In the Beginning: Lessons from Genesis

The first thing one must do before reading a book is to recognize from which library shelf it came—that is, its literary genre. For example, if one is reading a satire one will misunderstand its contents if one takes it for history or politics. (Thus Swift’s A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, which proposed that poor Irish peasants might…

The Marks of the Church: the Church as Apostolic

We come at last to the final adjective in the Creed’s description of the Church: apostolic. The word “apostolic” comes from the Greek word apostello, to send forth. An apostle is one who is sent forth with a mission. Christ Himself was the apostle of His Father, and He sent out the Twelve to continue His mission. As He said to the Twelve after His Resurrection, “As the Father has sent Me…

The Marks of the Church: the Church as Catholic

Every Sunday we confess in the Creed that we believe in “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church”. But what do we mean when we confess the Church as catholic? For many people the word “catholic” simply means “Roman Catholic”—i.e. the Christian confession centering upon the universal leadership of the Pope of Rome. Obviously reading such usage into the Creed would be anachronistic, for the Church of the fourth century did not center…

The Marks of the Church: the Church as Holy

Every Sunday we confess in the Creed that the Church is “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic”. But what do we mean when we say that the Church is holy? Obviously it cannot mean that we believe that everyone in the Church is of exemplary behaviour. Sadly, the history of the Church, both ancient and modern, is replete with scandals and stuffed with prima facie evidence that all Christians do not always behave…

The Marks of the Church: the Church as One

Every Sunday we confess in the Creed that the Church is “one”—i.e. we confess the unity of the Church of God. But what does this creedal confession mean? In what sense is the Church one? It cannot mean that the one church is made up of all the various different Christian denominations, for when these words of the Creed were written these different denominations did not exist. Rather, the Creed is here…

One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church: What Does the Word “Church” Mean?

Every Sunday the Creed is said in Church in which Christians say the words, “I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church”. It many ways it is an odd thing to say. In the Creed we confess things that are matters of faith, things contestable, maybe even controversial. Thus we confess that God the Father almighty made the heaven and the earth, including all things visible (such as animals and men)…