I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church

I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

4.1.5. Places

  • Byzantium / Constantinople / Istanbul – capital of the Eastern Roman Empire named after Constantine in the fourth century. Conquered by the Muslim Ottoman Turks in 1453.
  • Nicaea and Chalcedon – sites of major ecumenical councils (meeting of bishops to clarify teachings)
  • Rome – lost political significance after sacked by Visigoths in 410 but continued to be the spiritual center of Western Christianity.
  • Carthage and Hippo – most remembered as home of Augustine
  • Antioch – most associated with the plain-sense interpretation of scripture
  • Alexandria – most associated with allegorical interpretation of scripture.

4.2. What is the Church?

In different centuries Christians would offer different explanations of what it means to be a Christian. We have talked about beliefs and practices, and those UT installment loans are important. Especially in the period of Christendom between Constantine and the Reformation, the core or what it means to be a Christian is to be a citizen of the Church . The Church may be oriented toward Christ, but the average Christian is oriented toward the Church and experiences the Church more directly. Certainly there were practical concerns in organizing a Church that seeks to deliver (mediate) salvation from Christ to a large number of people. There were also theoretical, theological concerns. Theological discourse about the nature of the Church is ecclesiology , from the Greek ekklesia ( ???????? ) (church, originally assembly or congregation).

There are three ideas that do not apply to the period before the 16th century. You may have heard about them already, and we will talk about them more later. For now we should acknowledge them only to be clear that they are later developments.

First, starting with the Protestant Reformation we see the rise of individualism in general and in what it means to be a Christian in particular. Today you might hear people (Protestants or Catholics under the influence of Protestantism) say that what it means to be a Christian is to have a personal relationship with Jesus. With that starting point, belonging to a Church is not really necessary, or at most could be helpful as facilitator. In the earlier period citizenship in the Church is a collective relationship and a necessary component of being a Christian.

Another idea is found in Catholicism but not until the 20th century. Today Catholic theologians talk about the Church as the people of God, the collective hearts of the faithful. The implication here is that it implies that all the baptized are equal members of the Church. This includes the hierarchy (priests, bishops, pope) and laity (non-ordained Christians). This view often comes along with the argument that the Holy Spirit works through the Church in a bottom-up manner, rather than a top-down manner. That is, the collective faithful have a sense of the true faith by virtue of their baptism rather than the idea that the Holy Spirit acts only through the bishops, whom the laity should simply obey.

A related idea that does not apply in the middle ages is democracy . Ancient Greeks and Romans (among others) did have councils of elites that voted on things, but not until modernity do we get the notion that governments derive their legitimacy from the consent of the governed, and that the will of a majority of commoners is the highest authority. In the Middle Ages the only conceivable way of governing was through hierarchy , in both senses. Originally the word hierarchy meant “rule of priests.” Today the word is usually used to mean a chain of command with many localized rulers reporting to a higher ranking authority, who reports to a higher ranking authority, and so forth (usually visualized as a pyramid). In Catholicism the order of ranks is laity (including monks and nuns), deacon, priest, bishop, archbishop, cardinal, pope. In the army, for example, the “hierarchy” (in the second sense) is roughly sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major, colonel, general.