The Four Marks of the Church, also known as the Attributes of the Church, is a term describing four distinctive adjectives—"one, holy, catholic and apostolic"—of traditional Christian ecclesiology as expressed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed completed at the First Council of Constantinople in AD 381: "[We believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." This ecumenical creed is today recited in the liturgy of the Catholic Church (both Latin and Eastern Rites), the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Church of the East, the Moravian Church, the Lutheran Churches, the Methodist Churches, the Presbyterian Churches, the Anglican Communion and by members of many Reformed Churches.
While many doctrines, based on both tradition and different interpretations of the Bible, distinguish one denomination from another, largely explaining why there are so many different ones, the Four Marks, when defined the same way, represent a summary of what many clerical authorities have historically considered to be the most important affirmations of the Christian faith.
The ideas behind the Four Marks have been in the Christian Church since early Christianity. Allusions to them can be found in the writings of 2nd century early Church Father and bishop Ignatius of Antioch. They were not established in doctrine until the First Council of Constantinople in 381 as an antidote to certain heresies that had crept into the Church in its early history. There the Council elaborated on the Nicene Creed, established by the First Council of Nicea 56 years before by adding to the end a section that included the affirmation: "[We believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." The phrase has remained in versions of the Nicene Creed to this day.
In some languages, for example, German, the Latin "catholica" was substituted by "Christian" before the Reformation, though this was an anomaly and continues in use by some Protestant churches today. Hence, "holy catholic" becomes "holy Christian."
Roman Catholics believe the description "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church" to be applicable only to the Roman Catholic Church. They hold that "Christ established here on earth only one Church" and they believe in "the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church". While "there are numerous elements of sanctification and of truth which are found outside her structure", these, "as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity". The eastern Churches not in full communion with the Catholic Church thereby "lack something in their condition as particular Churches". The communities born out of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation "do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constituent element of the Church."
The Eastern Orthodox Church, in disagreement with the Roman Catholic, regards itself as the historical and organic continuation of the original Church founded by Christ and his apostles. The Oriental Orthodox Church disagrees with both and claims to be the historical and organic continuation of the original Church founded by Christ and his apostles, the "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic" Church of the ancient Christian creeds and the only Church that has always kept the true Christology and faith declared by the first three councils, Nicaea, Constantinople, and Ephesus affirmed by the Church Fathers and the Holy Tradition.
The Augsburg Confession found within the Book of Concord, a compendium of belief of the Lutheran Churches, teaches that "the faith as confessed by Luther and his followers is nothing new, but the true catholic faith, and that their churches represent the true catholic or universal church." When the Lutherans presented the Augsburg Confession to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1530, they believe to have "showed that each article of faith and practice was true first of all to Holy Scripture, and then also to the teaching of the church fathers and the councils." As such, the Lutheran Churches traditionally hold that theirs represents the true visible Church.
"There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."[Eph. 4:5–6] This list in the Pauline letters of factors making Christians one body, one church, is doubtless not meant to be exhaustive, says Francis Aloysius Sullivan, but it affirms the oneness of the body, the church, through what Christians have in common, what they have communion in. Elsewhere, Paul the Apostle says: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). This statement was about Christians as individuals, but it applied to them also as groups, as local churches, whether composed mainly of Jewish or Gentile Christians. In 1 Cor. 15:9, Paul spoke of himself as having persecuted "the church of God", not just the local church in Jerusalem but the same church that he addresses at the beginning of that letter as "the church of God that is in Corinth" (1 Cor. 1:2). In the same letter, he tells Christians: "You are the body of Christ and individually members of it" (1 Cor. 12:27), and declares that, "just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ" (1 Cor. 12:12).
The word holy means set apart for a special purpose by and for God. Christians understand the holiness of the universal Church to derive from Christ's holiness.
The word "catholic" is derived from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning "general", "universal". It is associated with the Greek adverb καθόλου (katholou), meaning "according to the whole", "entirely", or "in general", a combination of the preposition κατά meaning "according to" and the adjective ὅλος meaning "whole".
