(SPLIT & MERGED) Do Protestants hold to a different definition of "church"?

JonNC is using a different definition of Catholic than Catholics are,

The normal practice is small- c catholic is the adjective meaning universal;
Large C Catholic is the proper name used by those in communion with the Bishop of Rome.

It seems JonNC is using Large C Catholic but meaning universal.

If we agree on how to use the word :discussions would move along better

If he would use the lower case “C” that would be better.

But as he has stated it here, he seems to be asserting that, for example, Evangelical Catholics, are just as much a part of the Catholic Church as, say, Chaledean Catholics.

If that’s not correct I’m sure Jon can jump in.

But here’s his post without any editing:

And I assert that it is simply wrong to say that there’s a special subgroup of Catholics who don’t have to be loyal to the vicar of Christ.

That’s just gaga, lala nonsense.

Just like I would correct any person who comes here and identifies as a special kind of Lutheran who doesn’t have to believe that Christ saved us from our sins. You don’t get to claim the name Lutheran and decide you get to dismiss some part of Lutheranism.

No. I am saying, in response to Justa, that if we are under the authority of the Catholic Church, then we are (upper case C) Catholic.
But further, I would also contend that the Church Catholic is not only and exclusively in communion with the Bishop of Rome


you are hard to follow, Jon

Can you just use universal instead of Catholic when you mean universal?

Thank you for clarifying.

And, no, there is no special subgroup of Catholics who have been given special permission to depart from the vicar of Christ.

**CATHOLIC. **Its original meaning of “general” or “universal” has taken on a variety of applications in the course of Christian history. First used by St. Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 35-107) (Letter to the Smyrneans, 8, 2), it is now mainly used in five recognized senses: **1. **the Catholic Church as distinct from Christian ecclesiastical bodies that do not recognize the papal primacy; **2. **the Catholic faith as the belief of the universal body of the faithful, namely that which is believed “everywhere, always, and by all” (Vincentian Canon); 3. orthodoxy as distinguished from what is heretical or schismatical; 4. the undivided Church before the Eastern Schism of 1054; thereafter the Eastern Church has called itself orthodox, in contrast with those Christian bodies which did not accept the definitions of Ephesus and Chalcedon on the divinity of Christ.

In general, today the term “Catholic” refers to those Christians who profess a continued tradition of faith and worship and who hold to the Apostolic succession of bishops and priests since the time of Christ. (Etym. Latin catholicus, universal; Greek katholikos, universal.)
Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

One of the most difficult things to do, for a cradle Protestant, is to separate what his church seems to be in his imagination, and what it is in fact. This was something J H Newman struggled with himself, and, after his conversion, an idea he tried to illuminate with his fellow Anglicans.

This difficulty is so embedded in a Protestant’s first principles, that it makes having a religious view of reality almost impossible.

Of course the Protestant may turn this argument against the Catholic too. However, that is not a solution, just an evasion.

My view is that a cradle Protestant, who is firmly set in believing his church exactly conforms to his imagination should be treated with kindness and prayer. There is NO argument that will overcome the imagination. Only a serious examination of one’s first principles will help overcome such a powerful influence.


Maybe you could elaborate. Whose imagination are you speaking of.


Newman speaks of the Church of England, which you will admit, (I hope) has very close ties to Catholicism, and even closer ties than Lutheranism, even the more conservative LCMS variety.

He says about imagination:

