When it comes to how they run churches, Protestants
aren’t protesting Rome, but the Apostles.
When is an A-Frame not an A-Frame?
When it’s a V-Frame, a house built upside-down.
The physical version lives in Austria and is called, “The Upside Down House.” Two guys designed the spectacle to attract the curious and to make a quick Euro. Let me tell you a bit about it before applying it to Protestant churches, the spiritual V-Frames of our world.
Open full-time, for a few Euros paying patrons can flush an upside-down toilet flushes and cook an upside-down dinner. Of its many features its most obvious architectural anomaly is the fact that its foundation supports nothing. Its foundation is on top and its attic in the basement. The foundation is for show, not support, and in fact provides no support for the structure whatsoever.
An internet search yields more distorted homes. Upside-down houses can be experienced in the USA in Pigeon Forge, TN and Myrtle Beach, SC, and even in other countries as well, such as Poland. Or the next time you pack up the kids for Disneyland you can visit the upside-down house in Orlando, FL. It looks like an upside-down Greek palace. Or, you could save the expense of travel, and check out the Protestant churches in your area.
What’s an upside-down church? Like an upside-down house its foundation is its roof. It claims to be built on the foundation of Christ and the apostles, but that’s just not so. Jesus and the apostles, the foundation according to Scripture (Eph. 2:20) are in the attic. When their words vie to replace the Protestant foundation they are swiftly punished and sent back to the attic lest they turn the church right-side up.
The purpose of this post is to argue that the foundation of each church ought to be the teachings of the apostles and prophets recorded in the New Testament (NT), with the true confession of Christ being the cornerstone of the entire foundation.explained in Roman Catholic Schism This article explains the role of the rest of the foundation – the writings of the apostles and prophets.
Here will be briefly laid out the Bible’s own principle of “Precept and Example” that rescues Christians from history’s interpretation wars.For more on this, please read Precept and Example Precept and Example is the right way to regard the New Testament writings on all major matters of faith and doctrine, and in this article, we apply Precept and Example to understand what the apostles and prophets taught, and didn’t teach, about the church. That’s what shows Protestant churches in the unhappy position of founding their churches in opposition to the most clear and pervasive of apostolic teaching – the nature of the church.
Specifying the Ephesians 2:20 Foundation
The right way to understand the phrase “the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20) is to read it as saying “the foundation which is the apostles and prophets.” Picture a large government building that is the size an entire city block. It is as wide as it is long and it supports a structure of many floors. Underneath it and away from sight lies its massive foundation. On one corner, also hidden from view is a perfectly chiseled stone that was laid in place before any other foundation stone was set: ” Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).
When Paul writes that Christ is Himself the cornerstone and the apostles and prophets are the foundation, he speaks of a complete foundation. The cornerstone determines where and how all other foundation stones will lie. Its contours in height, width, and length define not only the size of the foundation but also the size and weight of the building that can be built on top. There can be no other foundation stones except for those directly built off of Christ. The church Christ builds is only built on top of this single foundation, not alongside it.
The foundation stones of the church are the written teachings of the apostles and prophets. The cornerstone of the foundation is taught in four gospels whose function is to explain the teachings of Jesus Christ as dependent upon His death and resurrection. Based on the implications of His death and resurrection, the apostles wrote letters to churches instructing them on matters of faith and conduct.
In addition to the apostles, some prophets wrote two of the gospels and one of the letters, such as Mark, Luke, Acts, and likely Hebrews. The last book of the Bible is also written by an apostle and bears the marks of both a letter and an apocalyptic prophecy, similar to some books in the Old Testament.
Importantly, then, Eph. 2:20 isn’t referring to the spoken ministries of apostles and prophets. Those teachings would be of no value to all the Christians who lived after they passed. Nor is it referring to the lives of Christ and His apostles and prophets since no one alive today has ever met these persons. No, in Eph. 2:20 Paul refers to the teaching ministries of all three: Christ, the apostles, and the prophets. Three verses earlier Paul claimed that Jesus “came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” Since Jesus never ministered to the “far off” (the Gentiles) this can only mean Christ preached to Gentiles through His inspired apostles and prophets.
