9 One Body One Spirit: Divided Christians Need to Learn From Each Other

Go To the Beginning of this Book Excerpts from The Bible’s ‘Big Picture’

 One Body One Spirit: 

God Already Treats Us as One Body Despite Our Current Divisions – the Holy Spirit Fell in Power at the Protestant Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas on New Year’s Eve, 1900, Beginning the Protestant Pentecostal Movement (Which Was Later Mainstreamed in Protestant and Catholic Churches as the Charismatic Movement) – on Exactly the Same Evening Pope Leo XIII Was at Mass in Rome Formally Dedicating the 20th Century to the Holy Spirit, after Leading Catholic Christians for Years to Pray for Exactly Such an Outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church (God Sent the Holy Spirit Initially on Protestant Christians in Response to Catholic Christian Prayer Because Despite Our Divisions We Are One Body of the Redeemed in Christ) 

In this brief excerpt I simply wish to refer to my short book One Body One Spirit: The Prehistory of the Charismatic Renewal Movement from Pentecost to Pentecostalism Unleashed by the Pope, which discusses Pentecostal or Charismatic or Mystical experience throughout Christian history since Apostolic times (and the documented dream of Pope Leo XIII which led him to lead the Catholic Church to pray for the kind of Pentecostal renewal which in fact started in Kansas exactly the same evening as he was dedicating the 20th Century to the Holy Spirit), in order to make the point that God is already treating us like one Body, one Family of those who have received the Holy Spirit of supernatural adoption into His Family – giving us all the more reason we should be working to become visibly one Body of Christ for all to see, according to the model of the Undivided Early Church, “so that the world may believe.” 

Learning from Each Other: We All Need to Be Both “People of the Table” and “People of the Book” Exercising Our Gifts from the Holy Spirit If We Are to Recapture the Success of the Undivided Early Church 

We need to learn from each other to be all we are meant to be as Christians.  Catholic Christians are sometimes called “the People of the Table” while Protestant Christians are called “the People of the Book.”  But the Undivided Early Church had BOTH passion for Holy Communion with Jesus in the Eucharistic (Thanksgiving) bread and wine of the Lord’s Table AND it had a passionate love for the Holy Scriptures.  The “People of the Book” need to get much more into the Table and the “People of the Table” need to get much more into the Book, if we are to recapture the success of the Early Church and become all we are meant to be as Christians.  And we cannot ignore the “Charismatic” or “Pentecostal” gifts of the Holy Spirit to every Christian if we are to be enlivened and empowered by the same Spirit which characterized the Undivided Early Church and supernaturally empowered its phenomenal success at spreading the message and family and Kingdom of Jesus throughout the ancient pagan world.   Fortunately, our currently divided churches have already been slowly learning from each other and, especially where the Holy Spirit is emphasized, many Protestant Christians have come to new understanding of the Real (though mysterious) Presence of Jesus in the Eucharistic (Thanksgiving) bread and wine (that Real Presence which is why the bread and wine have always been called Holy Communion with Jesus), and many Catholic Christians have come to new understanding of the primacy of the Bible to Christian faith.  These new understandings of course mean such Protestants are taking Holy Communion with Jesus at the Lord’s Table much more seriously (and frequently), and such Catholics are reading the Holy Bible much more frequently and going to more Bible studies and courses. 