Applied to the church, the adjective "catholic" means that in the church the wholeness of the Christian faith, full and complete, all-embracing, and with nothing lacking, is proclaimed to all people without excluding any part of the faith or any class or group of people. The adjective can be applied not only to the church as spread throughout the world but also to each local manifestation of the church, in each of which nothing essential is lacking for it to be the genuine Church of Christ.
For his subjects, Emperor Theodosius I restricted the term "catholic christians" to believers in "the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity", and applied the name "heretics" to others (Edict of Thessalonica of 27 February 380).
This describes the Church's foundation and beliefs as rooted and continuing in the living Tradition of the Apostles of Jesus. The Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Church of the East each claim to have preserved the original teaching of the apostles. They also have apostolic succession in that their bishops derive their authority through a direct line of laying on of hands from the apostles, a claim that they accept can be made by the other churches in this group. Many Lutheran Churches, such as the Church of Sweden and the Anglican Communion, likewise teach the doctrine of apostolic succession. Other Christian denominations, on the other hand, usually hold that what preserves apostolic continuity is the written word: as Bruce Milne put it, "A church is apostolic as it recognizes in practice the supreme authority of the apostolic scriptures."
It is interesting to note, however, that the Nicene Creed, recited by Roman Catholics in their worship, is also accepted by millions of other Christians as a testimony of their faith—Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, and members of many of the Reformed Churches.
When the Lutherans presented the Augsburg Confession before Emperor Charles V in 1530, they carefully showed that each article of faith and practice was true first of all to Holy Scripture, and then also to the teaching of the church fathers and the councils and even the canon law of the Church of Rome. They boldly claim, “This is about the Sum of our Doctrine, in which, as can be seen, there is nothing that varies from the Scriptures, or from the Church Catholic, or from the Church of Rome as known from its writers” (AC XXI Conclusion 1). The underlying thesis of the Augsburg Confession is that the faith as confessed by Luther and his followers is nothing new, but the true catholic faith, and that their churches represent the true catholic or universal church. In fact, it is actually the Church of Rome that has departed from the ancient faith and practice of the catholic church (see AC XXIII 13, XXVIII 72 and other places).Missing or empty
In addition to the primary understanding of succession, the Lutheran confessions do express openness, however, to the continuation of the succession of bishops. This is a narrower understanding of apostolic succession, to be affirmed under the condition that the bishops support the Gospel and are ready to ordain evangelical preachers. This form of succession, for example, was continued by the Church of Sweden (which included Finland) at the time of the Reformation.
In Sweden the apostolic succession was preserved because the Catholic bishops were allowed to stay in office, but they had to approve changes in the ceremonies.
An apostle (), in its most literal sense, is an emissary, from Greek ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), literally "one who is sent off", from the verb ἀποστέλλειν (apostéllein), "to send off". The purpose of such sending off is usually to convey a message, and thus "messenger" is a common alternative translation; other common translations include "ambassador" and "envoy".The term derives from the Greek of the New Testament and was used for Jesus's original Twelve Apostles (including Peter, James, and John), as well as a wider group of early Christian figures, including Paul, Barnabas, and Junia. Some other religions use the term for comparable figures in their history. The word in this sense may be used metaphorically in various contexts, but is mostly found used specifically for early associates of the founder of a religion, who were important in spreading his or her teachings.
The adjective apostolic () is claimed as a continuing characteristic by a number of prominent Christian churches (i.e., that a given church's traditions, practices, and teachings descend directly from the original apostles), and so finds wider modern application. The word is found, for example, in the "Apostolic See", the official name for the Roman Catholic Papacy; in the doctrine of apostolic succession, held by many branches of Christianity; and in the Four Marks of the Church ("one, holy, catholic, and apostolic") found in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
The Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which has sometimes abbreviated its name as the B.A.O. Church or the BAOC, is a religious body in the Eastern Orthodox tradition.Catholic (term)
The word catholic (with lowercase c; derived via Late Latin catholicus, from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning "universal") comes from the Greek phrase καθόλου (katholou), meaning "on the whole", "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words κατά meaning "about" and ὅλος meaning "whole". The term Catholic (usually written with uppercase C in English) was first used in the early 2nd century to indicate Christendom as a whole. In the context of Christian ecclesiology, it has a rich history and several usages.
