Monday, October 22, 2007

The Church: Two Bodies, or One?

The "Hidden One" recently asked me the following question:
Re: prayign to the saints - had argument earlier with someone saying that the body of Christ is not united with itself either between earth an heaven or earth-to-earth. Woudl desire help on that one.
I think this is clearly refuted by what Scripture says about the Body of Christ being one:

Rom 12:4-5 For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

1 Cor 10:17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

1 Cor 12:12-13,20 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

Eph 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call,

Col 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.


Surely he would not deny that the saints in heaven are members of the Body of Christ. But, he also would not deny that the saints on earth are a part of that Body. If he asserts that these two are not united, then the only logical conclusion is that there are two bodies of Christ, in direct contradiction to the passages provided above.

Plus, Scripture also says that the members of the Body, in being united to the Head, Christ, are also united to each other:

Rom 12:4-5 For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

1 Cor 12:13,26 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

2 Cor 2:5 But if any one has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure--not to put it too severely--to you all.

Eph 1:9-10 For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Eph 2:19-21 So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;

Eph 4:15-16,25 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. 25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Col 2:18-19 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

Heb 13:3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body.


Yet, in his world, the saints in heaven and on earth can be united to the Head but somehow not united to each other? How does that work? It just doesn't make sense, and it flies in the face of Scripture.

I hope that helps.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

3 comments:

CJ said...

Sorry to say it, but Hidden One completely misrepresented my position.

He argued with me about this on MSN but didn't understand the distinction I was making, which was to say: the physical saints on earth are not in communication with the saints gone on to be with God. It's a matter of availability, and metaphysical dissonance. It's not, to my way of thinking, a matter of whether we are all part of the one body of Christ.

Besides, all the Scripture you listed refer to the unity of the body of Christ on earth. It's what Charles Williams and others indicated as a co-inherence: we are all united together by the Supreme Love, existing with each other and experiencing, ontologically, the presence and charity of Christ.

I think another dude indicated the same point I was making to Paul on your last post about praying to the saints. Essentially, I can call you over the phone and ask you to pray for me, or I can drop you a note on your blog, or whatever. But if I just start yelling out my prayer concerns, miscellaneous Christian guy in Paraguay, or Winnipeg isn't going to know I'm needing some intervention. He's simply unavailable because of the distance that divides us. We're still part of the same body, but there are stop-gaps between us. Same with the saints in heaven. Except that's a bigger distance to bridge.

In any case, there's quite a large difference between praying to Hidden One to pray for me, and simply asking him to do so. And let's not don the fancy semantic armour that 'asking' and 'praying' are synonymous terms. The former can take the form of the latter, but the latter on it's own is simply inquiry, and not accompanied by the veneration modelled in prayer.

Cheers.

CJ said...

"...but the latter* on it's own is simply inquiry, and not accompanied by the veneration modelled in prayer."

* That should've read, "but the former on its own" not the latter.

Sorry about that.

CJ said...

"If he asserts that these two are not united, then the only logical conclusion is that there are two bodies of Christ, in direct contradiction to the passages provided above.

I'd like to comment on your conclusion briefly, if I might.

Cancer in a body is a disunity of sorts. Unhealthy cells grow at a disproportionate rate to the body's ability to cope, and defend itself. That body is not therefore divided and now two bodies because it is not in harmony. It is still one body.

Though not an exact parallel (since neither the saints living, or dead are a cancer to Christ's body) there is a certain difference between the two sets of saints, namely corporeal death, that sets up an epistemic distance, and an availability barrier to our communion. So while it is that we are eschatologically realised as 'one body', that realisation has not happened yet. Hence we are still 'one body' but inharmoniously so.

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