One holy catholic
Hijacked word: a word that once had previous means but takes on a new meaning over time because of the regular use by a particular group. Take, for example, “Pentecostal,” all Bible-believing Christians believe in the Pentecost (Acts 2). However, over time it begins to be used by those who believe in the continuation of supernatural spiritual gifts. One of these words that have been hijacked is ‘catholic.’ People assume that you belong to the Roman Catholic church when you say you are catholic. However, catholic has been hijacked by the Roman Catholic church. When the creed was written, there were no Roman Catholics; there were no denominations. The word catholic literally means universal. The Greek term is ‘kataholos,’ which implies kata ‘in respect of’ and holos ‘whole.’
The creed does not mean be believe in any church, but one church, one universal holy church. We will look at the word apostolic church next week. However, we need to highlight two words, ‘one’ and ‘holy.’ Firstly, although we can have many different churches (Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican, etc.), there is only one bride of Christ. When we get to heaven, sections will not be divided into denominations; everyone will be Presbyterian (tongue in cheek). This is what theologians call the Visible/invisible church distinction. We have many visible churches. However, there is only one true invisible church. Not everyone in the church is a true believer (Matt 25:31-46). However, those in the invisible church are saved. The is only one church because Christ only has one bride who is made up of the elect. So the visible church at times might look more like the invisible church at times, and vice versa.
Secondly, holy, because the invisible church comprises the elect, whom Jesus died, they are indeed holy. On this side of heaven, the visible church, even the purest church, is subject to mixture and error (Rev 2-3). The invisible church is pure because it is only made up of those saved and made holy through Christ. Paul explains in Ephesians, “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:27).
We should not be afraid of using the word catholic and should not let it be hijacked. We should understand that this creed does not belong to the Roman Catholic church but to the catholic (lower case c) Church (upper case C). This creed belongs to the one holy catholic church, which we are a part of visibly and (we pray) invisibly.