Universal church

My Stepdad is always talking about the universal church including Catholics and all denominations. Last week he mentioned the word catholic first being used in Antioch which is also the first place followers of Jesus were called Christians. He mentioned the word catholic to mean all christians. He was confirmed Catholic but left the Church years ago. How do I show Him the Catholic Church is THE Church, and that THE Church is not an invisible group of all believers. He realizes that the Catholic Church is not a denomination, but believes they lost sight of the truth along the way and it took the reformation to revive the “Biblical truth of salvation by faith.” Any pointers would be appreciated.
Thanx, Elliott

[quote=Elliott]My Stepdad is always talking about the universal church including Catholics and all denominations. Last week he mentioned the word catholic first being used in Antioch which is also the first place followers of Jesus were called Christians. He mentioned the word catholic to mean all christians. He was confirmed Catholic but left the Church years ago. How do I show Him the Catholic Church is THE Church, and that THE Church is not an invisible group of all believers. He realizes that the Catholic Church is not a denomination, but believes they lost sight of the truth along the way and it took the reformation to revive the “Biblical truth of salvation by faith.” Any pointers would be appreciated.
Thanx, Elliott
[/quote]

Elliot,
I am going to bump this up, since I don’t have a lot of time right now. I will be back with pointers later.

[quote=Elliott]My Stepdad is always talking about the universal church including Catholics and all denominations. Last week he mentioned the word catholic first being used in Antioch which is also the first place followers of Jesus were called Christians.
[/quote]

This is probably true, the word Catholic means Universal. At that time there was only one Church all were in communion with Rome and the Pope.

[quote=Elliott]He mentioned the word catholic to mean all christians. He was confirmed Catholic but left the Church years ago. How do I show Him the Catholic Church is THE Church, and that THE Church is not an invisible group of all believers.
[/quote]

The phrase “invisible church” as used by Catholics means all Christians of right faith. We certainly cannot judge that anyone who is not formally a member of the Catholic Church is not going to heaven, or is not a true Christian. This includes those who only God can identify, we do not pretend to know who is a true Christian, but we do have the true deposit of faith, and we proclaim that as it was given to us by Christ.

[quote=Elliott]He realizes that the Catholic Church is not a denomination, but believes they lost sight of the truth along the way and it took the reformation to revive the “Biblical truth of salvation by faith.” Any pointers would be appreciated.
Thanx, Elliott
[/quote]

The Bible is a product of tradition, it was not meant to be the other way around. The Catholic Church is the one who compiled the Biblical books into what we now call the Bible. A thorough look at history will debunk this. Perhaps asking him to tell you where the Church went wrong would be a good next step, (however, if you do this you will open up many cans of worms, so if you aren’t prepared to deal with that, then maybe it isn’t a good idea.). There are many people here who would love to help you deal with these more specific issues.

Has he said anything more specific? If so post it, and I will look for a more specific answer.

Well, there is what I can give you in 5 minutes, if I come up with anything else after more thought I will post again,

Hope this helps somewhat.

[quote=Elliott]My Stepdad is always talking about the universal church including Catholics and all denominations. Last week he mentioned the word catholic first being used in Antioch which is also the first place followers of Jesus were called Christians. He mentioned the word catholic to mean all christians. He was confirmed Catholic but left the Church years ago. How do I show Him the Catholic Church is THE Church, and that THE Church is not an invisible group of all believers. He realizes that the Catholic Church is not a denomination, but believes they lost sight of the truth along the way and it took the reformation to revive the “Biblical truth of salvation by faith.” Any pointers would be appreciated.
Thanx, Elliott
[/quote]

Remind him that Christ did not establish competing systems of truth. Christ refers to the Church in the singular:

Mt 16:18-19 - upon this rock I will build my Church
Mt 18:17 - if he refuses to listen even to the Church…

The second verse listed shows that it must be singular AND visible. As a family member, it may be difficult to talk to him, but see if he’s willing to read some good Catholic books, like Karl Keating’s “Catholicism and Fundamentalism”, or even some Catholic.com tracts or “This Rock” magazine articles. You may have an inside scoop on what his issues/questions are.

