Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Here's Dr. Saxon's gracious response to my BRAPSISS critique (see previous post):


Thank you for referring me to your blog. I appreciate your interaction with Brapsiss. Just a few thoughts:

First, the instruction on the priesthood of the believer that is given in Baptist Heritage class is much broader than the few lines penned in that Sunesis article. The phrase, borrowed as you noted from 2 Cor. 5, that believers carry out a “ministry of reconciliation” expressed in brief form a section of the priesthood lecture that emphasizes the idea you brought forward in your critique. I certainly agree that our priesthood has significant horizontal implications and is tied in key NT texts to evangelism.

Second, however, the idea behind our priesthood is present in various NT texts (such as Heb. 10:19-20) that have vertical significance. I don’t think the one obligation of personal priesthood (evangelism) should be set against the other opportunity of personal priesthood (access). This is not an either/or, but a both/and.

Third, the Reformation doctrine of the priesthood of the believer, as enunciated by Luther and all of the other Protestant reformers placed primary focus on the individual before God (and not before a Catholic priest, an authoritative church, etc.) as a corrective to medieval doctrine and practice. The horizontal implications were not omitted, but the vertical relationship was emphasized. (Note also that a quick check of Erickson’s Christian Theology [1085-1086] also emphasized the vertical rather than the horizontal dimension of this teaching.)

In short, I think your conclusion that “BRAPSISS needs to be amended … to better reflect the Bible’s teaching” may be a bit hasty. Both dimensions of the priesthood of the believer are biblically valid and useful, and I try to reflect both in my teaching, and I even tried—albeit briefly—to reflect both in the Sunesis article.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention and for the respectful way in which you expressed your view.

Lord bless you,

David Saxon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Saxon,

Thanks for your response because clarity is very important in these matters. I have further questions for you, if you do not mind.

1. How are you appealing to 2 Cor. 5:20? It seems you are saying that this text refers to evangelism, yet, Paul makes appeal to the church at Corinth in this context. I could be misunderstanding you here, but please say where.

2. I was happy with your both/and since you broadened it past "access" or the individual priesthood aspect. However, do you see us as priests to one another? In your view, do you interpret Paul in Phil. 1:19-20 as saying that the Philippians' prayers are means of his final salvation? Furthermore, I do not think the Lutheran absolution doctrine can be proven from 2 Cor. 5:20, but it seems that we have a ministry of reconciliation where we do function as ambassadors of God to one another. We do not accomplish the reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19) or pronounce the forgiveness (clearly 1 John 2:1-2 says we have Christ as advocate), but we do "negotiate" with each other as we exhort/implore one another to be reconciled to God.

3. Luther did not abandon the horizontal as much as you seem to indicate. See under "Confession" here:

This is how Luther introduces this section, "What is confession?
Confession has two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive
absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly
believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven."

It seems to me, you may disagree, that Luther's view includes a great emphasis on the horizontal mediation of God's vertical grace and forgiveness to believers. I am not saying I agree with Luther, but Erickson should not reduce the Lutheran Reformation in the way he has.

What do you think? Have I misunderstood you? Where and How? Thanks for your willingness to dialogue on this fine blog.