Church militant and church triumphant


Church militant and church triumphant
The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant by Andrea da Firenze

In Christian theology, the Christian Church, or Church Universal, is traditionally divided into:

  • the Church Militant (Ecclesia Militans), comprising Christians on earth who are living; christian militia, who struggle against sin, devil and "..the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).
  • the Church Triumphant (Ecclesia Triumphans), comprising those who are in Heaven, and
  • the Church Suffering, a.k.a Church Padecent or Church Penitent (Ecclesia Penitens) or Church Expectant (Ecclesia Expectans), comprising those Christians presently in Purgatory. This latter term is only applicable to Roman Catholic theology.

These terms are often used in the context of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints; although Christians may be physically separated from each other by the barrier of death, they nonetheless remain united to each other in one Church, and support each other in prayer.

The Latin word militans has a primary meaning of "serving as a soldier, military", but it acquired a secondary meaning of "to struggle, to make an effort", which is the intended sense here. Christians on earth (the Church Militant) are still struggling against sin in order that, when they die, they might go to heaven and be members of the Church Triumphant, those who have triumphed over sin. However, if this struggle is successful, but not completely so, then after death they temporarily become members of the Church Suffering before ultimately joining the Church Triumphant.

The Catholic Church commemorates the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering on two consecutive days: All Saints Day on November 1 (the Church Triumphant), and All Souls Day on November 2 (the Church Suffering).

These terms are not used in the modern Catechism of the Catholic Church, the authoritative collection of the teaching of Catholicism, first published in 1994. Many contemporary Catholics might consider them belonging to another age. However, the teaching these terms represent is precisely restated in paragraph 954 of the Catechism, which quote Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council:

The three states of the Church. "When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating 'in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is"' (CCC 954)

In the Protestant understanding, there is only a two-fold division: the church militant and the church triumphant. The purification of believers takes place in this world and is completed "in the twinkling of an eye" at the moment of death when the believer enters glory in the same way as will happen with those believers alive on earth at the time of the Second Coming. Departed believers are with the Lord (Php 1) and await the physical resurrection of the dead (Revelation 6, 7 et al.) - there is no period of purification and no such place as purgatory.

The Methodist Church defines the Church Militant as "engaged in constant warfare against the world, the flesh and the devil, and in that respect is distinguished from the Church Triumphant."[1] The Church Militant includes all Christian denominations, such as Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, among many others.[1] In the same fashion, it defines the Church Triumphant as "in heaven, and consists of those who have washed their robes and made them immaculate and pure in the blood of the Lamb."[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Bishop H.M. Turner, D.D., LL.D. (1885). The Genius and Theory of Methodist Polity, or the Machinery of Methodism. African Methodist Episcopal Church. http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/turnerpolity/turner.html. Retrieved 07 July 2011. "13 Q. What do the visible and invisible church constitute? A. The church militant, or military church, which is engaged in constant warfare against the world, the flesh and the devil, and in that respect is distinguished from the "church triumphant." 14 Q. What do you mean by "Church Triumphant?" A. The church triumphant is in heaven, and consists of those who have washed their robes and made them immaculate and pure "in the blood of the Lamb." 15 Q. The church militant then is upon earth? A. Yes; and comprehends all Christian denominations; viz., Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Congregationalists, Episcopalians and many others. 16 Q. Do you mean to say that it takes all the church denominations of the world to constitute the "church militant?" A. I do. For all these so-called churches are only so many religious societies forming the "Church militant," which are recognized by Christ in the aggregate." 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Church triumphant — Church Church (ch[^u]rch), n. [OE. chirche, chireche, cherche, Scot. kirk, from AS. circe, cyrice; akin to D. kerk, Icel. kirkja, Sw. kyrka, Dan. kirke, G. kirche, OHG. chirihha; all fr. Gr. kyriako n the Lord s house, fr. kyriako s concerning a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • church triumphant — noun Usage: often capitalized C&T : members of the church who have died and are regarded as enjoying eternal happiness through union with God compare church militant, church suffering * * * Theol. those Christians in heaven who have triumphed… …   Useful english dictionary

  • church triumphant — Theol. those Christians in heaven who have triumphed over evil and the enemies of Christ. Cf. church militant. [1545 55] * * * …   Universalium

  • Church militant — Church Church (ch[^u]rch), n. [OE. chirche, chireche, cherche, Scot. kirk, from AS. circe, cyrice; akin to D. kerk, Icel. kirkja, Sw. kyrka, Dan. kirke, G. kirche, OHG. chirihha; all fr. Gr. kyriako n the Lord s house, fr. kyriako s concerning a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Church — (ch[^u]rch), n. [OE. chirche, chireche, cherche, Scot. kirk, from AS. circe, cyrice; akin to D. kerk, Icel. kirkja, Sw. kyrka, Dan. kirke, G. kirche, OHG. chirihha; all fr. Gr. kyriako n the Lord s house, fr. kyriako s concerning a master or lord …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Church living — Church Church (ch[^u]rch), n. [OE. chirche, chireche, cherche, Scot. kirk, from AS. circe, cyrice; akin to D. kerk, Icel. kirkja, Sw. kyrka, Dan. kirke, G. kirche, OHG. chirihha; all fr. Gr. kyriako n the Lord s house, fr. kyriako s concerning a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Church of England — Church Church (ch[^u]rch), n. [OE. chirche, chireche, cherche, Scot. kirk, from AS. circe, cyrice; akin to D. kerk, Icel. kirkja, Sw. kyrka, Dan. kirke, G. kirche, OHG. chirihha; all fr. Gr. kyriako n the Lord s house, fr. kyriako s concerning a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Church owl — Church Church (ch[^u]rch), n. [OE. chirche, chireche, cherche, Scot. kirk, from AS. circe, cyrice; akin to D. kerk, Icel. kirkja, Sw. kyrka, Dan. kirke, G. kirche, OHG. chirihha; all fr. Gr. kyriako n the Lord s house, fr. kyriako s concerning a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Church rate — Church Church (ch[^u]rch), n. [OE. chirche, chireche, cherche, Scot. kirk, from AS. circe, cyrice; akin to D. kerk, Icel. kirkja, Sw. kyrka, Dan. kirke, G. kirche, OHG. chirihha; all fr. Gr. kyriako n the Lord s house, fr. kyriako s concerning a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Church session — Church Church (ch[^u]rch), n. [OE. chirche, chireche, cherche, Scot. kirk, from AS. circe, cyrice; akin to D. kerk, Icel. kirkja, Sw. kyrka, Dan. kirke, G. kirche, OHG. chirihha; all fr. Gr. kyriako n the Lord s house, fr. kyriako s concerning a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English