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.
In essence, the Catholic Church teaches that Christ intended only "one true Church", and that this Church of Christ uniquely 'subsists in' the Catholic Church. From this follows that it regards itself as instrumental to "the universal sacrament of salvation for the human race".
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Catholic ecclesiology professes the Catholic Church to be the "sole Church of Christ" e.g. the one true church defined as "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic" in the Four Marks of the Church in the Nicene Creed. This teaching was originally formulated at the Council of Nicea (AD 325) at which time the Apostle's Creed (the basis for the Nicene Creed) had been ratified. The church teaches that only the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ, who appointed the Twelve Apostles to continue his work as the Church's earliest bishops. Catholic belief holds that the Church "is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth", and that all duly consecrated bishops have a lineal succession from the apostles. In particular, the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), is considered the successor to the apostle Simon Peter, from whom the Pope derives his supremacy over the Church. The Church is further described in the papal encyclical Mystici corporis Christi as the Mystical Body of Christ. Thus, the Catholic Church holds that "the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic ... This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him."
In responding to some questions regarding the doctrine of the Church concerning itself, the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated, "Clarius dicendum esset veram Ecclesiam esse solam Ecclesiam catholicam romanam..." ("It should be said more clearly that the Roman Catholic Church alone is the true Church..") And it also clarified that the term "subsistit in" used in reference to the Church in the Second Vatican Council's decree Lumen gentium "indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church".
One of the earlier councils (the Fourth Lateran Council) declared that: "There is one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which there is absolutely no salvation", a statement of what is known as the doctrine of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. The Church is further described in the papal encyclical Mystici corporis Christi as the "Mystical Body of Christ".
In the encyclical Mortalium animos of 6 January 1928, Pope Pius XI wrote that "in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors" and quoted the statement of Lactantius: "The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation." Accordingly, the Second Vatican Council declared: "Whosoever, [...] knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved. In the same document, the Council continued: "The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter." And in a decree on ecumenism, Unitatis redintegratio, it stated: "Catholics must gladly acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowments from our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren. It is right and salutary to recognise the riches of Christ and virtuous works in the lives of others who are bearing witness to Christ, sometimes even to the shedding of their blood. For God is always wonderful in His works and worthy of all praise."
The Church teaches that the fullness of the "means of salvation" exists only in the Catholic Church, but the Church acknowledges that the Holy Spirit can make use of ecclesial communities separated from itself to "impel towards Catholic unity" and thus bring people to salvation in the Catholic Church ultimately. It teaches that anyone who is saved is saved through the Catholic Church but that people can be saved ex voto and by pre-baptismal martyrdom as well as when conditions of invincible ignorance are present, although invincible ignorance in itself is not a means of salvation.
Roman Catholic theology considers formal schismatics to be outside the Church, understanding by "formal schismatics" "persons who, knowing the true nature of the Church, have personally and deliberately committed the sin of schism". The situation, for instance, of those who have been brought up from childhood within a group not in full communion with Rome, but who have orthodox faith, is different: these are considered to be imperfectly, though not fully, members of the Church. This nuanced view applies especially to the Churches of Eastern Christianity, more particularly still to the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The Eastern Orthodox Church has identified itself as the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church" in, for instance, synods held in 1836 and 1838 and in its correspondence with Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII. Some Orthodox hold that there can be a kind of imperfect participation in the Church by those not visibly in communion with it.
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".
Lutheran theology therefore holds that:
There can only be one true visible Church. Of this our Catechism speaks in Question 192: "Whom do we call the true visible Church?" Answer: "The whole number of those who have, teach and confess the entire doctrine of the Word of God in all its purity, and among whom the Sacraments are duly administered according to Christ's institution." That there can be but one true visible Church, and that, therefore, one is not just as good as another stands to reason because there is only one truth, one Bible, one Word of God. Evidently that Church which teaches this truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is the true visible Church. Christ says John 8, 31. 32: "If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Again Christ says Matt. 28, 20: "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Whatsoever He has commanded us, His Word, and nothing else, we should teach. And again, all things which He has commanded us we should teach. That, therefore is the true visible Church which does this. But that all visible Churches do not this is plain from the fact that they do not agree among themselves. If every Church would teach the whole truth and nothing but the truth as God has revealed it, there could be no difference. So, then, by calling other denominations Churches, we do not mean to say that one Church is just as good as another. Only that one is the true visible Church which teaches and confesses the entire doctrine of the Word of God in all its purity, and in whose midst the Sacraments are duly administered according to Christ's institution. Of all Churches, this can only be said of our Lutheran Church.