So, Eph. 2:20 states the church’s one foundation is the teachings of Jesus Christ and His chosen apostles and prophets in written form. In other words, each church’s one foundation is the New Testament. Anything else is upside down.
A Perfect System
We are now able to explain some perfections Christian churches are granted by Eph. 2:20. Because of its completion, the foundation, once laid, would never be laid again. As a completed set of teachings the foundation is a whole that consists of contiguous parts – the books of the NT. Just as foundation stones must touch and perfectly fit together if a 1st C building could support a structure, so too the teachings of the NT perfectly fit together on all areas they speak of. These books fit each other into a system of teaching without any hint that the church built on them will supplement the foundation.
Jesus prophesied a perfect system of teaching the night before Jesus He was crucified as He claimed the coming NT would be the result of the omniscience of the Trinity. In John 16:13-15, the Son took truth out of the Father (who knows and possesses all truth), made it known to the Spirit, who in turn revealed it to chosen men for them to write down. The Spirit passed to the apostles the exact truth of God in word and meaning to the apostles, an exact amount and detail of truth described by the relative pronoun “whatsoever”
“whatsoever he (the Spirit) shall hear (from Jesus), that shall he speak (to the apostles)” (John 16:13)
“All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine. Therefore I said, that he (the Spirit) shall receive of mine, and show it to you” (John 16:15).v. 13 is from the KJV while v. 15 is from the DRA. The pronoun “whatsoever” is the same in the Greek. For more, please read my article on John 16:13-15.
The perfection and completeness of the NT is derived from the “all things” omniscience of the Father, Son, and Spirit (v. 15). Since the writings of the NT originate in God they were known before the world was created. God’s eternal omniscience forms a comprehensive system of all knowledge, and the NT reflects that knowledge for the church as it also displays His wisdom in how He determined it would be communicated to men. When the creature attempts to refine or append its teachings they corrupt the church’s one foundation because they deem its Creator as less than competent.
Unlike God our communication suffers an inability to anticipate all the ways others might misunderstand and misinterpret what we say or write. But God is omniscient and anticipated all the ways frail humans would misunderstand and misinterpret the NT before He had it written. Throughout history the NT has answered every heresy and error convincingly and probatively, for God provided for all readers an additional level of cross-checking detail in the NT in order to insure that anyone could understand what He has written so that He can be rightly obeyed.
As mentioned above, that additional level is Precept and Example, a pattern of cross-checking that yields certainty in interpretation and exists in the NT for every doctrine. A precept may be defined as a NT command or clear expectation given to churches so they may obey Jesus Christ, while an example is a historic event performed among one or more churches.
Rather than give the church a set of casuistic writings that anticipate and answer the misunderstanding and misinterpretation people might fall prey to, the NT reveals doctrine as teachings that must be obeyed by giving them to us in both Precept and Example. This cross checking principle makes interpretation relatively simple and straightforward for anyone who can read the NT for themselves.
Allow one example of Precept and Example to suffice. Churches recognize that the NT demands the practice of communion (aka, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist) because it is taught in both Precept and Example. Precepts in the form of commands and expectations are found in Mat. 26:27, 1 Cor. 10:16-17, and 1 Cor. 11:26-27, while examples of taking the Lord’s Supper are found in Mat. 26, Luke 22 and 1 Cor. 11. We are obligated, as those who claim to follow Christ, to take the Lord’s Supper.
However the washing of each other’s feet is a practice that doesn’t rise to the level of Precept and Example. For this we have example only. Even though the One who washed feet in John 13 is none other than Jesus Himself, yet churches almost universally recognize His example is not an obligation upon them since there is no accompanying command in the NT for us to wash each other’s feet.
Precept and Example takes the vital matter of a church’s obedience to God out of the hands of professionals and places it in the hands of anyone wishing to do God’s will. When it comes to our obligation to Christ, instead of reading a precept only and obeying it, we also look for an accompanying example to help us.
