Thursday, April 10, 2008

False Ecumenical Advertising

I'm a fan of the Catholic cable channel EWTN, so don't get me wrong when I say that it is not always, for me, the Cat's Meow.

I found myself a little miffed last night at the discongruity between one program, and that program's description as provided by my "Info" button. The show was called "Micah Project: Tearing Down the Walls that Separate Christians", but the show was in fact more of a "why Michael Cumbi thinks Protestants should become Catholic."

Now, if Catholicism is correct in its assertion that it is the one true Holy Apostolic Church, then its approach to Protestantism should certainly be one of "convert now!". But if that is the Church's position, I don't care for conversion efforts veiled as ecumenical wall-tearing-down. I tuned in hoping to hear how we Protestants and Catholics can better come to terms with one another, and better understand each other's positions. Instead I heard a former fundamentalist talk about why Catholicism is superior (which it may be, but that's beside the point).

As far as conversion stories go, the further a convert's "before" position is from my own, the less I relate to his reasons for conversion. So this wouldn't have been my choice of programming on the conversion front. And it didn't live up to my expectations on the ecumenical front either.

The Micah Project website says the following:

"When the Nation of Israel became a divided kingdom (much like the Church today, Protestant and Catholic) there were certain prophets that gave God’s message to the Northern Kingdom and prophets who spoke for God to the Southern Kingdom. There was one prophet, however, who had a message from God for both kingdoms, that was the prophet Micah."

I don't want to nit-pick, and I really do hope God blesses my brother Mr. Cumbie in his efforts at reconciling Christians together. I'm concerned though that the Judah-Israel : Catholic-Protestant analogy does not align with the Catholic position on Protestantism. In fact, I'm pretty certain that the saying "the Church today, Protestant and Catholic" will grate on a few of my Catholic friends' nerves. They would say that I am outside of "the Church today" precisely because I am Protestant. Also, I was hoping that Mr. Cumbie had a message for "both kingdoms", but instead thought he was a 'Judean' with a message for the 'other Kingdom'...

I'll leave my criticism at that. If anyone else saw the show and felt otherwise, I'd enjoy being put in my place.

15 comments:

Tim A. Troutman said...

Let's not forget the other end of the spectrum - the uber-ecumenists who'd rather see "dialogue" than unity.

Case in point were certain liberal bishops weren't terribly thrilled on hearing the news that a potential 300,000 traditionalist Anglicans would soon be received into full communion.

Regardless of who's right, in our lifetime there isn't going to be widespread Church unity in the fullest sense. Though taking a fundamentalist to orthodoxy is possible, you have to go through a far longer mental and spiritual journey than the average John MacArthur fan is ready to go. Sometimes, those closer to the Roman Church may have an even more difficult time.

The point I'm trying to make is that I agree with you - we're dealing with a far different situation than divided Israel. They were divided but had no confusion about what "Israel" was. We can't agree on what "Church" IS much less re-unite her (or graft those outside into her).

But if you wanted my opinion or rather what the Catholic Church says on the subject - the only division that exists in the Church is the East & West which is partially comparable to the divided Israel example. Catholics cannot consider Protestants part of the "Church" and Orthodox barely consider them Christian. Could I join Islam tomorrow, dissent in my beliefs and then call Islam divided? (Forget the fact that it is already divided lets just pretend it wasn't).

My dissent does not affect the true doctrine of the visible body we call the Church (if such a thing exists and if not, who cares anyway).

I better get back to work and quit rambling.

Devin Rose said...

I have not seen the program, but I understand where you are coming from; it seems like it would be better if the program took specific topics and explained differences between Catholics and Protestants in the language (words and phrases) they use for that topic and what those words mean to each, in the prioritization of factors within that topic, and in the assumptions each bring to the table with respect to the topic, etc.

I could see that as helping us to all speak the same language or at least understand the other's language, realize differences we have in our definitions (like "what is original sin and regeneration", as you posted on earlier), and thus to help us understand each other's position better.

That would be a cool program though it would take a very knowledgeable person, probably a convert, or two persons, one from the Catholic Church and one from the Evangelical or other Protestant community.

TheDen said...

I have not seen the show but do watch EWTN fairly regularly.

Keep in mind that it is a Catholic show made for Catholics. So, there will be a natural bias in the programming.

In regards to Protestantism and Catholicism, the image that I have learned (from a Catholic perspective) is that the Church is an umbrella and that Catholicism is fully under the umbrella while other Churches/denominations are only partially under the umbrella.

