Skip to comments.Beginning Catholic: The Catholic Church's Origin [Ecumenical]
Posted on 06/21/2008 10:02:33 AM PDT by Salvation
The question of the Catholic Church's origin is not just academic.
Understanding the historical origin of the Catholic Church is not just an interesting question about history. It's an essential issue for your faith!
...if it was the will of Christ to found a Church to teach, sanctify, and govern in his name, doesn't that demand something from each of us?
Pope Benedict XVI (when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger) teaches us that Jesus's creation of the Twelve was first clear sign of the Catholic Church's origin. St. Mark writes in his Gospel, "And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons" (Mk 3:14-15). The Pope comments:
The symbolic value of the Twelve is... of decisive significance: ...the number of Jacob's sons, the ...twelve tribes of Israel.... [In doing this,] Jesus presents himself as the patriarch of a new Israel and institutes these twelve men as its origin and foundation. There could be no clearer way of expressing the beginning of a new people, which is no longer formed by physical descent but by 'being with Jesus'....
(Called to Communion, p.24-25)
After this, we see the first explicit testimony of the Catholic Church's origin when Jesus chooses Peter to be the rock of the Church's foundation. Here, Jesus plainly says that he is founding a new Church:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
This is important!
Based on this Scripture passage, our faith should account for three things:
Catholics take this passage seriously. We trace the Catholic Church's origin to this point! We believe that Jesus clearly expresses his will here, and that will is to "build my church", invest it with his own authority, and give Peter a special role as the head of that Church.
But why did Jesus want to do this?
Well, let's look at Scripture some more...
After the Resurrection, Jesus commissions his Apostles:
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."
In this passage, Jesus tells us the reason behind the Catholic Church's origin: he's creating his new Church to teach, sanctify, and govern.
Pope John Paul II put it more simply: "In order to make this 'encounter' with Christ possible, God willed his Church." (Veritatis Splendor ["The Splendor of Truth"], 7) The Pope said the Church "wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life" (Redemptor Hominis ["The Redeemer of Man"], 13).
In the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles testifies to the fact that the Apostles clearly understood the mission Jesus gave them.
On Pentecost, we see the external "birth" of the Church through the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the definitive creation of the Church in all its fullness, the historical date of the Catholic Church's origin.
On Pentecost, Peter and the other Apostles boldly proclaim the Gospel of salvation:
Peter... lifted up his voice and addressed them: "...Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?"
And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him."
And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
(Acts, 2:14; 36-42)
This passage is a beautiful example of the Church carrying out her purpose: proclaiming Christ, and bringing others to Christ through Baptism, "the apostles' teaching and fellowship," and "the breaking of bread and the prayers."
This Church still exists!
It's called the Catholic Church, and we still keep to that very same mission.
That means we each have a choice...
From these passages, we've seen how the Catholic Church's origin is firmly rooted in Scripture and history.
The existence of the Catholic Church presents each of us with an invitation: Do you want to come to Christ? Will you use the means Jesus himself gave us his Church and his Sacraments or will you try to go your own way?
I know; it's a challenging question!
I struggled with it for years before realizing that, just like those who listened to Peter on Pentecost, I wanted to be one of "those who received his word".
Since the Catholic Church's origin, it's been the place where people "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."
Other good sources are the Catechism's section on the Catholic Church's origin.
I will reply to this privately.
"Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there, just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 107 AD
?The founding of the Church predates Constantine.
>”Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there, just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 107 AD
Why is it the only word left untranslated, but indeed English-ized, is ‘catholic’ in that sentence? Is it capitalized in the text?
Does Ignatius not mean ‘universal’, which would be the common meaning of the term in the day that he is writing, so that his quote would include all that hold Jesus as their Lord and Master?
Perhaps you could also state the reference in which you had found the statement.
This is not meant as an attack, but as a question to clarify. In gentleness and reverence, please answer the question as a witness to your faith.
I don't believe the scriptures supports salvation outside of the church; you are either a part of God's church or you're not. Given the author's conclusion, there is no salvation outside of the church. So can you be saved and not be a member of the Catholic Church, or not? Is that what our Catholic friends would like to say?
