Louis Berkhof, in his Systematic Theology, wrote concerning the distinction between the invisible/visible church the following words:
“It is said that Luther was the first to make this distinction, but the other Reformers recognized and also applied it to the Church.” (P. 565)
How is it that the entire Church of Jesus Christ for nearly 1400 years did not come to see such a distinction in the Scriptures? Is it that the church just did not have the Holy Spirit to guide them? Is it that the Church just did not exist until the reformers came along? Is it that there were a few unknown people in church history who believed in the distinction between a visible and invisible church, yet we simply have no record of them? If this is the case, couldn’t anyone make up a religion at any moment and then claim there were a few unknown people throughout church history who believed in their religion? If so, how could such a claim be falsified? If it is the case that the church openly believed in such a distinction, which Theologians, Priests, Bishops believed in such a distinction and in which works? If nobody, prior to Luther, believed in this distinction, why should a Protestant remain a Protestant when the very foundation of their Ecclesiology is completely novel and contrary to antiquity?