This is why Jesus’ command to one disciple not to attend the funeral of his father does not apply to all disciples for all time (Mat. 8:22). A command must be supported by an example for it to become an obligation, as is found, for example, in the matter of confronting sin in our brothers and sisters (Mat. 18:15 and 1 Cor. 5). The same is true with faith. We are commanded to believe the Lord and are given many examples of people doing just that. The principle of Precept and Example assures anyone of their obligation to God even as it protects from presumption and error.
A church that bases all its practices on Precept and Example is a church that submits itself to Apostolic Foundationalism. Apostolic Foundationalism is the belief that every church should only obey those matters clearly seen in the NT in both Precept and Example. Several items can be mentioned up front:
|Preach the gospel||Romans 10:15, 2 Tim. 4:2-3||1 Thess 1:8, 1 Cor. 14:23-25|
|Does discipline on the unrepentant||Mat. 18:17, 1 Cor. 5:13||1 Cor. 5, 2 Cor. 2:6, 2 Cor. 13:1, 2 Th. 3:11, 1 Tim. 5:19|
|Meets together for worship||Heb. 10:25, 1 Cor. 11:18-20||Acts 2:42-47, Acts 5:42, Acts 14:27|
|Makes Disciples||Mat. 28:19||Acts 14:21, Acts 18:27|
|Prays||Eph. 6:18, James 5:16||Acts 4:24, Acts 12:5|
|Loves the brethren||John 13:34-25||Acts 2:45|
|Meets the needs of worthy widows||1 Tim. 5:9||Acts 6:1-7|
|Pursues Unity||Eph. 4:3, Phil. 2:1-2||Acts 15, Titus 1:5|
On the other hand Protestant churches are governed without the benefit of the New Testament’s foundational Precept and Example:
|Ruled by a Bishop (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Methodist)||None||Acts 15 (Jerusalem Council)|
|Ruled by Representative Synods or Assemblies (Protestant)||None||Acts 15 (Jerusalem Council)|
|Ruled by Majority Vote (Baptist, Independent)||None||Acts 6 (Widow distribution)
Acts 15 (Jerusalem Council)
|Ruled by Qualified Elders||Acts 20:28, 1 Tim. 3:4-5, 1 Tim. 5:17-25, Titus 1:5-9, Heb. 13:17, 1 Pet. 5:1-5||Acts 11:30, Acts 14:23, Acts 16:4, Acts 20:17-32, Acts 21:18, Phil. 1:1, 1 Thess. 5:12-13|
Most Protestants will admit that their governance of representative presbyteries and synods (or assemblies) is without NT precept, but will likely hasten to add there is no precept for any type of governance in the NT.When Protestant denominations speak of “synods” and other such assemblies, they only mean some of the people in the churches gather in these groups, not all the believers, as required by a NT ecclesiology (cf. Rom. 16:23, 1 Cor. 11:18, 14:23) But the table above shows that every governance structure other than eldership is without apostolic precept. All others, including Protestants, either ignore or suppress the overwhelming amount of precept detail on “rule by eldership alone” in the NT.
Like thirsty lions drawn to a single watering hole in the Serengeti, Protestants are drawn to Acts 15 alone (the Jerusalem Council) for their polity claims. Each claims their polity is derived from it. But since they can’t all be right, the claim bears no small irony.
I’ll just point out two things. The same text can’t teach that apostolic churches were ruled by a bishop, a synod, and a church vote. One, or all, are wrong. That’s why we need complimentary precepts to help us. Some will say that all three are at play, but in that case the Acts 15 meeting would have been chaos, for had the council been led without a firm structure, they could never have reached consensus. Second, argue for your favorite polity all you will, but the presence of apostles makes the decision making process of the Jerusalem Council unrepeatable.Acts 16:4 silences all polities except eldership: “while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe.”
This point is simply to expose that Protestant churches are governed by Apostolic Succession and not Apostolic Foundationalism. They reject the unified witness of both NT precept and example on church governance. They play Catholic. Hence, they are tone deaf to the apostles on this matter, and institutionalize schism.
My larger point here is to expose to you that Apostolic Foundationalism speaks to every critical matter by which a church may discover for itself its obedience to the Precept and Example revelation given by God. Precept and Example is true faith in Christ’s words as He inspired them. Obeying Precept and Example is the very heart of discipleship to Jesus Christ, while disobeying it is false Christianity.
