Catholic Church, the Early Church?

Hello all, so recently I have been discussing Christianity and it’s history with a non-Catholic colleague. I was mentioning certain things about doctrine and how it related with the Early Church. One thing led to another and I said that the Early Church IS the Catholic church. I thought this was common knowledge, but my colleague was adamant that it was not. I tried showing her the Apologetics section on CA, but she won’t accept it as a credible source because it is “obviously biased towards Catholics.” Are there any sources from non-Catholics that agree that the Catholic Church is the Early Church?

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One difference is that in the early Church it was taught that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, which is what the Eastern Orthodox Church teaches today. This was taught in the early Church because we read in the Catholic Bible (Douay rheims) “But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me.” John 15:26
However, the Roman Catholic Church changed that and it now teaches that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son.

I would say that the Early Church is the ‘Christian’ Church, which includes East and West, and various communities over the known world. They were never really one Church, as it were, in theology or in authority. Lots of discussion and disagreements for many long centuries.

Now if your friend is LDS, it’s a different story, and the Early Church is not even Christian.

Check out my blog article on this.
What Was Authentic Early Christian Worship Really Like?

I think even an Orthodox would consider this description of it disingenuous.

If the omission of the filoque from the creed was disingenuous, why did Humbert, cardinal bishop of the holy Roman Church; Peter, archbishop of Amalfi; and Frederick, deacon and chancellor,mention it as one of the reasons to excommunicate and anathematize Michael Cerularius and his followers in the papal bull of 1054? The creed of the early Church did not have the filioque and Scripture did not mention it either. “But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me.” John 15:26

“I” in that passage is Jesus. “I [Jesus] will send” the Holy Spirit, from the Father.

So the Holy Spirit does come from both Jesus and the Father, in that passage - although I’m not sure that this is what the Creed is actually referring to, anyway - I always thought it was referring to the origin of the Holy Spirit as the love of God emanating from the twin hearts of the Father and the Son.

Oh definitely not LDS, I don’t think I could have a conversation with them because I don’t know enough about LDS.

Also, I’m curious about what you think of the Apostolic Succession and the claim Catholics make of it. She is a member of an offshoot of the Anglican church and she believes that Catholics have it all wrong.

What sort of Anglican offshoot? And could you elaborate on what she means by ‘all wrong?’ That might help clarify things.

Sure. Renowned Protestant Historian J.N.D. Kelly does. Read on.

The early Church - the Church founded by Christ as promised in Matthew 16:18 - was that which was originally known as “the Way” (cf. Acts 24:14). Later, those individuals who followed Christ began to be called “Christians” beginning at Antioch (cf. Acts 11:26). As early as 107 A.D., those same individuals referred to themselves collectively as the “Catholic Church”. In a letter to the Church of Smyrna, Ignatius of Antioch wrote:

You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery (priest) as you would the Apostles. Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, A.D. 107, [8,1])

Notice that Ignatius does not take pains to introduce the term “Catholic Church”; instead he uses it in a manner suggesting that the name was already in use and familiar to his audience. This further suggests that the name, Catholic Church, had to have been coined much earlier in order to have achieved wide circulation by the time of this writing. In other words, the Christian assembly was calling itself the Catholic Church during the lifetime of the last Apostle, John, who died near the end of the first century. John, the beloved disciple, may have thought of himself as a member of the Catholic Church!

The Catholic Church began with Peter and the Apostles and continued without interruption or cessation through their disciples (Ignatius, Irenaeus, Polycarp, Clement, Justin Martyr, etc.) down to the present day. As a side note, it appears that the believers in Antioch may have coined both terms still in use today: “Christian” and “Catholic Church” – terms they used to describe the one body of believers in Christ.

Protestant Scholar on the use of the Proper Name "Catholic"

One Protestant author who is honest about this history is the renowned Church historian, J. N. D. Kelly. Kelly dates the usage of the name “Catholic” after the death of the Apostle John, but he acknowledges that the original Church founded by Jesus called itself the “Catholic Church”.

“As regards ‘Catholic,’ its original meaning was ‘universal’ or ‘general’ … As applied to the Church, its primary significance was to underline its universality as opposed to the local character of the individual congregations. Very quickly, however, in the latter half of the second century at latest, we find it conveying the suggestion that the Catholic is the true Church as distinct from heretical congregations. . . . What these early Fathers were envisaging was almost always the empirical, visible society; they had little or no inkling of the distinction which was later to become important between a visible and an invisible Church” (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 5th ed. [San Francisco: Harper, 1978], 190f).

She belongs to UMC. If I remember correctly, she said that Catholics have zero biblical precedent for Apostolic Succession. Looking back, I should have asked who she believes has the correct Apostolic Line (if UMC believes it at all, I’m not sure).

UMC as in the United Methodist Church?

Heh. Do you need the verses to give her?

That won’t make a difference. It’s all in the interpretation.

Ah, yes. Sola scriptura and the right to private judgment.

Methodists don’t subscribe to Sola Scriptura. Prima Scriptura, yes, as do many other denominations, such as the Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, etc.

Actually, Methodists are supposed to believe in the Four Pillars; aka the Weslyan Quadrilateral - Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. They also don’t use Latin, so they don’t believe in “sola” or “prima” anything. :smiley:

If you want to learn about the early church you can read some of the early writings. This website has many of the writings of the leaders in the early church for the first few centuries:

You can also look for secular Roman history books that mention the Christian church. This may be less biased than a Catholic or Protestant church historian.

Here is a link to J.N.D. Kelly’s book Early Christian Doctrines.
He was an Anglican and was a Professor of Theology at Oxford and his book is quoted a lot. I think he was quoted earlier in this thread.

I’m sorry, I’m not being very clear here. My apologies.

Yes, you are quite right in the Wesleyan Quadrilateral being Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. The UMC is totally behind that. They DO believe in Prima Scriptura, which only means that instead of ‘Scripture only’ or ‘Sola Scripture’, UMCs believe that of all the four parts of the Quadrilateral, Scripture is first. Prima. It’s a pretty common term and even though they don’t use Latin much, most educated Methodists would know what it means.

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