The word in English can mean either "of the Catholic faith" or "relating to the historic doctrine and practice of the Western Church". Many Christians use it to refer more broadly to the whole Christian Church or to all believers in Jesus Christ regardless of denominational affiliation; it can also more narrowly refer to Catholicity, which encompasses several historic churches sharing major beliefs. "Catholicos", the title used for the head of some churches in Eastern Christian traditions, is derived from the same linguistic origin.
In non-ecclesiastical use, it derives its English meaning directly from its root, and is currently used to mean the following:
including a wide variety of things; all-embracing
universal or of general interest;
liberal, having broad interests, or wide sympathies; or
inclusive, inviting and containing strong evangelism.The term has been incorporated into the name of the largest Christian communion, the Catholic Church (also called the Roman Catholic Church). All of the three main branches of Christianity in the East (Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church and Church of the East) had always identified themselves as Catholic in accordance with Apostolic traditions and the Nicene Creed. Anglicans, Lutherans, and some Methodists also believe that their churches are "Catholic" in the sense that they too are in continuity with the original universal church founded by the Apostles. However, each church defines the scope of the "Catholic Church" differently. For instance, the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox churches, and Church of the East, each maintain that their own denomination is identical with the original universal church, from which all other denominations broke away.
Distinguishing beliefs of Catholicity, the beliefs of most Christians who call themselves "Catholic", include the episcopal polity, that bishops are considered the highest order of ministers within the Christian religion, as well as the Nicene Creed of AD 381. In particular, along with unity, sanctity, and apostolicity, catholicity is considered one of Four Marks of the Church, found the line of the Nicene Creed: "I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church."
During the medieval and modern times, additional distinctions arose regarding the use of the terms Western Catholic and Eastern Catholic. Before the East–West Schism, those terms had just the basic geographical meanings, since only one undivided Catholicity existed, uniting the Latin speaking Christians of West and the Greek speaking Christians of the East. After the split of 1054 terminology became much more complicated, resulting in the creation of parallel and conflicting terminological systems.Catholic Church (disambiguation)
The Catholic Church is one of the largest Christian Churches.
Catholic Church may also refer to:
One of the 24 particular churches sui iuris that form the larger Catholic Church:
The Latin Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church or Western Catholic Church
The Eastern Catholic Churches, several Eastern Churches in full communion with Catholic Church
Independent Catholicism, Churches that historically and culturally stem from Catholicism but broke away from the Catholic Church
The Old Catholic Church, part of Independent Catholicism
Other churches expressing apostolic origins and traditions of catholicity, such as:
The Eastern Orthodox Church
The Assyrian Church of the East
The Ancient Church of the East
Churches within Lutheranism
Churches within AnglicanismCatholic Church and Islam
Relations between the Catholic Church and Islam deals with the current attitude of the Catholic Church towards Islam and Muslims, as well as the attitude of Islam towards the Catholic Church and Catholics, and notable changes in the relationship since 20th century.Catholicity
Catholicity (from Greek καθολικότητα της εκκλησίας, "catholicity of the church") or catholicism (from Greek καθολικισμός, "universal doctrine") is a concept that encompasses the beliefs and practices of numerous Christian denominations, most notably those that describe themselves as Catholic in accordance with the Four Marks of the Church, as expressed in the Nicene Creed of the First Council of Constantinople in 381: "[I believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."