Many Baptists, who uphold the doctrine of Baptist successionism (also known as Landmarkism), "argue that their history can be traced across the centuries to New Testament times" and "claim that Baptists have represented the true church" that "has been, present in every period of history". These Baptists maintain that those who held their views throughout history, including the "Montanists, Novatians, Patarenes, Bogomils, Paulicians, Arnoldists, Henricians, Albigenses, and Waldenses", were persecuted for their faith, a belief that these Baptists maintain to be "grand distinguishing mark of the true church". In the introduction of The Trail of Blood, a Baptist text that explicates the doctrine of Baptist succession, Clarence Walker states that "The history of Baptists, he discovered, was written in blood. They were the hated people of the Dark Ages. Their preachers and people were put into prison and untold numbers were put to death." J. M. Carroll, the author of the said text The Trail of Blood, also appeals to historian Johann Lorenz von Mosheim, who stated "Before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay secreted in almost all the countries of Europe persons who adhered tenaciously to the principles of modern Dutch Baptists." Walter B. Shurden, the founding executive director of the Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University, writes that the theology of Landmarkism, which he states is integral of the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, upholds the ideas that "Only Baptist churches can trace their lineage in uninterrupted fashion back to the New Testament, and only Baptist churches therefore are true churches." In addition Shurden writes that Baptists who uphold successionism believe that "only a true church-that is, a Baptist church-can legitimately celebrate the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper. Any celebration of these ordinances by non-Baptists is invalid."
Baptists who uphold this ecclesiology also do not characterize themselves as being a Protestant Church due to their belief that "they did not descend from those churches that broke away in protest from the church of Rome. Rather, they had enjoyed a continuous historical existence from the time of the very first church in the New Testament days." These views are generally no longer widely held in the Southern Baptist Convention although they are still taught by some Southern Baptist Churches and many independent Baptist churches, Primitive Baptists, and some "congregations affiliated with the American Baptist Association."
The Amish, as with other Anabaptist Christians, believe that "the established church became corrupt, ineffectual, and displeasing to God." The Amish believe that the true Church is pure and separate from the world:
Amish fraternity is based upon the understanding of the church as a redemptive community. To express this corporateness they use the German term Gemeinde or the shorter dialect version pronounced Gemee. This concept expresses all the connotations of church, congregation, and community. The true church, they believe, had its origin in God's plan, and after the end of time the church will coexist with God through eternity. The true church is to be distinguished from the "fallen church". ... The church of God is composed of those who "have truly repented and rightly believed; who are rightly baptized ... and incorporated into the communion of saints on earth." The true church is "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation," and "a congregation of the righteous." The church of God is separate and completely different from the "bind perverted world." Furthermore, the church is "known by her evangelical faith, doctrine, love, and godly conversation; also by her pure walk and practice, and her observances of the true ordinances of Christ." The church must be "pure, unspotted and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27), capable of enforcing disciplinary measures to insure purity of life and separation from the world.
Although similar in some ways to other conservative Mennonite groups, the Holdeman church teaches that they are the one true church of Christ. Their doctrine of the one true church, based on Matthew 16:18 and other Scriptures, emphasizes the succession of true doctrine, practice, and teachers through the centuries, and the authority of the church under Christ.
