Yes, yes, yes; I know I missed last week, but I was smacked with a massive headache, which could only be cured with massive drugs and a massive nap. As a result, I wound up going home early on Thursday, doing very little on Friday and slightly less on Saturday. Moreover, I forgot to take my Ridderbos opus home on Thursday, which meant I had no way of providing a quote. Fortunately, things are back to normal . . . for now.
With providing justification for lapse aside, I bring you the next installment in this series. This time, the topic is specifically on Paul’s view of the church as the body of Christ. (Well, I should say: Ridderbos’ views on Paul’s views of the church as the body of Christ). This topic has become a greater interest for me, not just because it relates to the final portion of my research but also because it is something that seems to have become clouded in the past couple generations.
There are some within the church who are calling for a re-examination (of sorts) in what the church–as the body of Christ–is meant to be and do in the modern world. (I’m thinking specifically of Francis Chan on this point). These people want to know how this identity and responsibility have become clouded and what needs to be done about it. I think this is a healthy and vital exercise. Today’s quote from Ridderbos could serve as an excellent starting point in this type of re-examination. (It’s a touch long; but hey, I need to make up for last week).
[T]he church can and must learn to understand its unity and diversity, its limits and its universality from the fact that it is the body of Christ. . . . Because all believers together are one body in Christ, the dividedness of Christ is in conflict with its being, for Christ is not divided (1 Cor 1:13). Nor can one restrict this unity to the sphere of what is invisible and hidden. Not only does the word ‘body’ not denote an invisible but a visible mode of existence, but on the ground of being together in Christ Paul concludes the necessity of a visible, outward manifestation of unity as the body. . . . Diversity, breadth, difference in gifts, abilities, and mandate have been given along with the existence as body. And Paul places no less emphasis on this diversity within and in virtue of the existence of the church as body over against all self-direction, sectarianism, and spiritual intolerance than he does on unity. At the same time the universality and catholicity of the church are implied in its unity anchored in Christ; for in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free. For this reason they all together form one body, and within the body of Christ all discrimination is excluded; as on the other hand the boundary of the body of the church is situated in this unity in Christ. One cannot make the members of Christ the members of a prostitute (1 Cor 6:16), one cannot at the same time participate in the body and the blood of Christ and in that which is sacrificed to idols, for the one bread constitutes one body, inclusively and exclusively (1 Cor 10:16-22), and there is no communion of light with darkness (2 Cor 6:14ff).
-Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, 393-94