Yesterday, Dave Black (Monday, April 20, 2009 at 8:55 a.m.) mentioned a book by Hans KÃ¼ng called Why Priests: A Proposal for a New Church Ministry. This is what Dr. Black said about KÃ¼ng’s book:
He attempted to detail the catastrophic emergency (as he called it) in Christendom. The root, he said, was a polarity between the office of pastors/priests (who form the “above”) and the members of the congregation (who form the “below”). He pointed to the rediscovery and use of the total membership of a congregation as a necessary remedy. His call for a return to the New Testament concept of the church, not as a highly organized and professionalized institution but as a ministry of all believers serving Christ in every walk of life, fell largely on deaf ears.
This description piqued my interested, so I checked our library for the book. Nope, the SEBTS library doesn’t have it. So, I searched online. And, I found the following snippet from a review:
Why have priests? Kung answers: no particular reason. The idea of “priesthood,” as that term is commonly understood, has no special theological meaning, or even special validity, in an authentic Christian church. There is no basis in the New Testament, or in real tradition, for a sacralized class of ministers whose “mission” is to “govern” the faithful. There is, however, such a basis for a priesthood common to all Christians and for leadership by individual Christians in faith and love. In other words, the notion of a restrictive priesthood, limited to certain individuals appointed from above and set apart by ordination, is theological nonsense and an accident of history. Kung argues this thesis as well as he did his recent work on papal infallibility, and its importance is perhaps more immediate than that of the latter. Rome will wrong its hands in horror, but Kung’s large and growing following among the new generation of Catholics will love every line of it.
Don’t miss the importance of what KÃ¼ng is saying, both for Catholics and Protestants – all Christians in fact. In the New Testament, there is “no basis” for a special class of ministers. I agree completely. And, as Dr. Black pointed out, this work, as well as many others who make the same claim, has largely fallen on deaf ears. The church does not want to hear it.
Why? Because, for the most part, believers do not want to act as priests and ministers themselves. We are too comfortable allowing others to be our priests and ministers.