So, a denomination that agrees with 20% of Catholic teaching would be 20% under the umbrella. A denomination that agrees with 90% of Church teaching would be 90% under the umbrella. The Catholic Church would be fully under the umbrella. So, as a Protestant, you would not be considered "outside the Church" but rather only partially under the umbrella.

The other part of it is that Catholics view Protestants as Catholics. They are "separated brethren" and not anything else. Still brothers in Christ just separated from us through doctrine.

In essence, the Church requires that all people seek the Truth. For some Catholics, they see more of the Truth in a Protestant denomination (more as a result of poor Catholic Catechesis than anything else). With God's grace, if a person seeks the Truth, the Church believes that that person will ultimately find themselves fully in the Catholic Church.

Bob said...

Hey Thos,

I'm no expert on ecclesiology, but perhaps I can give you some food for thought. I can't address what's written so far, and so I'll just express things in my own fashion. I didn't watch the show, I'm sorry you found it triumphalist, and I hope I don't repeat that mistake.

I have to start with Fr. Feeney, who got in trouble with the Church for a very strict definition of "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus" (or there is no salvation outside the Church), because the group he founded is nearby where I live. They have split into various groups, but those living on the property where Fr. Feeney is buried, later became Benedictine monks and are canonically regular (i.e. they operate with the approval of the local ordinary, the bishop of Worcester).

My understanding of the doctrine is that we must hold it to be true, that there is no salvation outside the Church, however we (as mere human beings) can't know the boundaries of the Church. One of Benedictine monks (from the Benedictine abbey above) has expressed it as a tension between the two truths of no salvation outside the Church and God's infinite mercy (God is not limited in His grace). I'll be working from my understanding, because it's what I know.

If you've received a valid baptism, you're in the Church, you're a Christian, and you're part of the Body of Christ (the reason I use the word "valid" is because the Catholic Church does not accept the Mormon baptism because it is polytheistic even though it uses the trinitarian formula). In addition to baptism through water, the Catholic Church also teaches about baptism through blood (martyrdom) and baptism through desire (never afforded the opportunity to hear the Gospel, but would have accepted it). It's through the third that I say we can't know the boundaries of the Church, although we do know of some who are definitely "in" (through baptism) and definitely "out" (through excommunication).

It helps to shuck off this thinking of denominations. It's better to think of it in terms of communion (and to flesh it out in terms of Holy Communion). There are some Protestants who are more Catholic than some of those who are nominally Catholic. I think in terms that everyone is in various states of imperfect communion with the Catholic Church, the Body of Christ.

There are some people who upset about the fact that the Catholic Church is closed communion rather than the open communion offered by other denominations. The Catholic Church teaches that you are actually receiving Christ. You're receiving the Word. You're receiving the Truth. As to the last, when you receive the Body and Blood of Christ, you're stating that you accept all that the Catholic Church teaches. You should not receive the Eucharist in a state of sin, or in dissent (it puts it as a lie that you accept the Church's teaching).

A diocese is a particular church. That is, it has a bishop (a local ordinary) who is a successor to the Apostles and priests under him who validly supply the sacraments. In a sense, it is a complete church, with the bishop in persona Christi as the local head of the Body of Christ. These churches are in communion with the See of St. Peter in the case of the Catholic Church. In the case of the Orthodox, these particular churches are not in communion with the Pope.

Our understanding of the Eucharist is essential to understand this. If there is no validly ordained priesthood, there is no Eucharist, and therefore there is no church. So Protestant denominations, while they may be Christian, are not particular churches.

You convert now because you believe Christ is present in the Eucharist, because you want to become part of the body of Christ (baptism) and remain in good standing with Christ (confession) so the you may receive Christ (Eucharist, Holy Communion), the Bread of Life. The Sacraments are ordered to the Eucharist. The Eucharist, Christ is central to the Church.

Well, hopefully I've given you something to chew on, as you discern entry into the Catholic Church.

Peace,
Bob

Thos said...

I take Tim's position against "uber-ecumenists" to be one against this: we can't sit down for dialogue with a view that each person's view is equally valid. I think that's a grave error (of modern liberalism) that has hampered much discussion. So here, I am in favor of the program I saw with the former-Fundamentalism Catholic evangelist. I think we should dialogue with a heart for seeking the truth, and with an awareness that each person thinks their view is correct, and a willingness to hear one another out to find in what ways others' views are or are not persuasive (i.e., better). That's my ecumenicity in a nutshell, I suppose.

