Due to our sinful fall and hearts, the Church Visible and the Church Militant on earth can display a picture quite different from the Church Triumphant, as previously described. At times sin, rather than holiness, may reveal itself in the lives of church members or officebearers, self-love and pride may evidence itself instead of love for God and others, and fighting may evidence itself more than unity. When viewing the Church Visible at such times, it may even be difficult to properly discern the church's attributes, marks, values, and powers.
In the Apostle's Creed, we confess, "I believe an holy catholic church." This statement is a confession of faith. Despite that which I might see with my natural eye to the contrary, viewing the church with the eye of faith, I confess that "I believe an holy catholic church." The words "an holy catholic church" state the four attributes of the church, as described below:
The unity of the church lies in Jesus Christ. The church has one Head and is one body. The church shares one faith, one Word, one love, and one Spirit. While this is primarily true of the Church Invisible, it is to find expression also outwardly in the Church Visible in care and concern for all church members.
The division of the Church Visible into numerous church denominations, as we observe today, is not to the honor of ourselves as church members, the church as Christ's body, or Christ as King of His church. To our shame, wrong doctrines, sinful practices, human misunderstandings, and personal quarrels have led to numerous divisions in the Church Visible. Weare called to strive for church unity based upon Scripture as described later in the marks of the true church - biblical preaching, administration of the sacraments, and exercise of church discipline. The taking away from, and the adding to, the Word of God has produced numerous conflicts and divisions within the Church Visible.
For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
- I Corinthians 1:11-13
For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
- I Corinthians 3:3
Catholicity - The quality of being universal or worldwide
Denomination - A group of church members who unite under the same church doctrinal standards, organization, and government
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
One Lord, one faith, one baptism.
- Ephesians 4:3-5
Which is worse, the sacrificing of church unity for the sake of biblical doctrines, or sacrificing biblical doctrines for the sake of church unity. Why?
What is the difference between biblical and man-made unity?