"I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church ..." (Apostles' Creed).
"We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church ..." (Nicene Creed).
As Lutheran Christians we recite these words of belief at just about every worship service. Then we often proceed through the rest of our churchly lives as if we've never heard of such a thing.
We come by this naturally. We are Protestants, after all, protestant Lutherans. We protested against a church that had distorted the gospel. In the years to follow, based solidly on our Lutheran "pure doctrine," we would protest against various alternate versions of Christianity.
Our protesting ways began, of course, with Martin Luther. Even he, however, didn't want to break with the one holy catholic church. In America, we see a history of church-splitting run amok. My Lutheran ancestors were Danish. There were never more than 150,000 of us here, but we divided into two bodies. In the U.S. today there are approximately 40 Lutheran denominations.
It needn't be so. The Roman Catholic Church has all kinds of official orders that disagree with each other, with Rome, with the pope. Still, they remain one church.
The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers