Catholic. It’s a word that many people often struggle with – why do Protestants mention the Catholic Church in our creeds? Well, we don’t. When spelled with a small ‘c,’ catholic does not refer to a branch of Christianity. Instead it means “universal,” coming from the Greek katholikos, which roughly translates as “on the whole, according to the whole or in general.” In a religious understanding of the word, it means the “ancient undivided Christian church or a church historical continuity from it.”
Obviously, I want to think about the religious understanding of the word catholic. When we proclaim our belief in one holy catholic and apostolic church, we say that we believe that Christians are one, we are holy, we are undivided, and we believe in the teachings of the apostles. That may not appear to be true most days, but we do believe that it is possible. I believe it’s possible.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul addresses the issue of division between the Jews and Gentiles in the churches of that region. In Ephesians 2:11-18, Paul specifically looks at the issue of circumcision. The Jewish Christians believe that the Gentile Christians cannot be part of the Church unless they are circumcised – they aren’t part of the covenant until they have made that sign of the covenant on their bodies. Paul argues that there is more to being a Christian than circumcision, and that through Jesus, the walls that divide us have been broken down.
From the beginning there have been walls of division in the Christian Church. But when we profess our belief in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, we return to the beliefs of the catholic church – the ancient beliefs of the first Christians that we believe today.
What does that mean for our daily living? You’ll have to come to worship for that. See you tomorrow!