<< Previous | 10 of 11 | Next >>

Regular Columns

The truly ‘catholic’ church

The adjective ‘catholic’ and the noun ‘catholicity’ have a bittersweet usage in ordinary evangelical language. They seem too strictly associated with the reality of Roman Catholicism to be used in a way free from cumbersome superstructures of meaning.

Vatican Insights Leonardo de Chirico
Figure Image
photo: iStock

The Bible never uses the expression kath’olon (according to the whole) in the theological sense. The only explicit reference, which is used in a negative form, is in Acts 4:18. The profane use of kath’olon has a variegated range including the meaning of ‘total’ and ‘complete’. In borrowing the term, the church began to understand it as describing the universality of the church (made of Jews and Gentiles), the fullness of the gospel (once and for all delivered to the saints), and the global extension of the people of God (from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth).