What? Me, a priest?!

Note: this is the abridged verion of a talk I gave at Seminario ESEPA, on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. To download the entire article with footnotes, go HERE or download the pdf here: Shogren_The Priesthood of All Believers in the Reformation En español: Shogren_El sacerdocio de todos los creyentes

We are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, when believers came to reject certain tenets of the Roman church and attempted to restore biblical doctrine. And everyone remembers that doctrinal superstar, the final authority of the Scriptures; also, the famous justification by faith alone. But according to many experts in the field, the third principle, there would have been no Reformation. This is the doctrine of the universal priesthood of all believers; that because we are united with Christ, and anointed by the Spirit, then each and every Christian is a priest (more…)

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Published in: on October 27, 2017 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Priesthood of All Believers in the Reformation

To download the entire article with footnotes, click here: Shogren_The Priesthood of All Believers in the Reformation En español: Shogren_El sacerdocio de todos los creyentes

Introduction
1. The Catholic Doctrine
2. The Reformation and Beyond: Luther, Calvin, the Anabaptists, the Wesleyans
3. Modern Abuses of the Doctrine: Anti-Intellectualism, the “Super-Anointed” Leader, Hyper-Individualism
Conclusion

Introduction

Some years back three opera singers formed a trio, and took the name “The Three Tenors.” With their recordings and concerts, they became a megahit and came to be even more famous. Ah yes, the people said: The Three Tenors! The magnificent Luciano Pavarotti! The incomparable Plácido Domingo! And the third guy. Yes, what was his name? (Ah, yes! The unforgettable José Carreras!)

We are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, when believers came to reject certain tenets of the Roman church and attempted to restore biblical doctrine. And everyone remembers that doctrinal superstar, the final authority of the Scriptures; also, the famous justification by faith alone. But according to many experts in the field, without the “third tenor,” the third principle, there would have been no Reformation. This is the doctrine of the universal priesthood of all believers; that is, that Christ is the one and only high priest, and that because we are united with Christ, and anointed by the Spirit, then each and every Christian is a priest.

Its biblical basis, among other texts, is:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Pet 2:9, the NIV here and elsewhere in this paper). This is lifted textually from the promise made to Israel in Exodus 19:6 LXX – “you will be for me a kingdom of priests.”

[Christ] has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father (Rev 1:6).[i]

Theology Puzzle: Circle the priest in this photo. It’s fun!

Interestingly enough, the Protestant and the Catholic both are in agreement with respect to the importance of the doctrine, since priesthood is not a peripheral doctrine or secondary; it is one vital component of how we understand salvation itself.

1. The Catholic Doctrine

The Roman doctrine is that, of course, there is only one high priest, Christ, after the order of Melchizedek. Therefore, the ecclesiastical priesthood cannot be said to be a separate entity, but rather a participation by the ordained in the one true priest in heaven. The technical term is that the Catholic priests act in persona Christi, that is, “in the person of Christ.” (more…)

Published in: on October 22, 2017 at 10:50 am  Comments (5)  
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‘Christianity-without-Christ’ and Other Pointless Projects

This was a commencement address that I gave in 1998 at Biblical Theological Seminary. You can download the text here. Shogren_Christianity without Christ

In the last century, during the heyday of Liberal Christianity, a fringe group of thinkers raised the question, “Does a person really have to believe in Christ in order to be a good Christian? Does the absence of Jesus do any real damage to the Christian faith?” Theodore Parker, for example, preached:

If it could be proved…that Jesus of Nazareth had never lived, still Christianity would stand firm, and fear no evil.[1]

Shouldn’t it be possible, they conjectured, to go forward with the lovely system of ethics that Jesus might have taught, but not accept all that religious baggage about miracles and the virgin birth and the resurrection?

One wonders, parenthetically, what charming ethical points they were talking about. Surely not the one about hating your mother and father for Christ’s sake? Or the warning about going to Gehenna if you slander someone? Well, no matter, let’s just run with the theory as it stands.

Now, if I were really lazy, I could raise that theory today, that is, can there be Christianity without Christ. With this crowd, I could probably knock it down with a one-word rebuttal (or two, if I wanted to use my boys’ lingo and say, “Well, duh!”). And we could all go downstairs for punch and cookies.

Instead, let me point out a few truths, old truths that are worth repeating.

