Continuing in a sermon audio series through the 1689 London Baptist Confession, chapter 8 in the confession includes a good study of Christ as our Mediator: our Prophet, Priest and King. The following comes from the introductory message in this mini-series on Christology (number 74) in the full 1689 series, and the introductory message brings out many interesting points.
Christ is the Last Adam. Thus, the First Adam was also, at least in some sense, a prophet, priest, and king – and would have continued in that state if he had been confirmed. Though Adam may not have consciously realized his three roles, Adam’s three roles are implicitly taught.
- Adam as a prophet, had true knowledge; he accurately reflected God in his thoughts, words and deeds, thought God’s thoughts after Him, and acted as a representative of God, reflecting God and His truth.
- Adam as a priest offered sacrifices of praise and service, in complete communion with God, and represented a people. No mediator was then needed (before the fall), and Adam could approach God on behalf of himself and others.
- Adam as a king: he had been given dominion over the lower-creation (the Garden of Eden), and ruled according to correct knowledge.
The Last Adam, Christ:
- Our Prophet: we come to Him and learn from Him, we study His word, and hear it proclaimed in sermons.
- Our Priest: daily we confess our sins to Him as we continue in fellowship with Him
- Our King: the basic understanding of Lordship Salvation, that we obey Him
A right relationship to God includes observing all three of Christ’s offices.
- Some people only want to have Christ as Prophet (liberal Christianity), saying that He was a good man and a great teacher—ignoring that the one who was a good and great teacher also claimed to be Priest and King.
- Others will go further, affirming Christ as Prophet AND as priest—Christ our Savior—but claim He need not be our Lord–or, that third part can come later (“Free Grace” non-Lordship and easy-believism views here).
- Others may claim Christ as their King, with emphasis on obedience, on following the law of God; yet are really taking a self-righteous approach of doing their own works, denying Him as their priest.
A good application: three things to consider whenever we read or study scripture or hear a sermon. We should always ask ourselves these three questions:
- What do I learn from this passage, and what am I learning about God? – role of Christ as prophet
- What sins do I need to confess and repent of right now? — Christ as priest
- What must I now do? What do I learn, in this passage or this sermon, about obedience: what things to stop doing or start doing? – Christ as King
The gospels present Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King, which has implications for evangelism. A key text is Matthew 11:28-30, in which Christ offers Himself in all three offices:
- All you who labor and are heavy-laden: Christ as our Priest
- Come and learn of Me: Christ as our Prophet
- Take my yoke upon you… : Christ as our King
As I near the end of an RTS iTunes University course, a few thoughts on the material presented. The later lectures include topics such as Liberation Theology, and the development of post-modernism and several ideas within post-modernism: post-liberal theology, radical orthodoxy, and post-evangelicalism. I had a basic understanding of post-modernism, but was unfamiliar with the particular names of the three latter movements.
Error takes on many varieties, yet all have the common root of unbelief, and rejection of the doctrine of inerrancy. All of these “alternatives” to conservative evangelical Christianity (broadly defined as the basics of Christianity, everything from Reformed Theology to Arminian fundamentalism) are selective with the Bible, choosing certain favored doctrines while rejecting others, along with contextualizing and “accommodating” the Bible to our modern world. Non-modernist philosophy and Barthian influence are also common themes.
Liberation theology, which cherry picks the Bible theme of liberation from slavery and expands the idea into a political ideology, was apparently the first idea that emphasized Bible contextualization for certain cultures, beginning among Catholics working in Latin America in the late 1960s through the 1970s. Another cultural variation of Black Liberation theology developed independently at about the same time.
The other ideas come from the post-modern worldview, as reactions against modernism.
Post-liberal theology sounds like an idea I heard of as a young Christian in the late 1980s, when the local Sunday School teacher referenced a then-recently published book (Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth) which taught that Christianity was nice as stories or myth, but it didn’t matter if the story was true or not, just the story itself mattered. Post-liberalism focuses on “the narrative” and theme of stories in the Bible, but apart from any basis in objective truth outside of the story. As the professor observed, why not just as easily pick “The Lord of the Rings” or “Harry Potter” as your narrative story to live by?
Radical orthodoxy has been a recent movement at least in England – a post-modern view that supposedly goes back to Augustinian, pre-modern theology, in reaction to modernism: but with the knowledge of modernism and our world today, thus a post-modern approach, embracing also neo-platonism (which did also influence Augustine). Similar to other ideas, it rejects mainstream Christianity’s response to modernism including classical or evidentialist apologetics. (The liberal alternatives to Christianity are generally unaware of presuppositional apologetics.)
Post-evangelicalism is a reaction against mainstream evangelicalism, with a description rather similar to today’s relativistic culture of no absolutes and multi-culturalism. It seems to be mainly known by its rejection of evangelical ideas (or at least what it perceives of evangelicals) such as certainty of doctrine, emphasis on having correct doctrine; for some it means a move toward Anglicanism or Catholicism with their emphasis on liturgy.
This RTS course has been interesting and informative, and sometimes quite detailed — and some of the ideas, especially earlier lectures about Christian existentialism, difficult for me to completely grasp and understand. The professor himself occasionally noted such difficulties, that with some of this stuff, if you are normal, you are probably not going to “get it” and not going to see it as so wonderful as those who espouse it. As part of the teaching approach, after presenting each view, the professor often asks “where have we seen this before?” – and previous liberal ideas are mentioned again, showing how later liberals are influenced by earlier thinkers. Also, to consider the “positive” points in each of these ideas; false ideas usually get a few things correct, but they tend to put even correct ideas out of balance with other orthodox teaching plus mixing in non-biblical ideas.
I recommend this course, as a type of worldview, apologetics and history course with good information. I am also looking forward to starting another RTS series soon, probably the topic of early church history.