27 September 2007

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

We do not hold that there are two churches, one true, real, and inner, the other nominal and outward, but we say that one and the same church, namely the whole assembly of the called is considered in two ways, namely inwardly and outwardly, or in respect to the call and outward fellowship consisting in profession of faith and use of the Sacraments, and in respect to inner regeneration and inner fellowship consisting in the bond of the Spirit. We grant that in the former way also hypocrites and unholy persons belong to the church, but we hold that in the latter way and respect only they who truly believe and are holy belong to it. -- Quenstedt, *The Church* p. 37


Carl Vehse said...

Quenstedt's comment does not disagree with these Lutheran Quotes:

"Therefore we rightly confess in the Creed and say: 'I believe a holy Christian Church.' For it is invisible and lives in the Spirit at a place to which no one can come." Martin Luther (Comment on Galatians 5:19, Halle Edition, 8:2745; quoted by C.F.W. Walther, Church and Ministry, p.41)

"The true and holy church of the elect nevertheless remains invisible." Martin Chemnitz (Loci theologici, part 3, p.117; quoted by C.F.W. Walther, Church and Ministry, p.43)

"When we say: 'I believe one holy Christian church,' the word 'believe' shows clearly that we speak of the invisible church, which is proved also by the added adjective 'holy'." John Gerhard (Loci thologici, 'De ecclesi", par. 151; quoted by C.F.W. Walther, Church and Ministry, p.43).

"All who affirm that the Church is either wholly (papists) or partly (modern Lutheran theologians) visible destroy the Scriptural concept of the Church and change it from a communion of believers to an 'outward polity of the good and the wicked'” - John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics (CPH, St. Louis, 1934, p. 547)

William Weedon said...

Dr. Strickert,

Quenstedt does say that a mark of the church is visibility, though. He notes: "Because the ministry of teaching the Word and administering the Sacraments strikes the senses, therefore the assembly of the called is called the visible church; but because it is not visible to human eyes who then the true believers and pious are in that assembly, therfore in respect to them the church is called invisible." (p. 18) Thus I don't think he disagrees in substance with what you've written, but he doesn't mind speaking of the Church "visible" when speaking of the mixed assembly.

Carl Vehse said...

Quenstedt again agrees with Walther in his Thesis V on the Church – “Although the true church in the proper sense of the word is, as to its essence, invisible, yet its presence is perceivable, its marks being the pure preaching of the word of God and the administration of the holy sacraments according to Christ's institution." (from Five Translations of Dr. C. F. W. Walther's Theses, The Voice of Our Church on The Question Concerning Church and Ministry)

Thus while I cannot see the invisible (or hidden) Church, I can perceive that it is present when and where I see the marks of the Church, which are visible, so that what I can see is the visible church, which Walther defines in Thesis VI on the Church: "In an improper sense, the visible community of all that have been called, i.e., of all who attend the preaching of the word, professing adherence thereto, and partake of the sacraments, a community consisting of good and evil men, is also, in accordance with holy Scripture, called the (universal catholic) church and the several divisions thereof, i.e., the congregation here and there existing, in which the word of God is preached and the sacraments are administered, are called [particular] churches, and that, because in these visible gatherings the invisible, true, properly so called, church of believers, saints, and children of God is concealed, and since without the aggregate of the called no elect must be sought."

Thus I know that when I see the visible church there is also presence within that church the invisible Church, that is, true believers.