Does any existing ecclesialistical body have ALL four of the marks of the church exclusively to itself?

Most of us recognize that in the beginning the NT church had the following 4 marks about it: it was one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Today some individuals hold that these 4 marks are the means by which one is to evaluate the validity of any existing ecclesiatical body as being the Church of Jesus Christ.

My question is therefore twofold:

  1. Is there any existing ecclesialistical body that has ALL four of these marks of the Church?


  1. Should any such ecclesiastical body be found, does that ecclesialistical body have ALL four of the marks of the Church exclusively to itself?

Note: I do ask one personal priviledge of all those posting here, that we adopt a common way of writing with respect to the terms. My proposal:

  1. If one is using any of the above terms (one, holy, catholic and apostolic) as an adjective to describe the nature of the ecclesiatical body that one NOT capitalize the term.

  2. If one is using the term as being the moniker which identifies that ecclesiastical body that one DOES capitalize the term.

Thus, a few blocks down the street from my house there is an ecclesiastical body that considers itself a church and that has given themselves the name The Apostolic Church. Therefore when speaking of them I will capitalize the letter “A” in their name, but when discussing whether or not they are apostolic in character I will not. Likewise a disccusion as to the catholicity of the Catholic Church would similarly use miniscule “c” and capital “C” respectively. So, a person writing that the NT Church was catholic and a person writing that the NT Church was Catholic would be articulating two different things, and one who wanted to say both would need to say that the NT Church was both catholic and Catholic.

The Catholic (i.e. the Churches in union with the Pope) answer to this is found here.

Actually, this is not accurate. From the Catholic point of view they are one and the same thing and the fullness of the Church (and the 4 marks) reside only in the particular Churches in union with the Bishop of Rome.

The Orthodox Churches are true Churches-- they have valid Holy Orders and Apostolic Succession, yet they are in schism and therefore lack unity with the See of Peter and therefore have wounded the unity called for by Christ.

I think part of the confusion is the difference between the way in which the Catholic Church defines a Church and the way those would would term Protestant do.

Non-Catholic ecclesial communities lacking valid Apostolic Succession (and consequently valid Holy Orders and Sacraments) are **not **considered Churches by the Catholic Church. A particular Church is under the authority of a Bishop with Apostolic Succession.

These two posts from another thread (strangely on gay marriage) sort of set the debate for us:

I understand that a Catholic would certainly see them as the same thing. But I am asking, for the puposes of not confusing other non-Catholic readers, that one use the miniscule “c” when desiring to discuss the catholicity of a church or the Church. I never see Catholic speak of the NT Church as the One Church, they always just write that there was one Church. I suppose that is because they are not part of an eccleisatical organization known as The One Church. I’m asking that the same patterned be followed with all four marks. If you write that the NT church was catholic I will understand you to be saying one thing. If you write the that NT church was Catholic I will understand you to be saying a different thing. So, if you wish to understnad both things (which I assume you probably would), to make that clear to me you will then need to write both things – i.e., that the NT church was both catholic and Catholic. A similar situation might exist with the Orthodox Church. Surely we would all agree that the NT church was orthodox in its beliefs. But if someone who was Orthodox was to write that the NT church was Orthodox you might feel different about that statement just as I do about someone writing that the NT church was Catholic. That, after all is what I am asking us to discuss. To simply say that it is and no more, is to say that one has no desire to discuss even why one holds this view only to assert that one does hold it. That is not a discussion, it is a declaration.

I am asking that by agreeing to use common terminology hopefully those who do desire to either discuss, debate, or explain their respective positions will be able to better communicate with those of us who may not be approaching the issue from the same perspective.

“But the simple thing I want to say is that all four marks of the church are about Jesus Christ. The church is one because Jesus Christ is one; the church is holy because Jesus Christ is holy; the church is catholic because Jesus Christ is the saviour of all; the church is apostolic because, as the Father has sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us. In other words, if we are to understand the nature of the church at all, we are to understand who Jesus Christ is and what he does.” ~Archbishop Williams

God Bless!

I never see Catholic speak of the NT Church as the One Church, they always just write that there was one Church.

Well think about what you just said. If there was only one church, what would necessitate distinguishing it as “The One Church.” There is only one of you… do you go around calling yourself, “The One _____?” It goes without saying it was “The One” Church… there wasn’t any other church founded by the Apostles and following the teachings of Jesus. It was the only one.

So, by extending that logic, if the Catholic Church is really catholic (i.e., universal), then there would not be anything outside of it, and just as I wouldn’t go around saying that I am The One, I also wouldn’t need to go around saying that I am Universal. According to Webster’s to be universal means “including or covering all or a whole collectively or distributively without limit or exception.” Thus, if the Catholic Church is truly catholic (i.e. universal) it would be including or covering all or a whole collectively or distributively without limit or exception, and yet that there were others who the Catholic Church recognizes are part of the body of Christ, but outside of the Church. Aren’t the two statements internally contradictory? You can’t be catholic and exclusive at the same time.

All 4 marks of the church are about the church. The 4 marks are NOT about Jesus. That was established at the very beginning of the thread. The topic of the questions is the church. Debates about whether the 4 marks are about the church or Jesus belong on a different thread.