First, yes, of course, we must reject a system “without Christ,” one in which Christ plays no part at all. Second, having repelled the obvious error, might we succumb to a subtler one? Might we settle for a Christianity in which Christ plays not large enough a role? We could strain at a “Christianity without Christ” and swallow a Christianity without, well…not quite enough Christ.

Is this man dispensable?

Is this man dispensable?

Could your existence actually degenerate into a farcical stage play in which the really memorable characters are named Committee, Strategy, Effort, Advancement – and in which a minor character named Jesus Christ occasionally makes a walk-on appearance to bail you out whenever you get panicky enough to try prayer?…What if we have a heart in which Christ is present, our best God, if you will, but not all-consuming? (more…)

Gary and Karen Shogren – Who we are, what we do

Karen and Gary

As missionaries in Costa Rica for the last 16 years, Gary and Karen Shogren have been following the Great Commission in strategic ways. In San José they train energetic Latin American leaders who will lead the church and spread the Gospel into nations where Americans cannot easily go. Second, they provide ongoing theological education online for those far-flung Spanish-speaking missionaries. Third, in many places they strengthen the next generation of missionaries (missionary kids) emotionally and spiritually. As a couple they are strategically placed & uniquely qualified to equip tomorrow’s leaders.

Gary’s PhD in New Testament Exegesis plus 27 years of experience as New Testament professor on 3 continents prepare him to continue teaching at the Evangelical Seminary for Pastoral Studies (ESEPA) in San José, Costa Rica. Now there is another exciting new opportunity for him on the horizon [we cannot post the details publically]. Gary’s training, experience, skills and location allow him to meet this need in a way others cannot.

Now that Karen also teaches at ESEPA, the Shogrens are even more of a bargain: 2 professors for the price of one! Her specialty is teaching correct Bible study methods to women without much formal education. In that context 2 Timothy 2:2b provides the greatest challenge: “Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others.” Karen’s other ministry track has involved serving in member care and orientation for missionary families since 2000. Many missionary kids’ (MKs) go to the field with little cross-cultural training; they are at risk spiritually and their families might have to return to the US. We have found that an ounce of prevention in this area can prevent the waste of lives, time, and money. Karen’s background in biblical counseling uniquely qualifies her to provide Scriptural solutions to this new challenge in the missions community.

1 Corinthians and Thessalonians: My New Commentaries now available!

zecnt-cover.jpg

The English version of my Thessalonian commentary is available from Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Thessalonians-Zondervan-Exegetical-Commentary-Testament/dp/0310243963/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343856671&sr=8-1&keywords=shogren

It is also available as a book on Logos.

And the English version of my 1 Corinthians is available on Logos software – http://www.logos.com/product/24079/first-corinthians-an-exegetical-pastoral-commentary

Spanish versions to come in the future!

Blessings! Gary

Published in: on August 2, 2012 at 12:22 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Night that the Rivers Rose and the Sky Fell

“There are two kingdoms, the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God. One works one way and the other another way. And you can really see the difference between them.” That was how Pastor Flor summed up her ministry. I’m visiting her home and her work in a shantytown (or precario), along with my own pastor, Marvin of Nazareth Bible Church. Maybe the best symbol for the two kingdoms is the holes that pepper the outside of Flor’s church. Marvin sticks his little finger in one and draws my attention: “Do you know what these are? Bullet holes. The drug lords shot it out here one day and this is a reminder.” They make sure that I saw the man seated a few feet from the church, smoking crack cocaine.

We are walking through one of the most notorious precarios of the region. When I mentioned to a friend that I was going there, she exclaimed ¿Por qué? and made me promise to be careful. The name of the place is synonymous with narcotics, violence, prostitution, and murder. In short, the drug lords run the town. To get here, we drove a mere 5 minutes from ESEPA Bible College and Seminary where I teach, a cheerful place with well-lighted classrooms and happy students. Then we entered another planet. It is a village that takes up only 10 acres or so. Yet some 6 to 8 thousand people are crammed in. You have to cross a narrow foot bridge over a river in order to enter. While we waited for the pastor to meet us there, a couple of ladies spoke to us and pointed to the spot where I was standing. “This is where they murdered that taxi driver on Saturday night,” they said. “He drove too close, and they broke in to the car, dragged him out, took his clothes and car and everything and left him for dead.” “Right here?” I said. They nodded. (more…)