Whatever Became of Church? (Part Three)

Editor's Note: This is the third of three blogs on the demise of a robust understanding of "church" in modern evangelical life. To read the first installment, click here.To read the second installment, click here.   

The earliest church, in the first forty or so years following the resurrection of Jesus, was essentially a movement within Judaism that believed that the Messiah had come. But then, around 70 A.D., Jerusalem fell to the Romans, and the Christian church was dispersed. The most important church that emerged, as you would imagine, was the one in Rome, which was the capital of the Roman Empire.

During the next few centuries, the church defined itself by four very important words: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Each word carries great significance.

First, the church was to be one, or unified. Jesus, in His great and grand final prayer recorded in John's gospel, prayed fervently for unity among those of us who would embrace His name in years and centuries to come.

Second, it was to be a holy church, meaning set apart for God and separate from the world, for God Himself is holy. The church is to reflect this holiness to the degree that it can be identified with God as holy.

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