Three, Arminian Corporate Election (CE) has the erroneous idea that Christ Himself is the group.
In close association with the previous flaw (part 2), Arminian CE teaches that Jesus is essentially the group Himself — as the corporate Head of the group. But this cannot be, since the group is the Church, and Christ died for the Church and He is Head of the Church (Eph 5:22-25). Jesus cannot be both the Savior of the Church and be the Church Himself. Nor can He be both the Head of the Church and be the Church Himself.
I would agree that He “embodies” the group as its representative, since we have our salvation and election in Him. All spiritual blessings are in Him. We have nothing of eternal value apart from Christ. Therefore, to speak of the Church is to speak of Christ, since we belong to Him. It’s also true that the Church embodies Christ, since we have our full existence in Christ and are the temple of the Holy Spirit. However, to go beyond that and claim that Jesus Himself is the group, says more than what the Word of God does.
Make no mistake, in Arminian CE, Jesus is the group. That’s why proponents argue that the group can never be an empty set (without members), because Jesus Himself is the group as the corporate representative. As sinners place their faith in Christ and are brought into union with Him – the group – they share in His election as the true “Chosen One” of God. The Church (the group in Christ) continues to grow as believing sinners are added to the Church (which is true in real time, as it is realized in this life). Thus election is merely a “status” that is obtained as a consequence of their union with Christ — so they reason.
But again, this cannot be. For the Bible also refers to the Church as the Bride, the wife of the Lamb (Rev 19:7; 21:2,9; 22:17). Are we to believe that Jesus is also the Bride? That He’s both Bride and bridegroom? Either the Church is the group or Jesus is. Either the Bride is the group or Jesus is. It has to be one of the other, but not both. The Bible simply doesn’t describe Jesus and His people in these ways. Nor does it describe election in these ways. But these are the comparisons and conclusions that we must come to if we’re to believe that Christ is Himself the group. Yes, the Church is in unity with Christ, but that does not make Him the group. Rather, Jesus is the Head and Savior of the Church, and we are in union with Him as the Church (and its members), as two distinct entities.
The fact that the Church is composed of actual people (and not merely a concept with possible members to be added), consisting of every member in the Church’s completed form (Rev 5:9; 7:9; 19:6-9), is self-evident that Jesus cannot be the group. Jesus is not His people.
Therefore, the idea that Jesus Himself is the group is no more than a theological invention that is based on a theological presupposition. What’s not a theological invention is that the Church and its members were elected to be in union with Christ — “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4).
The Bible makes a distinction between the Church and the Head of the Church. It also makes a distinction between the Church and the Savior of the Church. And of course it makes a distinction between the Bride and the Bridegroom (Lamb). Referring to Christ as the Lamb, points to the sacrifice that Jesus made for His Bride, as its Savior.
Finally, Jesus is King, Lord and God. He reigns as Head over His people. In other words, He reigns over the group. Therefore, He cannot be the group itself. We can never be on equal footing with Him. We are completely subservient to Him.
These distinctions are all-important, because a proper viewpoint of these distinctions prevents us from making the types of erroneous claims that Arminian CE does. It’s been my experience that we can be so locked-in to our own particular theological system, that it prevents us from seeing competing details and implications outside of it. The implications presented in this study (and throughout this series), are readily apparent when properly, logically and biblically evaluated.
The notion that Christ is the group is based primarily on an Old Testament pattern. We’ll discuss this next, in the final part of our series.