The point is that in the end nobody, at least nobody with a proper command of church history, believes that their church today, in visible outward terms, is the same as the apostolic church in terms of both belief or practice. The Eastern Orthodox theologian Georges Florovsky condemns what he calls “a harmful primitivism” in the Vincentian Canon to believe only what has “always” been believed.
What does this discussion on the fact of change have to do with the visibility of the Church? It boils down to the incompatibility of two claims:
(1) My Church does not Change.
(2) My Church is Substantially Visible
However, if one accepts that in historical and empirical terms there is a difference between one’s church’s past and one’s church’s present, then the two claims are incompatible. One can maintain that one’s Church does not change, but must sacrifice the visibility of the Church and not identify the Church with every visible act or writing of the Church. The alternative is to maintain that the Church is substantially visible but deny that there has been any visible change. This alternative however is basically untenable in the light of what we know now about the writings of the early church and in the light of the historical facts and empirical differences.