‘Four stages of development in thinking about the nature of the church may be discerned:
- All members are saints – reflected in the New Testament. Montanism involved an effort to reclaim this view.
- The clergy must be saints. The Novatianists and then more explicitly the Donatists represented this position.
- The church embraced “saints” (martyrs and confessors) and “sinners.” This view was taking shape in the mainstream of the third-century church, and in the fourth century found expression in the distinction of monks from ordinary church members.
- The sanctity of the church belongs not to individuals, but to the sacraments of the church. Augustine articulated this later stage in the development.’
Source: Everett Ferguson, Church History: Volume I, Chapter 7: The Fathers of the Old Catholic Church and Their Problems, III. Problems Facing The Old Catholic Fathers, D. Penance and Polity, p. 145-146.
Ps. We can see that in 1 Corinthians 1:2, the part of the verse which says: “them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints” is twisted in the King James Version of the Bible, to the “modern” corrupted view (as stated above), into “them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (emphasis mine).