John 17:21 and Protestants

This is primarily a question for our seperated brothers, in light of John 17:21-22, how do you justify the division in the body of christ, which is contrary to his own stated desire?

Joh 17:21 That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Joh 17:22 And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one. (Douay-Rheims Bible)

The division of the body of christ? We are not divided… this is not what protestants believe. All us believers are one in that we both have a relationship with god and know him as our savior. He lives in every believer which means we are one in that way. That is why it is so important that we are united with each other like John says… cause if we go to war with one another we actually go to war against god since he is in each one of us believers.

[quote=bkniceley]The division of the body of christ? We are not divided… this is not what protestants believe. All us believers are one in that we both have a relationship with god and know him as our savior. He lives in every believer which means we are one in that way. That is why it is so important that we are united with each other like John says… cause if we go to war with one another we actually go to war against god since he is in each one of us believers.
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Good answer. This was going to be similar to my response (I’m Catholic by the way). From what I know, Protestants do not see those verses as indicative of a single church, but that all followers of Christ are united “spiritually” as one because all are the body of Christ.

By what authority are protestants guided then? I mean, if we are all one since we are all believers in Christ.

the holy spirit

If we are one, why do Christians not believe the same things? Why do some Christians question whether or not Catholics are even Christian at all? Why do we not all worship together in one universal Church? If we are one, why are we not called just Christians (or “Catholics” as all Christians were once called)? Why are we Presbyterians and Methodists and Evangelicals and Adventists? We are clearly not one. We are clearly not united.

Hey this is my first post in these forums, so please go easy on me if I mess up in some way!! Anyway…

The division of the body of christ? We are not divided… this is not what protestants believe. All us believers are one in that we both have a relationship with god and know him as our savior. He lives in every believer which means we are one in that way. That is why it is so important that we are united with each other like John says… cause if we go to war with one another we actually go to war against god since he is in each one of us believers.

The way I understand the Protestant position (correct me if I am wrong ) is that there is unity in every member of the invisible church, ie unity among all the “true Christians”. I think that is what you are saying when you write the sentence starting with “He lives in every believer…” My problem with this position is that it makes the quoted statements from John (17:21, 17:22) useless. If all of the members of the invisible church automatically have unity, then why bother saying that they do? Instead, I think it makes more sense if Jesus is actually giving the Christians a command (or, at least, advice), that they should have so-called “organisational unity”.

I think you have tried to address this point, by saying “cause if we go to war… we actually go to war against god…” and this addresses that point I made somewhat. However, it does not address the point “that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”. How could the world believe that God has sent Jesus, when there is no unity that the world can see? If it is unity that shows the world that God has sent Jesus, then the world must be able to see that unity. The NIV bible states, in John 17:23: "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. " Can there ever be “complete unity” without organisational unity?

To sum up, all members of the invisible church have unity by definition, therefore it does not make sense for Jesus to pray that they should have this unity (as they already have it). Rather Jesus is praying that they will have organisational unity, so that the world can see that God has sent Jesus.

Finally while I am a Catholic, I freely admit that I am ignorant of a great many things, both Protestant and Catholic. If I have used a term incorrectly then feel more than free to correct me!! Thanks.

bkniceley, tkdnick - if what you say is so, that the body is only a spiritual body and not divided, then what Paul says in Ephesians is not to be taken literally either, correct?

Eph 4:3 Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Eph 4:4 One body and one Spirit: as you are called in one hope of your calling.
Eph 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism.
Eph 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all. (Douay-Rheims Bible)

If you read from the beginning of the chapter you see that Paul is addressing the believers as a community, as a physical body of the faithful and not as a spiritual one. The following conclusions seem to be evident:

    • The Spirit is to bind the believers together in peace (but not as a body divided, for there is no harmony in a body if it losses fingers or a leg)
    • The Hope of the faithful is to be one and the same because we are part of the one body of Christ and his Spirit (We cannot hope in various things - OSAS, Sola Fides, etc. - but have a common hope because we are a common body)
    • God is One, so therefore there is only one faith and only one baptism (this is not that faith, belief in God, is one; but that Faith, what we believe, is one. Hence there is only one baptism because all believers are to believe the same thing)
    • the unity of God implies a unity in the church

I’d suggest ordering John Martignoni’s cd ‘One Church’ from the Bible Christian Society. (www.bcs.com)). He does the best job I’ve ever heard or read of methodically addressing the unity Christ prayed for and the concept of what the ‘church’ is (invisible, visible, one church, many churches, etc). If there are any Protestants out there who have heard this cd, I’d be interested in your comments. I know I’m hearing what he says through Catholic ears, but his cd sure seems to make a lot of sense.

