Saturday, January 16, 2010

The mind of the church

Andrew Preslar:

Catholics believe that the Church is the mystical Body of Christ, visible upon earth. As such, the Church, having the mind of Christ, is most intimately related to the Word of God and cannot err in the dogmatic expression of her understanding of the Word.

Of course, this is deeply problematic on at least two grounds:

1. If the church has the infallible mind of Christ, then what constitutes the church? Does this extend to every Christian individually? To each Christian in concert with every other Christian? Or to a subset of Christians?

As a Catholic, he obviously has to par this down. But his allusion to 1 Cor 2:16 has no such restriction.

2. If "the Church" has the mind of Christ, then why would would ecclesial infallibility be limited to "dogmatic" expressions? Was dominical infallibility limited to "dogmatic" expression?


  1. Vittorio Subilia put it this way:

    "Paul's dominant motif in conceiving of the church as the body of Christ, is not the motif of the body as the totality of the members, the sum of head and body, but the common relationship of the members (different as they may...) to Christ, who is not different and manifold, but one, the Lord and Head of all... and who calls all to be of one mind and one spirit, addressing a common calling to all, and pointing all to one single hope.

    "Set alongside this concept of Paul, Augustine's conception of the 'Perfect Man' and the 'Whole Christ'... is seen as a deviation that opens the door to irreversible error. Stepping out of Jewish-Christian categories, we find ourselves in categories of substance and space which set all the weight of emphasis on collective totality, presenting the parts as mere incompleteness, and hence mere imperfection. The essential strength, i.e. authority, resides only in the totality.

    "The use of these categories of thought is explicable only by recourse to the idea of Gnostic and Manichee mythology.... In utter contrast to New Testament practice, these categories have been so used that they have mutilated the thought-content they express....

    "Gnosticism is infiltrating into Christianity and producing damage so deep-seated that the very life-centers of the Christian organism are affected, and it is being changed into quite a different organism.

    "The notion of the Totus Christus is the very soul of the Catholic conception of the Church and of Christianity as a whole, and not a few of the essential aspects of this conception... depend upon a Gnostic ecclesiological idea....

    "Horace put in an epigram the paradox of the cultural and political inter-relationship of Greek and Roman civilization:

    "'Captive Greece made her fierce captor her captive'.

    One might adapt the thought to our ends in these words:

    Captive Gnosticism made the [Catholic] Church her captive."

    (Problem of Catholicism, 119-20).

  2. Michael Horton goes to some length to explain why "Totus Christus" is not compatible with "Christ Alone" in "People and Place."