"All be one"

Today’s reading in John 17: 20-26 reminds me of a question I have been thinking about for a while now. What does “may they all be one…” mean to you?

Jesus got a little more specific at certain points- something along the lines of “one as I and the Father are one,” and there might have been a place where He involved the entire triune nature of the Godhead.

My contribution is that it must have something to do with submission. Not where submission is a bad word or necessarily implying mastery of one over another, but in the sense that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have mutual submission to one another. The question is, then, is there any sense- any at all- in which a Catholic can experience unity (so understood as submission-related) with a non-Catholic? I submit that if you guys can find a way to make this happen, you will be able to replace your goal of converting all Christians to Catholicism with something that is more achievable and realistic.

Perhaps you’ll gain some insight on this by reading this *Decree On Ecumenism *from Vatican II, UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO

The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided.(1) Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.

More in the link.

I’m not sure what the difference would be. People would have to agree on (and so submit to) doctrine in any case and many Protestants disagree with each other on these matters. But if it did happen the name of the institution/church wouldn’t much matter-we’d all be one in will and beliefs.

Yet there is a sense in which Protestants from various denominations can and do submit to one another, even if there are doctrinal differences. This is very common in any sort of para-church organization or inter-denominational outreach effort. Matter of fact, you need look no further than a completely average Protestant missions agency.

I guess it depends on the definition of “submitting”, or on what, exactly, one is submitting to. While various denominations, including Catholics, work together on a variety of activities and ministries, at some point complete unity is compromised by doctrinal differences depending on how extreme or critical those differences are. I mean, many of the Protestant denominations divided with each other over these very matters to begin with. ,

For me, one sheep, one shepherd.

I personally do not believe that John 17:20-26 is not referring to submission between denominations but rather that all followers of Christ should be part of one body, and be humbly submissive towards one another. Denominations are a sad byproduct of bitter schisms, and I do not believe that God would have wanted His followers to be divided in this way at all. This is a pattern among Protestant denominations which saddens me greatly. :frowning:

I know there are way too many theological differences for every Trinitarian Christian to be under one Church, but I always pray that we can all respect and understand each other.:gopray: Be one in spirit, even if being literally one Church is no longer possible.

Protestants can achieve a level of cooperation and unity with each other that Catholics cannot achieve with non-Catholics, so I would suggest taking measures that allow you to catch up. By a higher level of submission, I mean the submission that is required for people of different denominations to work closely in a united effort to convert people to Christianity and, together, establish new houses of worship that we call “churches.” Catholics can cooperate in some (but not all) types of humanitarian efforts and a somewhat narrowly defined set of initiatives intended to help Christians become better Christians, but you have a to draw the line at outreach and church-building…and most humanitarian efforts that involve adults, actually, because all non-Catholic humanitarian aid to the developing world includes some kind of support for contraception as a means of doing some good. Basically, you’ve got some lines and some limitations that prevent you from being able to work as well or as closely with others as you might- and, for that matter, as we do.

Additionally. There hasn’t been that many Protestant denominations that were formed out of doctrinal disagreement. In most cases, reference to a Protestant denomination as a sect is a bit of a misnomer. Mainline denominations formed as a result of sectarian conflict with Rome (which obviously puts both parties at fault, seeing as how you’ll turn right around and give equal blame to a mainline denomination and anything that might break from them for sectarian reasons). But the vast majority of Protestant denominations were not formed as a result of anything remotely sectarian. Most of the 30,000 new denominations that have formed since the early-mid 1800s have neen the product of the cooperative efforts that were previously described- and in both the short and long term, denominations that are born of such cooperation tend to do better than those that are birthed through painful dissent and disagreement. This is one if the keys to understanding the evolution and development of Protestantism. We couldn’t pissibly be doing this well if we consistently operated as a bunch of tiny militant states at war with each other, always hurting ourselves and each other. Catholics somehow believe rhis sort of narrative, but it can’t possibly account for what we now have and how we got here.


Ut Unum Sint, John Paul II:


JL: Jn17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me THROUGH THEIR WORD; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, THAT THEY MAY BE MADE PERFECT IN ONE**; and THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW that THOU HAST SENT ME, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Christ is praying for the apostles and ALL who will believe in HIM thru their word. That they ALL be ONE throughout history. That they ALL be ONE indivisible BODY in agreement. Just as the TRINITY is in agreement and one indivisible BEING, God. We in them, they in us thru the Holy Spirit. He is praying not only for a spiritual UNITY and oneness, but also VISIBLE ONENESS and unity so the world may SEE and BELIEVE the Father sent Him. Jesus shares his glory,giving his authority and gifts to His ONE body and bride the Church.