[quote=bkniceley]the holy spirit
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Well if you are guided by the Holy Spirit and I am guided by the Holy Spirit, then why do we disagree? The Holy Spirit is a spirit of unity not a spirit of contradiction. So one must be write and one of us must be wrong. Only one of us can trace our roots back to Jesus and the apostles…

Also, what good is an infallable book (bible) without an infallable inturpretur (Catholic Church)? No matter what religion or church you belong to their is a supreme authority be it your pastor, a group of churches or yourself.

1 Corinthians, Chapters 2 and 3

That is a good question I find it very difficult as well…I used to believe that all believers were united and would come to the same truths in time…because of the holy spirit, even though they were in different churches.

But then I have met one or two people who I believed to be devoted, “real” Christians who were joining all sorts of liberal causes within thier church and seemed to be swayed more by the crowd than the spirit. I even asked one Lutheran girl if she felt she had a real, personal relationship with Jesus and she said absolutely.

I’m not one to judge…but…shouldn’t we be DIFFERENT from the world, not buying into it… and if so, why are protestants so worldly, Catholics, too??

We are not united by all our beliefs but we are united by the basics… that jesus is indeed god and that he came to die for all our sins for a sacrifice and so on… however we usually dont look at that but point out all little things that usually dont make sense in the end. I think that yes we should have had an “organizational unity” as you have called it. But because of our sinful ways such as what i pointed out above… we caused our own selfs to be seperated in the organizational unity sense.

About us disagreeing on certain things and still being guided by the holy spirit… Take a look at Romans 14

"One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master %between%that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. welcomed him. "

I think there are certain differences like these that every different church sees with another and because of this they choose to split and break apart and therefore not be united organizationaly. I think that if we could get passed this and not pass judgement on another and instead welcome them despite their different views like this… then maybe we could have one organizationaly united church.

bkniceley - yes the problem is due to sin, however, I do not think that it would be possible to put aside every diffrence as subordinate to unity. Did not John in his first letter write that those who have gone out from us and not returned possess the spirit of the antichrist? Is there not some line that must be drawn? The question is how much liberty can be allowed on this point.

Due to the fact that the problem in the church is sin, specifically the sin of pride and the refusal of some to obey the righteous judgements of those who God has put in authority over us as Paul instructed us, until this wound is healed I fear division will continue to plague the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. If this is remedied all other wounds to the spiritual body of Christ should heal.

On a further note to illustrate this point do you suggest that SDA or LDS doctrine be combined with yourown for the sake of unity? Or is there a line that we just have yet to reach? If there is, why is that line where it is at?

bkniceley, the point of my post was to say that while we are indeed united in the basics as you put it, everybody who does believe in the basics is automatically united in the basics, and so there is no point in Jesus praying for us to be united in that way! If this is what he meant when he was praying for unity, it would make more sense if he was to pray for people to believe in the basics. Therefore he must have been praying for some other kind of unity, namely organisational unity (forgive my spelling, I’m an Australian).

Now about Romans 14. You said,

I think there are certain differences like these that every different church sees with another and because of this they choose to split and break apart and therefore not be united organizationaly

But in today’s Catholic Church, people have disagreements like this all the time! But do they “choose to split and break apart…”, no, they don’t! They have disagreements, yet they remain in unity with each other, just as in Romans 14. Also, the main difference that the Protestant Churches see with the Catholic Church is in the authority of the Catholic Church, but that is another story.

Now, I do not think that Paul was talking about “big things” in Romans 14; for as he says in 1 Corinthians 1: “Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you”. So what was he talking about (in Romans 14)? I think the answer is matters of conscience, or “small things”. In terms of today, the answer would be “things that haven’t been formally defined by the Catholic church”. And so if the Catholic church says that salvation is by faith, hope and works, then you should not disagree with one another about this. But if the Catholic church hasn’t formally said that eating pork is bad, then if one Catholic decides that it is bad, and another Catholic decides that it isn’t bad (as per their own consciences), then they should not judge one another in these matters.

[quote=Eden]If we are one, why do Christians not believe the same things? Why do some Christians question whether or not Catholics are even Christian at all? Why do we not all worship together in one universal Church? If we are one, why are we not called just Christians (or “Catholics” as all Christians were once called)? Why are we Presbyterians and Methodists and Evangelicals and Adventists? We are clearly not one. We are clearly not united.
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I think that you are getting a little too caught up in the whole religion thing. I am protestant, I have friends who are catholic. One of my closest friends is catholic and I feel as close to her as a sister in Christ as I do to my protestant sisters in Christ.

