Christ Worldwide Body
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Christ Worldwide Body
Page 33

Stained Glass Jesus

HeadChrist's Worldwide body is only effective when directed by Christ who is the head. Heresy, which means disobeying the head, disables or even cuts off a church denomination from the body. The body hurts when this happens for Jesus Christ died for his body the church! One denomination does not have a monopoly over all the Christian church's functions.

Three Rope Strands

Rock ClimberThe three major streams of Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal unify the Body by the various roles they play. Those in the Catholic tradition bring a history of liturgy and worship. It is the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches that maintained worldwide Christianity from the third to the fifteenth centuries of its life. Protestants generally major on personal faith and benefit the overall church by concentrating on adherence to Biblical teaching. It is the churches of the Reformation that rediscovered the Scriptures and renewed the church over four centuries. The Pentecostal strand of Christianity encourages the work of the Holy Spirit to be re-established in God's church and so re-energized her. Like the three strands of a rope, the Catholic, Protestant and Pentecostal movements give great strength in their diversity to Christ's body. When one is weak, the other two take the load. The Pentecostal and Protestant strands are strong in the New Testament church, especially in the Gentile churches. In the Early Church, it is the protestant section that brings such widespread evangelistic growth, but after the fourth century, the Catholic wing was in the ascendancy while the other two faded but remained in the background. At the Reformation, Protestants again came to the fore. At the end of the Nineteenth Century, Pentecostal renewal swept through the church. True disciples of Jesus Christ are therefore fully Protestant, completely Pentecostal and thoroughly Catholic. Genuine Christianity holds these three truths together at the same time.✞

Tate Family Names

The Tate family names are an illustration of how the many parts, denominations, and organs contribute to the body of Jesus Christ. God rejoices in the differences in the body under the headship of Christ. The parts and organs each contribute to its overall effectiveness in the world. Consider the dysfunctional Tate family. There is Dick Tate, who wants to run everything, Ro Tate who tries to turn everything around and Adgy Tate who stirs up trouble wherever possible. When anything new is suggested, Hesi Tate and Vegi Tate pour scorn on any new ideas. Imi Tate copies everyone else, Devas Tate loves to upset things, and Poten Tate, of course, wants to be the absolute leader. However, Facili Tate, Cogi Tate, and Medi Tate always save the day and get everyone pulling together. Every part of the Body of Christ should pull together.

Rejoice in Differences

HandSome denominational body parts are busier than others. The earlobes do not move or contain any vital organ yet they are still as much a part of the body as the heart or the legs. Whatever they do, the individual organs need one another and none is better or worse for the lofty or lowly task it performs. The hands, being the social agency of the body, are no better or worse than the uterus. Each limb and organ needs the other if the body is to function properly. Teamwork and cooperation are also essential. In "The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass," Gerald said he had thought of a good name for the church if all the denominations formed into a united group. "It's simple," he said, "We'll call ourselves the Maptocostal Angloholics!"

Reformation Church Denominations

Children PlayingAll Reformation church denominations are united in the mystical body of Christ and each has a mission-shaped ministry. Reformation church denominations have been a major force in church life since 1517 AD when Martin Luther (1483-1546 AD) the German professor of theology, composer, priest, and monk pinned the "Ninety-five Theses" to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The variety of denominations that ensued has survived and flourished because each has some special feature which distinguishes them from the rest. These differences in Christian denominations are generally about practice and theology which causes splinter groups to separate from the main body.

Survived and Flourished

Anglican BishopThe Anglicans Church in England began from the Roman Catholic Church c1532-1534 AD with the "Act of Supremacy." Methodists came out of the Anglican church, the Salvation Army separated from the Methodist church and so on. Sometimes these splits in Protestant Reformation denominations were a reaction to abuse, a change in belief or practice or were caused by political pressure in the modern age to be politically rather than Biblically correct.

Forms of Church Government

Mission Shaped MinistryOn occasion, these denominations represented different forms of church government. One church thus became Methodist, another Free Methodist, a third the Wee Free Methodist. Loren B. Mead described this phenomenon in "The Once and Future Church," "There was a make-believe quality in each shard's assumption that its world was a microcosm of the whole world of which it was the remnant as if nothing else exists." This view still unfortunately exists today.

Church Body Denominations

AnkleChurch body denominations are understood as parts of the Mystical Body of Christ. Some are brains that think through the faith and others care. While church body denominations may represent different beliefs, practices, and forms of government, they also represent the individual parts of the wider Body of Christ where Jesus is Lord. Various forms of administration may distinguish denominations. Anglicans have Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, the Salvation Army have Generals, Captains, Lieutenants and wrap their infants in a flag to dedicate them. The Catholics have cardinals and a chief Bishop of Rome they call the Pope. The Presbyterians have a council of elders with a professional teaching elder. As far as I can see, Quakers try to avoid any hierarchy whatsoever though I am sure it is there somewhere.

Practices and Administrations

BrainChurch body denominations are like the organs, limbs, and parts of a real body. They all have a general function, but normally also have one area in which they particularly excel. English Anglicans featuring many eminent theologians and writers are thought of as brains that think through and theologize the faith. The Presbyterians are seen as mouths that excel in Gospel preaching. The Baptists are seen as the uterus or birth organs to increase the overall size of the body by emphasizing the need for personal salvation. The Salvation Army is widely recognized as hands to carry the caring ministry of the church into the world. Others such as Quakers are known as movements of peace and meditation. In these many ways, each denomination provides what the body needs.

Church Denomination Differences

Church denominational differences are being whittled away by the media who seek maximum impact for themselves all the time. At the time of the Reformation, protestants would have no decoration or symbolism in their churches and even whitewashed over medieval paintings in the name of religious purity. Today on television, the descendants of those same zealous protestant evangelists surround themselves with banks of flowers and row upon row of vested choir members in glorious silk gowns. The media demand color, variety, and visual excitement and do not care particularly for denominational beliefs except when it creates controversy and thus good theatre. The overall effect is to merge the differences in beliefs and practices in favor of the overall production.

Bound and Live Together

Belgian Congo Revolution 1961 There are many church denominational differences and they all appear in the Body of Christ. Their unity is clearly illustrated in the Belgian Congo Revolution in 1961. All Christians belong to the denominational body whether they want to or not. They are bound together, live together and sometimes die together in Christ. The Rev. Dr. Colin Morris (1929-2019) the prominent communicator and Methodist leader tells of the bloody counter-revolution in the Belgian Congo in 1960-1961 AD. He writes, "Over three hundred missionaries, mostly Roman Catholics and extreme fundamentalists were killed. They not only bled the same way but whether they died clutching crucifixes or Schofield Reference Bibles they died for the same reason and the same Lord." Will the church grow by erasing church denominations? Interestingly, research showed that when churches amalgamate the overall body generally shrinks in size. Examples in South Korea according to eminent analyst and church growth expert Dr. Donald McGavran (1987-1990) show that, when churches splinter on questions of practice, they generally grow! The Lord seems to want his denominational body to contain as many differences as possible. At the same time, they retain theological unity in Christ himself. He is head over all parts as in all the other emanations of the Mystical Body.

"Christ Worldwide Body"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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