7.8.09

Luther's Faith in the One, Holy Church (6)

Did Luther know of only an invisible church then? An ideal with no earthly reality? A Platonic entity? This is what his opponents sneered. Is he a proponent of the doctrine that there are two churches, one visible and one invisible, to which the elect alone belong? No! This teaching is sometimes set forth by the Reformed Churches, but it is not Luther's teaching. He occasionally spoke of an invisible church, it's true. He could occasionally also speak of there being two sides to Christendom: an "internal, spiritual Christendom" and an "external, bodily Christendom"; but straight away he added, "not that we would want to separate the two, but rather hold them together, just like we also speak of a person and say that his soul is spiritual and his body material". There are not two churches for Luther, one visible and one invisible, but one church with both a hidden and a revealed aspect.

From a talk given at Erlangen, Germany on 8th August, 1943.

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