Skip to comments."Is the Church invisible?"
Posted on 06/26/2014 6:52:04 PM PDT by matthewrobertolson
Is the Church invisible? Well...
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Is the Church only invisible? Many believe that "extra Ecclesiam nulla salus", the famous phrase of St. Cyprian in Latin, which translates to "outside the Church, there is no salvation", means that the Church teaches that one must be within what's called the "visible" Church in order to be saved. But this is untrue, of course.
St. Augustine realized this, writing in his 45th Tractate on the Gospel of John, "[H]ow many sheep are outside, how many wolves within! And how many sheep are inside, how many wolves without!" There, he cites verses on predestination and bluntly makes the point that one could be in the Church one day and excommunicated the next, just as Luke 8:13 hints!
Obviously, the Church concurs. The Catechism makes clear that all "[t]hose who die in God's grace and friendship" will reach Heaven (CCC #1023).
Eastern Orthodox bishop Kallistos Ware sums it up: "While there is no division between a 'visible' and an 'invisible Church', yet there may be members of the Church who are not visibly such, but whose membership is known to God alone. If anyone is saved, he must in some sense be a member of the Church; in what sense, we cannot always say."
Protestantism takes this invisibility to an extreme, however, citing Luke 17:20-21 and 2 Timothy 2:19. These passages are hardly proof against the visible Church, though, because the first simply references the so-called "end times" and the current reality of the kingdom of God, and the second just points out that, despite heresy being almost everywhere, "the firm foundation of God stands" and "the Lord knows those who are His".
But what is Protestantism's relationship to the Church, then? Well, Protestants are in imperfect communion with Her, having only ecclesial communities without all of the seven Sacraments. Still, they have the grace of baptism, and they, therefore, can be guided somewhat by the Holy Spirit. And since baptism originates with the Church, they are connected to Her.
However, doctrine is indeed important, and those who willfully reject it lacerate the Body of Christ, as the Council of Florence noted in 1440. In section 48 of Lumen Fidei, His Holiness' first encyclical, Pope Francis says: "..inasmuch as the unity of faith is the unity of the Church, to subtract something from the faith is to subtract something from the veracity of communion."
Practically speaking, then, Protestantism purports that Christ has many brides. The reality is that Protestants are hopelessly divided, in violation of 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, Ephesians 4:1-6, Philippians 2:1-2, and 1 Peter 3:8. So, for them, it really boils down to this: Is Christ unfaithful? If one thinks so, they blaspheme. If one knows otherwise, then they must recognize that He cannot have more than one Bride.
In short, to speak simply, the Church is visible, but Her true membership is not always so. And the uncertainty in this does not excuse an extreme, heretical view of ecclesiology.
“Practically speaking, then, Protestantism purports that Christ has many brides. “
Silly post of the day!
Christians believe there is ONE Church, One Body, One Bride, composed of all true believers of all time. Some are visible today because they are alive on earth.
A woman came to a church and told the pastor she wanted to sing in the choir. The pastor explained that she needed to be a member of this church in order to sing in this church’s choir.
The woman retorted, “Sir, I would have you know that I am a member of the invisible church!”
The pastor said, “Well then, why don’t you go and join the invisible choir?”
“But what is Protestantism’s relationship to the Church, then? Well, Protestants are in imperfect communion with Her, having only ecclesial communities without all of the seven Sacraments. “
Target rich environment!
Protestant believers are always in perfect communion with His Gathering.
That includes some Catholics also.
There aren’t 7 “sacraments”. Scripture doesn’t identify any sacraments.
It does command baptism of true believers.
Was it to the “invisible church at Corinth” that Paul wrote two letters directly to?
There is no “invisible church” in the Bible. There is only the local, visible expression of “the church”. Anything beyond that is simply man’s efforts to explain what is firmly in Christ’s hands.
Another way to look at it - Why did Christ institute “the church” on earth? Obviously first is that He might be glorified in/through her.
But second, the Church was to “go, make disciples” - baptizing and teaching... How can any invisible nebulous entity do that?
The Law of First Mention Is it all those called out by YHvH ? or What was the purpose of the Ekklesia ? Was it a temporal corporation to rule on earth ? No ! Was it to have a temporal head ? No ! It was a gathering of YHvH's chosen people to hear His Word ? and learn to Fear YHvH all their days ? And to teach their children the same ? Yes. ------------- Ekklesia is from the Hebrew Qahal (kof, hey, lamed)
How does YHvH define "church" i.e.Ekklesia ? shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
A study of the word "church", in the Koine Greek : Ekklesia.
Was the "church" started at the YHvH commanded
Feast day of Shavuot (pentecost) as some say ?
Did the "church" exist earlier ?
