According to Paragraph 795 of the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church (Second Edition – Revised in Accordance with the Official Latin Text):
“Christ and his Church thus together make up the “whole Christ” (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:
‘Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man… The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does “head and members” mean? Christ and the Church. [Quoting Augustine]
Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself. [Quoting Pope Gregory I (“the Great”)]
Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person. [Quoting Thomas Aquinas]
A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter”.”
(CCC #795 – emphasis in bold added)
What?!!! We (Christians) have BECOME CHRIST? Are they really saying this? Isn’t this blasphemy? Why would the Catholic Church teach something like this?
Ok, perhaps they meant something else, or maybe we’re just not fully understanding their words. So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt for a moment. Maybe we should let them explain what they really mean. But in doing research on this, their answers are far from satisfactory. When Protestants express concern over CCC #795, the Catholic answers to this seem to fall into three basic categories:
1) They try to tell us that we are taking this “out of context.”
This whole context of Paragraph #795 deals with a special unity between Christ and His church. But the language of “becoming” Christ doesn’t match the context. There is a world of difference between being in union with Him, and BEING HIM. So, the Catechism is violating its own context at this point.
2) Some will say that we don’t really become Christ, but it’s only emphasizing our special union with Jesus, where we are conformed into the image and likeness of God’s Son, since He is the Head and we are members of His body, together making the whole man, or the “whole Christ.” They’ll say that the church is “one with Christ,” creating “one organism,” just as husband and wife are made “one flesh,” etc, etc. So, it’s only about the union.
We all agree that we (Christians) are in a special union with Christ, but notice that the Catechism is going out of its way to point out a CONTRAST: It says “… we have become not only Christians, but Christ Himself.” It is telling us that we are not only members of the body of Christ, but something more, something different than mere members of the body, apparently something greater. And then it reinforces that by again saying, “… we have become Christ.” So, Catholics can’t claim that this is only about our union with Him.
If all that this controversial Catechism statement means is that we are in union with Jesus, then the Catholic Church is only being redundant (repetitive) here. It is like saying, “we have become not only members of the body of Christ, but something even greater… we have also become members of the body of Christ!” This makes no sense. Using this argument, they are building up to a supposed contrast, yet, there is none. This “union only” argument simply renders the Catechism quote meaningless. Yes folks, this is just another example of Catholic word games.
3) Some will say that this “becoming Christ” is simply a great “mystery” that we can’t understand.
Then, if that’s the case, there is no limit to the “mysteries” we can use. Anyone can teach almost anything and declare it to be a “great mystery.” Then, they can tell outsiders that no one can understand this, but they must accept it, since their church says it is so. This could get quickly out of hand. Simply calling it a “mystery” doesn’t make it true, especially since it flies in the face of Scripture.
And what is this “whole Christ” business? According to Augustine’s quote above, we need Christ AND the church to have the “fullness of Christ.” But is Christ somehow “incomplete” without us? Or, in some way dependent on the church? Absolutely not. He can exist without the church, but the church cannot exist without Him. He does not “need” the church, or anything else, for that matter (Colossians 2:9-10). Jesus Christ has existed from eternity past and will continue to exist for eternity future (John 1:1-2; Revelation 1:8). The only reason that the church is even involved at all is because of His grace and His choice to include Christians in His plan. It is certainly not because of any need on His part. But it almost seems that the Catholic Church wants to make it sound as though the church is somehow equal with Him here.
Concerning Joan of Arc’s quote above, it is truly interesting that the Catholic Church (the masters of complicating simple spiritual concepts) is telling us to just believe them and not to complicate things?!!! It is hard to take them seriously when they say things like this.
As we mentioned before, we all know that there’s a special bond between Christ and His church. We’re not denying that, but Scripture never suggests that we can ever “become Christ” – that idea is totally foreign to God’s Word. You can use all the “union with Christ” verses in the Bible that you want, but these verses do not support #795 in the Catechism. We are not Christ, either individually or corporately.
So, once again, why would the Catholic Church say that we have become Christ? They don’t officially believe in more than one true God, or more than one true Christ, do they? This is a very controversial statement, one that stands out like a sore thumb, yet the Catholic Catechism doesn’t seem to be trying to explain it. After all, isn’t the purpose of a catechism to explain the faith? It’s almost as if the Catholic Church is purposefully leaving us hanging there, without any real attempt to clarify. The silence is deafening.
Is this “becoming Christ” idea possibly part of the end-time one-world religious system? We suspect that this quote from the Catechism may likely be used to further the Ecumenical Movement, where all faiths will come together. Perhaps the Catholic Church is saying this to be “inclusive” of evolutionists, New Agers, Eastern mysticists, and members of other world religions (that is, those who might see themselves as their own “christ” or “god”). Time will tell.
And why do we see so few objections coming from Catholics about this? It appears that either they are not aware of these strange comments from the Catechism, or they are simply being faithful to “Mother Church,” no matter what kind of outrageous (and unbiblical) ideas she teaches.
The three points that we listed above appear to be the most common arguments for including CCC #795. The only other option seems to be that we actually become Christ in an absolute sense, but this is outright heresy.
At any rate, the Catholic Catechism is wrong. Jesus Christ is indeed the Head of the church. But in saying that we (Christians) “become Christ,” do we now also become the Head? Certainly not! We can’t even always function properly as lesser members of the body (1 Corinthians 12:14-24), much less function as the Head! We are part of the body, but not THAT part!