The Marks of the Church

    The Nicene creed refers to the four marks of the Church. These are the signposts that mark the true Church for what it is. Each of the marks are based in God. If a church does not have all of these marks, then the a fundamental part of God's plan is missing from that church. Only one church has all four marks: the Catholic Church.

The Church is One

    Because God is one, all who follow God are one, and we are all members of the same church. Though there are many organs, which each serves a different purpose, we are all one body (1 Cor 12:12). Why then, are there conflicts in the Church, sometimes violent? Just as when sin enters a person, that person is harmed, when sin enters the Church, the Church is harmed. There is still only one body, but the body does not always work as it should. The cure for divisions in the Church is the same as the cure for sins in each person. When all persons put the will of God above their own will and the teachings of truth above their own teachings the divisions will cease. When people look towards the will of God, they discover forgiveness of their estranged brethren, they strive to correct their own weaknesses, and they teach with love instead of pride. The Catholic Church is one through the stability of doctrine, the inheritance of tradition, and the foundation of scripture.

The Church is Holy

    Because God is holy, the Church, instituted by the Son of God (Mt 16:15-19) is holy. The Church is an institution to guide people to holiness. Why then, or so many in the Church not holy? Just as a hospital is for the sick, the church is for sinners (Mk 2:17). Unlike a hospital, where it is understood that all will eventually die, in the Church, those who are cured will live. The Catholic Church leads people to holiness through teachings, the sacraments, and the examples of the saints.

The Church is Universal

    Because God is the God of all, the Church is the Church of all, and is universal. In the creed, this is referred to by an equivalent word: catholic. The Jesus has made the Church a gift to all persons (Mt 28:19). Everyone, no matter their condition, tradition, or race are called to be members of the Church. The Catholic Church welcomes all into her house. Come as you are, and became what you are meant to be. This process does not involve taking your uniqueness, destroying it, and turning you into a bland, ordinary person. Quite the reverse occurs. To quote C.S. Lewis from the end of Mere Christianity, "How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints."

The Church is Apostolic

    Because God is the founder of all, God is the founder of the Church. More specifically, the church was founded by the Son of God, who transferred authority to the apostles, who transferred authority to the pope and the bishops, down to the present day. The term for this is apostolic. This succession of authority followed an unbroken chain from Jesus to the modern Catholic Church. This point is given more detail here.

This page borrows heavily from Catholic Christianity, Peter Kreeft, "The Holy Catholic Church."

This page was last changed on 2011/08/28.