XIX. Of the Church

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42 Responses

  1. London says:

    Well, from the get go I have to say that this article leaves out half the human race that also make up the “visible church” so it’s clearly not a that valid 😉

    Congrats on More work Reuben!

  2. papiaslogia says:

    There were 5 major bishoprics in the ancient church – Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, and Constantinople. Of course, Rome became preminant in the West, and Constantinople in the East.

    “In a few cases, a bishop came to preside over a number of dioceses, i.e., Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria. At the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon in 451, Constantinople was given jurisdiction over three dioceses for the reason that the city was “the residence of the emperor and senate”. Additionally, Jerusalem was recognized at the Council of Chalcedon as one of the major sees. In 692, the Quinisext Council formally recognized and ranked the sees of the Pentarchy in order of preeminence, at that time Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.” Wikipedia

  3. papiaslogia says:

    This passage is the first article in the series about the marks of the visible church: What is it, what authority does it have, can a church be in error, are the Councils infallible, and why should we reject “Romish practices”. From 19 to 22, all these ideas are in view. Which is one drawback from doing these one at a time…..

    From Gillis Harp:
    “This passage enumerates two marks of the true church, that is, pure doctrine and
    the sacraments being ʻduly administered according to Christʼs ordinance.”

    “Philip Schaff best summarized the main characteristics of the Articles long ago: ʻ[They] are Catholic in the ecumenical doctrines of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnationʼ, especially drawing upon the Lutheran Augsburg and Wurtemberg Confessions. ʻThey are Augustinian in the anthropological and soteriological doctrines of free-will, sin and grace… They are Protestant and evangelical in rejecting the peculiar errors and abuses of Rome….They are Reformed or moderately Calvinistic in the two doctrines of Predestination and the Lordʼs Supper…[and] they are Erastian in the political sections….ʼ Hence the Articlesʼ original historical context is the sixteenthcentury Protestant Reformation, and not just the English Reformation but the Continental Reformation as well.”

    Ryle states:
    “Now what shall we say to all this? Nine times over the Thirty-nine Articles condemn, in plain and unmistakable language, the leading doctrines of the Church of Rome, and declare in favour of what must be called Protestant views. And yet men dare to tell us that we Evangelical clergymen have no right to denounce Popery; that it is very wrong and very uncharitable to be so hot in favour of Protestantism; that Romanism is a pretty good sort of thing; and that by making such a piece of work about Popery, and Protestantism, and Ritualism, and semi-Popery, we are only troubling the country and doing more harm than good. Well! I am content to point to the Thirty-nine Articles. There is my apology! There is my defence! I will take up no other ground at present. I will not say, as I might do, that Popery is an unscriptural system, which every free nation ought to dread, and every Bible-reading Christian of any nation ought to oppose. I simply point to the Thirty-nine Articles.”

  4. Reuben says:

    Thanks for that, Papias! I love the Ryle quote.

  5. “The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men,…”

    I know that the folks I hang with make a distinction between the visible church and the invisible church.

    The distinction being that the visible church is made up of the people we see sitting in the pews each week and those making a profession of faith. This group can consist of many scoundrels along with the faithful – but that is who we see as making up the church.

    The invisible church is the church that only God can see – and this church is the one that is 100% the faithful… in Christ – but we can’t see who they all are. Perhaps it includes Chris Dorner… who knows.

  6. Steve Wright says:

    I’ll come over here to agree with you, MLD. There is the mystery kingdom, visible (what we might call Christendom) that is wheat and tares combined.

    There is also the kingdom we enter at the moment of salvation as Col 1:13-14 declares.All those in this kingdom, the saved, are also known as the Body of Christ.

  7. I think the first sentence would exclude me from being in the church. I don’t believe in sacraments.

  8. Nonnie says:

    London, thanks for the tip about NT Wright’s Lenten devotional. I just caught up on it!

  9. Lutheran says:


    It only precludes from you from being an Anglican.

  10. I understand that, but it seems that from the article the two marks of the true Church are Biblical Preaching and delivering Sacraments. I fail on one of those.

    I don’t mind that they exclude me. That is their right to do so. Every tribe draws lines and fusses at the other guy for drawing lines. It’s all good.

  11. London says:

    Aren’t you married?

  12. Yes, why?

  13. London says:

    Marriage is a sacrament. So apparently, you believe in some of them after all.
    Also, I assume you were baptized and take communion. Both also sacraments.

  14. No, we don’t believe in Sacraments. We do baptism and communion as church ordinances. I know that other churches see these as sacraments, but Baptists do not. Marriage is a covenant in our world.

