This contribution revisits the priesthood of believers. It is placed within the current discourse on
relevant ecclesiologies and ecclesial praxis for 21st-century reformed churches. Luther placed
much emphasis on the priesthood of believers in his rejection of the Roman Catholic differentiation
between ordained clergy and laity. This was taken up by Calvin, but not to the same extent as
Luther. The limited attention given to the priesthood of believers in reformed ecclesiologies,
confessions and church orders is challenged in the current discourse on ecclesiology, especially
by theologians working in the field of missional ecclesiology. Much emphasis is placed on the
role of the ‘ordinary’ church member in terms of ministry. It is proposed that a continued
reformation of the church would inter alia imply a renewed appreciation of the priesthood of
believers. The shift in ecclesiology must be visible in reformed church polity and church orders.
The interrelatedness of ecclesiology, church polity, church order and ecclesial praxis makes this
unavoidable. A church order should not be regarded as an immutable historical document with
everlasting authority, but rather as an instrument that could facilitate change and ecclesial praxis
in the spirit of ecclesia semper reformanda. As such, church polity could even be regarded as a
‘practical ecclesiology’. Recent changes to the Church Order of the Nederduitsch Hervormde
Kerk van Afrika are used as a case study and to illustrate the point.
CONTRIBUTION: The primary contribution of this manuscript contributes to the historical and
systematic analysis of the concept ‘priesthood of all believers’, as well as its relevance to the
current discourse on missional ecclesiology. It falls within the scope of HTS Theological Studies
in terms of original theological research.