Church Militant?

Some may find the descriptive phrase “Church Militant”[1] offensive, given the obvious connection with all things military, including the countless imperfections, tragedies, and horrors of ordinary war.  However, the phrase may also be accurately rendered as “Church Struggling” or “Church Striving.”  Inherent in the concept is a bias for action.  Like it or not, we are all engaged in the struggle until we join the “Church Triumphant” in the kingdom of heaven.  In the meantime, for Jesus’ followers, the call to “arms” is universal[2] while always subject to godly interpretation and personal application.

Furthermore, the “Church Militant” is engaged in no ordinary war but rather a spiritual struggle for the sake of souls, the very essence of human beings.  The enemy is not other people but The Enemy, The Accuser, The Deceiver who has gone by many names but is most often identified in Scripture as “Satan”[3] or the devil.  For those who prefer to characterize our struggle as a fight against “evil” or “the forces of evil,” the point is that evil is real and itself militant,[4] not simply the absence of good as cold is the absence of heat.  The Apostle Peter who was himself only too well acquainted with the pernicious power of the evil one counsels: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.[5]

[1]Latin: Ecclesia Militans

[2]Ephesians  6:11-18 – Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[3]Hebrew: The Adversary

[4]Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

[5]1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

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