Pillar and Foundation


I’m trying to wrap my mind around the concept of the church being the pillar and foundation of truth. It’s probably not that hard to grasp, but sometimes my thinking is still rather fundamentalist Bible-thumper. So my thoughts are as follows.

  1. The church is the pillar and foundation and truth. That is clearly stated in the Bible. (I Tim 3:15)

Okay. Now, here’s where I go fuzzy and confused. Can the pillar and foundation of truth be fragmented? If the foundation is in a zillion different pieces (denominations) can it stand? Is there some noble, God-inspired purpose in the Reformation?
As a result of this divide, do we now not have:

  1. confusion (God is not the author of confusion) 1 Cor 4:33
  2. dis-unity (God’s will is unity. It was Jesus’ prayer).
    John 17:22

So then:

  1. The pillar and foundation of truth must be a unified body

and also

  1. If something gets to claim to be the pillar and foundation of truth (large claims in my opinion) it better have some authority. Even infallibilty? :hmmm:

Guys, I guess I’m just thinking out loud, and I’ll freely admit that these thoughts have been heavily influenced by…well…you. I welcome any comments, Catholic or Protestant. Either I’m onto something or I’ve become indoctrinated…or both. If my logic is flawed, feel free to point it out. I’m not terribly eloquent sometimes.





If the foundation of your house is in 33,000 pieces, your house cannot be built on it. The foundation must be solid, unified, one, so that the house, the truth can stand on it. How else can it be read?

Doesn’t one have to parse a word out of all meaning in order to get another sense out of this verse? Like the infamous line, “that depends on what the meaning of is, is…”

Is there some noble, God-inspired purpose in the Reformation?

There have been many moments in the Church history when she needed reform. God spoke to St. Francis, “Francis, rebuild my church!” And humble Francis brought about a reform and reinvigoration of the Church that we still benefit from today. St. Augustine fought those huge heresies and expelled them from the Church, etc. I imagine that perhaps Martin Luther was meant to be one of these, a true reformer. God knows, the Church needed a faithful son to rally the troops against the abuses. Instead this son of the Church decided to leave her, and he took uncounted numbers with him. That would have been Martin Luther, using his free well:all the resulting disunity is a sure sign that it was not God’s plan.


I think you’ve got it. Maybe you should start asking around for a good parish priest and start talking to him about becoming Catholic. :slight_smile:

A related passage that can help confirm what you’re seeing:

[Jesus said] “[if he] will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican” (Matt. 18:17) – that is, as an outsider who is lost. Moreover, Our Lord then solemnly re-emphasizes the Church’s infallible teaching authority in verse 18 by repeating His earlier statement about the power to bind and loose (Matt. 16:18-19), directing it this time to the Apostles as a group (7) rather than just to Peter: “Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.” (Matt. 18:18).

It should also be noted that implicit (perhaps even explicit) in this passage from Matthew is the fact that the “Church” must have been a visible, tangible entity established in a hierarchical fashion. Otherwise, how would anyone have known to whom the wrongdoer should be referred? If the Protestant definition of “church” were correct, then the wrongdoer would have to “hear” each and every believer who existed, hoping that there would be unanimity among them regarding the issue at hand. The inherent absurdity of this scenario is readily apparent. The only way we can make sense of Our Lord’s statement here is to acknowledge that here was a definite organization, to which an appeal could be made and from which a decisive judgment could be had.

source: geocities.com/thecatholicconvert/solascriptura21.html


Another item to add to your “So then” list:

  1. The pillar and foundation church needs to have been there from the start if believers were to be able to know what is true - and to ensure that truth is what got handed on to subsequent generations.



Authority is the key word here. Which denomination will claim an Apostolic succesorship? Each one has their own agenda wether it may be a well intentioned attempt to preach the Gospel or not, there has always existed the pillar of Truth throughout the ages, safeguarding the teachings of our Lord against error.

When one disregards this true authority, then that leads to one’s own interpretation. 2 Pt 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.

Should we not then become learned and if so who will teach us? Should we not then become stable with a strong foundation which the Lord has left for us?