1Cor 1:9 God is faithful you were called into THE FELLOWSHIP OF his Son JESUS CHRIST 10 I appeal to you BREATHREN by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that ALL of you AGREE that there be no dissensions among you that you BE UNITED in the same mind and THE SAME JUDGMENT. 1Jn 4:6 We are of God Whoever knows God LISTENS TO US and he who is not of God DOES NOT LISTEN TO US BY THIS WE KNOW the spirit of TRUTH and the spirit of ERROR

What did people do the first time the gospel was preached by Peter? Acts2:41 Then THEY THAT gladly RECEIVED HIS WORD were BAPTIZED: and the same day there WERE ADDED UNTO THEM about three thousand souls. 42 And THEY CONTINUED steadfastly IN the APOSTLES’ DOCTRINE and FELLOWSHIP, and in BREAKING OF BREAD (mass), and in PRAYERS. [Those that received his word were baptized. They were ADDED to the ONE BODY of Christ the Church by baptism and CONTINUED steadfastly in ONE faith, the APOSTLES DOCTRINE, that they may ALL be One VISIBLE Holy Catholic Apostolic Fellowship, as Christ prayed in the garden, Jn17:21.

Eph4:14 **THAT WE henceforth BE NO MORE CHILDREN, TOSSED TO AND FRO, and carried about WITH EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom THE WHOLE BODY FITLY JOINED TOGETHER AND COMPACTED by that which EVERY JOINT SUPPLIETH, according to the effectual working in the measure of EVERY PART, maketh INCREASE OF THE BODY unto the edifying of itself in love.

Paul even checked his teaching with that one fellowship. [Gal2:1 Then fourteen years after I WENT UP AGAIN TO JERUSALEM with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 2 And I went up BY REVELATION, and COMMUNICATED UNTO THEM that GOSPEL which I PREACH among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, LEST BY ANY MEANS I SHOULD run, or HAD RUN, IN VAIN.]

[1Tm3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself IN THE HOUSE OF GOD, which is THE CHURCH of the living God, THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF TRUTH.] There can’t be thousands of pillars and grounds of TRUTH. Teaching contradicting doctrine. There is only ONE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD, that is the pillar and ground of truth. The ONE SENT by Christ the APOSTOLIC FELLOWSHIP and their successors, in union with St Rock (Peter).**

One fold, the 2,000-year-old Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world; one shepherd, the successor of Peter, appointed by Christ as the head of His Church on earth; one faith, taught by Jesus and the Apostles; one Lord, Jesus Christ; one baptism, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be until the end of time.

Denominationalism is a scandal that retards the world from embracing Christianity…

Not even the prayer of Jesus (John 17) ,and His prediction on the consequences (Jn 17:23), has stopped the proliferation of ecclesial communities since the 16th century, growing at the rate of five new ones every week somewhere in the world (World Christian Encyclopedia). . Such is the legacy of Sola Scriptura and the private interpretation of Scripture…

Jim Dandy
Ex-Southern Baptist, ex-agnostic, ex-atheist, ecstatic to be Catholic!


Can you elaborate from your perspective, if I were to turn the question around to the negative – What does “may they all NOT be one…” mean to you?

Further elaborate, if different, as Catholicism notwithstanding.

I am truly trying to understand this from other perspectives but if just doesn’t make sense thus far.


Are you ready to “submit” to the Augsburg Confession? :wink:



We should pray daily for Christian unity.

O Jesus, through the immaculate heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your sacred heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all the apostles of prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.


Examples of how not to be one: One follows Paul, another follows Apollos, and Jim Dandy follows Cephas. Let’s be honest with each other, people, the main barrier to following Christ as one is not doctrinal differences. It’s tribalism, and in this case, it answers primarily to the cult of personality. Doctrinal differences can be worked through, but the most trenchant problem is the attitude that out of all the Christians, you can only work and cooperate fully with the ones who join you in union to the chair of Cephas in Rome. As long as that is the case, you remain closed off to avenues toward unity apart from that unattainable goal. I’m not talking about a variety of ways you can cooperate, either. I’m talking about a sufficient level of cooperation that you can have with Christians outside your tribe.

A knowledge of the history of Christianity and the history of the Bible written by accredited, university-trained, objective, peer-reviewed historians would serve all Christians well. I recommend Dr. Warren H. Carroll’s A History of Christendom in six volumes. Or, if you’d prefer something more concise, there is Diane Moczar’s little book,* What Every Catholic Wants to Know, Catholic History, From the Catacombs to the Reformation*.

To make a long story short Jesus’ prayer here signifies what he wishes that like the relationship between both the Father and Son
must manifest to his apostles so that they may desiminate in one mind who Jesus is. The One sent by the Father.

But what the world has are conflicting doctrines between various “churches” that alone desecrates Jesus true mission that was meant to be passed on through the chosen apostles.

I can think of one faith that is a possible direct manifestation of that desecration. They have more than 1 billion adherents. Sigh. :frowning:


I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but are you saying that you feel all Christians are currently “one” in Christ sense all these same Christians follow Christ and not Apollo? Do you consider all protestants currently “one” in Christ? Do you consider all Evangelicals currently “one” in Christ? I’m just trying to understand what this “all be one” would look like from outside my tribe.

I don’t, and I’m sure you don’t, consider JW’s to be Christians, but they do consider themselves Christians. After all, they do follow him – to a point. With this said, would you consider those that adhere to the Nicene creed are “one” in Christ?


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