Skip to comments.How Quickly Catholic Heresy Took Over the Church (Immediately)
Posted on 11/06/2011 4:29:37 AM PST by markomalley
That this rule of faith has come down to us from the beginning of the gospel, even before any of the older heretics, much more before Praxeas, a pretender of yesterday, will be apparent both from the lateness of date which marks all heresies, and also from the absolutely novel character of our new-fangled Praxeas. In this principle also we must henceforth find a presumption of equal force against all heresies whatsoeverthat whatever is first is true, whereas that is spurious which is later in date.Below is a list of the year of the earliest (of which I am aware) extant extra-biblical witness of various Christian doctrines.
(A.D. 33 - death and resurrection of Christ)
A.D. 90 - the Lord's Supper as a sacrifice
(A.D. 95 - death of the last apostle, John)
A.D. 95 - apostolic succession
A.D. 110 - real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
A.D. 150 - baptismal regeneration and the necessity of baptism for salvation
A.D. 150 - basic structure of the Mass as Christian worship
A.D. 155 - veneration of saints and their relics
A.D. 160 - Mary as the New Eve
A.D. 170 - use of the word 'Trinity'
A.D. 180 - primacy of the bishop of Rome
A.D. 200 - 'Trinity', 'Person', 'Substance' formula
A.D. 367 - today's 27 book New Testament canon
(A.D. 1500s - Protestant Reformation)
(Note: Those that are (underlined) are relevant events to help put the other dates in perspective. Those doctrines in bold are accepted by evangelicals and Catholics and are also listed to help put the other dates in perspective. Those doctrines not bolded are accepted by Catholics and are rejected by most evangelicals as corruptions of the faith. All dates listed are of course approximate. The quotes showing the witness to these doctrines in those years are at the end of this post.)
I have seven comments:
1) Notice the large number of doctrines/practices that are rejected by most evangelicals as Roman Catholic corruptions of the faith that are witnessed to prior to explicit development of the doctrine of the Trinity or even the first extant witness to the 27 book New Testament canon. In other words, if all of those beliefs which most evangelicals tend to view as sure markers of the obviously perverted corruption of the Catholic Church were already there, then the same Church that settled the New Testament canon and fought the Trinitarian and Christological fights of the 4th century was already well immersed in corruption, superstition, and heresy.
2) Remember that evangelicals claim that all of those Catholic beliefs listed above - the Lord's Supper as sacrifice, apostolic succession, veneration of saints and their relics, etc - were all invented and did not come from the apostles, even though the Christians immediately following the apostles, including some who knew the apostles personally, did think that those doctrines came from the apostles.
Alexandria, who was ban-
ished five times by the gov't
for preaching the teachings
of the Council of Nicea
regarding the Trinity
If the above is unclear:
"But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations. [Malachi 1.11,14]"
Offering the Sacrifice of the Mass
"He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist"A.D. 95
"The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. [...] Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry."A.D. 110
"Let no man deceive himself. ...[I]f they believe not in the blood of Christ, shall, in consequence, incur condemnation. [...] But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come unto us, how opposed they are to the will of God. [...] They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes."If the above isn't clear enough:
"And this food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."A.D. 150
"Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, Unless you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. [John 3.3]"
"And this food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined."If the necessity of baptism is not clear enough in the above quotes:
"...the prescript is laid down that without baptism, salvation is attainable by none (chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, Unless one be born of water, he has not life [John 3.5])"A.D. 150
"[O]n the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons."A.D. 155
"[After Bishop Polycarp was martyed in a Roman stadium] But when the adversary of the race of the righteous, the envious, malicious, and wicked one, perceived the impressive nature of his martyrdom, and [considered] the blameless life he had led from the beginning, and how he was now crowned with the wreath of immortality, having beyond dispute received his reward, he did his utmost that not the least memorial of him should be taken away by us, although many desired to do this, and to become possessors of his holy flesh. For this end he suggested it to Nicetes, the father of Herod and brother of Alce, to go and entreat the governor not to give up his body to be buried, lest, said he, forsaking Him that was crucified, they begin to worship this one. This he said...being ignorant of this, that it is neither possible for us ever to forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of such as shall be saved throughout the whole world (the blameless one for sinners ), nor to worship any other. For Him indeed, as being the Son of God, we adore; but the martyrs, as disciples and followers of the Lord, we worthily love on account of their extraordinary affection towards their own King and Master, of whom may we also be made companions and fellow disciples!"A.D. 160
"[Jesus] became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God; and she replied, 'Be it unto me according to your word.'"A.D 170
"In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity, of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man."
