Christian history and the Catholic Church – Part 1
Most Christians, I think it’s safe to say, don’t concern themselves with church history. Whether they grew up in the church or came to faith later on they feel no compulsion to familiarize themselves with events and people in the early years of the church beyond what Scripture records. And why should they? It’s certainly not a requirement for having a genuine, vibrant faith. But if they did, one of two things is likely to happen: their faith will be strengthened, or it will be shaken. And whether they stand or stumble depends a great deal on what church they align with and what resource(s) they consult.
I’ll bet most Christians also don’t realize what a wealth of early Christian writings are available to inform us on what the early church was like. But wading through it all is tedious and time-consuming so the average Christian like me is going to rely on the work of others who provide background, pull out and summarize the main points, and offer their interpretation of what was said. And virtually everyone who produces such a work does so from a bias and their interpretation will reflect that.
Though we all have biases, the bias that is most likely to try and skew the historical evidence in its favor is the Roman Catholic one because her unique claims depend so heavily on it. She asserts that from the first century the bishop of Rome was recognized as being “first among equals,” having jurisdictional primacy over the entire church. But in order to demonstrate this her historians and apologists have had to ignore ancient evidence that testifies against her claims and read into other evidence support for them that is objectively not there.
Dependent on the Catholic Church’s claim of being singularly the church Jesus instituted are virtually all her distinctive and unbiblical doctrines which her supposed preeminent position as having unbroken, Christ-appointed, apostolic authority emboldens her to teach. If it can be shown that the bishop of Rome was merely equal and not first, her assumed title as “the one, true church” with all that has flowed out of that in the last 16 centuries would be rendered invalid.
And that’s exactly what I will try and show in the next few posts – the phantom foundation of the Roman Catholic Church, which I addressed previously here. But why would a Christian want to see the world’s most recognizable Christian denomination suffer such loss of prestige and influence? That’s a fair question. But those who would ask it are likely either those who know the church in a personal way and love her, or those who know very little about her. Those of us who know her well but in an objective, impersonal way know the harm she has done to Christendom and believe she has dishonored God himself by her man-made doctrines, distortion of the Gospel, and her rejection of Christ’s all-sufficient, once-for-all sacrifice for sins. So just as Paul and other New Testament writers spoke out forcefully against false and distorted teachings that were threatening the church in the first century, we too should not hesitate to expose them in the twenty-first.
I hope by delving into some ancient church history to both shake and strengthen the faith of every Catholic who will read the information I will share. Shake their faith in the Roman church, whose history is littered with untrue assertions and unholy deeds and whose claimed foundation is fantasy, and strengthen their faith in the one, true foundation of the church – Jesus Christ. He alone is worthy of praise and devotion.