What are the 3 kinds of church?

Answered by Michael Wilson

The three kinds of church are commonly referred to as the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant. Each of these divisions represents a different state or condition of the church, and they are often discussed within the context of Catholic ecclesiology.

1. The Church Militant:
The Church Militant refers to the earthly church, composed of all believers currently living on earth. It is called the “militant” because its members are engaged in a spiritual battle against sin, evil, and temptation. This division of the church represents the ongoing struggle and active participation of believers in spreading the Gospel, living out their faith, and overcoming spiritual challenges in their daily lives.

As a member of the Church Militant, I have personally experienced the challenges and joys of living out my faith on earth. It is a constant journey of growth, seeking to align my life with the teachings of Christ and being a witness to His love and truth in the world. There are times of doubt, struggle, and even failure, but also moments of strength, grace, and deep connection with God and fellow believers.

2. The Church Suffering:
The Church Suffering, also known as the Church Penitent or the Church Expectant, refers to the souls in Purgatory. These are the faithful departed who have died in God’s grace but still require purification before entering into the fullness of Heaven. The Church Suffering represents those who are undergoing a process of cleansing and preparation for their ultimate union with God.

While I have not personally experienced the state of the Church Suffering, it is a concept that resonates with the belief in God’s mercy and the need for purification from the effects of sin. It reflects the understanding that the journey of salvation does not end with death but continues in the process of purification, leading ultimately to the beatific vision in Heaven.

3. The Church Triumphant:
The Church Triumphant represents the souls of the faithful who have attained the beatific vision and are in Heaven. These are the saints, both known and unknown, who have reached their eternal reward and are in perfect union with God. The Church Triumphant embodies the ultimate goal and fulfillment of the Christian life, where believers experience the fullness of joy, peace, and divine presence.

Reflecting on the concept of the Church Triumphant brings to mind the lives of the saints, who serve as inspiring examples of faith, virtue, and holiness. Their stories and intercession remind us of the transformative power of God’s grace and the possibility of attaining eternal happiness in Heaven.

The three kinds of church – the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant – represent different states or conditions of the church. The Church Militant represents believers currently living on earth, engaging in the spiritual battle against sin. The Church Suffering refers to the souls in Purgatory, undergoing purification before entering Heaven. And the Church Triumphant signifies the saints who have attained the beatific vision and are in perfect union with God. These divisions provide a framework for understanding the different stages of the Christian journey and the ultimate goal of eternal life with God.