Devin's programming idea is good!! A sort of ecumenical Hannity & Colmes... (maybe not). It would take two very carefully selected people, who can respect each other's positions and yet speak with sincerity on their own. But Devin, what do you do if one of them converts because of the discussion?

theden notes EWTN is Catholic so the show is excused for some bias. Fair enough, but my Info button made it sound like an invitation for Protestants to watch, to learn how we can get together. They know they have a powerful ministry to Protestants. This show wound up (for me) being less effective on that front than advertised.

Bob, triumphalism wasn't the problem, it was false or misleading representation that was the problem. But thanks for sharing, and your thoughts were well expressed.

Peace in Christ,
Thos.

Principium unitatis said...

theden,

Do you know of any place in official Catholic documents where Protestants are referred to as "Catholics"? If not, then perhaps it is better not to presume that the Catholic Church holds that Protestants are Catholics.

From the Catholic point of view, Protestants, through their baptism, have a certain imperfect communion with the Catholic Church. (CCC 838, 1271) Baptism is, from the Catholic point of view, a Catholic sacrament. The Catholic Church does regard Protestants as "brothers" (CCC 1271), and as "Christians" (CCC 1271). But I know of no official Catholic document teaching that Protestants are Catholics. In Mystici Corporis Christi (22), Pope Pius XII wrote:

Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.

Commenting on this passage Ott writes:

"According to this declaration three conditions are to be demanded for membership in the Church: a) The valid reception of the Sacrament of Baptism. b) The profession of the true Faith. c) Participation in the Communion of the Church. By the fulfillment of these three conditions one subjects oneself to the threefold office of the Church, the sacerdotal office (Baptism), the teaching office (Confession of the Faith), and the pastoral office (obedience to the Church authority). ... On reception of Baptism, the seal of Jesus Christ, the Character of Baptism, is imprinted. This effects the incorporation in the Body of Christ, and confers the capacity and right to participate in the Christian cult. Baptism is, therefore, the real cause of our incorporation into the Church. The Confession of the true Faith and the adherence to the communion of the Church are for adults subjective conditions for the achievement and the unhindered perpetuation of their membership of the Church which is initiated by Baptism." (PP. 309-310)

Ott goes on to say that open heretics and apostates are not to be counted among the members of the Church. "Public heretics [by which he means those who make known publicly their dissent from the Church's teaching] even those who err in good faith (material heretics), do not belong to the body of the Church, that is to the legal commonwealth of the Church. However, this does not prevent them from belonging spiritually to the Church by their desire to belong to the Church (votum Ecclesiae) and through this, achieving justification and salvation." (P. 311)

Similarly, "schismatics, as well as those who, in good faith, fundamentally reject the Church authority, or who dissociate themselves from the commonwealth of the faithful subject to her" are not to be counted as members of the Church. "Schismatics in good faith (material) like heretics in good faith, can, by a desire to belong to the Church (votum Ecclesiae), belong spiritually to the Church, and through this achieve justification and salvation." (p. 311)

But in speaking of heresy and schism, we should add the following, from the Catechism:

"However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church." (CCC 818)

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

TheDen said...

Bryan,

"Do you know of any place in official Catholic documents where Protestants are referred to as 'Catholics'? "

There is only one Church and there is only one Body of Christ. Salvation comes only through the Body of Christ which is the Catholic Church. Therefore, all believers in Christ are part of the Catholic Church.

In actuality, there are Protestants who are more "Catholic" than some Catholics.

Paragraph 838 says it very well. "Those who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect communion with the Catholic Church."

They are in communion (albeit imperfectly) with the Church which would thus make them Catholic.

If you're looking for specific documents, look for it in Unitatis Redintegratio, paragraph 3:

"Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ."

This says that everything a Christian receives from God is through the Catholic Church (i.e. Grace, Scripture, Faith, Hope, Love, etc.) which in my mind means that they are Catholic.

I've never read Ott but I do know that he wasn't Pope and he's not infallible.

Unitatis Redintegratio is an infallible document and what I'm saying can be found in Paragraph 3.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19641121_unitatis-redintegratio_en.html

Principium unitatis said...

Theden,

Thanks for your reply. You wrote:

There is only one Church and there is only one Body of Christ. Salvation comes only through the Body of Christ which is the Catholic Church., all believers in Christ are part of the Catholic Church.