Especially where there is emphasis on the Holy Spirit who makes all of us adopted children of God, we have been learning from each other’s strengths and thus being greatly enriched by each other (in some cases the Holy Spirit has been teaching us things directly which we did not get directly from looking at each other but which in fact reduce or remove the differences between us).  Thus many (Western) Protestant Christians are coming to see that the (Eastern and Western) Catholic and Eastern Orthodox focus on the Eucharistic (Thanksgiving) bread and wine at the Lord’s Table reflect the Early Church’s passion for such Holy Communion with Jesus through what was always understood as “not common bread” but mysteriously the Real Presence of Jesus by which the Church was nourished and by which the Church became truly the Body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 10:16-17) .  Thus many Catholic Christians are coming to see that the Protestant focus on the Bible reflects the Early Church’s passion for Bible reading, and the Catholic Church hierarchy itself has officially recognized the  primacy of the Bible (which is only served by the Sacred Tradition and Magisterium which guarantee the Bible’s proper fundamental interpretation throughout all ages of history with their ever-new challenges to traditional Christian faith) and the Catholic Magisterium has strongly encouraged Catholic Christians to read the Bible more and more and to participate in Bible studies .  Top-level Catholic theologians, cardinals, and popes (including Pope Benedict XVI) now (because of learning from the Early Church passion for the Bible which Protestants have best preserved) readily acknowledge Prima Scriptura, the Bible “first” or “primarily.”  Several important Catholic theologians – including the late Cardinal Congar – have even proposed a theory of the “material sufficiency” of Scripture alone (as opposed to the “formal sufficiency” taught by the Protestant Reformation), a kind of Catholic version of Sola Scriptura (“Bible Alone”) doctrine which says the entirety of the Christian faith is in the Bible whether explicitly or implicitly – still requiring the Church, as the living Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ with her Living Tradition and Living Magisterium to make explicit what is implicit in the Bible and to make certain the fundamental Christian doctrines (Trinity, Incarnation, etc) which are otherwise only possible interpretations of the Scripture alone (which early Christian heretics and modern liberal Protestant Christians reject, preferring different possible interpretations of the Scripture Alone to the (Sacred) traditional fundamental Bible interpretations clearly articulated and declared to be the only proper Bible interpretation by the Early Catholic Church Magisterium speaking as the mouthpiece of the Living Body of Christ the Church).

The Traditional Papal “Triple-Crowned Bishop’s Mitre” on the Vatican Flag: Important Symbol of the Structure of the Catholic Church

The Three Crowns Symbolize the Pope’s Three Distinct Offices of Overseership as the Local Bishop of the City of Rome; the Patriarch of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church; and the Successor of Peter and Holder of the Keys Jesus Gave to Peter, Universal Overseer/Bishop (Head Pastor) of the Entire Catholic Communion of Sister Churches Collectively Known as the Catholic Church 

1)  First Crown: the pope is the local overseer or bishop of the city of Rome where Peter died.  In this capacity the pope is like any other local bishop, responsible for the local flock of Christians who live in or near Rome (which includes a substantial minority of Byzantine/Greek, not Roman, Catholics, who fled the Muslim conquest of the East), and he casts only one vote at an Ecumenical Council of Christian bishops, like any other overseer/bishop/eparch. 

2)  Second Crown: the pope is the Patriarch of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, head of the ancient Roman Sister Church within the Catholic Communion of Sister Churches (commonly known simply as the Roman Catholic Church).  In this capacity the pope, as head of one Rite or Sister Church in the Catholic Communion which has “fully equal dignity” with all the other Rites or Sister Churches or Patriarchates, has essentially equal dignity with all the other patriarchs, and shares with the other four patriarchs of the ancient “Pentarchy” the honorable distinction of leading one of the foundational Patriarchates of the Universal (Catholic) Church.  In addition to this, the pope has a “primacy of honor” among the patriarchs which is widely recognized.  In his Second Crown capacity as Roman Patriarch, in deference to Peter’s death in Rome the pope is indeed “first among equals” among the Christian patriarchs, as even many Eastern Orthodox Christians would readily acknowledge him. 

3)  Third Crown: the Pope is the Successor of Peter and Holder of the Keys Jesus gave to Peter (Matthew 16:19), the universal overseer/bishop, Head Pastor of the entire Church, in all of its (currently 26) united Rites or Sister Churches or Patriarchates.  In the Old Testament the King descended from King David gave the keys to the man who would act as the King’s “Prime Minister,” managing the daily affairs of the Kingdom on behalf of the Davidic King, and Jesus, the prophesied everlasting Messianic King descended from David, gave the keys to Peter and his successors the popes who manage the affairs of the Church, which is that portion of Jesus’ Kingdom which is on Earth.   In his “Third Crown” capacity the pope is (as Jesus called Peter) the “rock” or foundation (Matthew 16:18) of the Universal Christian (Catholic) Church on Earth (not of the Heavenly branch of Christ’s Church).  The pope’s importance as that “rock” foundation is seen in the facts that:

