In Proposition 101, George Peters states:
“The invisible Church is not the covenanted Kingdom of Christ.”
If the visible Church is not the covenanted Kingdom of Christ, then the question must also be asked if the invisible Church can be construed to be the covenanted Kingdom of Christ. It seems that if the visible church is not the covenanted promised Kingdom then neither is the invisible church whose members are those who are part of the visible church.
The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 101 is the following:
“This division of the church into the visible and invisible is of comparative recent origin. Dr. Knapp (Church Theology, p. 471) traces the use of these terms, saying: “These are, indeed, new, and have come into use since the Reformation.” Many able Divines have since then employed them, whilst others reject them. So far as our argument is concerned, it is immaterial whether they be received or not; for the church may indeed be invisible, if by that is only meant the body of real and true believers who are saved, and also visible, if by this is denoted a mixed body containing believers and professing believers, without, however, constituting either of them a Kingdom. Reference is therefore only made to the use of the terms to indicate that they were never thus employed in the early history of the Christian Church.”
I have often been intrigued by how terms come into popular use. Anyone who has been involved in theological study for any length of time has to admit the plethora of theological terminology. There is a term for everything and for everything a term. Not all terms are correct nor have all terms been used throughout church history. The newness of a term does not of course indicate it is incorrect. When it comes to dividing entities, however, we have to be careful in our use of terminology. Dispensationalism often uses means of division to drive home its doctrine. Many of its divisions are forced into the biblical text, thus doing damage to a consistent and clear understanding and application of Scripture. While it seems the terms visible and invisible church are of a more recent origin (recent at least related to Peters’ day), their appropriateness is not coming under question by Peters as we can rightly suggest the visible ekklesia are those individuals we can physically see or know exist in the present while the invisible church contains those who have gone before us. Regardless of whether they are visible or invisible, neither are described as being the covenanted Kingdom of the Messiah.