Magazine article The Christian Century

True Church: The Vatican Has Restated the Obvious: Christians Have Different Views of What Is Essential to the Church

Magazine article The Christian Century

True Church: The Vatican Has Restated the Obvious: Christians Have Different Views of What Is Essential to the Church

Article excerpt

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH recently restated its view that Protestant churches are not "churches in the proper sense." Some Protestants take offense. But we need not. The word church in Catholic parlance refers to those bodies that have bishops in apostolic succession and that recognize the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The statement is aimed not primarily at Protestants but at certain liberal and conservative Catholic interpreters of Vatican II (see Jared Wicks's article on p. 9).

The fact is that many Protestants don't hold to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and no Protestant body (except for the Anglicans) insists on having bishops in apostolic succession. Nor do Protestants accept the primacy of the pope. In a way, the Vatican has simply stated the obvious: Christians remain divided--separated by, among other things, different views of what is essential for church to be church.

Protestants have their own various means of identifying the church in the present state of ecclesial division. For Lutheran and Reformed traditions the church is where the Word is properly preached and the sacraments rightly administered. …

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