Let's examine this two premise argument:

Premise 1: There is only one Church and there is only one Body of Christ.

Premise 2: Salvation comes only through the Body of Christ which is the Catholic Church.

Therefore

Conclusion: All believers in Christ are part of the Catholic Church.


As stated, the argument is a non sequitur; the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises. Just because salvation comes only through the Catholic Church, it does not follow that anyone who receives salvation is ipso facto a member of the Catholic Church.

It is worth keeping in mind as well that the 'is' of your second premise is "subsists"

"This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him,(13*) although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure." (Lumen Gentium, 8)

That is why membership in the Body of Christ is not identical to membership in the Catholic Church.

Moreover, I don't see anything in any official Catholic document saying that Protestants are "part" of the Catholic Church. I see these documents saying that Protestants are in a "certain, imperfect communion" with the Catholic Church, on account of their baptism and faith in Christ. Consider the case of Catechumens. Though in a certain sense Catechumens are "already joined to the Church" (CCC 1249), they are nevertheless, according to the quotation from Mystici Corporis Christi 22 cited above, not members of the Catholic Church. Since Catechumens are "believers in Christ", and since Mystici Corporis Christi 22 implies that Catechumens are not members of the Church (even though joined to her spiritually by their desire for baptism), it follows that the status of Catechumens is a counterexample to your conclusion that "all believers in Christ are part of the Catholic Church." In other words, the teaching that there his no salvation outside the Church should not be taken to mean that everyone who is saved is ipso facto a Catholic. That conclusion wouldn't be justified. The teaching that there is no salvation outside the Church means, so far as I understand it, that salvation comes to men from Christ through the Church. The grace that comes to a Protestant through baptism, for example, is a grace that comes through the Catholic Church. Or consider another example. The grace that comes to a Catechumen who dies prior to baptism is a grace that comes through the Catholic Church. That doesn't mean that the Catechumen is a member of the Catholic Church. Being in an imperfect communion with the Catholic Church is not the same as being a member of the Catholic Church, or being a Catholic.

In actuality, there are Protestants who are more "Catholic" than some Catholics.

In order to evaluate the truth-value of your claim, we would need to know what you mean by "Catholic" in quotation marks. If by "Catholic" there you mean commits fewer sins, or takes their faith more seriously, or something like that, then of course, I agree. But being Catholic is not determined by a large set of conditions, including all the things that Catholics as Catholics are supposed to do. It is determined, so far as I can tell, by the three criteria spelled out in the quotation from Mystici Corporis. Those who meet those three criteria are Catholic, even if they are quite poor at doing all the things that Catholics as Catholics are supposed to do. Those [adults] who do not meet those three criteria are not Catholics, even if they are quite good at doing all the things that Catholics as Catholics are supposed to do.

They are in communion (albeit imperfectly) with the Church which would thus make them Catholic.

That is a non-sequitur, unless you are simply defining the term 'Catholic' as "those who are at least in an imperfect communion with the Catholic Church". If that is how you are defining the term 'Catholic', in what formal document of the Church is this definition found? I have never seen such a definition of 'Catholic' in any formal document of the Church.

This says that everything a Christian receives from God is through the Catholic Church (i.e. Grace, Scripture, Faith, Hope, Love, etc.) which in my mind means that they are Catholic.

Regarding the UR quotation, I agree that all these elements and endowments come through the Catholic Church, but it does not follow that every Christian is a Catholic, unless by 'Catholic' you mean "someone who receives things from God through the Catholic Church". But God uses the Catholic Church to give lots of things to non-Catholics, and that does not ipso facto make them Catholic. When the Catholic Church gives food to the hungry pagan, for example, that does not ipso facto make the pagan into a Catholic, even though the pagan has received something from God through the Catholic Church. If your definition of 'Catholic' were "one who receives all or most of the elements and endowments described in UR 3", then you could justifiably conclude from UR 3 that Protestants are Catholics. But I don't see that definition of 'Catholic' anywhere in the official Catholic documents. What I am looking for is some formal Church document that defines the term 'Catholic' in such a way that Protestants are rightly called Catholics, and I have yet to see it.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

TheDen said...

Bryan,

I don't disagree with anything you wrote. I guess my statement can be misleading--Keep in mind...I'm not infallible either.

My intention isn't to say that they are Catholic and they don't need to do anything. My intention was that they are part of an imperfect communion with the Church and that imperfect communion is where they would find Salvation. If they seek the Truth, then with God's grace, it will lead them to the Fullness of Truth which is in the Catholic Church.