  15. London says:

    Actually, according to this wiki article, when the 39 articles was written, it was only communion and baptism.
    Hurrah! Looks like you can be Anglican after all. 😉

  16. London says:

    I grew up Baptist. I get the difference. Just having a bit of fun.

  17. You’re missing the point London. I know what the sacraments are. I don’t hold them as sacraments.

  18. London says:

    I am not missing the point at all actually

  19. Umm, ok.

    Well, then, I know what the Anglican’s view as Sacraments, what the Catholics view as Sacraments, Lutherans, etc. (and could google anything I had trouble remembering)

    Baptists do not believe that things are sacramental in nature, but memorial in nature. Thus, I do not attend a church where “the Sacraments be duly ministered”. Thus, I am not a member of the universal Church, thus I am unsaved…in the eyes of this article.

  20. London says:

    It’s ok. I’m a woman and according to this article the church is made up of men, so I’m not part of the Visable church either.
    BTW, I don’t read where it says that people who do not partake in sacraments are not “saved”, just that they are not part of the “Visable church”

    I think, like Reubaen says, it would be good to know more about the history and context of this article.

  21. London says:

    Wayward A snuck in there somehow.

  22. It’s a logical extension. Like when MLD says we couldn’t take communion at his church, that’s because his church doesn’t view us as believers. When this article says we are not part of the church, it’s because they believe we are not believers.

    Again, I’m fine with that. Every group draws their own lines.

  23. London says:

    I’m not sure that Anglicans think in terms of “saved” and “not saved” the way Baptists do, so I’m not sure it is a logical conclusion.

  24. Well, Usually Anglicans are Calvinist in their Soteriology…so that would also leave me out.

  25. Lutheran says:


    A couple of things.

    Confessions like this one are usually done to define, rather sharply, what a group believes, teaches and confesses. I think Reuben talked on here or someone did, about all the tensions the Anglican church was going through when this was hammered out.

    Second, I find the idea that you’re not part of the Body of Christ if you don’t follow these guidelines to be abhorrent and in fact, antiChrist. I think one of the blessings of living in this era is that we can finesse some of these “black and white” pronouncements that were postulated in the Church along the way.

    One other thing: Yes, Anglicans are Calvinistic. But I’d say, moderately so. And it’s held in tension with a number of other theological considerations.

  26. I think I’m having trouble expressing myself.

  27. In Summation –

    I know what these articles are.

    I know what sacraments are.

    I know what Anglicans are.

    I know what Calvinists are.

    My point is, that is exactly what these type documents (and Baptists have their own) are created to do: Draw lines. I fall outside of these lines, thus I am not a member of the faith.

    Now, I know that is silly, you know that silly, and most Anglicans would agree that is silly…but that’s what the article says.

  28. London says:

    You’ve been hanging around MLD too much…now you’re thinking you know everything too :mrgreen:

  29. Haha, true. But it didn’t take MLD to make me that way. 🙂

  30. Lutheran says:

    Josh, what you say is true. But it’s also not true..

    That’s because Anglicanism or Lutheranism or Catholicism are only branch on the tree of Christendom.

    And, so you don’t feel so forsaken, remember the Baptist Confession of 1689. Using your logic, according to it, I’m not in the faith either. 🙂

  31. Josh,
    “Like when MLD says we couldn’t take communion at his church, that’s because his church doesn’t view us as believers. ”

    If that is what you got out of that conversation … well I must not have been clear (but I think I was and people don’t want to hear.)

    You miss the first point – I always say “when I go with my Christian friends to their CC church, I do not take communion with them.” I always recognize them as my christian friends, but make clear the reason for not taking communion … because at that moment of the service, we are not in communion.

    We have failed to agree about the purpose of the Lord’s Table and on what we are taking in our mouth. So for that part of the service, I sit quietly … it has absolutely nothing to do with whether I think someone is a Christian or not.

    Now when they come to my church – which I may add only one has come once and the rest think we have cuddies, They can talk to the pastor of an elder before the service and say “I am a visitor, what is you policy for the Lord’s Supper?” all we ask is do you agree with what we are doing and why? If they answer in the affirmative, they can come to the rail.

  32. Also Josh, when I first left CC and wanted to join a small SBC church, they did not want to accept my CC baptism and wanted me rebaptized – which I talked them out of.

    So, who doesn’t accept who as Christians? Lutherans will not rebaptize you if you have had a trinitarian baptism.

