The Four Marks of the Church, One Holy Catholic and Apostolic

Introduction

How is Truth defined? Well, in two ways depending upon the context it’s used in. The ultimate Truth is Christ’s Word; “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth'”. The fact that His Word is the singular source of all Truth will be the centerpiece of my writing on the Church.

Secular truth is defined as: “that which is in accordance with fact or reality“. So many people have a hard time with objective truth because it is counter to their agenda. However, facts are facts and truth is truth, both indisputable no matter how many beg to differ.

The Word ONE

The word “one” is so important when it comes to facts and truth. It’s the consistency of “one” that provides the ability of truth and facts to exist in a meaningful sense. One of something is as solid as something can get.

Take for example if the founding father’s, there was only one set of founders. One Declaration of Independence, one Constitution. What if the written and spoken word was passed down throughout American history in various degrees of fact? The country would have imploded by now. It almost did because of inconsistency – the Civil War. “All men are created equal” is part and parcel to the foundational written and oral truths of our country. Well, southern states didn’t buy into that one, and look what happened.

Another example is the rule of law. Through electing a Mayor, and the existence of a city council, certain laws are promulgated about the rule of law carried out by the police department. What if that didn’t exist? The city would devolve into complete chaos with police officers interpreting the laws in their own way. The law/truth/facts have to be carried out consistently by the police for an ordered society. The consistent application of truth must be in place for real truth to remain.

One Catholic Church

The entity “one” is throughout biblical history. One God, one man, one woman, one Heaven, ones all over the place. But especially when it comes to the most important people in the Bible.

There’s only one God, at least that’s my belief. I think it’s intuitive that there exists one author and leader of the universe and everything in it. Think about it, if there were multiple gods at the Big Bang, no semblance of order could exist in the universe. You’d have had multiple almighties jockeying to be the alpha-god, with dissimilar views of creation. Order on the magnitude of the Big Bang could not have come out of the chaos which the Big Bang was. Saying the creation of the universe turned into what it is now is like saying that if a stick of dynamite blew up on the moon, all the various parts flying around would somehow come back together in some sort of order – preposterous.

Once there was advanced order on the earth, God chose singular people to carry out His plan, not groups of people. Why? the probability of the inconsistent application of His plan if multiple people were involved in the carrying out of that plan as history unfolded. There’s Adam and Eve; ONE man and ONE woman from whence all others will come – ONE pair. God didn’t create a family of brothers and sisters, one man and one woman only. There’s Abraham, “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘…..and I will make YOU into a great nation………'” This Biblical excerpt leaves zero doubt that God had one and only one man in mind to be THE progenitor of His chosen people’s path through history.

God appointed one man, Noah, to lead the rewriting of humanity. One man, Moses, to free the Hebrews, not an army. One man, David, to be Israel’s greatest king. One man, John the Baptist given the job to herald the coming Savior. ONE man saves the world – Jesus, and one man becomes the greatest of the twelve – Peter. This is the fulfillment of Jesus’ explicit prayer and desire in his high priestly prayer of John 17: “Father, may they be one, as you and I are one” (v. 21).

Holy Church

The Church is Holy because Christ is Holy, and the Church is Christ. That does not mean it is sinless, it means that it is “set apart”. It’s important the distinction be made between the Church (capital C), and the church. The Church is Christ on earth, via the Holy Spirit, His living doctrine – His Word through Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and the Eucharist – the body, soul, and divinity of Christ Himself that He established at the Last Supper. The church, on the other hand, are the men and women that carry out the functions and sacraments of the Church – they are people, prone to sin like the rest of us.

So many like to demonize the Church. The church however throughout its two thousand years of existence has committed many sins, some terrible and long lasting. The Church is holy, because it is the Body of Christ with Jesus as the head. That means the Church and her sacraments help to make the faithful holy.

Catholic Church

It’s an inescapable fact that Christ established one Church. He came to earth, proclaimed the Gospel, was crucified, died, and then rose from the dead. Ten days after he ascended to Heaven, the Holy Spirit descended on the twelve in the form of tongues of fire and in that instant Christianity was born. Remember, Christ ascended into Heaven as a Jew.

Christianity, called “the Way” at first, spread like wildfire because that was Christ’s will, and of course the twelve Apostles preaching the Gospel and converting tens of thousands, who in turn preached the Gospel, and on and on. Then there’s St. Paul, enough said. In 110 A.D., Saint Ignatius of Antioch, in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans, named the church “catholic”, which means Universal. Thus, catholic is simply the name of the one Church that Christ Himself established and the only Church in existence at the time, and for 1,500 years. And here’s the thing, there still is only one true Church, established by Christ, and it’s called the catholic Church.

Apostolic Catholic Church

Finally, the Church is Apostolic. Christ founded the Church and entrusted His authority to His apostles, the first bishops. This authority has been handed down for two thousand years through the Sacrament of Holy Orders (the laying on of hands) in what we call apostolic succession from bishop to bishop, and then by extension to priests and deacons. It all began by God laying His hands on the apostles at Pentecost via the Holy Spirit. Then they “laid hands on” successive bishops, and that laying on of hands has NEVER been broken. Thus, the Church as it exists today is the Church that existed two thousand years ago. Not one scintilla of the Church (the fullness of Christ’s truth as taught by the apostles and guarded by the Magisterium) has changed that entire time

The Church is also Apostolic in that the full deposit of faith was preserved, taught, and handed on to Church bishops (the Magisterium – the teaching authority entrusted to the apostles and their successors) by the Apostles until John the Apostle’s death in 100 A.D. . Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, the Magisterium has preserved, taught, defended, and handed on the deposit of faith throughout the last two thousand years.

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