While Catholicism is most commonly associated with the faith and practices of the Catholic Church led by the Pope in Rome, the traits of catholicity, and thus the term catholic, are also claimed and possessed by other denominations such as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East. It also occurs in Lutheranism, Anglicanism, as well as Independent Catholicism and other Christian denominations. While traits used to define catholicity, as well as recognition of these traits in other denominations, vary among these groups, such attributes include formal sacraments, an episcopal polity, apostolic succession, highly structured liturgical worship, and other shared Ecclesiology. The Catholic Church is also known as the Roman Catholic Church; the term Roman Catholic is used especially in ecumenical contexts and in countries where other churches use the term Catholic, to distinguish it from broader meanings of the term.Among Protestant and related traditions, catholic is used in the sense of indicating a self-understanding of continuity of faith and practice from Early Christianity as delineated in the Nicene Creed. Among Methodist, Lutheran, Moravian, and Reformed denominations the term "catholic" is used in the in claiming to be "heirs of the apostolic faith". These denominations consider themselves to be catholic, teaching that the term "designates the historic, orthodox mainstream of Christianity whose doctrine was defined by the ecumenical councils and creeds" and as such, most Reformers "appealed to this catholic tradition and believed they were in continuity with it."Charismatic Movement
The Charismatic Movement is the international trend of historically mainstream Christian congregations adopting beliefs and practices similar to Pentecostalism. Fundamental to the movement is the use of spiritual gifts (charismata). Among mainline Protestants, the movement began around 1960. Among Roman Catholics, it originated around 1967.Christian Church
Christian Church is an ecclesiological term generally used by Protestants to refer to the Church invisible, and/or whole group of people belonging to Christianity throughout the history of Christianity. In this understanding, "Christian Church" does not refer to a particular Christian denomination but to the "body" of all "believers", both defined in various ways. Other Christian traditions, however, believe that the term "Christian Church" or "Church" applies only to a specific concrete historic Christian institution, e.g. the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, or the Assyrian Church of the East).
The Four Marks of the Church first expressed in the Nicene Creed are that the Church is One (a unified Body of Particular Churches in full communion of doctrines and faith with each other), Holy (a sanctified and deified Body), Catholic (Universal and containing the fullness of Truth in itself), and Apostolic (its hierarchy, doctrines, and faith can be traced back to the Apostles).Thus, the majority of Christians globally (particularly of the apostolic churches listed above, as well as some Anglo-Catholics) consider the Christian Church as a visible and institutional "societas perfecta" enlivened with supernatural grace, while Protestants generally understand the Church to be an invisible reality not identifiable with any specific earthly institution, denomination, or network of affiliated churches. Others equate the Church with particular groups that share certain essential elements of doctrine and practice, though divided on other points of doctrine and government (such as the branch theory as taught by some Anglicans).
Most English translations of the New Testament generally use the word "church" as a translation of the Ancient Greek: ἐκκλησία, romanized: ecclesia, found in the original Greek texts, which generally meant an "assembly". This term appears in two verses of the Gospel of Matthew, 24 verses of the Acts of the Apostles, 58 verses of the Pauline epistles (including the earliest instances of its use in relation to a Christian body), two verses of the Letter to the Hebrews, one verse of the Epistle of James, three verses of the Third Epistle of John, and 19 verses of the Book of Revelation. In total, ἐκκλησία appears in the New Testament text 114 times, although not every instance is a technical reference to the church.In the New Testament, the term ἐκκλησία is used for local communities as well as in a universal sense to mean all believers. Traditionally, only orthodox believers are considered part of the true church, but convictions of what is orthodox have long varied, as many churches (not only the ones officially using the term "Orthodox" in their names) consider themselves to be orthodox and other Christians to be heterodox.Church of Crete
The Church of Crete (Greek: Εκκλησία της Κρήτης) is an Eastern Orthodox Church, comprising the island of Crete in Greece. The Church of Crete is semi-autonomous (self-governing) under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The current Archbishop of Crete is, since 30 August 2006, Irinaios Athanasiadis.Church unity
Church unity may refer to:
The unity of the church, one of the Four Marks of the Church
The unity of the church expressed in Ecumenism
The goal of Church unionEastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises church families that developed outside the Occident, with major bodies including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches (that are in communion with Rome but still maintain Eastern liturgies), and the denominations descended from the Church of the East. The Ukrainian Lutheran Church is also an Eastern Christian church that uses the Byzantine Rite. The term is used in contrast with Western Christianity (namely the Latin Church and most of Protestantism), although its scope has been one of continual discussion. Eastern Christianity consists of the Christian traditions and churches that developed distinctively over several centuries in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Malabar coast of South India, and parts of the Far East. The term does not describe a single communion or religious denomination. Some Eastern churches have more in common historically and theologically with Western Christianity than with one another. The various Eastern churches do not normally refer to themselves as "Eastern", with the exception of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East.
