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Sacerdotalism is the idea that a propitiatory sacrifice for sin must be offered by the intervention of an order of men separated to the priesthood. This system of the priesthood is taught in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...


The term sacerdotalism comes from the Latin sacerdos, priest, literally one who presents sacred offerings, sacer, sacred, and dare, to give.

Roman Catholic belief

According to Roman Catholics
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, sacerdotalism, in the documents of Vatican II, is the teaching that "through the ministry of priests, the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is made perfect in union with the [eternal] sacrifice of Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

, the sole Mediator
Mediator may refer to:*A neutral party who assists in negotiations and conflict resolution, the process being known as mediation*Mediator variable in statistics*The Mediator pattern in computer science...

. Through the hands of the priests and in the name of the whole Church, the Lord's sacrifice is offered in the Eucharist in an unbloody and sacramental manner until He Himself returns." Thus priests "exercise within the Church a function of the apostles. They are empowered to perform the ministry of the Word, by which men are formed into the People of God. They catch up and draw into the Eucharistic Sacrifice the spiritual sacrifice of the common priesthood of the faithful." St. Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 puts it this way: "Although Christ's passion and death are not to be repeated, yet the power of that Victim Jesus endures forever, is eternal, for, as it is written, (Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

 10:14), 'by one oblation He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.'" Then he notes that the priest participates in that one eternal "redemptive act" (on-going offering) sacramentally. His thinking runs like this: Jesus is both human/temporal and God/eternal. His offering on the cross was both eternal and human. In virtue of Jesus and his actions being eternal, his act of giving/offering on the cross has no beginning and no end. (There is no beginning or end in the eternal.) It is an on-going offering and advocacy in eternity or heaven. In virtue of being part of the body of Christ (through baptism) the people of God, through a designated minister (priest), participate in this ongoing offering, advocacy, or sacrifice of Jesus sacramentally.

Lutheran opposition

Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 reject sacerdotalism. They hold that the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 presents only one atoning sacrifice, the Body of Christ
Body of Christ
In Christian theology, the term Body of Christ has two separate connotations: it may refer to Jesus's statement about the Eucharist at the Last Supper that "This is my body" in , or the explicit usage of the term by the Apostle Paul in to refer to the Christian Church.Although in general usage the...

 offered once for all on the cross by Christ himself, who is both the sinless offering and the sinless priest. The Eucharistic
Sacramental Union
Sacramental union is the Lutheran theological doctrine of the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Christian Eucharist....

 sacrifices of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving are offered by all believers as spiritual priests
Priesthood of all believers
The universal priesthood or the priesthood of all believers, as it would come to be known in the present day, is a Christian doctrine believed to be derived from several passages of the New Testament...

. The Body of Christ in the Holy Supper is not offered by the ministry to God as a means of sheltering the communicants from the divine wrath, but it is offered by God through the ministry as representatives of the congregation, to individuals, as an assurance of his gracious will to forgive them their sins.

According to Lutherans, the office of the ministry in Christianity is not part of the priestly system of the Old Testament. It is not a self-perpetuating group that can be passed on to successors through ordination. Instead, Lutherans hold that the divinely instituted ministry continues the work of Christ by exercising on behalf of the laity the means of grace
Means of Grace
The Means of Grace in Christian theology are those things through which God gives grace. Just what this grace entails is interpreted in various ways: generally speaking, some see it as God blessing humankind so as to sustain and empower the Christian life; others see it as forgiveness, life, and...

, which Christ gave to all Christian believers.

Related links

  • Priest
    A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

  • Priesthood
  • Clericalism
    Clericalism is the application of the formal, church-based, leadership or opinion of ordained clergy in matters of either the church or broader political and sociocultural import...

  • Priesthood of all believers
    Priesthood of all believers
    The universal priesthood or the priesthood of all believers, as it would come to be known in the present day, is a Christian doctrine believed to be derived from several passages of the New Testament...

  • Pastor
    The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....