Membership in the Church: Fundamental Questions
by WILLIAM H. MARSHNER
FAITH AND REASON
Vol. 2, No. 3
A pressing question before the Church today is precisely “Who is a member?” The importance of this matter, which seems on the surface to be rather obvious, stems from two scandalous but simple facts. First, the division of Christianity into competing sects has created the difficulty of defining the relationship of these sects to the true Church. Second, modern Catholics who deny even the most basic of Church teachings often confuse the issue by refusing to admit that they have left the Church. It is in this context, then, that F&R publishes the following rigorous, careful and technical treatment of Church membership by William H. Marshner. The argument demands and deserves careful reading and rereading with full attention to the notes. It is true that the casual reader will find certain traditional attitudes toward Church membership reinforced by the author’s conclusions. But the painstaking student of this article will find much more, for presented here are basic distinctions which go far toward ending the confusion about who is a member in good standing of the Catholic Church and who, in fact, is not.
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