If the Anglican/Episcopalian Church is one church, then why do you have “high” church Episcopalians and “low” church Episcopalians? And why do they hold two different beliefs on the holy eucharist? Doesn’t sound like one church to me.

Also, the Anglican Church is a church that broke away from the Catholic Church and was started by Henry the VIII because he wanted to divorce his wife. The Episcopalian Church is a church that broke away, from the Anglican Church. Two more churches.

How I read emeraldcoast’s excellent reference to the Archbishop’s quote is no so much to say the the Anglican Church or the Anglican Communion is uniquely the Church, in fact quite the opposite. What I saw was a declaration that whereever people are who understand themselves to be one as Christ is one, to be holy as Christ is holy, to be catholic because Christ is their common savior, and to be apostolic because Christ sends us forth, that wherever that collection of people is, there is Church. That Church can be visible or invisible, it can be gathered in one place or spread around the world, it can be established at a given point of time or inclusive of all eternity these things are actually irrelevant, the only thing that is relevant is that the Church belongs to Christ, not Christ to the Church. All who belong to Christ(and are themselves one, holy, catholic and apostolic in character after the manner that Christ has made them to be in him) are then a part of this Church that emeraldcoast posted about.

It wasn’t a divorce that was sought. Henry the VIII sought an annulment on the same grounds for which he sought and obtained a dispensation. When the annulment was rightly denied he broke from the Church, set up his own pseudo-Church and declared his marriage null.

Even Henry VIII recognized that a valid sacramental marriage is indissoluble by divorce. That’s why he had his marriages declared null or had his undesired wives put to death.

I don’t know when the Anglican Communion started accepting remarriage after divorce. :shrug:

Good point. And Henry would’ve easily had an annulment granted were it not for the nasty politics of his day. The pope was pandering to the monarch of the Holy Roman Empire. Catherine of Aragon was family and it would’ve jeopardized the tender political friendship the pope had with the monarchy in Spain and the HRE. He didn’t grant the annulment because it would’ve hurt him politically. There are records of annulments for much worse or the same as Henry wanted that were accepted instead of declined like in his case.

As an Orthodox Christian, I believe that my Church preserves the fullness of the Apostolic Church. So I would say that mine has all four marks of the Church. I also understand that there are those who are not Orthodox would not feel this way, otherwise they would be Orthodox. :slight_smile:

In Christ,

You’d be correct! The Orthodox do indeed have all four! :slight_smile:

Both Orthodox and Catholic do. And looking at how we’re moving towards full union, it seems that Protestants will have fewer excuses to sidestep this question with… :slight_smile:

Orthodox demand the RCC drop the filioque and re-establish the pope as a mere primus inter pares. Isn’t going to happen. Catholics demand that Orthodox accept the Pope as the universal pontiff, infallible and in complete control of the Church 100%. They will demand the filioque be a part of the Creed. Orthodox accepting papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction?! If that happens, I’ll be blown away! I think we have a better chance of Ted Knight coming back to life and the Mary Tyler Moore Show coming back on the air!

First it’s not “Roman Catholic” that’s an Anglican pejorative that has fallen into common use. It’s inaccurate. The Church refers to herself as “the Church” or “the Catholic Church”, but not the “Roman Catholic Church.”

In any case the Eastern Catholic Sui Juris Churches aren’t required to recite the filioque right now. Why would that change in the future?

Just a question: If we simply go back to the pre-schism Church, when the patriarchs were in communion with each other, it was one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Since they are not now all in communion, how can any Church make the claim - one, holy, catholic, and apostolic?

Absolutely. The Catholic Church still bears the four marks. The Schism of 1,054 didn’t create two Churches, it created schismatics.

Hi Jon,

To answer your question, I would say that the Church is contingent upon the faith that the Holy Apostles left us and how true it holds to that throughout the ages. For Orthodox, while it is a travesty that Rome is not in communion with us (from our perspective they abandoned the Apostolic Faith. Obviously they would see different), that does not make us any less of being the true Church. Some Orthodox would say that it does not matter with whom we are in communion to make our faith valid, but that we share the same faith, without addition or subtraction.

I think one of the goals of the Protestant Reformation was to return to this “golden age” of the Church. Sadly, that has yielded the intended results, to say the least. :frowning: To me it would make more sense to look for the Church that has maintained the early belief and praxis of the Church and submit to it, rather than study about it and then try to implement various aspects.

The “Messianic Jews” come to mind when I say this. Rather than enter into one of the Orthodox Churches, they look at liturgies and practices of the Orthodox Church and see if they jive with their current belief of what the Apostolic Church was like. Rather than be a part of the Church with the four marks, they wish to try to create it. You cannot create something already in existence. :thumbsup:

I hope that helps and I apologize if it is still fuzzy.

In Christ,

I don’t need you lecturing me on how to call my own Church! 34 years of being in the Roman Catholic Church, and being a Roman Catholic, potato potahto…and it’s not an Anglican pejorative that has fallen into disuse. I just used it :slight_smile: and so do a zillion other folks in here. So you’ll have to start getting nit-picky tacky with everyone in CAF; RCC is the usual abbreviation for the Church in here. Perhaps you’d like me to start calling it the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church at Rome! Kind of like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim!? Give me a break. Corney post.:shrug:

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