true messiahs at the time, were usually killed for challenging the powers to be. Jesus was no exception and it was His death that would set the stage for His followers to proclaim him as the True Messiah.

Participation In Christ's Prophetic Office

The people who participate in the Prophetic Office, set down to us by Jesus Christ, are deeply involved in Social Justice issues, such as working for the poor and homeless. It is in this tradition that advocating human rights and restoring to every person, both in and outside the Church, the dignity that they deserve as part of God's wonderful Creation. This is of prime concern for all people who seek a Just Society. We are entrusted by God, through the Sacraments, to bring the message of Salvation to the world and to share in Christ's Prophetic Mission. We are called upon to use our gifts in the service of the Faith Community in a variety of ministries for this very purpose.

(2) The Priestly Tradition Of Christ

The Priestly portrayal of Christ is not based on historical fact. Jesus did not, as far as we know, present himself as a priest. He was a peasant by class and appears to have been highly critical of the Priestly class's distortion of the True Faith, or so we interpret the Cleansing Scene (Saint Luke 19:45-46).

However, because He displayed a radical criticism of the established religion, Jesus demonstrates his credentials as the True Priest of Israel for the New Testament writers. The Christian tradition considers everything that the priesthood of the old testament personified (Melchizedek) has been fulfilled in Jesus, who is the One Mediator between God and Humanity.

The interpretations of the death of Jesus is central to the Priestly Tradition. Jesus becomes the Sacrificial Lamb, who was holy, blameless and unstained. Yet, He was slaughtered for the sins of the humanity. It is His Priestly work, culminating in his death and resurrection, which removes the stain of sin and guilt. In essence, He performs all the traditional roles of temple priesthood, but He does it preeminently. Jesus takes from the traditional mediators the authority to forgive sins.

Participation In Christ's Priestly Office

There are people within the Faith Community who see the need for the Church to emphasis its cultic liturgical tradition, with special attention on the Sins of the World and a formal intercession before God. The Priestly Tradition of Christ has supplied the means to dispel that profound human need for 'Cleansing'. The deepest meaning of Salvation is therefore a washing away of uncleanliness (sin) from people. It is through Christ that the entire Community of Believers take hold of the Priestly Office.

(3) The Monarchical Tradition of Christ

Christology claims for Jesus the ultimate authority over all things, in this world and the next. The affairs of the world and beyond are not just in powerful hands, but are in good and loving hands. The One who gave His own life for all of us is not some impersonal force or despotic tyrant, but a King.

This king rules over all earthly leaders. Unlike them, Jesus was humble and refused to exercise His political power. A Monarchical term is used to express the tradition of Jesus as an ultimacy that belongs only to Him. Jesus works over Nature, He was and is present in the works of the Church and He will Glorify it when all things are fulfilled at the end of time.

Participation in Christ's Monarchical Office

In this day and age, the idea of using an old fashion term like kingdom seems archaic. However, let's replace that term with a different word, Intimacy. In God's Intimacy, we become part of the Creator's absolute Freedom and Creativity. Intimacy denotes a familiarity through knowledge and experience.

We do not take ourselves into a physical Kingdom, but to a place of Intimacy with a Loving God. Our role as participants in Christ's Monarchical Office is to realize that we are called to promote an Intimacy with God and participate in worldly affairs, by being a Christian catalyst on Social, Political and Economic matters.

A Call To Action

German Reformed Philosopher and Theologian, Freidrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) is correct when he observed, that as Christians, we better understand Christ in terms of His work. Within our own inner experience as believers, we truly begin to see Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King.

However, it is not until we are confronted with the sometimes harsh realities of human existence, that we begin to genuinely experience the hope for positive results in both ours and other peoples lives. This encounter with reality effects how each person will carry out their own ministry, because Ministry is a call to action.

Some within the Priestly tradition may not see the Prophetic tradition as meaningful for the direction of the Church. The social action committee of a parish, with its tradition entrenched in the Prophetic works of Christ, does not have the same agenda as the liturgical committee, who carry on the Priestly works of Christ.

Each group must understand that Christ lies within all these traditions. As Priest, He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. As Prophet, He proclaims the release of captives and freedom for the oppressed. As King, He is the ultimate loving authority who shares His power, grace and glory with the Church and the world.

There should never be tension between the Christ traditions because the Body of Christ has many parts. As in any healthy body, one part may work without the other, but it is less effective. Social action lacks passion if Divine Authority is not understood. Liturgy is meaningless if it does not speak to the people and the Blessed Trinity, in all its Majesty, is useless if there is no way for the people to commune with God.

As a Community of Believers, we must work together to continue utilizing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, thereby enabling us to carry on the tradition of Christ's work. In this way, we too may become a better Prophet, Priest and King.

End Originally entitled The Doctrine of Christ- Christ's Work as Prophet, Priest And King Traditions within The Faith Community was submitted to Dr. William Close as a Master of Theological Studies course requirement 511v-Basic Christian Doctrines St. Stephen's Theological College University of Alberta Published on November 15th, 1996. {Revised September 14th, 2023} © Dr. Charles Warner 2023

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