As described in the tract The Glory of the True Church by Francis Howgill, the Religious Society of Friends traditionally believed that after the Apostolic Era, the "true Church fled into the wilderness" and "the false Church came into visibility". George Fox and his followers "believed that they were called to carry out the true reformation, to restore apostolic Christianity, and to make a fresh beginning". As such, "The Quaker community was the one true Church, and consequently those converted by Quaker preaching were expected to join it." Among some Quakers, there became a "shift from being the one and only True Church to being a part of the True Church" and so "marriage with non-Quakers became accepted by many in the Quaker community", though "they still had to marry within the Meeting House, as well as gain approbation."
Methodists affirm belief in "the one true Church, Apostolic and Universal", viewing their Churches as constituting a "privileged branch of this true church". With regard to the position of Methodism within Christendom, the founder of the movement "John Wesley once noted that what God had achieved in the development of Methodism was no mere human endeavor but the work of God. As such it would be preserved by God so long as history remained." Calling it "the grand depositum" of the Methodist faith, Wesley specifically taught that the propagation of the doctrine of entire sanctification was the reason that God raised up the Methodists in the world.
Restorationism is a broad category of churches, originating during the Second Great Awakening, that characterize themselves as a return to very early Christianity after the true faith was lost in a Great Apostasy. Prominent among these groups are the Churches of Christ (Stone-Campbell movement) and the Latter Day Saint movement (Mormonism). The idea of "restoration" was a popular theme of the time of the founding of these branches, and developed an independent expression in both. In the Stone-Campbell movement, the idea of restoration was combined with Enlightenment rationalism, "precluding emotionalism, spiritualism, or any other phenomena that could not be sustained by rational appeals to the biblical text."
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church (SDA Church) holds itself to be the one true Church. It specifically teaches that "it is the 'final remnant' of His true church [spanning] the centuries". Seventh-day Adventist eschatology promulgates the idea that in the end times, there will be an "growing opposition between the 'true' church and the 'apostate' church." According to Seventh-day Adventist theology, these apostates are referred to as "Babylon", which they state is an amalgam of religions (including other Christian denominations) that worship on the Lord's Day (Sunday) rather than the Sabbath (Saturday). The SDA Church, in their view, "has drawn substantially on the biblical text, especially the books of Daniel and Revelation, to argue for its own status as the true remnant church which has a divine commission both to exist and to preach its apocalyptic message to the world at large."
In 1830, Joseph Smith established the Church of Christ as a restoration of original Christianity, and in 1831 declared it to be "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth". Smith later reported that during his First Vision in his teenage years, Jesus had told him that all churches that then existed "were all wrong; [and] that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight". The Latter Day Saints combined their religion with "the spirit of nineteenth-century Romanticism" and, as a result, "never sought to recover the forms and structures of the ancient church as ends in themselves" but "sought to restore the golden age, recorded in both Old Testament and New Testament, when God broke into human history and communed directly with humankind."
The predominant organization within the movement is the LDS Church, which continues to teach that it is "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth". The church teaches that all people who achieve the highest level of salvation must be baptized into the LDS Church; however, those who missed that opportunity in their lifetime may be included through a proxy baptism for the dead, in which a worthy Mormon is baptized on their behalf inside a church temple.
Most other Latter Day Saint churches claim to be the rightful continuation or successor of the church Smith established and therefore claim to be the one true church. However, the Community of Christ, the second-largest Latter Day Saint church, has recently de-emphasized this belief in favor of a position that the Community of Christ "is part of the whole body of Christ". The church's canonized Doctrine and Covenants continues to contain the declaration that the church is the "only true and living church".
The Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), like other restorationist groups, believes that it is the one church founded by Jesus. Adherents hold that the Iglesia ni Cristo ("Church of Christ" in Tagalog) is the only true church of Jesus Christ as restored through a human instrument (sugo) Felix Manalo. The church recognizes Jesus Christ as the founder of the Christian Church. Meanwhile, its reestablishment is seen as the signal for the end of days. They believe that the church was apostatized by the 1st or 4th century due to false teachings. The INC says that this apostate church is the Roman Catholic Church.
Fear not for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west; I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not keep them back!' Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth.