The terms "Eastern" and "Western" in this regard originated with geographical divisions in Christianity mirroring the cultural divide between the Hellenistic east and Latin West, and the political divide between the Western and Eastern Roman empires. Because the largest church in the East is the body currently known as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the term "Orthodox" is often used in a similar fashion to "Eastern", to refer to specific historical Christian communions. However, strictly speaking, most Christian denominations, whether Eastern or Western, consider themselves to be "orthodox" (following correct beliefs) as well as "catholic" (or "universal"), as two of the Four Marks of the Church listed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed: "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic" (Greek: μία, ἁγία, καθολικὴ καὶ ἀποστολικὴ ἐκκλησία).There are several liturgical rites in use among the Eastern churches (excepting the non-liturgical dissenting bodies). These are the Alexandrian Rite, the Antiochene Rite, the Armenian Rite, the Byzantine Rite, the East Syriac Rite and the West Syriac Rite.Nepsis
Nepsis (or nipsis; Greek: νῆψις) is an important idea in Orthodox Christian theology, considered the hallmark of sanctity. It is a state of watchfulness or sobriety acquired following a long period of catharsis.On the Councils and the Church
On the Councils and the Church (1539) is a treatise on ecclesiology written by Protestant reformer Martin Luther late in life.
On the Councils and the Church is best known for its teaching, in the third part of the book, of the "seven marks of the Church", of which the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church can be recognized. These marks are:
holy word of God, effective means of grace
holy sacrament of baptism, regeneration
holy sacrament of the altar
office of keys exercised publicly, although not the office of pope. Includes also private confession as a means of grace.
it consecrates or calls ministers, or has offices, that is, to administer, bishops, pastors, preachers, but not women.
prayer, public praise, and thanksgiving to God, the liturgy
holy possession of the sacred cross, suffering and carrying the cross as followers of Christ.One true church
A number of Christian denominations assert that they alone represent the one true church – the church to which Jesus gave his authority in the Great Commission. The Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox communion and the Assyrian Church of the East each understands itself as the one and only original church. The claim to the title of the "one true church" relates to the first of the Four Marks of the Church mentioned in the Nicene Creed: "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church". The concept of schism somewhat moderates the competing claims between some churches – one can potentially repair schism. For example, the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches each regard the other as schismatic rather than heretical.Similarly, a number of groups, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), view apostolic succession as an essential element in constituting the one true church, arguing that it has inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority and responsibility that Jesus Christ gave to the Apostles. Other groups, such as Iglesia ni Cristo, believe in a last-messenger doctrine, where no such succession takes place. A few believe they have restored the original church, in belief or in practice. The Seventh-day Adventist Church regards itself to be the one true church in the sense of being a faithful remnant.
Many mainstream Protestants regard all baptized Christians as members of the Christian Church; this belief is sometimes referred to by the theological term "invisible church". Some other Christians, such as Anglicans of Anglo-Catholic churchmanship, espouse a version of branch theory which teaches that the true Christian Church comprises Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Old Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Scandinavian Lutheran, and Roman Catholic branches.Outline of the Catholic Church
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Church:
Catholicism – largest denomination of Christianity. Catholicism encompasses the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole.Satis cognitum
Satis cognitum is an encyclical of Pope Leo XIII dated 29 June 1896 on the unity of the Church, and some heresies of his time.
The document contains an extensive articulation of and apologia for Catholic ecclesiology as it relates to the Church's unity, one of the four marks of the Church according to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, which professes belief in "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." In the second half of the text, Pope Leo strongly defends the primacy of the Roman Pontiff as taught at the First Vatican Council as a corollary of the Church's unity. The encyclical concludes with an appeal to non-Catholic Christians and others for reunion with the Catholic Church.Universal church
Universal church may refer to:
one of the four marks of the church
The Catholic Church (the word "catholic" means "universal")
Christian Church, or "Church catholic", the whole body of Christians collectively
Universal Church of the Kingdom of God
Universal Church of Truth
of the faithful