Marks of the Church

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This article is about the marks of the church in Protestant theology. For the unity, holiness, apostolicity and catholicity of the Church, sometimes called the "attributes" of the Church, see Four Marks of the Church.

In Protestant theology, the Marks of the Church are those things by which the true church may be recognized. Three marks are usually enumerated: the preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments, and church discipline. The Belgic Confession devotes a chapter (Article 29) to the "Marks of the True Church" and lists them as follows:

Louis Berkhof notes that Reformed theologians have differed as to the number of marks: Theodore Beza spoke of only one (preaching), John Calvin and Heinrich Bullinger spoke of two (preaching and sacraments), while Peter Martyr and Zacharias Ursinus spoke of three – preaching, sacraments and discipline.[1] Nevertheless, Edmund Clowney points out that Calvin "included discipline in the proper observance of the sacraments."[2] R. Albert Mohler, Jr. calls church discipline the "missing mark" of the church.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (London: Banner of Truth, 1949), 576.
  2. ^ Edmund Clowney, The Church (Contours of Christian Theology; Downers Grove: IVP, 1995), 101.
  3. ^ Church Discipline: The Missing Mark by R. Albert Mohler, Jr.