Medium or Mediator?

me·di·um (mee-dee-uhm) n.
An intervening substance through which something is transmitted or carried on. An agency by which something is accomplished, conveyed, or transferred.

me·di·a·tor (mee-dee-ey-ter) n.
One who acts as an intermediary, esp. in order to resolve or reconcile differences between conflicting parties by an agreement, a settlement, or a compromise.

Which one is the church? Is it both? Or neither? What is the difference?

Traditonally, the Church has assumed both roles in various ways. As the body of Christ it could be considered the substance through which God’s salvation is transmitted, and his truth carried on. Jesus gave authority, or agency, to the apostles, so that they could accomplish his work and convey the gospel message to the ends of the Earth.

Is the Church always a necessary intervening substance? Does God’s grace pass through the Church, or is that flow direct to an individual after the message of grace has been conveyed by the Church?

Does the Church stand between God and the individual? Does it act as an intercessor between God and man? Or does that role exclusively belong to Jesus? Certainly Jesus, once for all, settled and reconciled our differences. Is there more to be done by the body of Christ now?

If the Church is mediator, does it also control the distribution of grace? Can it withhold grace from an individual, or establish criteria that the individual must meet to receive God’s grace? Or is God’s grace freely offered to all? Is the mediator role ongoing, or is it only effective in the process of conversion?

2 thoughts on “Medium or Mediator?”

  1. I have thought about your post and the questions it implies quite a bit. The catholic church, and to a lesser degree Lutheran and Anglican churches, have held to a kind of sacerdotalism which claims that the clergy are the dispensers, and withholders of grace. They believe that the office holds the power and that the correct ritual by the authorized person is the only effective channel of God’s grace. It is for this reason that churches outside of their power structure are considered non-churches in terms of their standing before God.
    Conversely most of the protestant tradition stresses the priesthood of all believers. Whilst they still see the church as God´s manifest agent on earth they do not see the clergy as controlling that grace or necessarily as the exclusive flow of grace.
    Once an individual accepts Jesus they are the church and God’s grace flows to them as well as through them. Matthew 28 seems to indicate that the church is at least His chosen path of grace. Yet Paul seems to hold out the idea that a man might find God by honest seeking, regardless of whether he receives a Christian testimony or not.
    Certainly, as Christ is interceding, we, at a minimum, are interceding in Him. I believe it goes beyond that. Surely we are called to stand between God and man. We are to present God to man and hold men up to God.
    You say that Jesus once and for all reconciled our differences. In one sense this is true. Yet the gift of reconciliation must be individually received to be of value. That is why Paul says that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. We are to encourage and enable those who are already forgiven to receive their pardon. We are enlightening those who are already loved and desired to receive their place in His family.
    As to the question of whether the church can withhold grace it seem clear that we often stand between man in God not as intercessors but rather as obstacles to his Grace. I do not believe we have the power to declare a person beyond God’s grace and thus make it so. But we do have the power to be unprofitable servants who contravene the will of our master. All that means is that He will seek to use another servant to do that which we have refused. To me this highlights one of the differences between the way God plans and works and the way we do. We are always looking to big organizations and international, supposedly comprehensive plans to save the world.And God is always working in the small. He uses sons who share His heart. They work on what He gives them and only the Lord coordinates it all. Or that is how I see it. We are always looking for a system, organization or plan that works when it is really the life of Christ working through millions of seemingly uncoordinated vessels.

  2. Yes, God’s system is his kingdom, which is within and through us little ones, and remains invisible in the world. Not at all ineffective, just invisible. That is a great mystery that Jesus spent a lot of time to illustrate for us, but we much prefer visible things.
    There is a tension between the anticipation of God restoring all things, and our expression of that future reality in the small, here and now.

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