Members believe that the Iglesia ni Cristo is the fulfillment of the passage above. Based from their doctrines, "ends of the earth" pertains to the time the true church would be restored from apostasy and "east" refers to the Philippines where the "Church of Christ" would be founded. The INC teaches that its members constitute the "elect of God" and there is no salvation outside the INC. Faith alone is insufficient for salvation. The Iglesia ni Cristo says that the official name of the true church is "Church of Christ". The two passages often cited by INC to support this are Romans 16:16 "Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you" and the George Lamsa translation of Acts 20:28: "Take heed therefore ... to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood."
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
Although the two most popular textbooks used in America to teach Baptist history cite Holland and England early in the seventeenth century as the birthplace of the Baptist churches, many Baptists object vehemently and argue that their history can be traced across the centuries to New Testament times. Some Baptists deny categorically that they are Protestants and that the history of their churches is related to the success of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. Those who reject the Protestant character and Reformation origins of the Baptists usually maintain a view of church history sometimes called "Baptist successionism" and claim that Baptists have represented the true church, which must be, and has been, present in every period of history. The popularity of the successionist view has been enhanced enormously by a booklet entitled The Trail of Blood, of which thousands of copies have been distributed since it was published in 1931.
One was its belief that the Baptist Church was the only true church. Because only the Baptist Church was an authentically biblical church, all other so-called churches were merely human societies. This mean that only ordinances performed by this true church were valid. All other rites were simply rituals performed by leaders of religious societies. The Lord's Supper could correctly be administered only to members of the local congregation (closed communion). Pastors of other denominations could not be true pastors because their churches were not true churches.
The thesis of The Trail of Blood appears in its subtitle "Following the Christians Down through the Centuries ... or The History of Baptist Churches from the Time of Christ, Their Founder, to the Present Day." J.M. Carroll, author of this treatise, explained that the "blood" in the title signifies suffering, because the true church has been persecuted throughout history. In fact, it appears that Carroll and some other successionist authors have made the experience of suffering persecutions the grand distinguishing mark of the true church. Successionists admit, of course, that the name "Baptist" cannot be found in every period of the Christian era, but if a group dissented from the Roman Catholic Church and suffered for its nonconformity, successionists have been quick to cite such groups as baptistic proponents of biblical Christianity. In this way, ancient and medieval religious movements such as the Montanists, Novatians, Patarenes, Bogomils, Paulicians, Arnoldists, Henricians, Albigenses, and Waldenses have been inducted into the line of "Baptist" succession.
Also, and perhaps more important for this study, The Trail of Blood should be remembered because it was one of the principal documents to support Landmarkism. No historical or doctrinal aberration, I believe, affected Southern Baptist thinking more during the nineteenth century-and still shapes Southern Baptist ecclesiology, especially in the Southwest-than that of Landmarkism. What were the teachings of J.R. Graves, J.M. Pendleton, A.C. Dayton-a dentist converted from Presbyterianism to Baptist Landmarkism-and J.M. Carroll? Briefly, proponents of Landmarkism insisted (1) There is no such entity as the "invisible church" or the "Church Universal." There are only local churches. (2) Only Baptist churches bear the marks of the true New Testament church. (3) Only Baptist churches can trace their lineage in uninterrupted fashion back to the New Testament, and only Baptist churches therefore are true churches. (4) If you want to see the Kingdom of God at work, look at Baptist churches for they are the only visible signs of the Kingdom of God. In fact Landmarkism insisted, Baptist churches and the Kingdom of God are really two sides of the same coin. (5) All other so-called churches are counterfeit, imitations, or "human societies" as the Landmarkers called them, and Baptists should have no dealings whatsoever with them. (6) Finally, only a true church-that is, a Baptist church-can legitimately celebrate the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper. Any celebration of these ordinances by non-Baptists is invalid.
Landmark Baptists insisted that Baptist churches should not be referred to as Protestant churches at all because they did not descend from those churches that broke away in protest from the church of Rome. Rather, they had enjoyed a continuous historical existence from the time of the very first church in the New Testament days.
