15 August, 2009

Discussion with Ernie about the definition of Church

(Ernie) From your response to my posting, are you saying that only Catholics are true Christians, and all others, such as Baptists, Pentecostals, Charismatics, and others who have accepted Jesus as Lord are not Christians?

(Cristoiglesia) No, that is not what I said or what I meant. Protestant Christians regardless of the label they put on themselves may be Christians but are not exposed to the fullness of truth taught by Jesus and the disciples nor do they desire it. They even reject God’s grace contained in the Sacraments. So they are nominal Christians at best. Even so the Church teaches and believes that even some of those who reject the Church that Jesus and the disciples founded may have salvific grace at their death as Jesus may save whom He wishes and only He knows one’s heart. However, even those will be saved through His Church and not without His Church.

(Ernie) The true Church does not carry a label like Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, or otherwise, but the true Church are composed of born again children of God, and spread around the world.

(Cristoiglesia) I guess the veracity of your statement rests on the definition of the Church which is taught in the Bible, and is represented by Patristic and historical evidence. That can only be one Church which is the Catholic Church. I believe you are confusing two things the visible and the invisible Church. This is from elsewhere in my blog:

The invisible Church are those who have faith in our Lord but one cannot discern who are a part of His invisible Church. However, Jesus and the disciples founded a visible Church and we see the formation of that Church in the book of Acts. This Church is the Catholic Church and is the self-same Church that Jesus prayed that we would all be one within. Otherwise as professed Christians and not being obedient to His Church would place us outside of His will, blessings, promises and grace; if not fully but in great measure. Those outside of His will would be those that some describe as "playing" at Christianity and not following Jesus.

There are some outside of the visible Church which some call a "remnant" that are not be on the path to the narrow gate but may be saved by God's mercy. These are those who seek God but are deceived into being outside of His visible Church by no fault of their own. While not a part of the visible Church they can be considered a part of the invisible Church. So, Jesus and the disciples formed a visible Church as we see after Pentecost recorded in the book of Acts and it could be said that there are those known only to God who are a part of that visible Church against their will or knowledge that will be received in Glory to be a part of the Church Triumphant. But, as one can see in Scripture this is not the ordinary way to be saved through His Church but as an extraordinary example of His mercy.

The gates of hell will never prevail against His visible Church because of the protection of the Church by the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost. The Church is other worldly and heavenly in its nature and is endowed with its holiness and veracity from its founder Jesus. Jesus gave His promises to His visible Church so that the world could see the testimony of His Church as the pillar and ground of the truth and a shining city on a hill (Mat 5:14) It is the will of God that all should be saved by and through His Church as it is the Church that was commissioned to spread the Gospel throughout the world both corporeally and individually. The Church is a refuge and the Ark from the sins and temptations of the world. It is heaven on earth where Christ dwells in the Tabernacles and is worshipped. So if the visible Church ceased to exist it would make Jesus a liar and a pretender as the Messiah and Savior of the world because all of His promises would be proven false.

Unity requires that there be a knowledge and physical manifestation of that unity. That is the Catholic Church which is the visible Church. The invisible Church does not represent unity because it is known only to God which may be unified in faith but not in purpose.

The purpose of the Church is its testimony in spreading the "good news" to the world. That requires a visible unity. The world will never know if those who are in the invisible Church are preserved but the visible Church will always be the witness to the world that it remains after empires and governments have fallen, political ideologies have been born and died and false and counterfeit religions have come and gone. It is a testimony that Jesus is God of the Trinity and that His will be done on earth as well as in heaven regardless of the snares of Satan and His lies against humanity.

(Ernie) Only those churches who do not preach and teach about the blood of Jesus, His death, burial, and resurrection, and Him being the Son of God, or having to be born again to be the children of God, are false churches. What do you say?

(Cristoiglesia) I say that your definition of the Church is unbiblical and is based more on optimism than on a foundation of truth.

You see, those who reject Christ’s Church and are in protest and denial of its very existence are caught in the snare of Satan by their own desires and prideful arrogance. Jesus taught about this in His prophetic teaching:

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?

Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

2Ti 4:3 For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears:

2Ti 4:4 And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.

What is God’s will in regards to His Church? He tells us specifically that we are to be one in unity with His Church which can only be described as the Catholic Church:

Joh 17:21 That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Joh 17:22 And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one.

Joh 17:23 I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.

Joh 17:24 Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given me may be with me: that they may see my glory which thou hast given me, because thou hast loved me before the creation of the world.

God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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