Wednesday, January 22, 2014


"That it may please thee to rule and govern thy holy Church universal in the right way". -- The Litany

By Roger Salter
Special to Virtueonline
January 21, 2014

An astounding comment was once overheard, in an Anglican place of worship, to the effect that John Bunyan ought not to be read as he was "outside the [true] Church". Such a shocking statement begs the question as to what is the Church?

Ecclesiology is perhaps the weakest point in most Christian theologies, academic and personal, and the majority of Evangelicals today probably disparage too much attention being given to the Church as an entity. The general trend is toward an individualism that owes no real loyalty to the visible community of faith in any serious sense. One may church-hop willy-nilly according to the slightest whim or grievance without any awareness of rending the body. Serial church-hopping is tantamount to a casual form of schism which divides, wounds, and impedes the Church in its local expression.

The case for the Church in terms of rigid institutionalism is vastly overstated and an episcopal regime, such as developed approximately 200 years after the demise of the apostles, is unimaginable in the simple and normal reading of Holy Scripture, and was subsequently imposed upon the Pastoral Epistles as a response to the threat of Gnosticism in an attempt to conserve apostolic truth and acquired Christian tradition.

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