Landmarkism continue to affect Baptist polity (government) and practice throughout the twentieth century, particularly with regard to questions of open and closed communion, "alien immersion," and support of missionaries through mission societies. Some Independent Baptist churches, congregations affiliated with the American Baptist Association (ABA), and the Primitive Baptists continue to affirm and promote Landmark views.
Fox preached that this was an age of a new covenant with God, the beginning of the end of the world. Quakers represented the true church and the only right way to a salvation available in this life, but all could become Quakers. All could realize salvation and consequent perfection.
Adventists claim that they must be the true church because they are persecuted; but Mormons have been persecuted a thousand fold more. ... They point to her and her visions as the sign and proof that they are the only true church.
In Europe and America, Aventists would ... present themselves as the true church and preach that other denominations had become "Babylon" and were therefore not churches of God any more.
The Armenian Rite is an independent liturgy used by both the Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Catholic Churches. It is also the rite used by a significant number of Eastern Catholic Christians in Georgia.Catholic Bible
Within Catholicism, the Bible comprises the whole 73-book canon recognized by the Catholic Church, including the deuterocanonical books. It is sometimes referred to as the Catholic Bible.Catholic 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.Catholic ecclesiology
The ecclesiology of the Catholic Church is the area of Catholic theology covering the ecclesiology -- the nature, structure, and constitution -- of the Catholic Church itself on a metaphysical and revealed level.Christian Church
"Christian Church" is an ecclesiological term generally used by Protestants to refer to the 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, translit. 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 invisible
The invisible church or church invisible is a theological concept of an "invisible" body of the elect who are known only to God, in contrast to the "visible church"—that is, the institutional body on earth which preaches the gospel and administers the sacraments. Every member of the invisible church is saved, while the visible church contains some individuals who are saved and others who are unsaved. According to this view, Bible passages such as Matthew 7:21-27, Matthew 13:24-30, and Matthew 24:29-51 speak about this distinction.
This concept has been attributed to St Augustine of Hippo as part of his refutation of the Donatist sect. He was strongly influenced by the Platonist belief that true reality is invisible and that, if the visible reflects the invisible, it does so only partially and imperfectly (see Theory of Forms). Others question whether Augustine really held to some form of an "invisible true Church" concept.The concept was insisted upon during the Protestant reformation as a way of distinguishing between the "visible" Roman Catholic Church, which according to the Reformers was corrupt, and those within it who truly believe, as well as true believers within their own denominations. John Calvin described the church invisible as "that which is actually in God's presence, into which no persons are received but those who are children of God by grace of adoption and true members of Christ by sanctification of the Holy Spirit... [The invisible church] includes not only the saints presently living on earth, but all the elect from the beginning of the world." He continues in contrasting this church with the church scattered throughout the world. "In this church there is a very large mixture of hypocrites, who have nothing of Christ but the name and outward appearance..." (Institutes 4.1.7)
Pietism later took this a step further, with its formulation of ecclesiolae in ecclesia ("little churches within the church").
Roman Catholic theology, reacting against the Protestant concept of an invisible Church, emphasized the visible aspect of the Church founded by Christ, but in the twentieth century placed more stress on the interior life of the Church as a supernatural organism, identifying the Church, as in the encyclical Mystici corporis Christi of Pope Pius XII, with the Mystical Body of Christ. In Catholic doctrine, the one true Church is the visible society founded by Christ, namely, the Catholic Church under the global jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome. In his Mystici corporis Christi, Pope Pius XII noted, "The Church has two aspects, a visible and an invisible one."
This encyclical rejected two extreme views of the Church:
(1) A rationalistic or purely sociological understanding of the Church, according to which it is merely a human organization with structures and activities, is mistaken. The visible Church and its structures do exist but the Church is more, as it is guided by the Holy Spirit: Although the juridical principles, on which the Church rests and is established, derive from the divine constitution given to it by Christ and contribute to the attaining of its supernatural end, nevertheless that which lifts the Society of Christians far above the whole natural order is the Spirit of our Redeemer who penetrates and fills every part of the Church.
