#45- Those Who Do Not Believe in Christ Are Outside the Church

“But when they counter: “Your stand is not correct,” the controversy is under way. To settle this requires a spiritual council, which will proclaim the same faith that my brother and I share with all Christians, wherever they may be. They are all of one mind. The Christian Church is the church which believes in Christ and desires to be saved by Him, not by works or merits. Whatever the Holy Spirit says to us He says to all Christians everywhere. That is the Bethlehem and the tribe of Judah from which Christ comes. Thus it is also true that there is neither prophet nor Christian nor teacher nor preacher outside the church; for it is one body and soul, bound together and related as the members are to the body, for they are members of the body. An amputated fist is dead, lifeless, no longer attached to the body. Similarly, a heretic is detached from the Christian Church by false doctrine and unbelief, and is dead; for those outside the Christian Church are dead.

The Christian Church is not the same as a collection of bishops’ or cardinals’ hats. That may be termed a council, or it may develop into a council, but not into the Christian Church. For the church cannot be convoked into one assembly but is dispersed over all the earth. The church believes as I believe, and I believe as the church believes. There is no difference or disparity in our belief. We all believe one Christian Church. Outside this church there is nothing. This is my faith, and this gives rise to altercation”  (Luther’s Works, v. 23, p. 287-288).

Posted in 2017 Reformation Quotes.