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Tuesday
Jan152013

Theological Term of the Week


visible church
“All those who profess faith in Christ and give evidence of their faith with their lives”;1 all those who profess faith in Christ, submit to baptism, and place themselves under the preaching and authority of the a local church, along with their children.

  • From scripture:
  • To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours … . (1 Corinthians 1:2 ESV) 

  • From Keach’s Catechism: 
  • Q. 105. What is the visible church?
    A. The visible church is the organized society of professing believers, in all ages and places, wherein the Gospel is truly preached and the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper rightly administered.

  • From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem:
  • The visible church is the church as Christians on earth see it. In this sense the visible church includes all who profess faith in Christ and give evidence of that faith in their lives.

    The visible church throughout the world will always include some unbelievers, and individual congregations will usually include some unbelievers, because we cannot see hearts as God sees them. 

Learn more:
  1. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: What is the church?
  2. Brian Schwertley: The Visible vs. The Invisible Church
  3. John Calvin: Invisible and Visible Church
  4. Harmony of the Reformed Confessions: Visible/Invisible Church

Related terms:

Filed under Ecclesiology

1From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem. This is a baptistic definition.

2See The Visible vs. The Invisible Church by Brian Schwertley. This is a more paedobaptist (or Presbyterian or Reformed) definition.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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