I've discussed St. Paul's views on the Church in the past, but I wanted to focus on a specific passage from Ephesians 4:11-14, in which he writes:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
There's a lot to unpack here, but here are six major points that you should take away from the above:
- Jesus Christ personally created the Church, which is His Body;
- The Church is Apostolic, since Christ Himself gave the Church the Apostles;
- This Apostolic Church is structured with various offices and ministries;
- These various offices and ministries are all built towards the same end: building up the Body;
- We're all called to “reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God,” which St. Paul equates with spiritual maturity, and having the fullness of Christ;
- When we don't have have this spiritual maturity, we get “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”
Those first five points lay out a positive case for the Church. The Church isn't just the set of all believers, however assembled. It's a structured Body, and this structure isn't accident. Rather, it was put in place by Jesus Christ Himself.
And we, as Christians, are called to total unity in the faith. That's a tall order, since it necessarily requires doctrinal unity: if we can't even agree on the doctrines surrounding Baptism, Communion, justification, and the rest, we're failing to “reach unity in the faith.” Granted, unity in the faith is much more than doctrinal unity, but it's certainly not less.
Continue reading Joe's article here.