04 February 2014

"Our" Church, or "the" Church?

Like as not, most of us have one or two words or turns of phrase which hurt our ears and cause us to cringe (at least metaphorically).  Personally, such is the case with "ain't," "all y'all," and "our Church."

The phrase "our Church" often passes the lips of both laity and clergy alike.  Why does it bother me so much?  Because it is neither true, nor Biblical.

Nowhere does Saint Paul, or any other, refer to "our Church;" rather, he refers to the Church (see I Corinthians 11:22; Ephesians 5:29; James 5:14; III John 6 as just as a few examples).

The inspired authors speak not of a Church or of our Church, but of the Church.  Jesus himself said to the Apostle Peter, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church" (Matthew 16:18, emphasis added).

Just as a short time later he said to the disciples, "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector" (Matthew 18:28).

The distinction may seem a small or trivial matter, but it makes a great difference.  If the Church is our Church, we can change it and it's teachings.  But if it is the Church, if it is His Church, we cannot change it because its origin and teachings are divine.  We do not own the Church, but belong to the Church.

In a recent interview concerning his visit ad limina, His Excellency the Most Reverend Andreas Laun, Auxiliary Bishop of Salzburg, highlighted this important distinction:
Referring to those who seek to change the Church's doctrine on issues such as marriage and the reception of Communion by divorced and re-married Catholics, Bishop Laun noted that the Church is “not mine, not yours,” but “his Church – that is: the Lord, Jesus Christ – he is the Lord of the Church.”

“He is the head,” the bishop repeated, rather than those who believe that they need “to restructure the Church.”
Be sure to read the rest of the article.

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