The Protestant invisible church

How do Protestants back up the idea of an invisible church it was a major point in me being catholic since I could only find a visible church in the bible

Any passages Protestants use would be helpful I am meeting with a friend that believes in a invisible church

Firstly, there is no “Protestant” definition. There’s a Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed, etc. definition.

Lutherans define the Church “invisibly”, only insofar as salvation is concerned. That is to say, the wheat and the tares are mixed together in the “visible” body. It’s just another way of saying that only God knows who does and does not possess faith.

However, the Church is visible and recognized by Word and Sacrament.

Originally, they just pointed at heresies in the past. They claimed that the Catholic Church actively hunted down the “true invisible church”, causing it to go underground. Their concept of an invisible church corresponds to their myths regarding the inquisitions.

No matter how they defined it, the concept is necessary in order to justify Protestantism. Without an invisible church that persisted for about fifteen centuries, Protestantism becomes an invented religion in the fifteenth century. Nothing more than that.

Pentecostals define the “visible” church as any congregation of believers. Those who gather in Christ’s name are the church. The “invisible” church would be everyone who has been born again, regardless of denominational affiliation or institutional structure.

That’s interesting. I’ve never heard the concept of “invisible” church tied into theories of a Great Apostasy.

Usually, Protestants speak of “invisible” versus “visible” to explain how many denominations can still all be part of one church.

When Protestantism first began, the concept of an invisible church was manufactured to justify what they were doing. There was only ever one true Church. That has to be the case if Christ spoke the truth.

To justify the things they argued, they had to deny the authority of the Church herself, which meant they needed some invisible church in order to explain Christ’s promise that the Holy Spirit would guide and protect the Church from error. If you deny the Catholic Church, then either you have to invent some nebulous invisible church or call Christ a liar.

There were some interesting exchanges between Erasmus and some of the Protestant revolt leaders on the matter. It really was an absurd claim, but again, I don’t see how they could escape having to make it given all their other positions.

Precisely. :thumbsup:

Can you please provide any evidence that the reformers taught this, please?

But I don’t think the Protestant Reformers perpetuated an idea that the “true church” had been “invisible” due to persecution by the Catholic Church. They advocated reforming the medieval Church, but never the existence of some “secret” or “underground” church that existed alongside the medieval Catholic Church.

I think people are misunderstanding what the “invisible church” concept is. It has nothing to do with being an “underground” church.

This is the question I emailed to my friend

If four different Christians are arguing about what a scripture passage means, one from foundation baptist church, a second the church of Christ and a third from mars hill and finally a roman catholic what does the bible tell us to do to settle our dispute and how does that get implemented.

Then I gave him this also

Matthew 16:18
18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[a] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades** will not overcome it.

Based on the above passage jesus founded one church either visible or invisible that will last forever

Matthew 18:15-
Dealing With Sin in the church

15 “If your brother or sister[a] sins,** go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

How does Christians from different denominations solve problems of there isn’t a visible church to go to?
Especially when according to the bible the bible isn’t the pillar of truth but the church is

1 Timothy 3:15
15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.****

I am hoping to find where the church is invisible in the bible please since the majority of Protestants prescribe to sola scriptoria

The parable of the wheat and the tares for one.

How do you settle arguments biblically because if someone doesn’t like the answer they can just start a new church according to this theory

From which reformer?

Here is what Calvin had to say in order to justify himself.

Do you at least recognize the necessity of this concept if one is to deny fifteen centuries of Christian history and the Church as having any authority?

Otherwise, it’s just your opinion, which is not individually protected from error by the Holy Spirit.

The concept of the invisible church was absolutely necessary to justify themselves in that time. Now it seems to be used to explain away why Protestantism is disappearing into an explosion of little denominations. I guess they are all their own little denominations, but some of them are really part of this “invisible church”, even though they don’t agree on doctrinal matters, and nobody can agree upon who belongs to the invisible church.

The Lutheran would go to his pastor - Sola Scriptura is a practice of the church, not of the individual.

I don’t see Calvin saying anything about the church being gone for 1500 years.

Do you at least recognize the necessity of this concept if one is to deny fifteen centuries of Christian history and the Church as having any authority?


They could start a church. That doesn’t mean they are part of the invisible church though. For instance Joseph Smith started the Mormon Church. Could he do that? Yes. Does that make him part of the invisible church? No.

If someone leaves a church because that church disciplines him, then that person will have to answer to God for disobeying those placed in authority over him.

So who decides what is a valid expression of Christianity a oneness Pentecostal would be considered a non Christian according to the vast majority of Christians including the Catholic Church

Then we already have made a determination that a oneness Pentecostal is not a Christian. What more do we need? Honestly, most Christians don’t have bouts of existential angst over this stuff. Ultimately, the triune God is going to determine who was and wasn’t a valid Christian.

So when my episcopal relative is “marrying” two men and he says it isn’t a sin and my baptist relative says they aren’t “saved” but the baptist is on their third marriage and promotes birth control who is right it used to make my head nearly explode before I was catholic.

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