Apostolic Successionism in Catholicism
It may be justly said that the defining principle of the Roman Catholic Church is Apostolic Successionism, the belief that there is a sanctifying and empowering spiritual grace passed along from bishop to priest in the Roman Catholic Church. If Apostolic Successionism were ever removed from Roman Catholicism then it would abandon its claims to be the visible and unified church and its priests would lose their authority.
The central idea behind Apostolic Successionism is tradition: “‘Apostolic succession’ is the sacramental form of the unifying presence of tradition.”Joseph Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism, & Politics, 77.
But just as tradition as a source of authority is not limited to the Roman Catholic Church, neither is Apostolic Successionism. Every church that governs itself by traditional methods not found in both Precept and Example in the NT are also in the same Apostolic Successionism camp as Roman Catholicism. If Apostolic Successionism is wrong and Apostolic Foundationalism is correct, then every church not founded on the teachings of apostles and prophets is in need of repentance, regardless of its name, history, or success.
It is built upside-down since its present and visible members are in fact its foundation, not the apostles. The foundation is the present people who practice traditions that cannot be rightly justified in the NT by the measurement of Precept and Example.
Because Precept and Example is a comprehensive tool by which to compare the validity of all kinds of church practices to the NT we can apply it to Apostolic Successionism. The process is simply this: where does the NT teach Apostolic Successionism in both Precept and Example? Even if we grant that Mat. 16:15-19 really does teach Peter is the first Pope and the Primary Apostle, our work in establishing that is the doctrine of the NT isn’t yet done.
Because we are liable to misinterpretation and might be misreading that text we also look for at least one example in the NT that shows us God wants us to believe that Peter is the primary apostle to whom the others submit. And of course, there simply isn’t any.
It is true that Peter leads the 120 in recognizing Judas’ replacement but the choice is not Peter’s but Christ’s (Acts 1:24). And while Peter preaches the Pentecost sermon, and rightly deserves full honor for having done so, he is never seen in Scripture as the leader of any of the churches that arose from that event, including Jerusalem. We look for an example of the primacy of Peter as described in Roman Catholicism and the evidence simply isn’t there. These aren’t the conclusions of unbelief. We expect God to compensate for our frailty by giving us both Precept and Example to know the truth by.
The book of Acts shows Peter receding behind the ministry of Paul instead of the other way around. In Galatians Peter is publicly rebuked by Paul, and Peter even calls on his followers to submit to Paul’s apostolic ministry in 2 Peter 3:16. Yet the NT never has Paul encouraging Christians to submit to Peter.
When Paul writes the letter to the Roman church and commands their obedience to his words he never mentions Peter, an oversight that is beyond Christian charity if Peter were in fact the bishop of that church. It would be an oversight of biblical proportions, quite literally.
The Precept and Example of Scripture does not support Peter as either the leader of the church in Rome nor the Prince among the Apostles. It is a position established instead in the course of church history.
Apostolic Successionism in Protestantism
Apostolic Successionism is a man-centered solution to the problem of history. Although history isn’t the problem per se, the fact is, the NT was completed at a point in time, and all ecclesiastical history after that time requires explanation.
Catholic and Protestant Christians share this problem. When faced with a practice in one’s own church that is not supported by both Precept and Example in the NT (such as, polity), does one assume ecclesiastical history improved and clarified the matter, or does one believe in Precept and Example? In reality, Apostolic Successionism is the question of sufficiency. Do you believe what the NT teaches in Precept and Example is enough to teach the Christian faith, or does it require clarification and amplification from those who came after?
But what is an ecclesial stumbling block for both Catholics and Protestants was anticipated by the Lord and solved in His Word. The NT apostles and NT prophets are the church’s one foundation (Eph. 2:20), not the NT apostles and their bishop-successors, or in the case of Protestantism, synod-successors. Why? Because the NT apostles alone knew the Lord prior to and after His resurrection. Their theology reflects that Reality, Apostolic Successionism can not.
There is a theological reason why Peter claimed,
“it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us–beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us– one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection (Acts 1:21-22).