But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paulthat church which has the tradition and the faith with which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition.A.D. 200
"...especially in the case of this heresy, which supposes itself to possess the pure truth, in thinking that one cannot believe in One Only God in any other way than by saying that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the very selfsame Person. As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. How they are susceptible of number without division, will be shown as our treatise proceeds."A.D. 367
St Athanasius, Easter Letter of 367, 5:
"Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John."*Except perhaps with the primacy of the bishop of Rome, but the early dissent was small compared to the confusion/dissent regarding the Trinity and the New Testament canon. Major dissent regarding the role of the bishop of Rome came much later.
And you can add to that, Catholic doctrine written right on the walls of the catacombs ("[Name of martyr] ora pro nobis," "Sancta Maria semper virgine" etc.
Nor is there any evidence of these Catholic doctrines being considered innovative or controversial at the time, although the earliest Christians were very conservative in doctrrine and vigilant for heresy.
Curious, is it not?
Thanks for this post. Happy Sunday!
I went to the link, great site.
Definitely too deep for me this morning.
:) Take a few steps back, apply coffee copiously (I don’t want to say “liberally”), then return; repeat as needed.
Paul warned us about those introducing false teachings, "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." (2 Tim. 4:34).
I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ." 1Cor 1:10-12
You could easily read the above as One of you says, "I follow Luther"; another, "I follow Calvin"; another, "I follow Wesley"; still another, "I follow Christ."
Christians cannot be perfectly united in mind and thought when they have different beliefs on, say, the necessity of water baptism, while others believe This is my Body means This is a cookie
Well-put! FR seriously needs a “like” button! :)
Whoever makes the most rules wins.
Like the U.S. today. Our country has evolved from the basic and fairly simple framework set down by the Founding Fathers into an enormously complex and authoritative bureaucracy. Not to mention a populace that neither knows nor respects the gift it has been given.
It’s our nature to think we can improve on the original, when in fact we just corrupt it.
I’m speaking of all Christian sects, not just Catholics.
I agree. Completely.
There are several difficulties in trying to reconstruct
church history. We cannot always know with absolute
certainty what ancient people believed about every point
in question. Here are some reasons why.
1. Bias can affect writers and historians. Every
doctrinal writer and church historian has his own presuppositions,
which can affect his objectivity. Early writers
were no exception. It was only natural for them to tend to
slant things in their favor, sometimes deliberately and
sometimes unconsciously. When they described the doctrine
of someone they disagreed with, they often made it
look foolish or illogical, because to them it was. Sometimes
they simply did not understand a point their opponents
History is written by the victors. Whenever there were
clashes in history, the people who won usually were the
ones who left the record of what happened. Often the
views of a minority are preserved only in the writings of
their opponents. To see the difficulty here, we can imagine
trying to understand and assess the Pentecostal movement
solely by reading the documents of critics and
skeptics. How accurately could some define the doctrine
of Oneness, or explain the experience of the Holy Spirit
baptism, if all he had were records of opponents who castigated,
smeared, and misrepresented these teachings,
whether intentionally or not?
We should also note that there is doctrinal bias among
church historians today. We cannot evaluate church history
simply by reading church historians. We must go back
to the primary sources themselves and look at them from
our perspective. Of course, another historian would say
we have a bias, but at least we try to establish the bias
of our doctrinal position from the Bible. We cannot
depend totally on writings from church historians who
come with a different doctrinal perspective. Instead, we
must read the original historical sources as much as possible
to see what the writers said for themselves. By
examining these writings from our point of view, we may
uncover information, evidence, or possibilities that other
church historians have missed.
2. Writers of a certain age do not always represent
the views of the majority of believers at that time.
The writings that survive from a particular era may not
have been written by the most influential leaders or teachers
of the time. Before the invention of printing in the
West in the 1400s, all documents had to be copied by
hand. If later scribes deemed a manuscript to be unimportant
or heretical, they had little desire to copy it
repeatedly. Censors often destroyed writings later judged
to be heretical. Generally, what has been preserved from
early times are documents that fit the beliefs of the people
who had the opportunity to preserve or discard them.
Only a fraction of the writings from early times still
exist, and it is difficult to say how representative the remnant
is. If a writer was a known bishop, pastor, or other
church leader, we have some reason to believe he represented
a significant view in the church. If a writer is
unknown or had no significant position in the church, it is
quite possible that he was not truly representative of the
church of his time. Perhaps he gained greater favor with
later generations, who preserved his work, than he
enjoyed in his own lifetime.
We should also consider that people who tend to write
do not always reflect the piety and views of the average
person. Particularly in ancient times, those who had the
leisure and education to write scholarly treatises may
have had a different perspective from the average believer.
Even in our own day, the works of major theologians
are often much more liberal than the views of most lay
members in their own denominations.
3. There is always the strong possibility of interpolations
(insertions) in ancient manuscripts. The
scribes who copied manuscripts by hand often changed
statements, whether by mistake, misunderstanding, or
deliberate alteration. They often felt free to add clarifications,
corrections, or simply their own views. Comparisons
of different manuscripts of the same works reveal
that interpolations were quite common.