A) The pope is the guardian of the Church’s ancient fundamental Christian orthodoxy or “right teaching.”  The early Ecumenical Councils which clearly articulated and established the traditional essential fundamental beliefs of Christianity against heretical challenges were directed or ratified by popes, most of them presided over by those the pope chose.  The pope’s specially-graced authority as Successor of Peter and holder of “the Keys of the Kingdom” from Jesus with their ability to “bind and loose on Earth and in Heaven” (see Matthew 16:19) was directly involved in the permanent establishment of the New Testament Canon (the list of its traditional 27 inspired books) and the Christian fundamental doctrines within the Undivided Early Church.  For example, Pope Saint Leo the Great precisely clarified the fundamental Christian doctrine that Jesus is “fully God and fully man” and directed the 4th Ecumenical Council (451 AD) to adopt his definition even though many Eastern overseer/bishops were willing to compromise with the Eastern Monophysite heretics.  It was Pope Innocent I in 405 AD who ended all Christian disputes over the New Testament Canon in the Early Church.  (For many more historical details about the pope’s integral role in the early establishment of fundamental Christian orthodoxy and New Testament Canon, see my book So That The World May Believe, especially Volume II Appendix II and Volume III Chapter 5). 

B) The pope is the center of the Catholic Church’s unparalleled unity of over 1 billion Christians in over 20 unified Eastern and Western orthodox Christian Sister Churches (by comparison, there are dozens of separate Eastern Orthodox Churches only loosely connected with each other and increasingly divided as time goes by (there are currently three separate denominations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church), and over 35,000 distinct Protestant/Evangelical Christian churches, many of the Protestant churches now unorthodox or heretical or uncertain about even basic Christian orthodoxy)

Peter died in Rome and the man who is made Peter’s Successor the Pope becomes the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of the Roman Rite as well, a triple office indicated by the traditional triple-crowned bishop’s mitre.  Nothing makes the particularly Roman cultural expression of Christianity practiced by Roman Catholics superior to any others – if Peter had stayed in Antioch and died there instead of in Rome, the Bishop of Antioch would be the pope.  In fact the Catholic Communion of Sister Churches is superior to any one of its Rites alone, despite the current huge size of the Roman Rite in comparison to the Eastern Rites mainly because the Roman Rite did not suffer Muslim military conquest as the Eastern Rites did (the traditional territories of the Eastern Patriarchates are today largely known as Muslim countries, while the Roman Patriarchate’s territory of Western Europe remained free from Muslim oppression).  

As bishop the pope is overseer of the Christians in Rome, as patriarch the pope is overseer of the Christians in the Roman Rite of the Universal Church, and as Successor of Peter (or as pope) the pope is the overseer of all Christians in the Universal (Catholic) Church of Jesus Christ.  Although one becomes the Roman Patriarch as well when one is made pope, one does not even need to be Roman Catholic to be made pope: over 20 popes in history were not Roman Catholic when they became pope, but Eastern Rite Catholics. 

Popes do not usually wear the “triple-crown” that symbolizes their triple-office anymore because this headgear came into use when political leaders commonly wore crowns of office.  Since political leaders no longer use crowns to denote their office, and since modern people now regard the very concept of the royalty which usually wore crowns as pretentious, modern popes usually do not wear the triple-crowned bishop’s mitre.  Yet it remains an extremely important symbol of the nature and structure of the Catholic Church, which is why it appears on the Vatican Flag and in the Coats of Arms of most individual popes. 

© 2007, 2009 Peter William John Baptiste SFO 

Go To Next Section “Catholic at Heart” – What Fundamentally Orthodox Protestant/ Evangelical/ Pentecostal Christians and Eastern Orthodox Christians and Catholic Christians Are Already United in Is Precisely the Catholic Faith of the Undivided Early Catholic Church  

Go To the Beginning of this Book Excerpts from The Bible’s ‘Big Picture’