I guess when I see the terms "separated Brethren" and "Imperfect Communion," I focus on "Brethren" and "Communion" whereas you may be focusing on the other two words--which is fine. Just a different emphasis.

In essence, I personally view all people as the same and want to encourage all people to come closer to God. Regardless of their religion or denomination. I try--albeit unsuccesfully at times-- not to label them as "Protestant" or "Catholic" or what they believe but rather to call them to God. I guess that's why I view everyone as Catholic--even though they may not be. It's because I want them to be. Not for me but rather so they can experience what I experience. They can feel the joy of God that may or may not be found in other denominations.

Principium unitatis said...

Theden,

I appreciate your comments, and your humility. I too am fallible, and most definitely not an official spokesmen for the Catholic Church.

I too also wish and pray for all persons to become Catholic. But I don't do so by speaking of all persons as though they are all already Catholic, for the same reason I don't speak of all persons as though they are already in heaven, even though I wish and pray for all persons to go to heaven. What I hope for all persons, and what is presently true of all persons, is not the same. If all persons were already Catholic, there would be no reason for me to pray and wish for them to become so. That hope would no longer be hope; it would be truth. But so long as there is hope, there is a difference between what we hope for and what is presently true. And I believe that my words should reflect the truth about reality, not merely what I hope will be true about reality. If we speak of Protestants as though they are already Catholics, we will imply to Protestants that we do not think they should become Catholic. In other words, we would be working against precisely that for which we wish and pray. So our wish and prayer that all would be become Catholic is best served, it seems to me, not by speaking of Protestants as Catholics, but by speaking the truth, adhering to exactly what the Church says, as much as possible.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

George Weis said...

Wow,

I enjoyed this post. My wife and I got rid of TV... so I can't catch stuff like that, but my In-Laws have that channel on all the time.

As I continue in my own desire to find paths to unity (all the while debating what I don't find to be true) I am growing more and more certain that unity in the fullest is practically an impossibility.

The Eucharist is always the hot topic, and it goes nowhere. I unlike most Evangelical Protestants lean towards consubstantiation... I think most protestants take the sacrament to lightly, and I feel with the evidence provided, that RCs take it to far.
So the debate goes on.

I wish in some way, the powers that be could lay the necessity to believe a certain way about that aside. Are we not all at least saying we are one in the body and blood of Christ? It is very frustrating

I can even lay all their venerations and icons aside. I can allow God to deal with those issues. But why can't we experience a greater unity than what we do?

Of course realize all the many different theological arguments... but if we could at least establish clarity on the most essential points of doctrine... but then again, now I'm sounding pretty Fundamental :) Oh well, I believe fully in the prayer of Our Lord. Those who are His ARE one. It is an answered prayer, weather realized or not.

Bless you brother!

-george-

Thos said...

George,

“I am growing more and more certain that unity in the fullest is practically an impossibility.”

Perhaps. I think this depends on how you define unity, and how you view God’s working out His ultimate plans in an eschatological sense. If unity means we all think like one, I agree – human nature evidenced by millennia of history tell me we will never ever have this type of unity. But there may be other kinds of unity. And in terms of God’s unfolding work of redemption, I do not exclude the possibility that God may miraculously intervene to unite his Sheep this side of Heaven (but also admit the possibility that this type of unity may only be meant to follow Christ’s victorious return).

“I unlike most Evangelical Protestants lean towards consubstantiation... I think most protestants take the sacrament to lightly, and I feel with the evidence provided, that RCs take it to far./ So the debate goes on.”

This is a good observation. There’s really a spectrum of views on the sacrament, and people seem to have unlimited fuel to continue this debate (thus, unity seems impossible). I look at it this way: given the nearly infinite variations of belief, if all Christians need to come to one mind on what’s going on in the sacraments (or even how many there are supposed to be) before we’re in unity, unity is not possible. I mean, if debate, discourse, and prayerful thought are that upon which we depend to be of one mind, we’d probably need to live several centuries, to have the time to all come to agreement. The Catholics present a tempting alternative: unity subsists in submission to the authority of the Church.

“I wish in some way, the powers that be could lay the necessity to believe a certain way about [the Eucharist] aside.”

Brother, I’ve spent the last four years in my devotional life just trying to figure who the powers that be are! If you find out, let me know. It’s either the Lutheran/Calvinist way of viewing the Bible that is my authority, or its some church person or office, I think.