I have said, we must not indulge our imagination in the view we take of the National Establishment. If, indeed, we dress it up in an ideal form, as if it were something real, with an independent and a continuous existence, and a proper history, as if it were in deed and not only in name a Church, then indeed we may feel interest in it, and reverence towards it, and affection for it, as men have fallen in love with pictures, or knights in romance do battle for high dames whom they have never seen. Thus it is that students of the Fathers, antiquaries, and poets, begin by assuming that the body to which they belong is that of which they read in times past, and then proceed to decorate it with that majesty and beauty of which history tells, or which their genius creates. Nor is it by an easy process or a light effort that their minds are disabused of this error. It is an error for many reasons too dear to {6} them to be readily relinquished. But at length, either the force of circumstances or some unexpected accident dissipates it; and, as in fairy tales, the magic castle vanishes when the spell is broken, and nothing is seen but the wild heath, the barren rock, and the forlorn sheep-walk, so is it with us as regards the Church of England, when we look in amazement on that we thought so unearthly, and find so commonplace or worthless. Then we perceive, that aforetime we have not been guided by reason, but biassed by education and swayed by affection. We see in the English Church, I will not merely say no descent from the first ages, and no relationship to the Church in other lands, but we see no body politic of any kind; we see nothing more or less than an Establishment, a department of Government, or a function or operation of the State,—without a substance,—a mere collection of officials, depending on and living in the supreme civil power. Its unity and personality are gone, and with them its power of exciting feelings of any kind. It is easier to love or hate an abstraction, than so commonplace a framework or mechanism. We regard it neither with anger, nor with aversion, nor with contempt, any more than with respect or interest. It is but one aspect of the State, or mode of civil governance; it is responsible for nothing; it can appropriate neither praise nor blame; but, whatever feeling it raises is to be referred on, by the nature of the case, to the Supreme Power {7} whom it represents, and whose will is its breath. And hence it has no real identity of existence in distinct periods, unless the present Legislature or the present Court can affect to be the offspring and disciple of its predecessor. Nor can it in consequence be said to have any antecedents, or any future; or to live, except in the passing moment. As a thing without a soul, it does not contemplate itself, define its intrinsic constitution, or ascertain its position. It has no traditions; it cannot be said to think; it does not know what it holds, and what it does not [Note 1]; it is not even conscious of its own existence. It has no love for its members, or what are sometimes called its children, nor any instinct whatever, unless attachment to its master, or love of its place, may be so called. Its fruits, as far as they are good, are to be made much of, as long as they last, for they are transient, and without succession; its former champions of orthodoxy are no earnest of orthodoxy now; they died, and there was no reason why they should be reproduced. Bishop is not like bishop, {8} more than king is like king, or ministry like ministry; its Prayer-Book is an Act of Parliament of two centuries ago, and its cathedrals and its chapter-houses are the spoils of Catholicism.

see here for the whole text.

I imagine that your own position is not far different from those Newman addresses in these lectures. (Those Anglicans, which adhered to the Oxford Movement of 1833 -Tractarians) but who still had difficulty with the perception of their own Anglican tradition, which has hold of their imagination, as being a “branch” of Catholicism.

Whosoever imagined this definition of “church”. Is it Luther’s?

I only know it is a different definition than what existed prior to the Reformation, so I thought it was cooked up by one of the original Reformers.

That definition appears in Article VII of the Augsburg confession and while initially rejected by the confutators, it was accepted after the additional clarification was provided in Article VIII.


Actually, it is the believer’s imagination that is being referred to. The believer has a “view” of their church in their own imagination, which does not necessarily correspond to reality.

What is reality? Is it all relative? To a certain extent it is. The Believer’s first principles are the foundation stones, while antecedent probability illuminates the imagination.

Oh right, I could not remember where I read it!

So, then the answer to your question is the imagniations of those who wrote the confession.

I understand why they felt they needed to redefine “Church”. I just don’t think they had the authority to do so, and I think the definitiion is deficient. It is one of the ways in which modern evangelicalism has been torn from her apostolic roots.

Yes, of course.

Beginnning with a truncated definition of Church as is done in the Augsburg confession lends itself to further truncation. So now we have dropped the word and sacrament parts,and often hear it defined as “the body of believers on earth”. The saints are not in the Church, the sacraments are jettisoned, etc.

Augsburg made a readers digest version, cutting out some of the elements, then we further dropped more so we are down to a book review or abstract version.

Well… I’m not sure you are following me. “Beginning with… etc.” is all referring back to an historical fact.

Where the imagination comes into play, is how the believer views his church. This is very powerful, and cannot be argued away.

As I said, the believer’s first principles are the foundation upon which all else is built. The imagination receives all of the antecedent probabilities and guided by those first principles, creating what Newman calls a romantic vision of one’s church, if it does not correspond to reality.

You have to remember that to a Lutheran, it is a first principle that the Roman Church is corrupt and led by the AntiChrist. Lutherans don’t pretend that their confessions etc are perfect, but that they have corrected, as well as humanely possible, the fatal errors of the Roman Church.

The confutators approved the revised statement.


