Some wonderful Lutheran maverics over at A.R.E. (A Renewal Enterprise) just put up a comment on "What’s the golden nugget in Lutheran theology that is the most underutilized?" Their answer, the Priesthood of All Believers, finally got me to say a couple of things out loud that I've been thinking silently for too long. Here's a recap of what I wrote in a comment on their blog:
Well, I agree that the P of AB is the motherlode of underused gold, but I think it’s a lot more explosive than most people think! (Sorry for mixing metaphors there.) The idea that all believers are capable and authorized for all “priestly” ministry - including sacraments - has always been in our theology but only rarely apparent in our practice. Instead, we’ve reserved vast swaths of ministry to professional clergy (like me) “for the sake of good order.” Well, I’ve finally begun to ask “How’s that working out for us?” Put another way, since we don’t seem to be doing well at all in either making disciples or growing them, then what exactly is good about our order? The fact that it's orderly?
Thinking about my answers to those questions led me finally to look at the house church movement, an expression of the Priesthood of All if ever there was one. Plenty of room for unhelpful order there, too, I’m sure! But I have a lot of hope that the results will be better. And truthfully, I think that Lutheranism at its core is built for both house church and the postmodern world. But that’s another topic. ;)