Catholicity, Catholicism, and Schism

The Nicene Creed says that we believe εἰς μίαν, Ἁγίαν, Καθολικὴν καὶ Ἀποστολικὴν Ἐκκλησίαν: in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. Those who can read Greek (whether with understanding or not) can see that ‘catholic’ is merely the Greek word Anglicized: in fact, it has nothing directly to do with the Roman Catholic Church. Many Protestant churches, however, attempting to avoid the hint of the appearance of association with the Church of Rome and its bishop, substitute another word for ‘catholic’, usually ‘Christian’ or ‘universal’.

I disagree with this choice, though those who know me know that I am a Protestant and highly value what the Church has learned through the Reformation. My reason is that it denies even the theoretical possibility of uniting with the church of Rome as one ‘visible’ Church at any time before the great and glorious coming of the Lord. This, I contend, opposes the goals of the Reformation itself: the point of the Reformation was to reform the Church (in both the East and the West), not to split her into rival churches. The position taken by many Protestants despairs of such a hope and prefers schism to genuine reform.

We Protestants have been infected with a schismatic tendency. Against this position, ossified from a practical one of needing to resolve issues in order to come together again as one church (and being one Church) to a theoretical one of rejecting any possibility of union, I hope for the churches of the Lord to be one Body once more with the life of Christ coursing through her verbal and sacramental veins. To this end, we must not negate or trivialize the theological difficulties, but we must seriously face the question of what churches must have in common to operate as one body.


3 responses to “Catholicity, Catholicism, and Schism

  1. Good points.


  2. Pingback: True Church « Cogito, Credo, Petam

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