True Church

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Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Would it be fair to say the the Reformed view of the existence and essence (not government) of visible church is fundamentally congregational? The standard used to determine whether a church is a "true church" is the adminstration of Word and Sacrament. This standard is applied to each congregation. Even when evaluating the Roman Catholics, Calvin and others admitted that certain congregations among them were true churches. There is not an essential element of, say, connection to a presbytery or other governing body (diocese or whatever). In other words, the standard is not "Word, Sacrament, and Submission to Presbytery." I know some Reformers did have a third element of discipline, but as I understand matters this referred to internal moral and doctrinal discipline, such as fencing the Lord's table. I have not heard of it referring to inter-congregational polity.

Now, this question related to the esse, or being, of the visible church. I am sure that Reformed would say that the bene esse (well-being) is to have Reformed polity and that failing to have it is grievous error. But that is different than saying a congregation is not a true church at all.

Thoughts?

Matt - do you have any views on this?

Scott
 
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