Thursday, December 24, 2020

Ad fontes!

Whereas in the beginning Israel was simply one (admittedly unique) nation among the other nations, the term “nations” (= gentiles) came to be reserved for non-Israelites. This parallels the split between clergy and laity in the history of Christianity. Although originally those with a pastoral leadership role were simply one group among the people (laos) of God, the term “people” (= laity) came to be reserved for those who were not clergy. In both cases this terminology serves to distance one group (with a distinctive mission) from the larger group of which they were originally members. Election for ministry or service becomes transformed into an elite or even oppositional sense of identity, which ends up subverting the original purpose of the distinction (which was about function, not status).—J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth, 266

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