That reason is because, according to Christ Himself, all antecedent history will be explained in connection to witnesses of His fullness-of-time incarnation, death, and resurrection (John 16:12-15).
Catholicism answers the problem of antecedent history by making an a priori assumption that the apostolic witness in Scripture is inadequate to explain it, an assumption that untethers Roman Catholicism from the Son of God and locates it in men who never personally knew the Christ while He was on earth. Likewise, Protestants play Catholic by dismissing Jesus’ own definition of His churches, and rejecting the polity of the church as taught by Jesus’ witnesses in both Precept and Example.
Catholics refer to succeeding councils and an infallible magisterium to answer the demands of a history deemed insufficiently explained by the gospel, that is, the apostolically-defined incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Christ. But Protestants only kick the can down the road of ecclesial history. They have no principled position to their own assertion about church history, “the Church has gone astray” since their very definition of “the Church” is essentially co-opted from Catholicism and is at odds with Scripture. They lose before they ever start.
So they locate the 16th Century as a sort of watershed time, and in so doing, commit the same fallacy as the Catholics. No one living in the 16th Century personally knew the Christ, and yet the Magisterial Reformers and their followers adopted vast amounts of ecclesiological terms and definitions that had come into existence by faith in Apostolic Successionism, definitions that are at grave variance with the Son of God.
As a result, Protestants are still glorifying schism and schismatics since they do not build their churches on the Apostolic Foundation, as seen in the table above. When it comes to church, they are still playing Roman Catholic. They glorify schism by doing denouncing the Roman Catholic Church for resting on tradition instead of Scripture, only to turn around and do the very same thing.
Catholics believe Peter is the “Prince of the Apostles,” but in so doing empty Eph. 2:20 of meaning. If that were true, consider the ignorance Paul displays when he writes that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles” (Eph. 2:20). If Peter is above the other apostles then he can’t be merely spoken of as but one of the foundation stones the church is built on. He ought to be described in some hierarchical term here to reflect his preeminence – the head foundation stone?
But since the foundation is already led by the cornerstone, Christ, Peter’s place in the church’s one foundation is simply one of its stones. The same point can be seen in the many NT texts that simply refer to all the apostles in parity of authority (c.f., 1 Cor. 15:11, 1 Cor. 9:5, 1 Cor. 12:28, 2 Cor. 11:5).
Likewise, Protestantism views the theology that came out of the 16th Century as correcting the previous fourteen centuries and in line with the First. Yet their theological formulations of “the Church” depend upon the Catholic meanings for “church,” and hence are the equivalent of a Petrine cornerstone. Even the formulation of world-wide “invisible church” is a play off the mistaken Catholic doctrine of a world-wide “visible church.” Yet neither have any support in the Precept and Example of the NT. They might change the terms but Protestants still play Catholic, and put the foundation of the apostles and prophets on top of the institutional church, supporting nothing. Even a Protestant as astute as Emil Bruner writes,
“the idea of the invisible church is foreign to the New Testament…”Emil Bruner, The Misunderstanding of the Church, 9.
The only other choice, if Apostolic Successionism and a protestant theology of the church is to be judged incompatible with the church’s one foundation of which Christ is the cornerstone, is to embrace Apostolic Foundationalism. Accept the Scriptures’ own definitions of “church.” This alone honors the Trinity who devised the NT long before the world was created (John 16:13-15).
Can Christendom Submit to the Apostles?
Apostolic Foundationalism looks to be too limiting and thus more than the schismed churches of Christendom are willing to embrace, much to the hoped for unity and global witness. Roman Catholicism presents a coherent and consistent system of religion but one that is in opposition to Apostolic Foundationalism. Ultimately, Apostolic Foundationalism is a matter of authority that is not only incompatible with Apostolic Successionism but is irreconcilable to it as well. Ratzinger was correct to tip the hat (or mitre) and say, even before elected Pope:
“It is a universal tenet among Christians that Sacred Scripture is the basic standard of Christian faith, the central authority through which Christ himself exercises his authority over the Church and within her.”Joseph Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism, and Politics, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, first published 1987, trans. to English by Michael Miller, 2008, page 74.
