How dare you introduce innovations into the Church simply on your own authority and without consulting the Church? I speak only of those churches in which the word of God is publicly and faithfully preached. For if every blockhead who had a novel or strange opinion were allowed to gather a sect around him, divisions and sects would become so numerous that the Christian body which we now build up with such difficulty would be broken to pieces in every individual congregation. Therefore no innovations ought to be made except with the common consent of the church and not merely of a single person. For the judgment of scripture is not mine or yours, but the church’s.
If it is indeed the case that there are in churches both believers and nonbelievers, then we need to make a distinction between the visible Church and the invisible, genuine, universal Church. What’s seen with the eyes is the visible Church, prone to containing members that are both saved and lost. What the eye cannot see is the invisible, universal Church which is composed entirely of believers. God alone sees that congregation.
Consequently, the visible Church contains within itself many who are insolent and hostile, thinking nothing of it if they are excommunicated a hundred times, seeing they have no faith. — Huldrych Zwingli