I would offer another point of view:
MEET THE FIRST CHRISTIANS:
thanks for the link
There are a few things you haven’t mentioned here:
For the first 280 years of Christian history, Christianity was banned by the Roman empire, and Christians (not catholics) were persecuted. This changed after the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Constantine legalized Christianity at the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313. Later, in A.D. 325, Constantine called together the Council of Nicea, in an attempt to unify Christianity. Constantine envisioned catholicism as a religion that could unite the Roman Empire, which at that time was beginning to fragment and divide. While this may have seemed to be a positive development for the true Christian church, the results were anything but positive. Just as Constantine refused to fully embrace the Christian faith, but continued many of his pagan beliefs and practices, so the catholic church that Constantine promoted was a mixture of Christianity and Roman paganism.
Constantine found that with the Roman Empire being so vast, expansive, and diverse not everyone would agree to forsake their religious beliefs and instead embrace catholicism. So, Constantine allowed, and even promoted, the Christianization of pagan beliefs. Completely pagan and utterly unbiblical beliefs were given new Christian identities. Some clear examples of this are as follows:
(1) The Cult of Isis, an Egyptian mother-goddess religion, was absorbed into catholicism by replacing Isis with Mary. Many of the titles that were used for Isis, such as Queen of Heaven, Mother of God, and theotokos (God-bearer) were attached to Mary. Mary was given an exalted role in the catholic faith, far beyond what the Bible ascribes to her, in order to attract Isis worshippers to a faith they would not otherwise embrace. Many temples to Isis were, in fact, converted into temples dedicated to Mary. The first clear hints of catholic Mariology occur in the writings of Origen, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, which happened to be the focal point of Isis worship.
(2) Mithraism was a religion in the Roman Empire in the 1st through 5th centuries A.D. It was very popular among the Romans, especially among Roman soldiers, and was possibly the religion of several Roman emperors. While Mithraism was never given official status in the Roman empire, it was the de-facto official religion until Constantine and succeeding Roman emperors replaced Mithraism with catholicism. One of the key features of Mithraism was a sacrificial meal, which involved eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a bull. Mithras, the god of Mithraism, was present in the flesh and blood of the bull, and when consumed, granted salvation to those who partook of the sacrificial meal (theophagy, the eating of ones god). Mithraism also had seven sacraments, making the similarities between Mithraism and Roman catholicism too many to ignore. Constantine and his successors found an easy substitute for the sacrificial meal of Mithraism in concept of the Lords Supper / catholic Communion. Sadly, some early Christians had already begun to attach mysticism to the Lords Supper, rejecting the Biblical concept of a simple and worshipful remembrance of Christs death and shed blood. The Romanization of the Lords Supper made the transition to a sacrificial consumption of Jesus Christ, now known as the catholic mass / eucharist, complete.
(3) Most Roman emperors (and citizens) were henotheists. A henotheist is one who believes in the existence of many gods, but focuses primary on one particular god, or considers one particular god supreme over the other gods. For example, the Roman god Jupiter was supreme over the Roman pantheon of gods. Roman sailors were often worshippers of Neptune, the god of the oceans. When the Catholic Church absorbed Roman paganism, it simply replaced the pantheon of gods with the saints. Just as the Roman pantheon of gods had a god of love, a god of peace, a god of war, a god of strength, a god of wisdom, etc., so the catholic church has a saint who is in charge over each of these, and many other categories. Just as many Roman cities had a god specific to the city, so the catholic church provided patron saints for the cities.
(4) The supremacy of the Roman bishop (the papacy) was created with the support of the Roman emperors. With the city of Rome being the center of government for the Roman empire, and with the Roman emperors living in Rome, the city of Rome rose to prominence in all facets of life. Constantine, and his successors, gave their support to the bishop of Rome as the supreme ruler of the church. Of course it is best for the unity of the Roman empire that the government and state religion be centered in the same location. While most other bishops resisted the idea of the Roman bishop being supreme, the Roman bishop eventually rose to supremacy, due to the power and influence of the Roman emperors. When the Roman empire collapsed, the popes took on the title that had previously belonged to the Roman emperors Pontificus Maximus.
