Original Research

Munus triplex: A pedagogical application of a theological concept

Wim van Vlastuin, Abraham de Muynck
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2913 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2913 | © 2023 Wim van Vlastuin, Abraham de Muynck | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 November 2022 | Published: 15 September 2023

About the author(s)

Wim van Vlastuin, Department of Beliefs and Practices, Faculty of Religion and Theology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Department of Historical Theology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, Netherlands
Abraham de Muynck, Department of Practical Theology, Theological University Apeldoorn, Apeldoorn, Netherlands; Research Center, Driestar Educatief, Gouda, Netherlands; and Department of Teacher Education, NLA University, Bergen, Norway


The authors considered the identity of Christian teachers to be an urgent matter because of rapid changes in society, and assumed that such a consideration could help to envision education in an authentic way. They recognised that the current understanding of Christian identity emphasises unity with Christ and, therefore, set out to demonstrate that this unity is not only a matter of private spiritual life, but must also be carefully considered in professional practice. This article is not a research paper per se, but rather an exploratory, constructive essay. The authors examined and elaborated on unity with Christ with the help of the so-called three offices of Christ: prophet, priest, and king. After interpreting the Heidelberg Catechism and bringing it into critical dialogue with contemporary voices, they identified the implications of the three offices for educational practice. The office of prophet was reflected in both the implicit and explicit messages of the teacher. The office of priest was observable in a teacher’s compassionate behaviour, while the office of king was seen in the teacher’s humble citizenship and struggle against evil, as well as in the ethical views that a teacher promotes in class. Three offices were found helpful in rethinking Christian teachers’ role. The implications of this research included the potential for counterbalancing dualistic practices (role of the prophet), placing an emphasis on care instead of neoliberal pressures (role of the priest), and envisioning subject content within the coming of the kingdom (role of the king).

Contribution: Through its consideration of the teaching profession in terms of the three offices of Christ, this article’s research seeks to enhance the professional identity of faithful Christian teachers. While the focus is primarily on those employed in Christian schools and also intends to influence the identity of those working in secular settings. The authors argue that teachers are prophets in the messages they impart, priests when they act compassionately, and kings when they encourage dedicated and exemplary citizenship.


offices of Christ; Christian education; pedagogy; king; prophet; priest.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


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