Monday, June 10, 2013

Section 20: Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King

The Self-Donation of God, chapter 10:

"Although some theologians (notably Werner Elert and Wolfhart Pannenberg) have criticized this schema of the threefold office (triplex munus) first introduced into Lutheranism by Johann Gerhard, it is necessary for understanding the work of Christ. First, as we have shown in our extensive exegesis in the preceding chapters (which we will not repeat here), the threefold office of Christ is thoroughly biblical and is not something arbitrarily imposed on the text of Sacred Scripture. In fact, as we have seen, this schema is used repeatedly not in just a few biblical texts, but is pervasive throughout the New Testament and prophetic writing of the Old Testament. Because of its presence in the Old Testament, the Second Temple Jewish expectation of multiple Messiahs to fulfill these multiple offices makes a great deal of sense. Secondly, because Christ fulfilled the threefold office given to Israel and Adam, the threefold office is also useful for emphasizing the unity of God's works within the new and old creations. Just as God established human vocation in the beginning with Adam as the protological prophet, priest, and king, so too he elected prophets, priests, and kings in biblical Israel. Through the prophets he promised a coming Messiah would fulfill all these roles and that creation would be renewed through him. Finally God sent forth his Son to fulfill these vocations and bring about redemption. Recognizing this unity of divine agency in creation and redemption is useful for staving off the ever present threat of latent Marcionism.
Lastly, humanity is redeemed by Christ's fulfillment of the law through his active and passive righteousness. The law is not an abstract standard, but is fulfilled by human moral agents within concrete vocation within the created order. Therefore in order for the law to be fulfilled, Christ had to take up the human vocation as it had been established at the beginning of creation. Since the law is in fact identical with God's desired structure for the created order, fulfillment of the law by Christ as a divine-human agent is identical with the renewal and recreation of the world. Since the old structure of creation was mangled, it was necessary to recreate the world by a re-actualization of its original narrative and structure. If Christ were merely a man, his activity of fulfilling the law could not do this. Humans are not capable of creating anything by their actions, even if performed in obedience to God’s will. Nevertheless, since the activity and presence of the humanity of Jesus are identical with the divine person of the Logos, his human actions in fulfillment of the law were infused divine power and glory. By this human obedience, he did what only God could do and renewed creation. In order to accomplish this, Christ took over and fulfilled the offices of Adam, the protological prophet, priest, and king."

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