Reading Paul with the Reformers— Part Nineteen

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Ben. It seems rather ironic to me with all of the emphasis, especially in Luther and Calvin on being ‘in Christ’ that little time seems to be taken to deal with the fact that what this phrase often means is not union of the individual with Christ himself, but rather ‘being in the body of Christ’. For instance, in 1 Cor 12 we hear that by one Spirit we are all baptized into the one body of Christ, and all given the Spirit from which we drink. Ancient peoples were not like post-Enlightenment peoples in emphasizing individual identity and individual salvation— inclusion by whole households in a religion was not unusual. Why is there so little discussion, it seems, by the Reformers on being in Christ meaning being a part of the body of Christ, and only through that corporate identity being united to the head of the body?

Stephen They do say a huge amount about the body of Christ, and I think it would a fair criticism that I have not fully reflected this. And, of course, sacramental theology and the way in the Lord’s Supper mediates the presence of Christ the head to the members of his body was an area of passionate disagreement and conflict between early Lutherans and the emerging Swiss Reformed churches. I gesture to all of this (pp.168-69) but it is certainly worthy of fuller discussion than I was able to give it in this book.

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