Just a quickie because I have to run. Thanks for the replies so far. I’ll be back later this afternoon to post another thought about this. Or two. Or three.


help me out, here, Curious–can’t find your verse.

do you mean 1Cor12:20-27–You are Christ’s body, individually parts of It
or 1Cor6:15–don’t you know your bodies are members of Christ
or 1Cor1:10–I urge that there be no divisions among you
or 1Cor12:13–in one spirit we were baptized into one body

just trying to do my homework here…


bleh…sorry about that…I mistyped. The chapter should be 14 instead of 4. Try that.


Okay. I probably want to address several more things, but I’ll try to be organized and do things one at a time. Can be talk about Catholic Church as being a visible, living, organized structure? Exactly how is the Protestant church not visible and living and organized? I mean the only thing visible about any church, is the building, of course the people in the building, and various ministries. So…as far as visibility is concerned…

  1. Catholics have church buildings…Protestants have them too
  2. Catholics and Prots both have various ministries, charities, etc.
  3. Catholics and Prots both have people in them…duh…lol

Are they not both visible? Both living? What is meant when it is said that Protestants subscribe to a vaguer notion of an “invisible” church? What I’ve heard over and over from various Protestant pulpits is that “THE CHURCH ISN’T A BUILDING!! IT’S US!! PEOPLE!! BELIEVERS!!”

But Catholics don’t believe the Church is a building either, right?

Sorry, I know I said one thing at a time, but I seem to have rambled some.




This is where protestant theology gets it wrong here. They do believe in a invisible church, as an worldwide body of believers. But, as we all know this would make more than one church, since the worldwide body of believers belong to different churches.
Christ established one church which is a visible church through Peter, which is the rock. The worldwide body of believers that belong to the Catholic Church is that Church that which Christ founded, and entrusted his authority to the Apostles and their successors.


[quote=victus]Christ established one church which is a visible church through Peter, which is the rock. The worldwide body of believers that belong to the Catholic Church is that Church that which Christ founded, and entrusted his authority to the Apostles and their successors.

Of course, non-Catholic Christians are a part of the Body of Christ, the Church, as explained in the Catechism:

855 The Church’s mission stimulates efforts towards Christian unity.357 Indeed, "divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects."358

It is through their baptism that they have a part in the body of Christ, which is the Church. The Church is still the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, not many separate “denominations”. Such denominations are outside of the intention of Christ–something he never desired.


But we have other denominations because protestants breaking away from the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.


Right. I think when Protestants say this, it is because they really do have a tendency to identify their building with their church, whether or not they want to say that.

To illustrate, I just asked a teenager who was chatting with me, what church she belonged to (after she asked me what church I “attended”). Her answer surprised me, but I see that it is a protestant answer. She answered with the location of the church building. I still don’t know what denomination or constitution or faith content she embraces. I took it from her, instead, that that building is where her whole church meets, and so the building and the group of people become identified with each other.

When you ask a Catholic what church he belongs to, he says, the Catholic Church. If you ask him where he attends church, he will answer with the location of the building where he goes most often, or maybe with a couple of locations, depending on what day and time he is catching Mass. If he’s on vacation, on the road, he will just be going to Mass wherever he finds a building!

I further think that the Catholic Church is visible as a body to the world in a way no protestant congregation/church can be. For we have the visible head of Christ on earth. We have Christ’s Prime Minister, and he is the bishop of Rome. Our current Pope was born Joseph Ratzinger, of a no-doubt nice Bavarian lady. He is visible from the balcony over St. Peter’s square on Wednesdays for everybody to see. He is the successor to St. Peter, and he has St. Peter’s Keys and Authority. He and the rest of the bishops when they act together with him, are the extension of the Apostles themselves into our Catholic church buildings over the world.

This is more concrete, visible and organized than the protestant model, right? Then don’t forget the Eucharist–we see Our Lord in That, as we receive him substantially, literally. The Sacraments are all very visible or, in the case of Confession, audible. Our Church, and her Sacraments are palpable to the senses; the head of our church keeps us together in one body till Our Lord comes again! We all believe the same truths, receive the same sacraments, obey the same church laws, are under the authority of the same pope.