But no one in Christendom claims the Bible isn’t an authority, even those appointing homosexual bishops. The issue is for Catholicism and Protestantism is, how much of an authority?
Apostolic Foundationalism is a straightforward principle that recognizes the Bible as the total authority under which existing churches must always repent and frame themselves if they wish to stay built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. This applies to every group calling itself a Christian church whether Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, or Orthodox. Until the Scripture is recognized as a complete authority and until each church measures its obedience by Apostolic Foundationalism, it can only trend further and further away from the Chief Cornerstone of the universal and local church.
Christianity’s Greatest Triumph
Our greatest triumph is our confession of Christ since it rests not on any church but on the apostle’s and prophet’s writings – the church’s one foundation. No one can have true faith in the Christ the apostles and prophets knew and preached apart from their written witness. If you confess, along with all Christendom, that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” you do so only because it has been made truly known through the writings of an apostle and a prophet (Matthew 16:16, Mark 8:29).
Christianity has always accepted that there has never been any objective evidence to the Sonship of Jesus of Nazareth available to anyone in the church since the passing of the apostles and prophets. In other words we do not believe it is the church that teaches us that Jesus is the Son of God but rather the foundation underneath the church that rightly shows us this glorious truth. Our greatest triumph is the revelation that undergirds all our confession – the New Testament writings of the apostles and prophets. Councils and creeds, churches and confessions alike extol the hypostatic glories of Jesus Christ only because of Apostolic Foundationalism, not Apostolic Successionism.
If however you credit your confession of Christ to your church then your faith is not built on the foundation but on a man-made superstructure and is almost certainly held in idolatry. For a church to replace the Father’s revealing power of the Son with its own understanding of the Son is to deny the Trinity and descend into Modalism and thus to be severed from Christ. Christianity’s triumph is in limiting her understanding of Christ to the writings of the apostles and prophets. We Christians are people of the Book, for through it alone comes the knowledge of the Christ, the second member of the Trinity.
Christianity’s Greatest Failure
The rejection of the apostolic foundation of the church has resulted in schism and idolatry, Christianity’s greatest failure. Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” is only four verses after He prays, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:21, 17). Jesus’ prayer in 17:21 is not only fulfilled ontologically (mutual indwelling with the Lord) but also visibly: “that the world may believe that you have sent me.””Clearly the unity among Christians for which our Lord is praying here is to be a visible unity, if, as he prays, the world is to learn from it that the Father has sent him.” Robert Reymond, New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 840, n. 5 Only a rejection that the word of God is truth could have led Christendom to such abject failure before the world as it now is.
How can our churches regain the witness to the world we knew in the 1st Century? How can we who love Christ and His churches today embrace our greatest success and repent from our greatest failure?
We must De-Schism based on Apostolic Foundationalism alone. The apostles and prophets have told us how to faithfully build, and in the case of Crete, rebuild the churches.
This great venture, the ending of schism and building on the Church’s one foundation requires two more explanatory articles in this section “From Schism to Unity.” The next article is De-Schisming the Body.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||explained in Roman Catholic Schism|
|2.||↑||For more on this, please read Precept and Example|
|3.||↑||v. 13 is from the KJV while v. 15 is from the DRA. The pronoun “whatsoever” is the same in the Greek. For more, please read my article on John 16:13-15.|
|4.||↑||When Protestant denominations speak of “synods” and other such assemblies, they only mean some of the people in the churches gather in these groups, not all the believers, as required by a NT ecclesiology (cf. Rom. 16:23, 1 Cor. 11:18, 14:23)|
|5.||↑||Acts 16:4 silences all polities except eldership: “while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe.”|
|6.||↑||Joseph Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism, & Politics, 77.|
|7.||↑||Emil Bruner, The Misunderstanding of the Church, 9.|
|8.||↑||Joseph Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism, and Politics, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, first published 1987, trans. to English by Michael Miller, 2008, page 74.|
|9.||↑||”Clearly the unity among Christians for which our Lord is praying here is to be a visible unity, if, as he prays, the world is to learn from it that the Father has sent him.” Robert Reymond, New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 840, n. 5|