Excerpt from article dealing with the Universal Invisible Church theory

Excerpt from I.K. Cross – ‘Baptist Heritage Abandoned’
Honest historians are aware that the idea of a universal invisible church is a child of the Reformation. The Protestant Reformers were determined they would not be bound again by the universal, visible church with the Pope as its head. Yet they had all been a part of that universal system all of their ministry prior to their rebellion in the Reformation itself. It was impossible therefore for them to free themselves completely of a universal concept of the church. The final outcome, accepted by Protestantism until this day was what is commonly referred to as the universal, invisible church, which, by the most commonly accepted definition, is composed of all the redeemed — no matter what their doctrinal differences may be. The late Roy Mason, author of The Church That Jesus Built and a number of other books, in his book, The Universal Invisible Church Theory Exploded, says on page 7, “I have read rather widely in the writings … of the Christian leaders who lived in the early days of Christianity, all the way from Polycarp who knew John the apostle, on down. In their writings they don’t speak of an … invisible church. Doubtlessly they would have been amazed at such a doctrine.” On page 8 he then quotes these words from Dr. R. K. Maiden, “former editor of the Word and Way of Missouri … ‘Following the Reformation period and born of the Reformation movement, there emerged a new theory of the church — the UNIVERSAL, INVISIBLE SPIRITUAL THEORY.'” Bro. Mason then says of the Reformers, “With what would they replace the doctrine of the Universal Visible Church? They solved the problem by coining the doctrine of the
Universal INVISIBLE Church. So the Universal, Invisible, spiritual theory of the church WAS INVENTED!” Thus it is very clear that the concept of a universal, invisible church is a Protestant innovation, and the concept of a New Testament church exclusively local in nature is still supported by honest scholarship today. In the late Dr. S.E. Anderson’s book, Real Churches or a Fog, he quotes many scholars who support this New Testament concept; among them is Dr. Henry M. Morris. On page 110 he quotes from Dr. Morris’s book, The Bible Has the Answer, page 132,”In the present world, therefore, New Testament usage compels us to recognize that the true church is a local group of Christian believers, not an ‘invisible’ or ‘universal’ entity of some kind with no physical substance. …” This has been a Baptist distinctive through the centuries, a fact clearly stated by Norman H. Wells in his book, The Church That Jesus Loved, page 32, “If the universal, invisible church theory is to be received by Baptists, then we lose our identity.”

About sjbjburke

I am an evangelist that enjoys Bible study and I look forward to posting outlines and receiving helpful comments. My wife and I celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary in 2022 and we enjoy serving the Lord together.
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4 Responses to Excerpt from article dealing with the Universal Invisible Church theory

  1. Adrian says:

    Things that seem new can be
    1) falsely invented
    2) the discovery of our ignorance

    Gravitational force was not a new invention. Isaac Newton merely discovered it and ‘systematised’ it to make it understandable for common folk

    Many good things would not have arrived if man rejected the idea of gravitational force as a ‘new invention’

  2. Adrian says:

    This article roused me enough to comment

    Things newly discovered can be a result of
    1) false inventions


    2) a discovery of previous ignorance

    Gravity was merely discovered by Isaac Newton, he described it; he did not invent it. It was a discovery of something that was always there, but previously unrecognised.

    It is more important to be a biblicist than to lose the identity of being a baptist.

    Scriptural examination of this doctrine would be crucial, and would present a stronger argument than a historical one. Surely we should not reject something without demonstrating what the doctrine tries to teach and how it may have erred biblically.

    Thank you

  3. sjbjburke says:

    The purpose of the posted article is to share the names of authors for further study. I agree with you that doctrine must be solely derived from Scripture as opposed to theories read into Scripture.

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