The Invisible Church


I don’t understand the concept of the Catholic Church being visible and Protestants believing in an invisible church. Why do you say that? The Protestant churches seem quite visible to me. I hope I’m not being thick, but I really don’t get why catholics say Protestants believe in an invisible church.


The difference I believe is between the institution Church, which is visible, and the invisible Church of all true believers which is spread through out the visible churches and also includes any believers not in an institutional Church.
I say this because if you go into any Church, can you actually point to the people who are saved. You cannot differentiate between what they say and what they actually believe. Only God knows that. Unless you can point to a discreet group of people and say this is the true body of Christ I think that it must be accepted that the true Church, in the sense of those who will be saved.
John and Jude tell us that there are and have been people in the visual institutional church who are anti-christs or unbelievers who have come in.


The invisible Church of all true believers? How is that invisible? I’m sure the believers are visible. And of course you’re right, we can’t just point to people and say they are believers.

So just because some Christians aren’t part of an institution that makes them part of the invisible Church??

:confused: :confused:


After learning about visible/invisible church in a Protestant Bible school and studying the Catholic understanding about it, I have come to a conclusion that invisible church is a concept which “invisibly bonds” Protestants into one body of believers. Because Christians are supposed to be united (as Christ said), yet every denomination and group of believers have their own doctrines and authorities, they cannot be seen in any way one unified body. Thus, IMHO, the “invisible” church has to be introduced in order to provide some sense of unity.


This is a Protestant idea - NOT a Catholic one.
It comes from the faulty idea that there was an invisible "remnant” of “true believers” (not the Catholic church BEFORE the Reformation going all the way back to Christ.

This, of course is bunk on many levels.

Speaking of his Church, Jesus emphatically stated that “a city set upon a hill could not be hidden”, that we are “the salt and light of the world”, that you “don’t hide a light under a bushel but place it on a lampstand” and that our “light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father”. (Matt. 5:13-16)
Only** the Catholic Church fulfills this mandate. ONLY the Catholic Church goes all the way back to Christ Himself.**
This CLEARLY negates the idea of an invisible Church.


Matthew 18: 15-17 (NKJV)
15 Morevover, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church…

I’ve heard this verse quoted on these forums and the remark made…which Church? As if all Protestants just hang out at home all the time. To whichever church they go to. Protestant churches aren’t invisible.

Just because there are some Protestants that don’t go to church on Sundays doesn’t mean they are un-identifiable as Christians, as part of the Church.

I just don’t get it. :shrug:


The point is that there are members of Christ’s body in Protestant denominations. There are members of Christ’s body in the Catholic Church. Not all people in the visible Protestant or Catholic Churches are necessarily saved. You cannot point to any particular person and say whether he is a member of the true body of Christ because only God knows who they are. The most we can say about the visible Churches is that their members say they believe. They may or may not believe. They may or may not be truly repentant. You cannot walk into any Church and say, if the end were to come today, that this person would be saved and this other one would not. If they are not saved are they truly a member of Christ’s body? Christ’s body is spiritual and perhaps it would be better to call the differeniate between the material (visible church) and the spiirtual (invisible) Church.
The Catholic Church admits that people in Protestant Chuches can be Christians and have salvation. They are not in the visible Catholic Church but are part of the true Church.


My church is quite visible too. Sheesh…if you drive up to Montreal on the interstate, you will see it on the left before the first St. Albans exit. It would be kinda difficult to see if it were invisible wouldn’t you think.

Like everything else, if you don’t know the concept behind the title, you can give the title any absurd definition you want…particularly if the title is poorly descriptive of the concept.


I’m curious - well, actually, Curious is curious - I’m Randy, and I have a question.

In the universal “catholic” church as it is envisioned by Protestants as being made up of all true believers, does doctrine matter or are contradictory and conflicting doctrines acceptable?

Thanks in advance. :tiphat:

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