branch theory

Theory, or fiction, of some Anglo-Catholics that the one true Church of Christ is made up of certain separated churches, the Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox, because they assume, episcopal and priestly orders validly transmitted are found only in these three churches. This theory is wholly modern and quite untenable, these churches being distinct bodies with no common authority, no one profession of faith, no common religious rites and sacraments. Each charges the others with heresy and schism, counts it a duty to gain converts from them, and disagrees with them on fundamental points of constitution and teaching. The true Church of Christ, on the other hand, must, as the Catholic Church is, be linked together in unity of faith, of sacraments, of communion, and, above all, of government.

New Catholic Dictionary

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