The above statement was made by a man who wrote an entire book, against the Catholic Church. His name is Lorraine Boettner and his book is called “Roman Catholicism.” The book is sometimes referred to as the Bible of anti-Catholicism by Catholic apologists.
If Boettner is correct and there is no New Testament sacrifice that continues to be offered, then we don't need the priest because it was the priest who was required to offer sacrifice, and we most certainly wouldn’t need an altar, if there was no sacrifice to be offered. We are doing pretty well so far; we just eliminated the priesthood, the Mass, and the altar. And while we are at it, we could also eliminate altar calls; we could call them table calls instead.
IS THERE REALLY NO NEW TESTAMENT PRIESTHOOD? The Apostle Paul claims there is. “Where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Heb 6:20). And so we do have a New Testament priesthood, with Jesus as our High Priest. The New Testament priesthood exists, but some will say the priesthood ended at the tearing of the veil (Mark 15:37-38) when Jesus died. Is this true? Did the priesthood end or did it continue on according to the Bible? According to the Apostle Paul, not only does the priesthood exist but it lasts forever and does not pass away.
- "The Lord has sworn, and he will not repent: You are a priest forever” (Heb 7:21). "But he, because he remains forever, have a priesthood that does not pass away (Heb 7:24).”
There is no place in the Bible that says there is the end of the priesthood; however, the Apostle Paul tells us there is a change of priesthood. “When there is a change of priesthood, there is necessarily a change of law as well” (Heb 7:12).
IS THERE REALLY NO NEW TESTAMENT ALTAR? Boettner doesn’t think so. He quotes a Dr. Harris to make the point that there was no New Testament altar. “It was probably the invention of the priesthood which brought in the altar. The early churches had no altars” (Fundamental Protestant doctrines, II, p. 5). We all ready know that the priesthood exists and Jesus is High Priest, but what about the altar; does that exist as well? Actually there is an altar and it is in the Bible;
- “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Mt 5:23-24); “Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff and I was told, "Come and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count those who are worshiping in it” (Rev 11:1).
There are many references to an altar in the New Testament. Jesus made references to an altar. The book of Revelations made reference to the temple of God and the altar, and people were worshipping in it. Boettner would have fared better if he just would have stayed with the Bible that he professes to believe, rather than quoting a Dr. Harris.
IS THERE REALLY NO NEW TESTAMENT SACRIFICE? Okay, we have a High Priest, Jesus and an altar, but does this particular High Priest have a sacrifice to offer? “Now every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices, thus the necessity for this one also to have something to offer” (Heb 8:3). What are the sacrifices that Jesus as High Priest is offering? How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences, from dead works to worship the loving God (Heb 9:14). “He has no need, as did the high priests, to offer sacrifice day after day, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did that once for all when he offered himself” (Heb 7:27). And so Jesus as High Priest has gifts and sacrifices to offer and what He offers is Himself.
IS THERE A PRIESTHOOD TODAY THAT OFFERS GIFTS AND SACRIFICES? We know that it takes a priest to offer sacrifice (Hebrew 8:3), but this particular High Priest (Jesus) is doing the offering. Jesus offered Himself at the Last Supper. “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt. 26:26-28). Every Mass is a reenactment of the last supper with a priest, who is not a High Priest, presiding.
CAN WE ALSO OFFER JESUS OR MUST IT ONLY BE JESUS, AS HIGH PRIEST, OFFERING HIMSELF? According to the Apostle Paul, Jesus can be offered in the Mass. “In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. DO THIS, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes”(1 Cor 11:25-26). We are not only allowed to do this, but Jesus commands us to do this.
WHY DID SOME PROTESTANT CHURCHES DISCARD THE PRIESTHOOD IN THE 16TH CENTURY? All churches going back to the time of Christ and the Apostles had a priesthood. All rites of the Catholic Church and all Eastern Orthodox Churches have a priesthood to this day. At the time of the Protestant Reformation many Protestant Churches began to discard the priesthood. Many of the early Protestants of notoriety, such as Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingly were Catholic priests.
On the one hand it is hard to understand why some Christians today speak against a New Testament priesthood when it is so obviously in the Bible and in the history of the Church. On the other hand what are they going to do? They belong to churches that do not have a priesthood and if they acknowledge a New Testament priesthood with Jesus as High Priest, then they would have to join a church with a legitimate priesthood. In order to do this they would be leaving their friends and their familiar surroundings. It would be a big sacrifice for them. Some can make the change; others cannot.
There is no place in the Bible that says there is an end of the ministerial priesthood after the death of the Christ. Those who believe there is no priesthood, also believe in the Bible alone “Sola Scriptura,” concept. Interestingly enough, the moment that they believe there is no ministerial priesthood, they are believing something not in the Bible. The Bible does not speak of the end of the priesthood; however, the Apostle Paul tells us there is a change of priesthood. “When there is a change of priesthood, there is necessarily a change of law as well” (Heb 7:12). That change took place when Jesus became High Priest, Hebrews 6:20.
It is true that many non-Catholic groups discarded the priesthood, but in fairness, I also must admit, some of these groups kept the priesthood, such as the Anglicans and Episcopalians.