What is the sacred life of the Church? One word answers the question: Christ—the risen Lord Jesus Christ—is himself the Church’s life. St. Paul’s phrase in Colossians, “Christ who is our life” (Col. 3:4), applies to believers corporately as well as personally. For all of us in the Church, Christ is no less our life than he is our life as individuals. This is axiomatic for any discussion of the Church’s continuing vitality.

The affirmation that the sacred life of the Church is Christ opens up spacious vistas of truth. It transcends all lesser ecclesiastical dimensions. In respect to its life, the Church is not the body of Peter or Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, Wesley, or any other human leader. It is the body of Jesus Christ the Lord who “loved the church and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25–27).

This being the case, anything, no matter how worthy in itself, that diverts the Church from Christ impairs its sacred life. So long as the Lord himself is central in the worship, witness, and service of the Church, its life is strong and healthy. To the extent that the Church is in living, spiritual union with the risen Lord—and only to that extent—does it bear fruit (John 15:5).

Whether the Church should maintain a lofty Christology in harmony with the Bible is not simply a subject of theological debate. On the contrary, it is a matter of life and death. If the history of doctrine teaches any lesson, it demonstrates that the very survival of the Church is dependent upon its Christology. From Arianism and Nestorianism down to contemporary Unitarianism, the major heresies relating to the Person and Work of Christ have proved spiritually sterile and deadening in comparison with the continuing life of the Church when it has ...

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