We believe in the Communion of Saints: a proposed Protestant reclamation of the doctrine.
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The corrective theology of the Reformation broke the historic union, at least in Europe, among all members of the kingdom of God. Perhaps the most serious Protestant loss—one still not satisfactorily recovered—is the doctrine of the communion between pilgrims and saints, especially when we remember that the Reformation declared all Christians to be saints, not just those who had been officially beatified and canonized. So, while the theology of the Church's true treasury may have been corrected, Protestant Christians remain bereft of a satisfactory explication of their creedal claim that "we believe in the Communion of Saints." Hence there is a Protestant need for a recovered doctrine of the Communion of Saints as including the dead no less than the living. This proposed reclamation of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints living and dead for Protestant Christianity will be attempted in this dissertation in three parts. Part one will survey the historical development of the doctrine and outline the reasons for its ultimate rejection. Part two will construct a biblically grounded eschatological context through which we can understand, in part, the life beyond. Part three will explore the Church's understanding of the various interactions between believers on earth and those in heaven. The story of Augustine's mother Monica's internment will introduce the Communion of Saints as a spiritual bond which knits together the faithful in this world and the saints beyond in a mystical organic and historic unity within which there exists a mutuality of faith, prayer, and love that is best and most fully expressed in the Eucharistic feast.