Invisible Church

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The Invisible Church is a Christian – primarily Protestant – belief that the mystical Body of Christ, the church, consists only of those who are inwardly saved, rather than all of those who belong to the external, institutional church. The doctrine emphasizes that salvation does not result from belonging to a particular denomination, church, or sect, but instead comes from a personal, genuine faith and individual regeneration by the Holy Spirit.[1]

This teaching seeks to reconcile various scriptures that at face value promote the doctrine of the security of the elect, such as John 5:24, 10:28–29, 17:9–12, and Romans 8:38–39, with those scriptures that mention those only claiming to belong to the Christian religion while not really being saved (Jm. 2:14; 1 Jn. 2:19; 4:20). In short, the true church consists only of the elect possessing salvation through faith, and the institutional church consists of both the saved and unsaved.

The Invisible Church doctrine, like paedo-Calvinism and justification by faith, has often been attributed to St. Augustine and has found strong persistence in Christian thought. While the belief is more popular in evangelical and Protestant circles and has some critics among Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theologians, it is, in one form another, taught in most Christian denominations.[2][3]


  1. Augustine Collective, The Visible and Invisible Church, last accessed February 10, 2018.
  2. Brian Schwertley The Visible Vs. The Invisible Church, last accessed February 10, 2018.
  3. Vladimir Lossky, [1] The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1976 ISBN 0-913836-31-1) p. 186