Christian Church

Ecclesiological term / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In ecclesiology, the Christian Church is what different Christian denominations conceive of as being the true body of Christians or the original institution established by Jesus.[1][2][3] "Christian Church" has also been used in academia as a synonym for Christianity, despite the fact that it is composed of multiple churches or denominations, many of which hold a doctrinal claim of being the "one true church", to the exclusion of the others.[4][5][6]

Medieval illustration of the ecclesia from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century)

For many Protestant Christians, the Christian Church has two components: the church visible, institutions in which "the Word of God purely preached and listened to, and the sacraments administered according to Christ's institution", as well as the church invisible—all "who are truly saved" (with these beings members of the visible church).[7][2][8] In this understanding of the invisible church, "Christian Church" (or catholic Church) does not refer to a particular Christian denomination, but includes all individuals who have been saved.[2] The branch theory, which is maintained by some Anglicans, holds that those Churches that have preserved apostolic succession are part of the true Church.[9] This is in contrast to the one true church applied to a specific concrete Christian institution, a Christian ecclesiological position maintained by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East.[1][10][3]

Most English translations of the New Testament generally use the word church as a translation of the Ancient Greek ἐκκλησία (romanized ecclesia), found in the original Greek texts, which generally meant an "assembly" or "congregation".[11] This term appears in two verses of the Gospel of Matthew, 24 verses of the Acts of the Apostles, 58 verses of the Pauline epistles (including the earliest instances of its use in relation to a Christian body), two verses of the Letter to the Hebrews, one verse of the Epistle of James, three verses of the Third Epistle of John, and 19 verses of the Book of Revelation. In total, ἐκκλησία appears in the New Testament text 114 times, although not every instance is a technical reference to the church.[12] As such it is used for local communities as well as in a universal sense to mean all believers.[13] The earliest recorded use of the term Christianity (Greek: Χριστιανισμός) was by Ignatius of Antioch, in around 100 AD.[14]

The Four Marks of the Church first expressed in the Nicene Creed (381) are that the Church is one, holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic (originating from the apostles).[15]

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