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The Communion of Saints

I believe in . . . the communion of saints.

The English cleric and poet John Donne (1572–1632) wrote,


No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

In that poem, Donne describes the need of the group for each individual member—the loss of one man is a loss to all humanity. “Any man’s death,” he writes, “diminishes me.” A correlating truth is that each individual is in need of the group. For Christians, that group is the church—the communion of saints. Albert Mohler writes,


A belief in the holy catholic Church and the communion of saints simultaneously rejects the rugged individualism that has infested American evangelicalism. To be sure, admittance into Christ’s church comes through an individual profession of faith and an individual confession of the truths of the gospel. We must give individual testimony to his transforming effect on our lives.

That must not, however, give rise to the notion that we go it alone. We are never alone. The thought that we can walk this Christian life alone carries with it a toxicity and poison that has deeply encumbered the American church. This individualism not only betrays the church, it betrays the gospel. It insinuates that the gospel is about God saving people without pointing to a bigger story of God creating a people. From the Old Testament to the New, the covenants, God’s purposes, indeed the very creation of the world, all point to God’s design of creating a people—a people that will be made up of every tribe, tongue, and nation. By God’s grace we come through faith to Christ and thereby stand united as the whole people of God.

When we make this walk of faith about “me,” we forsake the fullness of the gospel. The gospel does not allow us to boil down its glory to a story about “I” and “me.” The story of the gospel encompasses in resplendent unity all the people of God, together, as one people. The gospel is God’s story as he, through Christ, made a people for his pleasure. . . .

A great tragedy has besieged so many in this generation. Few Christians live today who cannot tell their story without telling the church’s story as well. A failure of true fellowship has robbed believers across this nation of the riches of all that is contained in the Apostles’ Creed on the subject. If you were asked to tell about your testimony and Christian walk, how central would the church be to your story?

We must repent from our anemic ecclesiology and embrace all that the Apostles’ Creed espouses in the belief of the holy catholic Church and the communion of saints. Believers must embrace their identity as a people bought with the blood of Christ. We must seek to live as those who will one day spend all eternity together, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, singing together as one people the glories of our God. We must say, as Paul said, that we should have “the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:2–5). Indeed, may we have the mind of Christ, who descended from his throne to ransom for himself a people, a church, a communion of saints for all eternity.

—Albert Mohler, The Apostles’ Creed (Crossway, 2019), 165–166.

Posted 2020·03·18 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Albert Mohler · Ecclesiology · The Apostles’ Creed (Mohler)

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