The Personalist Project

A couple of particulars from today's first reading from Acts 15.

Some of the Jewish Christians were claiming that gentile converts would need to be circumcised to be saved. 

Because there arose no little dissension and debate, by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters about this question. They were sent on their journey by the Church". 

Who is the subject of the verb "sent" here? Is it not the body of believers, the People of God, i.e., the laity, acting as a corporate subject? Paul and Barnabas are effectively the leading clergy in that community. And yet, they are the ones sent by the believers of that place. They are, in this case, the objects, as it were, of the laity's agency.

Now look a couple verses further down. [my bold]

When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the Church, as well as by the Apostles and presbyters, and they reported what God had done with them.

There is a distinction between the Church and the Apostles and presbyters. What does that mean?

If you ask me, we are looking at complementary reciprocity between priesthood and laity at the very origins of ecclesial history.

Comments (1)

Paul Rodden

#1, May 6, 2021 2:02pm

Interesting observation. In a sense, when I attended a Baptist Church, the Pastor/Elder/Deacon model far more fitted the NT than any Catholic one. What we call deacons, for example, are far more like what the NT/Non-Conformists see as Elders, and Deacons were seen more like the SVP...

But then, as an ex-Evangelical, what has always stuck me is that, in practice, Catholics seem to broadly ignore everything in the NT past the end of John's Gospel, so make up our own view of the Church (and as there isn't much about it, resort to the OT view of priesthood), just like Evangelicals don't really read anything before the Book of Acts, and make up their own view of Jesus, based on their Pauline reading of who he was...

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