Thursday, July 30, 2009

One only, catholic and apostolic church
In one sense the church is not divided and cannot be. Even
our outward divisions do not tear it asunder, since the one
Spirit indwells it. Piers in a harbour may divide it into
sections, so that boats are cut off from each other, but
the same sea flows and swells underneath. Our man-made
denominations also separate us outwardly and visibly, but
inwardly and invisibly the tide of the Spirit unites us.
The Nicene Creed characterizes the church as 'one, holy,
catholic and apostolic', which are the four classical
'marks' or 'notes' of the church. And they are true. The
church is both one and holy because the Holy Spirit has
united and sanctified it, setting it apart to belong to
God, even though in practice it is often disunited and
unholy. The church is also catholic (embracing all
believers and all truth) and apostolic (affirming the
teaching of the apostles and engaging in mission), even
though in practice it often denies the faith it should
profess and the mission it should pursue.

--From "Your Confirmation" (rev. edn. London: Hodder and
Stoughton, 1991), p. 83.