I think that you are getting a little too caught up in the whole religion thing. I am protestant, I have friends who are catholic. One of my closest friends is catholic and I feel as close to her as a sister in Christ as I do to my protestant sisters in Christ.

I completely agree with you. I am Catholic, my girlfriend is Protestant and I have many Protestant friends. However, what I don’t think you realise is that due to the history of Protestantism, and indeed the very formation of Protestantism, Protestantism is by definition anti-Catholic. It has to be. And indeed, many of my Protestant friends are actively anti-Catholic. I think it comes down to the fact that a Protestant has to justify the reason for his church’s existence. The only reason a Protestant church has reason to exist is if the Catholic church is wrong. That is why the Protestant reformation started, and that is what Prostestants have to prove.

I think that the purpose of this thread is subtley suggesting that Protestantism has been shown to be incorrect due to its lack of unity. There is unity in the Catholic church, and there has always been. I pray for the day that Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and all other Protestants can all be in communion with one another, in the Universal Christian Church. Unfortunately for Protestants (and indeed for Christianity as a whole) this cannot happen under the Protestant system.

Back to my girlfriend: we both love each other very much, and I want to ask her to marry me. We have talked about it, but she is very worried that our marriage won’t work because of our different beliefs. Does this seem right to you? We are both Christians, yet we don’t have anything near the unity that Christ was praying for in John 17!

[quote=Eden]If we are one, why do Christians not believe the same things? Why do some Christians question whether or not Catholics are even Christian at all? Why do we not all worship together in one universal Church? If we are one, why are we not called just Christians (or “Catholics” as all Christians were once called)? Why are we Presbyterians and Methodists and Evangelicals and Adventists? We are clearly not one. We are clearly not united.
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by the same token why dont all catholics believe the same things. i know that some mexicans believe you shuld worship mary even though your catechism says not worship but honor her. why is the catholic church split into roman greek and coptic. they also dont agree on everything.catholics to me and others are obviously not united.

[quote=UBERROGO]by the same token why dont all catholics believe the same things. i know that some mexicans believe you shuld worship mary even though your catechism says not worship but honor her. why is the catholic church split into roman greek and coptic. they also dont agree on everything.catholics to me and others are obviously not united.
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It’s not a matter of what individuals believe, but that the church itself teaches the truth. We agree on the Catholic teachings and even more important all the churches that you named are in fact in commmunion wiith Rome and so there is unity. As for your statement about Mexican Catholics, I would have to have someone say that to me personally and though I know many Mexican Catholics none have ever done so. Because of Our Lady of Guadaloupe, they do have a very deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin. If there were such people, the parish they attend would be responsible for correcting that, but that does not support your allegation.

More obvious still is the glaring fact that n-C denoms are far and away more schismatic from each other than the Catholic Church is or ever will be. If Jesus founded the Catholic Church as we believe that He did then to separate yourself from it for any reason is rebellion and insubmission as the NT clearly teaches.
Pax vobiscum,

The different rites of the Catholic Church are all in communion with one another, and all have unity. Do not mistake differences for divisions. People of all religions can have differences, but only in the Catholic Church (and possibly the Orthodox Churches), do they not have divisions. In a Protestant Church, if there are two rival factions (on a particular issue), they meet and discuss and debate and if the issue is not resolved, then the Church separates into two divisions. In the Catholic Church the magisterium provides a way for settling these kinds of matters. I don’t really know how it works in the Orthodox Churches…

Also, if there are people adoring Mary then this is obviously an incorrect thing to do and the Catholic Church wholeheartedly condemns such an abomination. However you must be careful when using the word “worship” as the word had a different meaning than it now does. Taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia (under Veneration of Images),

  • “We worship (proskynoumen) men and the holy angels; we do not adore (latreuomen) them. Moses says: Thou shalt worship thy God and Him only shalt thou adore. Behold, before the word ‘adore’ he puts ‘only’, but not before the word ‘worship’, because it is lawful to worship [creatures], since worship is only giving special honour (times emphasis), but it is not lawful to adore them nor by any means to give them prayers of adoration (proseuxasthai)”.* - Anastasius, Bishop of Theopolis (d. 609)

And so you could say that it is ok to worship Mary, so long as you understand correctly what that means. But to adore Mary as divine is simply wrong, and I can’t imagine anybody would be so stupid as to think this.

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