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Bible Dictionaries

The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia


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The word "Catholic" was very early adopted as descriptive of the Church founded by our Lord and His Apostles. It means universal, or embracing all. In this sense the Church is catholic in these three things, (1) It is for all people; (2) It teaches all the Gospel, and (3) It endures throughout all ages. This distinguishes the Christian Church from the old Jewish Church which was but temporal, local, national.

Again, the word Catholic is used as being descriptive of the orthodoxy of any particular Church or individual as being in agreement with the one, undivided Church which has expressed itself in the Ecumenical or General Councils.

The word is, also, used to describe that which is believed on the
Authority of the Church, as for example, the doctrine of the Blessed
Trinity is a catholic doctrine because it is the universally
accepted teaching of the Church and having the sure warrant of Holy

Thus we learn that the word catholic is a very significant term and sets forth the real nature of the Church and her teachings. It enables us to test our own orthodoxy, to know whether we are loyal and true, in accord with "the Faith once delivered to the Saints," and, without doubt, will save us from being "carried away with every blast of vain doctrine."

This word, then, so greatly misunderstood, so wrongly used, yet meaning what it does, ought to be used with thoughtful care. For intelligent Churchmen the term "Catholic Church" should not mean, nor be used to mean, simply the Roman Church, but rather that glorious body in which we declare our belief when we say in the Creed, "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church."

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'Catholic'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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