There is as much difference between Catholic and catholic as there is between Protestant and protestant, or Apostle and apostle, and Christian and christian.

Article VII: Of the Church.

1] Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.

2] And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and 3] the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. 4] As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4:5-6.

Article VIII: What the Church Is.

1] Although the Church properly is the congregation of saints and true believers, nevertheless, since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled therewith, it is lawful to use Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ: The Scribes and 2] the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat, etc. Matt. 23:2. Both the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ, notwithstanding they be administered by evil men.

3] They condemn the Donatists, and such like, who denied it to be lawful to use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and who thought the ministry of evil men to be unprofitable and of none effect.

The Roman Confutation

To Article VII.

The seventh article of the Confession, wherein it is affirmed that the Church is the congregation of saints, cannot be admitted without prejudice to faith if by this definition the wicked and sinners be separated from the Church. For in the Council of Constance this article was condemned among the articles of John Huss of cursed memory, and it plainly contradicts the Gospel. For there we read that John the Baptist compared the Church to a threshing-floor, which Christ will cleanse with his fan, and will gather the wheat into his garner, but will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire, Matt. 3:12. Wherefore this article of the Confession is in no way accepted. although we read in it their confession that the Church is perpetual, since here the promise of Christ has its place, who promises that the Spirit of truth will abide with it forever John 14:16. And Christ himself promises that he will be with the church alway unto the end of the world. They are praised also, in that they do not regard variety of rites as separating unity of faith, if they speak of special rites. For to this effect Jerome says: ÒEvery province abounds in its own sense" (of propriety). But if they extend this part of the Confession to universal Church rites, this also must be utterly rejected, and we must say with St. Paul: “We have no such custom,” 1 Cor. 11:16. “For by all believers universal rites must be observed,” St. Augustine, whose testimony they also use, well taught of Januarius; for we must presume that such rites were transmitted from the apostles.

To Article VIII.

The eighth article of the Confession, concerning wicked ministers of the Church and hypocrites - viz. that their wickedness does not injure the sacraments and the Word - is accepted with the Holy Roman Church, and the princes commend it, condemning on this topic the Donatists and the ancient Origenists, who maintained that it was unlawful to use the ministry of the wicked in the Church - a heresy which the Waldenses and Poor of Lyons revived. Afterwards John Wicliff in England and John Huss in Bohemia adopted this.

The confutators do not mention that Augsburg provides a “Readers’ Digest” version, meaning somehow abbreviated. They understood the nature of the confessional document. Their main complaint about Article VII is that it didn’t mention wicked people in the Church. That is addressed in Article VIII, and affirmed by the Confutation.

Melanchthon goes on to blast the confutators for their condemnation of Article VII. One can read it here.


What I mean to say is yes, Church does properly nourish through Word and Sacrament, but this is not all there is to Church.

Likewise, Church does include “the body of believers on earth” but this is not all there is to Church.

In the context of the New Testament:
Does the word ekkleisa (ecclesia Latin) imply ALL believers?
IOW: Is every believer part of the ekklesia
and are there any unbelievers included in the ekklesia?

from newadvent.org/cathen/03744a.htm

ecclesia is never used by the Apostles to denote the Jewish Church. The word as a technical expression had been transferred to the community of Christian believers

As signifying the Church, the word Ecclesia is used by Christian writers, sometimes in a wider, sometimes in a more restricted sense.
•It is employed to denote all who, from the beginning of the world, have **believed **in the one true God, and have been made His children by grace
•It may signify the whole body of the faithful, including not merely the members of the Church who are alive on earth but those, too, whether in heaven or in purgatory

from newadvent.org/cathen/10663a.htm
This truth, that the Church is the mystical body of Christ, all its members being guided and directed by Christ the head,

from wiki
the Church Militant (Ecclesia Militans), comprising Christians on earth who are living; Christian militia, who struggle against sin, the devil and “…the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

From the CCC
790** Believers** who respond to God’s word and become members of Christ’s Body,
805 The Church is the Body of Christ. Through the Spirit and his action in the sacraments, above all the Eucharist, Christ, who once was dead and is now risen, establishes the community of believers as his own Body

based on the above:
If I am a true believer: am I included in the Body Christ (aka the ekklesia)?
If I am a NOT true believer: am I included in the Body Christ (aka the ekklesia)?

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