Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Faith in the Church

"Faith in the church, [Nevin] explained, was not simply a persuasion and confidence that 'certain arrangements' in polity or liturgy were of divine appointment. The question of sacramental grace went deeper. Was the church a 'living supernatural fact, back of all such arrangements, having its ground and force in the mystery of the Incarnation, according to the order of the ancient creed, and communicating to the marks and signs by which it is made visible through every particle of virtue that is in them for any such end'? Nevin believed the answer had to be yes. 'We must believe in a divine church,' Nevin insisted, 'in order to believe in divine sacraments, or in a divine ministry under any form.' Indeed, without a conviction and understanding of its divine constitution, the institutional church became nothing more than the American Tract Society or 'any other outward league of evangelical sects!'"

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