R. Joseph Owles
A Sheep Among Wolves
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What is a Church?

The church may be defined as:

that visible religious society founded by Jesus Christ, whose purpose is to preserve and proclaim his teachings and to make present his sacrifice and sacraments for the salvation of all until the end of this age.

Or, to put it more simply:

The church is the place where:
Scripture is proclaimed,
the sacraments are administered,
Christian discipline is implemented.

SCRIPTURE is the Word of God in that in its pages, Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, is encountered and known.

SACRAMENTS are visible signs of Godís invisible grace and presence.

CHRISTIAN DISCIPLINE is the churchís exercise of authority, which has been given to it by Jesus Christ.

The church is known by the marks that characterize it:

it is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

To say that the church is ONE is to say that there is one spiritual body that has one head, Jesus Christ.

To say that the church is HOLY is to say that the church has been singled out by God for the purpose of enacting Godís will in the world, and because of this, it is distinct from all other institutions and organizations.

To say that the church is CATHOLIC is to say that it is not limited to any place, time, or people, but contains believers in all places, all times, and all peoples. Therefore, to declare the catholicity of the church is to declare its universality.

To say that the church is APOSTOLIC is to say that it is sent out by Christ into the world and that it is empowered with the authority of Jesus Christ, who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. The churchís apostolic quality also means that it holds fast the apostolic doctrine and tradition taught by Christ to the first Apostles and passed down from generation to generation through properly consecrated officers of his church.

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