As far as living, maybe we can say that the Catholic church is more properly alive than our protestant counterparts because, we count our “family tree” all the way back to the Peter and the Apostles, and therefore to Christ, who founded our Church and breathed into them and into her the Holy Spirit, to animate and sanctify Her til the end of time.


Right. However, their trinitaritan baptism unites them, imperfectly, with the Church. This does not mean they wouldn’t be better off as full members of the Catholic Church. It only means they are baptized in Christ and therefore are Christians. The one Church is still the one Church, which is the Catholic Church, founded by Christ. There is no “invisible,” diaphanous “church of all believers.”


I appreciate the answers! But I’m still confused at how the Catholic Church is more visible than the Protestant church(es).

Okay…I will concede that the Pope helps make the Catholic Church visible on a worldwide level. And (forgive the comparison) but do the more “prominent” Protestant ministers help make the uh…Protestant church(es) more visible?

The Sacraments are all very visible or, in the case of Confession, audible. Our Church, and her Sacraments are palpable to the senses;

Yes, that’s a good point. The Sacraments are indeed very visible. But if you assigned the Catholic sacraments some Protestant counterparts for the sake of discussion, you would have.

  1. The Eucharist. Protestants have communion, though i understand it is only symbolic for them/us (with some exceptions), it is still very visible.

  2. Marriage. Okay…Protestants have visible marriage.

  3. Ordination. Protestants have visible ordained ministers.

  4. Baptism. Some prot denoms do infant baptism, some even believe it is necessary for salvation, and even those who don’t believe it’s necessary for salvation still get baptized. Visibly.

  5. Extreme unction. There are many Prots who anoint with oil and pray for the sick

  6. Confirmation. Even though many Prot churches don’t have confirmation as such, many still anoint people with oil for various reasons.

  7. Penance. Can’t think of one here.

My purpose here is not to talk about the similarities or differences, but to just try to point out that at least 6 out of the 7 Catholic sacraments have similar Prot rituals that make Prots just as visible.

Now, the fragmentation of the Prot churches…It’s pretty yucky in my opinion, but I don’t see how that makes Prots less visible. It is unfortunately very VISIBLY divided. :frowning:

Am I just thick?


They are visable now, and they *are *separated brethren. We do not deny that they have some of the truth. But they cannot all be true. Some of the teachings must be false since they don’t agree with each other or with the Catholic Church.

And scripture warns us that false teachers will come along.

Frankly, when a person gets to this point in their Christian walk, in my opinion, the question really has narrowed down to Catholic or Orthodox;)


Do Protestant churches have a valid and visible priesthood that can trace its roots back to the apostles? Nope.


It seems as though the Protestant church(es) is just as “visible” as the Catholic Church. No, Protestant churches cannot/do not claim to trace priesthood back to the apostles or have Real Presence in the communion, but I’m not talking about those things. I’m talking about visibility. And comparing the two, it seems that Protestants are just as visible.

The pillar and foundation of truth must be a unified body

This is something I stated in the first post. It makes sense that if something is going to be a pillar and foundation of truth, it can’t be a fragmented, backbiting, doctrine-fighting-over, accusing collection of sects. Can it? Is there some way that this “pillar and foundation of truth” phrase can actually fit into a Protestant model? Perhaps this and some other questions I’m mulling over would be best asked in a Protestant forum, but I’ve been told that asking questions of this type on most of those forums is enough to get you banned without explanation. Anyway, that’s my next thought. But feel free to continue commenting on the visibility thing.


Protestant churches are visible. What is most alarming to us Catholics is the many different doctrines among each denomination. Since each church is their own church it seems more like many individual bodies rather than one unified body who believe in the same things.

While one individual Protestant church may teach their own truth to the local congregation, the Catholic Church teaches the fullness of Truth to all believers around the world with the same doctrines. Therefore the Catholic Church is visible world wide while a Protestant church only at a certain location.

Jn 17:21 That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

17:22 And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one.

17:23 I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.


Yes, the Protestant church is visible, but is it biblically visible? Are Protestant churches visible the way Christ originally intended?
How did Christ establish His visible Church? Through Peter and the 12 apostles.
How long will this visible Church last? Until Christ visibly returns.
Which Church is this? It’s the Church of Christ led by Peter and his successors, together with the bishops in apostolic succession from the Apostles.

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