Who is a member of the 'Body of Christ'?


#1

I’m sorry I’m asking so many questions lately. I’ve just been doing so much reading and studying these past few weeks.

Here is my dilemma:

I’ve always been taught that every baptized person who is a Christian is a member of the ‘Body of Christ’.

The bible tells us that ‘the Church’ is the ‘Body of Christ’.

Here’s my confusion: If we believe that the ‘Church’ is the visible Church that Jesus founded, which is the Catholic Church, and not just an ‘invisible church of all believers’ as most Protestants do, then how can we say that anyone other than a Catholic is a member of the Body of Christ?


#2

This is why the church refers to our protestant brothers and sisters as in “imperfect communion” with the Church. It’s not pleasant to have to say, but this is the truth of the matter. But then, some Catholics are in imperfect communion with the church.


#3

Non-Catholics who are validly baptized using the Trinitarian formula become members of the body of Christ through their Baptism, even though they are not formal members of the Catholic Church. So they are, as Absalom said, in imperfect communion with the Church.


#4

How can someone be in “imperfect Communion” with the Church? in 1 Corinthians 10:16 Paul links unity to sharing the same bread- Protestants don’t. So how can they be in “partial” Communion? In Mystici Corporis Christi, Pius XII explained that to be part of the body of Christ, one must embrace the true faith. Protestants don’t- they may have a good chunk of it, but they don’t. The term “imperfect Communion” in reference to Protestants is not in any official Church document I’m aware of.


#5

Here’s how I like to think of it:

We know that Christ is Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist which we call Communion. We know the Church is called the Body of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is its Soul.

Well, other Christians and even people of other faith unknowingly through implicit desire and God’s grace can be within the invisible bounds of the Church, even though to be in full and perfect communion you have to be part of the visible, institutional Church and submit to it.

It’s like this:

Catholics are united to the Divinity aspect of the “body of Christ” (his Church) in baptism through sanctifying grace, and the Soul of the Church by the outpouring of the Spirit in baptism, and the perfection of this in Confirmation. They are united to his body and blood through the Eucharist, and if they are faithfully united to the Pope, they are like well functioning cells in the Body, even if they are still somewhat diseased by sin. If they mortal sin or especially if they are excommunicated, it is like they are a diseased tissue that has been amputated. It is a grave sin to recieve communion in this state knowingly because it is unnatural and a lie; it is uniting oneself to the Mystical Body of Christ in Communion without being united at the time to his Soul and Divinity by the Holy Spirit and Sanctifying Grace.

The Eastern Orthodox are in closest communion as they have valid sacraments and eucharist, but do not submit to the Pope. They are like cells in a part of the body that is affected with a nervous twitch or something. They are not fully in synch with the holisticness of the body, but are close.

Protestants with valid trinitarian baptism are united to the Soul of the Church and its Divinity in sanctifying grace…but are not united to the body. This is unfortunate as it is unnatural for the soul to be disconnected from the visible body…nevertheless, they may be saved by their baptism if they are ignorant of the fact that they are rebelling against the unity of the True Church.

Finally, non-baptized people, by way of explicit desire…or even through invincible ignorance and implicit desire if all options for doing things the normative way have run out (ie, at the moment of death), may still be open to God’s grace, which he offers to all. These are united to the Divinity. However, human nature united to the Divinity is supposed to be manifested and incarnated as the human Body and Soul of Christ. It is God’s ultimate desire for these people not just to be united to him in grace, but also visibly as part of Christ’s united body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Church…which for these people may happen on the Last Day.

So, it is possible to be united to the Body of Christ in varying degrees…but it is not natural or ideal. Ultimately, God wants human nature to be united to him in the well-functioning communion of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ…not just to be attatched to have one’s spirit attatched to only the divinity through grace, like the angels, or be united to the soul but not the body, for this tares Christ’s mystical bride apart unnaturally…


#6

If you want to say that Protestants have “a good chunk of it” or even a partial chunk of it, that’s OK too. It’s just not the whole chunk. But it’s more than nothing.


#7

Perhaps I’m being too black and white on this one, and personally I don’t feel comfortable saying Protestants are not part of the ‘Body of Christ’, but to be honest, if we are serious when we say the ‘Church’ is a visible church, not an invisible church of all believers, and the Bible clearly says the Church is the Body of Christ, I can’t see how we can say non-Catholics are part of the Body of Christ unless we are just trying to be ecumenical and not offend anyone. Again, this makes me uncomfortable to think this way, but it seems like the logical conclusion unless we want to say that the ‘Church’ can mean both a visible and invisible church, which opens up a whole new set of problems…


#8

[quote=challenger]How can someone be in “imperfect Communion” with the Church? in 1 Corinthians 10:16 Paul links unity to sharing the same bread- Protestants don’t. So how can they be in “partial” Communion? In Mystici Corporis Christi, Pius XII explained that to be part of the body of Christ, one must embrace the true faith. Protestants don’t- they may have a good chunk of it, but they don’t. The term “imperfect Communion” in reference to Protestants is not in any official Church document I’m aware of.
[/quote]

Look to Vatican2 for more on this.

Peace


#9

Sorry, but I don’t see much evidence either in the Bible or in the teachings of the magisterium that Christ will fault someone for their own ignorance of the truth, provided that person honestly wants to believe in the truth as it has been revealed by God. With so many voices screaming from so many directions, it awfully hard for someone to see true church in the middle of the mess that’s been left by the Reformation, especially if that person has been raised to believe that there is no “true” and “untrue” church to begin with.


#10

Maybe He won’t “fault” them- that doesn’t mean they’re part of the body of Christ.


#11

[quote=challenger]Maybe He won’t “fault” them- that doesn’t mean they’re part of the body of Christ.
[/quote]

Are you saying they are not? I’m so confused. I tried asking this question on the Apologist forum but it wasn’t picked up.


#12

[quote=Elzee]Are you saying they are not? I’m so confused. I tried asking this question on the Apologist forum but it wasn’t picked up.
[/quote]

Yes, that is what I’m saying, as per 1 Corinthians 10:16 and Mystici Corporis Christi. They were baptized into it, but severed from it by heresy.


#13

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