More Scrutiny of "The Invisible Church" Theory

I have posted a few things regarding how I find the idea of the "invisible church" formed of all true believers very unhelpful, shallow, and, to be honest, unbiblical. There is no indication in the Bible that the church is "invisible". It's not like the authors of the NT don't know how to talk about things being invisible--they do! Jesus' main point in John 3 might well be that the Kingdom of God is, essentially, invisible. We also find such terminology regarding God: No one has ever seen the Father but the Son...

But where do we get this idea that the church is invisible?

My dear friend, brother, and co-worker in the Lord, Erik--through whom God has richly blessed me--is working on a paper addressing this topic. He's at Oxford right now, and his paper (draft) has a lot of philosophical and historical terms that might seem difficult, but I encourage a read anyway. Those who have an elementary knowledge of church history and philosophy will find it simple and straight forward.

I also encourage you to leave him your questions or comments at his blog, Priests and Paramedics. He is a gifted communicated and does not mind explaining his terms or phrases.

One quote:

Such notions of the church’s invisibility basically hinge on a denial of mediation—no extrinsic instrument connects one to the Godhead. Instead, connection to the Godhead, through Christ, is inevitably reduced to a cognitive assent, making Christ the object rather than the subject of faith. This reductionism—based on a particular reading of Paul—asserts that the telos of the Incarnation and Cross was the individual human’s acceptance of Christ’s gift of salvation through an act of inward disposition. It is what one thinks about God/Christ/Spirit which is paramount. Mediation therefore, if it has any existential significance at all, is simply through the transmission of information; “believe these propositions and you shall be saved.”

Read it Here


Duffy said…
Hmmmm. Perhaps my understanding of the "invisible church" has been wrong all this time. I've always understood it to mean that the people around us are (or might be) brothers and sisters in faith and we don't know it b/c we don't see them at mass. That is, the Church is much larger than we see during a Sunday service. Interesting.
Abu Daoud said…
Hi Duffy,

I think what Erik is criticizing here is the idea that the interaction between humanity and God goes on primarily between the individual (not the community) and God. Moreover, there is mediation.

Mediation might seem like a fancy word but it's meaning is simple: ie, that God is immediate and he saves us Through nothing but what is within us. That is, it is our own ideas, opinions, and convictions in our brains that dictate our relationship with God. Therefore they dictate (in this invisible church theory) who is in the church andd who is not.

Erik has criticized this idea, but let's see what kind of mediation he proposes.

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