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One Flesh Union - Christ and the Church

De Maria's picture

What is the One Flesh Union concerning Christ and the Church?

I have posted a version of this question in the Biblical Studies because I believe it is a beautiful question to ponder. And another version in the interdenominational Discussions to see how we view this mystery as expressed in the Sacrament of Matrimony differently.

But I have really been waiting patiently and anxiously for quite a long time to post this particular question on this forum because in another discussion here, the Catholic view of the One Flesh Union between Christ and the Church was called blasphemous. Specifically this teaching from the Catechism.

795 Christ and his Church thus together make up the "whole Christ" (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:

Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church.

Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.

Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.

A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter."

Our understanding of the One Flesh Union between Christ and the Church is based upon this verse.
Ephesians 5:
30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Now, it seems to me that our understanding lines up pretty well with Scripture.

And so, I posted this particular thread to see how your views contrast with the Catholic view of this greatest and most wonderful of mysteries.


De Maria

JeffLogan's picture

Mike had written: This

Mike had written:

    This passage and more that I have meditated on lately,

    "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20

    Jesus told his disciples NOT to rejoice over the authority they had but to rejoice over the fact that their names were written in heaven.

Jeff writes:

Hi Mike, I know what the text says but I am not sure that they were instructed NOT to rejoice that spirits were subject unto them because it is a joyful thing that people were set free. But, as you eluded to, their rejoicing was to be in the fact that the spirits were subject unto them BECAUSE their names were written in heaven. Was Jesus here protecting them from the pride of power and influence. "Power corrupts," they say, "and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

I am wondering how this attitude of supreme authority and infallibility effects those in positions of power within religious organizations. And don't think I am speaking just of our Catholic brethren because this attitude seems to prevail in every corner and is the cause of so much secterianism. Yet, there is a difference between standing firm on ones convictions and having pride in ones presumed spiritual superiority.

As I read the context of Luke 10:20 my mind was asking the question, What would happen if Jesus were to appear in Rome today? Would they reject Him if He taught contrary to their dogma? Would He be condemned as a false prophet? What about Utah? Or, whatever place represents the center of Protestant faith. Would the religions there be offended by Jesus' interpretation of scripture as they were in Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum?

    13"Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.[b]

I was considering the attitude of the Jewish church leadership at the time of Christ. The follow story encapsulates their attitude toward Christ's teachings.

    Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, "Why have ye not brought him?"
    The officers answered, "Never man spake like this man."
    Then answered them the Pharisees, "Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed."

    John 7:45-49 (KJV)

(It's interesting to note that the chief priests and Pharisees did not do their own dirty work. They sent officers to arrest Jesus. I suppose their thinking was that historians would not connect the dots and they would escape public condemnation should this action not please the people. This way they could remain pure and pious. Unfortunately for them, we have the witness of Scripture which reveals the evil plot devised in their hearts.)

The chief priests and Pharisees believed the ignorant people were cursed because, after all, who better than they to rightly interpret scripture. They represented those who believed on Christ as deluded, deceived, and ignorant of Scripture. And they did this, not from a sense of duty to protect them from error, but because they were offended that Jesus was drawing the people away from them. The people were looking to Jesus for their understanding of Scripture and all things spiritual rather than their leaders. This offended their pride. But they represented it as an offense to their title and office. Thus, by their condemnation of the people, they manifested outwardly the pride that resided in their hearts.

They were offended by the notion that the ignorant masses could discover truth which had bypassed their intellect. Was it not they who had succeeded from a long line of priests and rulers without break? Could they not trace their origins to the very institution of the faith by God Himself? Could they not prove from Scripture that God had appointed them to feed the sheep? Had not the flock been instructed to obey those who had the rule over them? Was it not they who had the benefit of hundreds and hundreds of years of commentary on scripture? Did they not have the writings of the early fathers? Had they not precepts and traditions passed down to them and kept pure by virtue of their very offices ordained by the God of Heaven? Did not God appoint them as ministers of His graces through the sacraments established through Moses? Did they not sit in Moses' seat? Were they not the chosen people of God? Did they not have the evidence of the past that God was with them? All of these and more led to their pride which caused them to reject Christ.

Had the priests and rulers rejoiced that their names were written in heaven instead of allowing pride to swell up in their hearts they would have recognized Jesus as the Christ. But they had allowed pride to bring them to a place where they felt that the authority God had given them now belonged to them by right of office and could not be withdrawn. Theirs was a type of "once-saved, always saved" religion. And this notion led them to feel superior to the sheep. This false sense of infallibility and superiority led them to depend upon their own intellect and they looked for the Christ in the scriptures by critical textual analysis--exegesis, if you please. But the people recognized Christ with the eyes of their hearts.

It is easy to see how susceptible humans are to pride. I believe Jesus was, with His admonition of Luke 10:20, safeguarding His disciples from boasting of the authority and making unwarranted claims on it. And, if I might take the liberty, I would like to comment on what I believe Jesus was teaching.

Jesus said, "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."(Luke 10:20)

In my words, Jesus is saying, Do not think that this authority comes to you by virtue of your office, your appointment. But rather, understand that this authority comes to those only whose names are written in heaven. If the spirits are subject unto you it is evidence that the Holy Spirit is with you. This power comes from God alone and is not vested in any office or man but comes to all who are vitally connected with God; be it the twelve apostles, or the 72 appointed to go before Jesus to proclaim the coming of Christ. If you boast of this authority, as if you possess it of yourself, then you blaspheme the Holy Spirit by denying the source of this authority. And the power will depart from you as the Holy Spirit departs. So do not rejoice that you have this power, but rather rejoice that this power comes from God.

------- ------ ------- ------- -------
“The path of true piety is so plain as to require
but little political direction.” --George Washington,
re: absence of "Jesus Christ" in U.S. Constit

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. -Proverbs 18:2 NIV