Christian Church

The term Christian Church as a proper noun refers to the whole Christian religious tradition through history. When used in this way, the term does not refer to a particular "Christian church" (a "denomination" or to a building).

This article addresses the Christian Church broadly, taking account of the variety of conceptions about it, some identifying it with a concrete visible structure (the view of Oriental Orthodoxy, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church), others seeing it as an invisible reality not identified with any earthly structure (the general Protestant view), and others equating it with a particular set of groups that share certain essential elements of doctrine and practice, though divided on other points of doctrine and practice and in government (the branch theory as taught by some Anglicans).

The Greek term ἐκκλησία, which is transliterated as "ecclesia", generally meant an "assembly", but in most English translations of the New Testament is usually translated as "church". This term appears in two verses of the Gospel of Matthew, twenty-four verses of the Acts of the Apostles, fifty-eight verses of the Pauline Epistles (including the earliest instances of its use in relation to a Christian body), two verses of the Letter to the Hebrews, one verse of the Epistle of James, three verses of the Third Epistle of John, and nineteen verses of the Book of Revelation.

In the New Testament, the term ἐκκλησία ("church" or "assembly") is used for local communities as well as in a universal sense to mean all believers. Traditionally, only orthodox believers are considered part of the true church, but convictions of what is orthodox vary.

The four traditional "notes of the Christian Church" or descriptors of the church, first expressed in the Nicene Creed are unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity.

Read more about Christian Church:  Etymology, Use By Early Christians, History, Related Concepts, Divisions and Controversies

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