You might also bring up the point that the Church is the bride of Christ, not the harem :).

I don’t buy the “the church fell into error” lines. Christ said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. Saying the Church fell into error is akin to saying Christ lied :(. And if Christ lied about this, well, you get the idea.

He also prayed specifically that “they be one” (John 17). Try reading that chapter aloud and ask him to explain what Jesus really meant here & what makes him think so.

I don’t know what kind of relationship you have with your stepdad. I find it difficult to teach people in my parents generation even if we are on good terms.

[quote=Elliott]…How do I show Him the Catholic Church is THE Church, and that THE Church is not an invisible group of all believers…
[/quote]

catholic.com/library/Pillar.asp
that should give you some pointers:D

[quote=Elliott]He realizes that the Catholic Church is not a denomination, but believes they lost sight of the truth along the way and it took the reformation to revive the “Biblical truth of salvation by faith.” Any pointers would be appreciated.
Thanx, Elliott
[/quote]

If this is true, then by logical conclusion all of the Protestant denominations are in error as well, since all of them came from the Catholic Church. We can then go further by saying that no Christian today is living in truth since the Church lost its way. But then most Protestants would object to that, and hence point to them the logical inconsistency of their position.

To add on to what someone above said about John 17, Jesus prayed to let them be one as my Father and I are one. One on of his cd’s, John Martignoni makes a good point about this passage that is something like this: The first 2 persons of the Trinity do not disagree on doctrine. Jesus doesn’t say ‘Baptism forgives sins’ and God says ’ no, Baptism does not forgive sinss’. They agree. Jesus prayed we should be one as** they** are. That’s pretty mind-blowing when you really think about it. We are all supposed to agree. One Church is what Jesus founded and prayed for - universal doctrine, guided and protected by the Holy Spirit until the end of time.

When he speaks of the word Catholic first being used in Antioch, he is probably right. The first written evidence we have to the word is in St. Ignatius of Antioch’s writings. If your stepdad actually reads Ignatius’ writings, he will see that Ignatius wouldn’t have understood the concept of an invisible Church. Ignatius believed the Church could only be understood in the context of the people united to their bishop. Ignatius’ writings (AD 107) are some of the most strongly worded in favor of a very visible church.

And then you have the bible, which shows a visible Church. Matthew 18, as someone pointed out…how can anyone take their disputes to the Church if it is invisible. Matthew 16…the Church is founded on a visible person. Acts 2:42…the new believers were associated with the Apostle’s fellowship. All the epistles are from the visible leaders of a visible Church. Acts 14…Paul appoints presbyters in every Church he started. Acts 15…only the presbyters and apostles gathered for a council to address how the entire Church united to those apostles and elders would address a thorny issue.

Thaks for all of your help. He seems open to discussion. Hopefully someday He’ll come back home.

[quote=e-catholic]The phrase “invisible church” as used by Catholics means all Christians of right faith. We certainly cannot judge that anyone who is not formally a member of the Catholic Church is not going to heaven, or is not a true Christian. This includes those who only God can identify, we do not pretend to know who is a true ChristianCatholics believe this too? I had no idea. What are Catholics and Protestants arguing about then?
[/quote]

[quote=DeFide]Remind him that Christ did not establish competing systems of truth.
[/quote]

Quite right, there is only one Truth.

But from the beginning there have been competing ideas about Christianity. Peter and Paul disagreed on the importance of keeping Jewish customs (i.e. circumcision) a part of being a Christian. (It would seem the Pope was on the wrong side of that discussion.)

[quote=e-catholic]The phrase “invisible church” as used by Catholics means all Christians of right faith. We certainly cannot judge that anyone who is not formally a member of the Catholic Church is not going to heaven, or is not a true Christian. This includes those who only God can identify, we do not pretend to know who is a true Christian, but we do have the true deposit of faith, and we proclaim that as it was given to us by Christ.
[/quote]

Um, not exactly. CCC #'s 748 - 933 extensively covers the Church as defined in the Apostle’s Creed, and it covers the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. To hold for an “invisible Church” does not fit with Catholic teaching, at least not in the way Protestants use the term.
The Catholic Church is visible and concrete and the Body of Christ.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.