Of course the Roman catholic church denies the pagan origin of its beliefs and practices. The catholic church disguises its pagan beliefs under layers of complicated theology. The catholic church excuses and denies its pagan origin beneath the mask of church tradition. Recognizing that many of its beliefs and practices are utterly foreign to Scripture, the catholic church is forced to deny the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.
The origin of the catholic church is the tragic compromise of Christianity with the pagan religions that surrounded it. Instead of proclaiming the Gospel and converting the pagans, the catholic church Christianized the pagan religions, and paganized Christianity.
God is more interested in whether a church is doing His will and obeying His Word than whether it can trace a line of succession back to Jesus apostles. Jesus was very concerned about abandoning the Word of God to follow the traditions of men (Mark 7:7). Traditions are not inherently invalid there are some good and valuable traditions. The issue must be whether a doctrine, practice, or tradition is Biblical. How then does the Roman catholic church compare with the teachings of the Word of God?
Salvation: The Roman catholic church teaches that salvation is by baptismal regeneration and is maintained through the catholic sacraments unless a willful act of sin is committed that breaks the state of sanctifying grace. The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace which is received through simple faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that good works are the result of a change of the heart wrought in salvation (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17) and the fruit of that new life in Christ (John 15).
Assurance of salvation: The Roman catholic church teaches that salvation cannot be guaranteed or assured. 1 John 5:13 states that the letter of 1 John was written for the purpose of assuring believers of the CERTAINTY of their salvation.
Good Works: The Roman catholic church states that Christians are saved by meritorious works (beginning with baptism) and that salvation is maintained by good works (receiving the sacraments, confession of sin to a priest, etc.) The Bible states that Christians are saved by grace through faith, totally apart from works (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 3:10-11; Romans 3:19-24).
Baptism: In the New Testament baptism is ALWAYS practiced AFTER saving faith in Christ. Baptism is not the means of salvation; it is faith in the Gospel that saves (1 Corinthians 1:14-18; Romans 10:13-17). The Roman catholic church teaches baptismal regeneration of infants, a practice never found in Scripture. The only possible hint of infant baptism in the Bible that the Roman Catholic Church can point to is that the whole household of the Philippian jailer was baptized in Acts 16:33. However, the context nowhere mentions infants. Acts 16:31 declares that salvation is by faith. Paul spoke to all of the household in verse 32, and the whole household believed (verse 34). This passage only supports the baptism of those who have already believed, not of infants.
Prayer: The Roman Catholic Church teaches catholics to not only pray to God, but also to petition Mary and the saints for their prayers. Contrary to this, we are taught in Scripture to only pray to God (Matthew 6:9; Luke 18:1-7).
Priesthood: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that there is a distinction between the clergy and the lay people, whereas the New Testament teaches the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9).
Sacraments: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a believer is infused with grace upon reception of the sacraments. Such teaching is nowhere found in Scripture.
Confession: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that unless a believer is hindered, the only way to receive the forgiveness of sins is by confessing them to a priest. Contrary to this, Scripture teaches that confession of sins is to be made to God (1 John 1:9).
Mary: The Roman catholic church teaches, among other things, that Mary is the Queen of Heaven, a perpetual virgin, and the co-redemptress who ascended into heaven. In Scripture, she is portrayed as an obedient, believing servant of God, who became the mother of Jesus. None of the other attributes mentioned by the Roman Catholic Church have any basis in the Bible. The idea of Mary being the co-redemptress and another mediator between God and man is not only extra-biblical (found only outside of Scripture), but is also unbiblical (contrary to Scripture). Acts 4:12 declares that Jesus is the only redeemer. 1 Timothy 2:5 proclaims that Jesus is the only mediator between God and men.
Other issues that separate catholicism from Christianity are the crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. Nowhere does the scriptures condone using torture as a means of converting people to the true Church Jesus set up in this earth. Both the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition were used by the catholic church to steal land and money, torture, and kill people that refused to deny Christ and join the catholic church. The catholic church is not, nor has it ever been, the true church that Christ established here on earth.
This is not an ‘imaginary’ attack on catholicism. These are
all historical facts that cannot be denied.