Peace in Christ,
Thos.

George Weis said...

Thos,

Good thoughts my friend as per usual!

What my mind immediately goes to next is Christ's High Priestly prayer. If he prayed it, then it is as good as gold. We all are one. Amidst all the conflict and differences, I believe in my heart that those who are His truly, weather they be in a visible church body, or somewhere in the middle of the jungle where no ruling body resides are indeed one.

We are united in Christ. This is not a statement that leans towards universal ideologies and pluralism. It simply states in him we are one.

The trouble we have is that we are indeed temporarily in a dual reality. We are bound by the physical and at the same time we are at our core spiritual beings. Which one of those things is the greater reality? They are both (A) reality... but which is the greater?

I don't know who the powers that be are. I'm not one and neither are you haha!

I rest in the Lord. He is sovereign and gracious to us. He brings rest! I pray His rest would be with you my brother! I hope more than anything, you simply enjoy the search, but ret even if the answer never comes to a fully conclusive end!

Much love to you tonight!
-george-

P.S. May they know us by our love.

Thos said...

George,

Sorry my responses have been slow. I’m in the midst of preparing for finals (though I take Sundays off), so have been behind the 8-ball.

Your reference to the High Priestly prayer is interesting. It’s a prayer about which I have done a lot of thinking. His prayer is “as good as gold”, as you say, but then He also prayed before His Passion, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Of course, since that prayer seems to have deferred to the Father’s will, it was not unanswered, but interesting nonetheless.

I posted something today that sort of speaks to this discussion. You said “We all are one. Amidst all the conflict and differences, I believe in my heart that those who are His truly, weather they be in a visible church body, or somewhere in the middle of the jungle where no ruling body resides are indeed one.”

Let me reflect on this. If you (and I) believe that Christ’s prayer that we be one has not gone unheard, this is one possible conclusion that you present. But who is the “We” in your statement? If it is those who are His truly, how are we one? How do I know who we are? Either there is some distinguishing feature of our oneness, or else the oneness is hidden, known only to God (which seems to be your view, with your reference to the Junglemen without elders). If the oneness is hidden, Christ’s High Priestly Prayer is still not met, because He prayed for unity “that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:21). I mean, if our unity is hidden, is cryptic, then the world is not going to believe God sent Christ because of that unity.

You said that we are bound by our physicality, but are at our core spiritual beings. I would politely like to challenge this. I believe this view sets up a dualism that is not the classical Christian view. The (Protestant Reformed) Heidelberg Catechism says that we are both body and soul, in life and death, not our own, but belong to Jesus. The Apostles’ Creed reminds us of our belief in a bodily resurrection. If we are at our core spiritual, just bounded by our bodies, it seems that at our glorification we’d be freed from the binding body. But from the Creeds (and Scripture) it seems instead that both the body and the soul will be perfected on that day.

Peace in Christ,
Thos.

George Weis said...

The Comment about our Physical bodies does indeed need clarified... Yes, we are BOTH physical and spiritual. Yet, are bodies are still undergoing decay and death. The glorification through our resurrection has not yet been fulfilled. Until that time, do you believe that we are whole as we will be?

No, because in that day we will be LIKE HIM. Right now we are not. So we are still cooped up in dying bodies and corrupt flesh. So you and I are in agreement with this point.

I will turn to your comment about our unity being visible to the world, and additionally to Christ's prayer.

First, the prayer. Good point again! You are excellent with these counter arguments! You are right in saying that he desired to have the cup pass, but turned it over to the will of the Father. So, do we see the same kind of "Not my will but your will..." Sort of statement there?

Also, if you want to go that rout, you have to consider what Christ said to Peter with the "don't worry for I have prayed that your faith would be strengthened.." (my paraphrase of course). That seemed to be a done deal there. "I Prayed for you" and basically in turn "your faith will be strengthened"... and it was!

No on the visible unity. I suppose the question comes about what is the evidence of unity? Does this mean we must have full agreement in all issues? Does this mean, we have one central ruling body? Does this mean that there is love between us? I don't exactly. I do know that love is part of the equation. Scripture makes that plain. But what about unity in diversity vs. one unified agreeing body (which I dont know that there is any such organized body... not even the RCC who has many different groups under their big umbrella)?

Anyway, I hope all is going/went well with your finals. I pray that once they are complete, that your heart and mind would be at rest in Our Lord.
May He bless you greatly, to give Him honor and glory!

-george-