This Week

  • Sunday: 10:00 Worship
  • Tuesday: Bible Study @ Jeremiah’s, 2 p.m.; Elders, 3 p.m.
  • Saturday: Emmaus Reunion Group, 8 a.m.
  • AA Meetings: in the Parish Hall:
    • Tuesdays, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Discussion
    • Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Big Book
    • Fridays 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Discussion

Guest preacher today is Rev. Bob Sinnett, an ordained minister in the Church of God. Bob grew up in Marietta, served a career as an Army Chaplain, and has retired in Marietta. Bob has preached at St. Paul’s before, and enjoys being a guest preacher at several churches in the area.

The Virtue of Protestant Catholicism

Samuel G. Parkison (…continued)

Without local churches, talk of the Universal Church would be vacuous. The concept remains phantasmal and ghostly until incarnated with bodies, bread, wine, water, and Word.

Our unimpressive little assemblies are the image of the invisible Church, and whether local churches realize this or not, they are in the same family tree as the fourth century fathers who produced the Nicene Creed. In our lineage are figures like Athanasius and Nicholas (who, unfortunately, probably never gave Arias a wallop, but if it helps the rumbling, tumbling farmer who serves as a deacon at FBCM to value protestant catholicity a bit more, I say we keep the legend going). Our churches lose something major if we lose this sense of family history.

It is a great irony that the classic fundamentalist creed, “no creed but the Bible,” places the liberal-theology-fearing church in danger of losing biblical fidelity. It is no accident that an antipathy for tradition and a crude biblicism lead so often to aberrations to central doctrines like the Trinity, or divine simplicity. The fruit of Nicene Trinitarianism is the product of a particular kind of tree—a way of reading Scripture with roots deep in a specific metaphysic and tradition. Once those roots are cut, we shouldn’t expect to see the same kind of fruit.

Out of a protestant love for Scripture, our local churches should be (small “c”) catholic. Which is to say, our local churches should stop imagining that they popped up in a vacuum. They should come to recognize who they are; to the degree that they are in fact churches, they are a part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and they only stand to benefit from waking up to this fact. It is not inconsequential that “catholic” and “apostolic” are placed next to one another. It is downright silly to expect the latter without the former.

But at the end of the day, there is a sense in which local churches are “catholic” whether they like it or not, and there’s not a thing they can do about it (short of apostasy). Little sectarian churches, riddled with sin, myopic and factionist, are, mysteriously, the visible expressions of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It is astounding, and just like God and his subversive ways, to send this “terrible army” on the march armed with nothing more than a book, water, cheap wine, and stale bread. Somehow, though, this is fittingly foolish (1 Cor. 1:18-31) for a community that proclaims how death was killed by Life, when Life was killed by death (1 Cor. 2:8).


“What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men, men of prayer.”

– E. M. Bounds

“I lack the fervency, vitality, life, in prayer which I long for. I know that many consider it fanaticism when they hear anything which does not conform to the conventional, sleep-inducing eulogies so often rising from Laodicean lips; but I know too that these same people can acquiescently tolerate sin in their lives and in the church without so much as tilting one hair of their eyebrows.”

-Jim Eliot

“One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.“

– A. W. Tozer

“The Christian that is bound by his own horizon, the church that lives simply for itself, is bound to die a spiritual death and sink into stagnancy and corruption. We never can thank God enough for giving us not only a whole Gospel to believe, but a whole world to give it to.”

– A. B. Simpson

“I want to assist churches and to assist pastors in training pastors. But, after fourteen years of service in this capacity, I am absolutely certain that the finest theological seminary on earth is absolutely incompetent at replicating the actual life of a Gospel congregation. I want to train a generation of pastors who will train pastors, and I want to help them in that task.”

– Albert Mohler

“Scripture speaks very clearly to the fact that identification with God’s people in a formal, public way was considered essential in New Testament times. A careful study of the New Testament doesn’t reveal even a hint of any believer who was truly saved, but not part of a local church.”

– Wayne Mack

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