Head of Church

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We have been focused in our gaze on the altar and at its center, the wounded Lamb. Our reflection has been about who He is, in Himself and for us. Now we need to think about what the ancient Church the ‘totus Christus,’ ‘the whole Christ,’ by which they meant the Lord together with the Church, His Body. As a segue, we now turn to this concept.

In Colossians 1:18 we read that He is, more precisely, the head of the Church. Notice how this contains both his intimate connection and His distinctive pre-eminence. Another way to put the matter is that the Lord chooses out of His love to condescend to and identify with us. In going on high is His going low (Ephesians 4). Or we might point out how the treasure (the good news about Jesus) is placed in the clay pot - the two are connected but distinguishable.

You can see how, rightly understood, we keep track of both, as we make sure He remains Lord. You might say that the catholic dimension is in the connection, the evangelical in the distinction. We can also see how things might go wrong - either supposing the Church is the Lord, or on the other hand that we can be Christians on our own. 

Read Articles 18-20 and discuss.



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What does it mean for the world, and so for us, that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead? It means that the coming of God’s reign has come in His very person, indeed in His body, so that, in relation to him we are already there, though we also still inhabit this passing and rebellious age.

It means that the transformation which has commenced involves our real, embodied lives. We shall be changed, as Paul says in I Corinthians 15, though the form that will take is not yet clear, as he also says there. The Christian life is hope, but not escape. For now His salvation is being worked out in our lowly and suffering bodies.

It also means the death, as we experience it, is a consequence of our creatureliness as well as our sin. It is the enemy Christ has defeated, but as such also the ‘last enemy’ who will be seen to be beaten only on the last day. Only then will he cease to cast a shadow over our days.

It means the scope of His victory is as comprehensive as God’s reign. Classical Lutheran theology spoke of the ‘ubiquity’, the ‘everywhereness’ of His risen presence.

Finally bodily resurrection means God is indeed ‘doing a new thing’ (Isaiah 43:19), but in His creation, which retains its prior form. Salvation is not separate or private or esoteric. We cannot be gnostics, old or new.

We will see how the resurrected opens the way for us to understand the Church and the Christian life.

Read almost anything by N.T.Wright online!


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