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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
Unity of the Church
is a phrase employed to denote that all true believers are "one body in Christ." The Church is not to be considered as one on account of the common origin of the different societies, but because they were formed on common principles. There is no necessity for a visible head, as is now claimed by the Church of Rome, in order to unite all parts of the universal Church into one communion; nor is it necessary that the whole Church should agree in all rites, ceremonies, and observances in order to the same result. The circumstance of its having one common head, Christ, one Spirit, one Father, are points of unity which no more make the Church one society on earth than the circumstance of all men having the same Creator, and being derived from the same original pair, renders the human race one political community. The scriptural representations of this unity of believers in Christ is thus summarized by Chrysostom "He is the head, we are the body; he is the foundation, we are the building; he is the vine, we are the branches; he is the bridegroom, we are the bride; he is the shepherd, we are the sheep; he is the way, we are the travelers; we are the temple, he the inhabitant; he is the first-born, we are the brothers; he is the heir, we are the co-heirs; he is the life, we are the living. These things are manifestly one." The unity of the Church is not so much an accomplished fact as the original design would have it, nor as must be in the future. The intimacy of this union is indicated in our Savior's intercessory prayer, in which he asks that the members of this body may be one, as he and the Father are one. See Neander, Hist. of the Church, 1, 180,181; Hagenbach, Hist. of Doct. 1, 195; Bingham, Ch. Antiq. bk. 6:cho 3; bk. 16:ch. 1.
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Unity of the Church'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/u/unity-of-the-church.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Third Sunday after Epiphany