Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Recognizing the Church

“But one thing eventually became clear: my happy evangelical view of the Church’s “unity” as being nothing more than the worldwide clutter that we had under our general umbrella, was, for good or ill, not what the ancient Church had understood by the word unity. As an evangelical, I could pick which source of things appealed most to me:… And in one sense, variety is doubtless a sign of vigorous life in the Church. But in another sense, of course, it is a disaster.

The Montanists [heresy] were certainly zealous and earnest and had much to commend them: the difficulty, finally, was that they were not the Church. Likewise with the Donatists [heresy]. God bless them for their fidelity and ardor and purity, but they were not the Church...[heresies raised throughout history] did not remain open questions forever. 

There was one Church, and the Church was one. And this was a discernible, visible, embodied unity, not a loose aggregate of vaguely like-minded believers with their various task forces all across the globe.  

The Bishop of Antioch was not analogous to the general secretary of the World Evangelical Fellowship or the head of the National Association of Evangelicals. He could speak with the full authority of the Church behind him; these latter gentlemen can only speak for their own organization.”

Thomas Howard
“Recognizing the Church”

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