Sometimes a scribe involved in a theological controversy
would insert a few lines supportive of his own position
into a book by an ancient, widely respected leader.
The temptation was great to use such an authoritative figure
to help resolve a dispute. On the other hand, if a
scribe found a questionable phrase in the work of such an
author, he might feel it important to edit the work and
strike the offending or potentially dangerous words. As a
result, we are not always sure that we actually have the
original words or views of a certain author. Sometimes we
can only guess or suppose.
4. False doctrines existed in the
earliest times. Even if we were to find a nonbiblical document
from the first century, its antiquity does not guarantee
that it is truly apostolic or teaches the correct doctrine,
for the New Testament reveals there were false teachers
even in the first century. Moreover, documents from the
second century were written approximately a century
after the founding of the New Testament church, and one
hundred years is a long time in doctrinal history. For
example, vast doctrinal changes, innovations, and movements
have developed in the twentieth century: the entire
modern Pentecostal movement arose in this century.
People from all theological perspectives disagree with
the earliest postbiblical writings on some points. For
instance, evangelical Protestant scholars typically conclude
that the earliest postbiblical writers did not clearly
proclaim the doctrine of justification by faith but fell into
5. Early terms were often imprecise, especially in
light of later controversies. For example, in the Middle
Ages and during the Reformation great controversies
arose over the Lords Supper. The issue was whether the
bread and the fruit of the vine were symbolic, or whether
Christs blood and body were physically present. Both
sides in these debates appealed to writers from the first
few centuries. For instance, a proponent of the doctrine
of the real presence would find a writer who described the
Lords Supper as a partaking of Christs body. But did the
writer mean this statement to be figurative or literal? It is
difficult to know for certain, since he wrote before the
Early writers did not anticipate later disputes and
therefore did not guard against certain misinterpretations.
We cannot demand of them a precision of terminology
that was foreign to their time, nor can we make them
speak of doctrinal issues that arose after their time. In
some cases there is enough evidence to predict what position
they would have taken had they lived during a certain
controversy. In many cases, however, they did not use certain
definitive terms, or at least not with the connotation
or precision of later times.
It can be anachronistic to cite certain writers in support
of a particular doctrine, even though they may have
used words that later acquired a certain theological significance.
When we study ancient authors, we must determine
what their words meant in the context of their
writings and their times.
6. Sources for church history are neither authoritative
nor infallible. Only Scripture can claim those distinctives.
It is from Scripture alone that we must derive
instruction for salvation, Christian living, and Christian
Our sole authority is the Bible, the Word of God. God
has inspired and preserved it for doctrine, reproof, correction,
and instruction in righteousness (II Timothy
3:16). If an ancient, well-respected source seems to teach
a doctrine that is contrary to Scripture, we must choose
the message of Scripture.
I guess the author is a Gnostic heretic.
I’m sorry, I’m not sure which author you’re referring to. There are many authors referred to the article. Or do you mean Millegan? Perhaps you didn’t notice that he wrote his headline ironically.
“Our country has evolved from the basic and fairly simple framework set down by the Founding Fathers into an enormously complex and authoritative bureaucracy.”
Our society became enormously complex: dense population, major world-class cities, telecommunications, moon trips, etc.
“..Its our nature to think we can improve on the original, when in fact we just corrupt it.”
Maybe, but I think we do improve on the original as well. I don’t believe getting rid of slavery (which we had in 1776) is a corruption of society, for instance.
what someone really means when they say the Bible is the sole authority, is that THEY are the sole authority.
Jesus gave His authority to the Church to teach and baptize in Matthew 28, don’t we have an obligation to learn?
how would you even know which books belonged in the Bible, without the authority posessed by the Church?
“25And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. 32And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no ones silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
36And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again.” - Acts 20
“12Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someones own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” - 2 Peter
“how would you even know which books belonged in the Bible, without the authority posessed by the Church?”
How did the Apostles know what scripture was? When did the Jews have a council and determine what was or was not scripture?
And when did the Roman Catholic Church publish an authoritative list, leaving off some passages that they had accepted for over 1000 years?
Why was it that Luther’s accuser was free to deny the authority of the Apocrypha, and why did a Catholic theologian need to invent the term ‘deuterocanonicals’ in 1566?
yes, false teachers did arise such as the Arians and Gnostics.
but since the true Church is protected by the Holy Spirit,the gates of hell would not, could not and did not prevail against it.
Mormons, Baptists and others teach the Church went “apostate” in the 2nd century and needed to be “restored”, they only differ whether the “restoration” took place in the 16th or 19th century.
they didn’t need to publish authoritative lists, they published the Bible. the 73 books in it were Scripture, the books not in it weren’t Scripture.
why did it take until the 16th century before anyone realized the correct canon should only have 66 books in it?
who has the authority to say infallibly this is the correct cannon of Scripture? anyone? do you have this authority?
ping me in, ping me out, we’ll raise a mighty shout.