“True Church”

This is a post at "Reformed Mafia":

While apostolic succession is seen by the Pope as that which constitutes the true church, the Reformers saw something in Scripture they believed was central in describing the true church: sola fide.

Luther called justification by faith alone "the article upon which the church stands or falls."

R. C. Sproul pointed out the logic followed by the Reformers:

1)Justification by faith alone is essential to the gospel.

2)The gospel is essential to Christianity and to salvation.

3) The gospel is essential to a church's being a true church.

4) To reject justification by faith alone is to reject the gospel and to fall as a church.

According to Sproul, "The Reformers concluded that when Rome rejected and condemned sola fide, it condemned itself, in effect, and ceased to be a true church."

It was the comment that caught my eye:

Whenever I consider this topic, the Bible's teaching on descent and lineage come to mind. Specifically, it's possible to be a Gentile by birth and yet be truly called a descendant, or son, of Abraham. Likewise, a Jew who could prove his ancestry back to Abe could legitimately prove by his actions that he was instead a son of the devil.

So, even if a church COULD prove its physical descent, or succession, from an apostle (which is a historically dubious claim to begin with) that doesn't speak at all to the issue of spiritual legitmacy and whether or not one is a true heir of the apostles and prophets.

Yes. There are a couple of denominations that claim apostolic succession - but does that "spiritual ancestry" or "apostolic genealogy" mean that they are the "true church", any more than being a descendant of Abraham will bring salvation through Christ to a Jew in the 21 century?

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2 thoughts on ““True Church”

  1. SteveG

    Here's the real question I have. What gives Sproul (or Luther, or the reformers) the authority to determine what constitutes true church?

    Beyond that...

    “The Reformers concluded that when Rome rejected and condemned sola fide, it condemned itself, in effect, and ceased to be a true church.”

    This is a logical fallacy called begging the question where one assumes their conclusion (justification by faith alone is the article upon which the church stands or falls) in their premise.

    In other words, in the above four steps of logic, point 1 is assumed, rather than shown.

  2. They claimed that their authority was Scripture as their final authority, and allowed God (not Rome) to define the true church.

    As for your pointing out the logical fallacy, you might note that my purpose of the post was not to agree with Sproul, but to respond to the comment.

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