(2) An exclusively mystical understanding of the Church is mistaken as well, because a mystical "Christ in us" union would deify its members and mean that the acts of Christians are simultaneously the acts of Christ. The theological concept una mystica persona (one mystical person) refers not to an individual relation but to the unity of Christ with the Church and the unity of its members with him in her.Eastern Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky too characterizes as a "Nestorian ecclesiology" that which would "divide the Church into distinct beings: on the one hand a heavenly and invisible Church, alone true and absolute; on the other, the earthly Church (or rather 'the churches'), imperfect and relative".Dicastery
A dicastery (from Greek δικαστήριον, law-court, from δικαστής, judge/juror) is a department of the Roman Curia, the administration of the Holy See through which the pope directs the Roman Catholic Church. The most recent comprehensive constitution of the church, Pastor bonus (1988), includes this definition:
By the word "dicasteries" are understood the Secretariat of State, Congregations, Tribunals, Councils and Offices, namely, the Apostolic Camera, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.Friar
A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.Iglesia ni Cristo
Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) (Tagalog pronunciation: [ɪˈglɛ̝ʃɐ ni ˈkɾisto̞], abbreviated as INC) is an independent Nontrinitarian Christian religious organization that originated in the Philippines. It was registered in 1914 by Felix Y. Manalo, who became its first Executive Minister.
The Iglesia ni Cristo claiming to be the one true church and the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus, and that all other Christian churches are apostates. INC doctrine cites that the official registration of the Church with the Government of the Philippine Islands on July 27, 1914, by Felix Y. Manalo—upheld by its members to be the last messenger of God—was an act of divine providence and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy concerning the re-establishment of the Church in the Far East concurrent with the coming of the seventh seal marking the end of days.By the time of Manalo's death in 1963, the Iglesia ni Cristo had become a nationwide church with 1,250 local chapels and 35 large concrete cathedrals. His son, Eraño G. Manalo, became the next church leader and led a campaign to grow and internationalize the church until his death on August 31, 2009, whereupon his son, Eduardo V. Manalo, succeeded him as Executive Minister. In 2010, the Philippine census by the National Statistics Office found that 2.45% of the population in the Philippines are affiliated with the Iglesia ni Cristo, making it the religion with the third largest number of adherents, with Islam at 5.57% and Roman Catholicism at 80.58%.Latin Church
The Latin Church (also known as the Western Church or the Roman Catholic Church) is the largest particular church of the Catholic Church, employing the Latin liturgical rites. It is one of 24 sui iuris churches, the 23 other forming the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is headed by the Bishop of Rome - the pope, traditionally called the Patriarch of the West - with headquarters in the Vatican City, enclaved within Rome, Italy. The Latin Church traces its history to the earliest days of Christianity, according to Catholic tradition, through its direct leadership under the Holy See.
Substantial distinguishing theological emphases, liturgical traditions, features and identity can be traced back to the Latin church fathers, and most importantly the Latin Doctors of the Church, active during the first centuries A.D., including in the Early African church. After the East-West schism in 1054, in the Middle Ages its members became known as Latins in contrast with Eastern Christians.
The Latin Church was in full communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church until the East-West schism. The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century resulted in Protestantism breaking away. Since 19th century, also smaller groups of Independent Catholic denominations broke away.
With approximately 1.255 billion members (2015), it remains by far the largest particular church not only in the Catholic Church or Western Christianity, but in all Christianity.Lists of Catholics
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide, as of 2016.National Catholic Register
The National Catholic Register is the oldest national Catholic newspaper in the United States. It was founded on November 8, 1927, by Matthew J. Smith as the National Edition of the Denver Catholic Register.
Content includes news and features from the United States, the Vatican, and worldwide, on such topics as culture, education, books, arts and entertainment, as well as interviews. Online content includes various blogs and breaking news.
