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Tuesday
Jan082013

Theological Term of the Week

invisible church
“[T]he company of those who truly believe in Jesus Christ and are the recipients of salvation, both those who are currently alive and those who have died.”1

  • From scripture:
  •  But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” … . (2 Timothy 2:19 ESV)

  • From The Westminster Larger Catechism: 
  • Q. 64. What is the invisible church?

    A. The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.

    Q. 65. What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ?

    A. The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.

  • From Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof:
  • This church is said to be invisible, because she is essentially spiritual and in her spiritual essence cannot be discerned by the physical eye; and because it is impossible to determine infallibly who do and do not belong to her. The union of believers with Christ is a mystical union; the Spirit that unites them constitutes an invisible tie; and the blessings of salvation, such as regeneration, genuine conversion, true faith, and spiritual communion with Christ, are all invisible to the natural eye; — and yet these things constitute the real forma (ideal character) of the Church. …[T]he term “invisible should be understood in this sense…

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 Dictionary of Theological Terms by Donald K. McKim.

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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