Turretin: Hypocrites And Reprobates Belong To The Church Only Outwardly

1. The question concerning the parts of the church. Do reprobates also belong to it?

II. First it is inquired whether besides those called elect, reprobates and infidels also (whether secret or open) are to be considered as true members of the church. Bellarmine with others pretends this is so (“De Ecclesia Militante,” 3.2, 7, 9 Opera [1857], 2:74–75, 81–83, 85–89 and the following) when he teaches that in the definition of the church, pagans, heretics, the excommunicated and schismatics are excepted: “All others are included, even if they are reprobates, wicked and impious” because, as he immediately adds, “that a person may be said to be absolutely a part of the true church, of which the Scriptures speak, we do not think there is required any internal virtue, but only an external, especially a communion of faith and of the sacraments, which is perceived by the sense itself.” The design is that no other church may be acknowledged except that of which the Roman bishop is head. And because they clearly saw (if they restrict it to the elect and believers) the pope might possibly not belong to it, therefore they wished to extend it even to the reprobate, provided they were embraced under the one visible head. Hence in the Council of Constance, this proposition of John Hus was condemned as heretical: “The holy universal church is the universality of the predestinated” (Mansi 27:754). The importance of the controversy is such that on its decision depend all the others which are agitated concerning the church between us and the Romanists. Hence we must treat it the more accurately.

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, ed. James T. Dennison Jr., trans. George Musgrave Giger, vol. 3 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–1997), 18.3.2.

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