2

Source: p 104, 1 Peter 2:9a, Commentary on Peter and Jude, by Martin Luther (first published in 1523)

Therefore I would be glad to find this word priests becoming as common as it is for us to be called Christians. For it is all one thing—priest, baptized, Christian. As little as I would suffer that those who are anointed and shorn should be called Christians and the baptized, [1.] so little would I endure that they only should be regarded as priests. Yet they have arrogated the name entirely to themselves. So too they have named the church which the pope and his cardinals rule. But Scripture refutes this. Therefore mark well, that you may know how to establish the distinction as to how God names us priests, and how men call themselves such. For we must yet again state this word priest [2.] should become as common as the word Christian. For to be a Priest belongs not to an office that is external, it is only such an office that is administered before God.

I think that the archaic definition 2 of suffer applies here. Then does [1.] mean that although Martin Luther only tolerates little of 'those ... called Christians and the baptized', he would tolerate even less that such people be regarded as priests ?

I question my guess for [1.] because the modal verb should in [2.] implies the opposite: these sham priests should become Christians? What did I misinterpret?

1

As little as I would suffer that those who are anointed and shorn should be called Christians and the baptized, [1.] so little would I endure that they only should be regarded as priests.

It would be absurd then persons who have been only anointed and shorn are called "Christrians and the baptized". Luther would not tolerate (suffer) this absurd, purely theoretical practice of calling some folks "Christians and the baptized" while they have only been anointed and shorn. They were anointed and shorn: so what? They still could be non-Christians. Because these procedures (anointment, shearing of hair) don't make a person a Christian, don't make him baptized.

In the second half of the sentence, Luther gives a real-life example. Only those who are anointed and shorn are regarded as priests by the Catholic Church. But since these procedures fail even in making a person a Christian and a baptized one, they surely fail to make him a priest. So Luther says he opposes this practice with equal force, views it similar to the absurd practice described in the first half of the sentence.

In Luther's view, "we are all priests before God if we are Christians" (from the paragraph just above the quoted one). So what's important is whether the person is a Christian. Procedures followed by the Catholic Church, such as anointment and shearing of hair, fail to make a non-Christian person a Christian, even less so a priest.

For we must yet again state this word priest should become as common as the word Christian.

Since all Christians, according to Luther, are priests before God, so the word "priest" should become as common as the word Christian.

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    He is, of course, questioning wherher the Catholic Church had the actual authority to make someone a priest, suggesting that they had only an empty ritual. That is still a question of some controversy. Whether you can make yourself a priest (or a pastor, or a minister) is another question. – Brian Hitchcock Jan 10 '15 at 7:02
  • @BrianHitchcock - thanks for the comment! Is my interpretation of the last sentence is wrong, and Luther believed there should be some procedure for ordaining one a priest? – CowperKettle Jan 10 '15 at 8:41
  • I'm not a good enough religious scholar to tackle that. Probably a question for the Religion stackexchange. But the Lutherans currently do have a formal procedure for becoming a minister; I once knew a woman who studied and then passed some sort of qualification to become one. See also en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordination – Brian Hitchcock Jan 11 '15 at 2:25
  • Also, for a discussion of Luther's (early) views on priesthood and ordination, I found this article helpful (although it is 17 pages.) – Brian Hitchcock Jan 11 '15 at 3:50

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