It is true that the term “catholic” is not used in the New Testament, in contrast to our other three terms. The Church is explicitly called “one,” and “holy,” and is said to be founded on the apostles and devoted to their teachings. But we do not see a verse with the term “catholic” in it. That is not to say, however, that the concept of the Church’s catholicity is not in Scripture. It is most definitely a New Testament quality of the Church as we will see.
Furthermore, catholicity is demanded from the fact of the Church’s unity. As I traced in part III the characteristic of holiness from the Church’s unity with the Godhead, so, too, will we trace the catholicity of the Church from that Trinitarian unity, and the wholeness obtaining in the particular. Catholicity has come to mean, for many, universality or the worldwide scope of the Church. As we trace the concept from the New Testament and one of its earliest expressions in St. Ignatios of Antioch, however, we will see that the original impetus of the word was not so much worldwide universality as completeness and wholeness.
Continue reading “Where Is the Church? Part IV”