[quote=Genesis315]This sounds pretty much exactly like the Catholic view, with the Church militant and Church triumphant. It seems like there really isn’t much of a difference between invisible and visible church when you see what is meant by each term according to the different groups. :ehh:
Yeah, well said. I think perhaps I understand the Reformed view clearer than the Catholic view, however St. Francis de Sales pretty much destroyed all but some remnants, for me, of the invisible church thinking in “The Catholic Controversy.”
The differences can seem subtle, but a key difference, as I understand it, is that the invisible church is spoken of as the elect (exclusively the elect) on earth, not just the elect in heaven, which the Catholic thinking on “church triumphant” is the elect in heaven (maybe purgatory too, ??). Maybe I’m wrong, let me know.
Also, consider this:
The Church is the Church is the Church. Jesus died for the Church, graces are mediated to all those who are in the Church, all who receive sacraments who are in a state of grace, whether they will persevere to the end or not, receive grace to help them from those sacraments, baptism DOES forgive sins, etc.
In the Reformed view, you have a strikingly different understanding. That is that the non-elect church members (that is, the merely “visible Christians”, but not the “invisible Christians”) DID NOT have their sins forgiven in baptism, DO NOT receive graces from the Lord’s Supper, etc. etc. There would be different degrees and brands of that belief, but I think that’s pretty basic.
So, there you have it, how the Calvinist view of “Limited Atonement” plays into the view of the church. Soteriology affects Ecclesiology, and vice versa. If Christ only died ultimately for those who would end up in heaven, then only those select people throughout history receive ANY benefit from His passion and resurrection.
Once again, I stress by “invisible Christian” I don’t mean that you can’t see them. Like, “Hey, where did Christy go, she’s disappeared! Oh, she must be elect, good for her.” No, I mean that you don’t know who’s really saved. You can be pretty sure by their way of life, but you just don’t know who is elect or not. That’s what is practically understood by “invisible.”