Using the LXX as a guide we see that the Ekklesia
is first used in Deuteronomy 4:10
NAsbU Deuteronomy 4:10 "Remember the day you stood before YHvH, your God Also see : Deu 4:10, Deu 9:10, Deu 18:16, Deu 23:3, Deu 23:4, Deu 23:9, Deu 31:30,
at Horeb, when YHvH said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let
them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on
the earth, and that they may teach their children.'
Jos 9:2, Jda 20.2, Jda 21:5, Jda 21:8, Jdg 20:2 Jdg 21:5, Jdg 21:8, 1 Sa 17:47,
1 Sa 19:20, 1 Ki 8:14, 1 Ki 8:22, 1 Ki 8:55, 1 Ki 8:65, 1 Ch 13:2, 1 Ch 13:4, 1 Ch 28:2,
1 Ch 28:8
(kof => The HOLY ONE which is haQahal The assembly (hey, kop, hey, lamed)
hey => grace, breath of G-d
lamed => teaching and learning)
In scripture it is always used to describe
those who have been assembled by YHvH.
It begins in Exodus 16:3 ( the bread from heaven )
and continues to Nehemiah 8:17 (living in Booths)
NAsbU Nehemiah 8:17
The entire assembly of those who had returned from
the captivity made booths and lived in them.
The sons of Israel had indeed not done so
from the days of Joshua(Yehoshua)
the son of Nun to that day.
And there was great rejoicing.
The Law of First Mention
Is it all those called out by YHvH ?
What was the purpose of the Ekklesia ?
Was it a temporal corporation to rule on earth ? No !
Was it to have a temporal head ? No !
It was a gathering of YHvH's chosen people to hear His Word ?
and learn to Fear YHvH all their days ?
And to teach their children the same ? Yes.
Ekklesia is from the Hebrew Qahal (kof, hey, lamed)
I live in one Nation with invisible liberty and justice for all.
But second, the Church was to go, make disciples - baptizing and teaching... How can any invisible nebulous entity do that?
The way that Catholics understand the church always confounds me. It's like they have never considered the trinity. There is one God in three persons. There is one one church in many churches. The church in Rome is the church. The church in Corinth is the church. But just as the father is not the son, so the church in Rome is not the church in Corinth.
From the Athanasian creed "So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords"
The same understanding applies to the church. In Revelation, the seven churches in Asia are listed. Each has a lampstand, with Jesus standing in the middle. The church in Ephesus "tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false". The church in Ephesus did this on it's own. Their own lampstand; their own judgement. When the scriptures say to take a problem to the church, they are not talking about some singular earthly institution that covers all believers, they are talking about the local church, which is the church.
Then according to you Christians who are outside the Catholic Church but are saved are infinitely better off than anyone who is in the Catholic Church and not saved. The saved know the Lord but the unsaved do not.
Only if one leaves the visible Church.
The doctrine of invisible only is making a virtue of necessity. If you leave the visible Church, it must, of necessity, be invisible only.
Here is Paul's description of what drives Christian unity:
Eph 4:4-7 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (5) One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (7) But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
It is not "One hierarchical organization, one Pope, one Magisterium" to rule them all. What makes all believers one Bride of Christ is our one glorious Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, being magnified among us by one Holy Spirit, all to the glory of the One God. And as there is love between all three Persons of the Trinity, so there is love between all of us who believe, for each other, and for our Christ, our Holy Spirit, and our Heavenly Father. This is what Christ said would mark us as His very own, our love for each other, and how else could it be, as it is the inescapable reflection of our union with the Triune God.
This is a strange comment to make on Augustine. Augustine does not mention excommunication, as in, someone who is nominally a Christian but breaks communion with some leader, but sin, and those who break fellowship with Christ. He talks about those who go from "soberness" to drunkenness were never the "sheep" to begin with, as they were not those who were foreknown and predestinated. As he writes here:
"In like manner, how many are praising within who will yet blaspheme; are chaste who will yet be fornicators; are sober who will wallow hereafter in drink; are standing who will by and by fall! These are not the sheep. (For we speak of those who were predestinatedof those whom the Lord knows that they are His.) And yet these, so long as they keep right, listen to the voice of Christ. Yea, these hear, the others do not; and yet, according to predestination, these are not sheep, while the others are." (Augustine, Tractate 45)
Thus Augustine here even differentiates those who are currently in the church "so long as they keep right, and listen to the voice of Christ," but yet "are not sheep," while the wolves who have been predestinated to be sheep are.
This has nothing to do with communion with a particular Bishop, but the difference between the reprobate and the elect, the latter of which will infallibly become Christians, and the former, even if they are in the church currently, will drive themselves out through sin.