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The Priesthood of All Believers

I came across an older article from Gabriel Fackre which illuminates a way of articulating the priesthood of all believers which doesn’t disregard the reality that the church has and is composed of various ministerial roles, practices and contexts.  Though I’ve not made up my mind on the ordained among the ecclesia, it seems apparent to me that there are those who as Fackre suggests are marked by a different set of practices, particular contexts and convergent telos.

The ministries of identity and vitality are marked by the means they primarily employ, and the milieu in which their service is primarily carried out. The means of grace tended by the ministers of identity are word and sacraments, the kerygmatic and liturgical responsibilities by which the Name is named and the Body is formed. The means of grace stewarded by the ministers of vitality are the gifts of diakonia and koinonia by which the word takes on flesh and the Body moves. The milieu in which the ministry of identity is primarily exercised is the ”church gathered,” and the principal environment of the ministry of vitality is the “church scattered.” The preacher of the Word in the church must, of course, witness in deed in the world, the more so if the organ of vitality is functioning poorly. The minister of deed in the world must also speak the word, the more so when the organ of identity is weak.

Identity and vitality are mutual ministries. The former equips “the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:15), as is widely acknowledged. But it is also true that the ministry of vitality equips the ministry of identity (“The eye cannot say to the hand, ? have no need of you.’ “ I Cor 12:21). Not only is the Body inert without the ministry of vitality, but the stewardship of identity is itself weakened if it is not carried out in relationship to the ministry of vitality—from the contribution of the whole people of God to living liturgy to the enrichment of sermon preparation by the reality-testing of the laity. -Gabriel Fackre (1)

  1. Gabriel J. Fackre, “Ministries of identity and vitality,” Theology Today 36, no. 3 (O): 375-382.