The Register's print edition is published (bi-weekly, 26 times a year) and owned by Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. Tom Wehner has been the managing editor since 2009. Jeanette DeMelo became editor in chief in 2012.Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
The Order of the Most Holy Annunciation (Latin: Ordo SS. Annuntiationis), also known as Turchine Nuns or Blue Nuns, is a Roman Catholic religious order of contemplative nuns formed in honour of the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ at Genoa, in Italy, by Blessed Maria Vittoria De Fornari Strata.
Pope Clement VIII approved the religious order in August 5, 1604, placing it under the Rule of St. Augustine.
At the present, there are monasteries of this religious order in Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, the Philippines, Romania and Brazil.Pontifical academy
A pontifical academy is an academic honorary society established by or under the direction of the Holy See. Some were in existence well before they were accepted as "Pontifical."Protestantism
Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone (sola fide) rather than by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone (rather than with sacred tradition) in faith and morals (sola scriptura). The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.Protestantism is popularly considered to have begun in Germany in 1517 when Martin Luther published his Ninety-five Theses as a reaction against abuses in the sale of indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church, which purported to offer remission of sin to their purchasers. However, the term derives from the letter of protestation from German Lutheran princes in 1529 against an edict of the Diet of Speyer condemning the teachings of Martin Luther as heretical. Although there were earlier breaks and attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church—notably by Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, and Jan Hus—only Luther succeeded in sparking a wider, lasting, and modern movement. In the 16th century, Lutheranism spread from Germany into Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and Iceland. Reformed (or Calvinist) denominations spread in Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland and France by reformers such as John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Knox. The political separation of the Church of England from the pope under King Henry VIII began Anglicanism, bringing England and Wales into this broad Reformation movement.Protestants have developed their own culture, with major contributions in education, the humanities and sciences, the political and social order, the economy and the arts, and many other fields.Protestantism is diverse, being more divided theologically and ecclesiastically than either the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, or Oriental Orthodoxy. Without structural unity or central human authority, Protestants developed the concept of an invisible church, in contrast to the Roman Catholic view of the Catholic Church as the visible one true Church founded by Jesus Christ. Some denominations do have a worldwide scope and distribution of membership, while others are confined to a single country. A majority of Protestants are members of a handful of Protestant denominational families: Adventists, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Baptists, Reformed, Lutherans, Methodists, and Pentecostals. Nondenominational, evangelical, charismatic, independent and other churches are on the rise, and constitute a significant part of Protestant Christianity. Proponents of the branch theory consider Protestantism one of the three major divisions of Christendom, together with the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodoxy (both Eastern and Oriental).Religious exclusivism
Religious exclusivism, or exclusivity, is the doctrine or belief that only one particular religion or belief system is true.Schism
A schism (pronounced SIZ-əm, SKIZ-əm or, less commonly, SHIZ-əm) is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a split in what had previously been a single religious body, such as the East–West Schism or the Great Western Schism. It is also used of a split within a non-religious organization or movement or, more broadly, of a separation between two or more people, be it brothers, friends, lovers, etc.
A schismatic is a person who creates or incites schism in an organization or who is a member of a splinter group. Schismatic as an adjective means pertaining to a schism or schisms, or to those ideas, policies, etc. that are thought to lead towards or promote schism.
In religion, the charge of schism is distinguished from that of heresy, since the offence of schism concerns not differences of belief or doctrine but promotion of, or the state of, division. However, schisms frequently involve mutual accusations of heresy. In Roman Catholic teaching, every heresy is a schism, while there may be some schisms free of the added guilt of heresy. Liberal Protestantism, however, has often preferred heresy over schism. Presbyterian scholar James I. McCord (quoted with approval by the Episcopalian Bishop of Virginia Peter Lee) drew a distinction between them, teaching: "If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy. As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ. Choose heresy every time."Superior (hierarchy)
In a hierarchy or tree structure of any kind, a superior is an individual or position at a higher level in the hierarchy than another (a "subordinate" or "inferior"), and thus closer to the apex. In business, superiors are people who are supervisors and in the military, superiors are people who are higher in the chain of command (superior officer). Superiors are given, sometimes supreme, authority over others under their command. When an order is given, one must follow that order and obey it or punishment may be issued.
of the faithful