  33. Reuben says:


    The Anglican church I go to, and it is a very Orthodox one, not even remotely Episcopal in the general American definition, believes that if you are saved and baptized, you take communion. Communion is a sacrament for the Body of Christ. You may not desire to use the term, but you are administered that sacrament as a functioning part of the Body of Christ. We do not have folks “drop their drawers” at the door to see if they are “circumcised” or not. (figurative)

    I say this to draw my own line. What Lutherans believe of inclusion or exclusion in/from communion is not at all what the Anglican Church believes. We still believe that Lutherans are saved, we would have them take communion in our worship service, we would welcome them with open arms. They are saved. They are in the family.

  34. Reuben,
    We do not exclude anyone – we INCLUDE 100% of the people who agree with what we do and why we do it.

    This isn’t that hard. Several groups would not participate from some church happenings. If at the conclusion of a Lutheran infant baptism the custom were to individually come up, and lay hands on the baby and make a proclamation that God has now saved this baby – I would expect that Baptists & CC in attendance would withhold their participation.

    And if this is so, why is that any different?

  35. Reuben says:

    MLD, how does one dignify that with a response. You reject anyone the Lord’s Table who is not Lutheran. Because other people do it does not justify anything. That is junior high kid attitude.

  36. Reuben,
    I did not restrict it to Lutherans only – I said those who have a common view with us on purpose and substance.

    Let me put it this way, we do not open the Table as if people had just walked into a Hometown Buffet.

    And remember, even though I appreciate your articles, you are the one who is posting what his church has defined as the “true doctrines and practices” of his church,,not me. 😉 .

  37. London says:

    We really don’t need articles about what Lutherans believe. We get it all day long on practically every thread.
    Having articles would just be redundant

  38. Reuben says:

    MLD, you present the Lord’s Table as the Lutheran’s Table. I don’t care for your spin, and childish justifications of such spin. You would reject me at the Lutheran’s Table because I am not Lutheran. I would accept you at the Lord’s Table because it is the Lord’s Table. Strawmen of Muslims at the Lord’s Table, or whatever else, are tiring and futile. MUSLIMS DON’T WANT YOUR TABLE ANYMORE THAN I DO. STOP!!!

    The Lord’s Table is the Lord’s Table.

    At no point do I posit the Anglican position as “the” position. I post them for discussion, regularly expressing my position in this as working through them myself.

  39. Reuben says:

    To be perfectly clear, if I am holding the cup, and a gay horse fornicator who does not believe in a literal Adam comes for communion, I will say boldly, “The blood of Christ shed for the forgiveness of sin.” And allow them to dip the bread, because they are saved and baptized. Not because they are Anglican. It is not the Anglican table. IT IS THE LORD’S TABLE!

    If they eat and drink condemnation on themself, that is between them, and the Lord, because it is His table.

  40. For the record, I love these articles, even the ones that paint me outside the lines. I love knowing what other traditions believe, and love the discussion that results.

    Lutheran @ 30 – You don’t have to go back to 1689. (The SBC didn’t exist then anyway:) )
    The last revision of our Baptist Faith and Message was in 2000. Though it is pretty inclusive for any orthodox Christian, I am certain non-baptists would find some places where they do not fit.

    My point all along is not that this hurts my feelings, or that baptists are better than this, just that there are real differences within the Body of Christ, and we all think we have the correct answer. I think Reuben’s application of this article is the best way to go, but again, I don’t really agree with the wording of this one.

  41. Reuben,
    “MLD, you present the Lord’s Table as the Lutheran’s Table.” – You purposely misrepresent my position. Twice above I clarified that it is not for Lutherans only. All we ask is that if people are going to participate in the Lord’s Table that they agree with what we are doing and why we are doing it. Many people from non Lutheran backgrounds do agree with what we do. (that the Lord’s Table is for the forgiveness of sin and what they take in their mouth is the true body and blood of Christ.) Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox and other churches do the same as we do.

    “Strawmen of Muslims at the Lord’s Table, or whatever else, are tiring and futile. MUSLIMS DON’T WANT YOUR TABLE ANYMORE THAN I DO. STOP!!!”

    I never brought up Muslims or any other non Christian group – lie #2 on your part.

    “If they eat and drink condemnation on themself, that is between them, and the Lord, because it is His table.” I guess this is another “difference” of opinion between our churches. Lutheran clergy, by the commission of their office, are obligated to people to not knowingly allow them to bring condemnation upon themselves if at all possible.

  42. “…because they are saved and baptized.” By your own words, I am assuming that you would refuse the elements to those who are not baptized – such as the Quakers and the Salvation Army – as they do not baptize.

    I would also assume that if you had a known “a gay horse fornicator” that he would be under some church discipline that would keep him away from the table … or perhaps not.

    Just as an FYI, I served communion Ash Wednesday and this morning and did not have to throw a body block on anyone to keep them away from the table. Maybe next week! 😉

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