Ever since the “Great Commission, the Church has always been the “Minister” of Salvation. In this particular understanding, the People of God are the Church. The Church of the First 1,000 years gave us the Bible and cleared up doctrinal confusion regarding the very nature of God and salvation.
In a very real and palpable way, “there is no salvation outside of the Church.” Salvation is what brings us into the Body of Christ, the Church.
The kerygma (proclamation) of the early Church was always centered on Jesus Christ as the source of the good news of the true God and salvation for all who believed in Him. It is not surprising, therefore, to see that in the midst of even the most technical and philosophical debates, the early Church was greatly concerned with understanding the soteriological implications of orthodox Christian Christology. Since each competing Christological claim appealed to the words of scripture for support, the Church gathered together in councils in order to answer the questions of what was Christ’s true nature and also the means and mode of salvation.
Without the Church we would not have what we know today as the Bible, nor would we have a concise understanding of what salvation is.
In the very basic understanding, the people of God are the Church. In Catholic understanding, the Church is comprised of faithful Christians of all ages, past, present, and future. This is the Mystical Body of Christ.
Church is neither a building or one particular denomination. As a bishop and leader of my particular group of churches, I am an heir of St. Peter, through Apostolic Succession. My role does not make me an infallible, dogma defining monarch. A bishop should be the chief servant of the servants of Christ, leading the proclamation of the Gospel message to the ends of the earth, in love, and compassion.
The role of Facilitating the work of salvation was given to the Church in the Great Commission. The work of salvation is certainly a complex issue about which questions remain even today within the Catholic tradition. Along with the Philippian jailer, many still ask “What must I do to be saved?” While those who argue that creedal faith requires different language and presuppositions than Biblical faith sometimes have legitimate concerns, there is ample Biblical, historical, and philosophical evidence upon which we may base our soteriological doctrine. Let us continue to reflect on and explore those beliefs.
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