“Body of Christ” Remarks Demonstrate a Law of the Internet

One of the ancient laws of the Internet is that posts which correct other posts are prone to introduce their own brand new errors. Spelling corrections tend to include spelling errors, grammar corrections include grammar errors, and factchecking tends to produce huge new factual errors.

Here is a case in point.

Ted Cruz said that he thought “the Body of Christ should rise up” and support him, as the best Christian candidate.

Over on Huffington Post, Kathleen Parker misunderstood this as meaning that Cruz wanted Jesus Christ to rise up from His grave (which He’s already done, of course), and come vote the Cruz ticket. (Another HuffPo columnist, Peter Montgomery, didn’t like the point but at least understood it as referring to Christians.)

Over at Get Religion, David Mattingly made a comment explaining the biblical context, as did Get Religion alumna Mollie Ziegler Hemingway over on The Federalist.

But both columnists proceeded to say that calling Christians “the Body of Christ” was strictly metaphorical! And what’s worse, Mattingly dragged the Pope into this, which made it seem like the Pope would agree!

Now, Cruz is a Baptist of some stripe, and therefore it’s possible that “a metaphor” is exactly his interpretation of Paul’s passages concerning that. But the Catholic Church does not take it that way. Christians are mystically (ie, in a hidden or non-obvious way) part of the Body of Christ. In Baptism, our own lives died, and we took on His life. We eat His flesh and drink His blood, which nourishes His life within us. We can communicate directly with Christ our Head, as well as with other members (ie, body parts) of the Body who are with Him in heaven. The more Christlike we become in conduct, the more our bodies and souls become like His. In extreme cases, we can suffer His injuries as stigmata, or do His miracles, or have our bodies fail to suffer decay after death.

Also, a lot of people were quoting the relevant passage of Romans, but the really relevant passage was in Acts, where Jesus appears to Saul on the road to Damascus aand asks him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” Saul/Paul had been persecuting Christ-followers, not Jesus – unless Jesus was speaking the stone cold truth about His mystical relationship to His followers. He got the idea of the Body of Christ from that, and obviously didn’t think the biggest learning experience of his life was a metaphor.

So no, it’s not a metaphor.

(However, when Beatus of Liebana says that you can call the Church a loose woman, because she puts herself out there for everyone and serves all comers… that’s a metaphor!)

4 Comments

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4 responses to ““Body of Christ” Remarks Demonstrate a Law of the Internet

  1. Excellent post.

    Your link to Terry Mattingly’s piece, by the way, accidentally goes to the one by Peter Montgomery (and you accidentally call him David Mattingly).

    For my own part, Mr. Mattingly’s comments are vexing too as an Orthodox Christian. He has been quite open about having converted to Orthodoxy. We understand the Body of Christ to be just as non-metaphorical as you have described it from the Catholic point of view. It’s too bad this fairly prominent Orthodox convert got that one wrong.

    I notice you commented under his piece. I hope he replies (and graciously).

  2. Oh, dear… now I’ve got “we are the body of Christ” stuck in my head. (The one that you sing in Spanish, then English.)

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