Church History Help Needed

I’m looking for historical references, “proof” if you will, from non-Catholic sources that the Catholic Church was the only Christian church extant prior to the Reformation. Any help?

I am curious if you neglected to recall the Eastern Orthodox Churches which broke away from the Catholic Church around 1000AD?

Ill do better than “non-Catholic” sources, Ill show you evidence from the official book of Lutheran documents:

The Catholic Church was not the only Christian church in existence prior to the Reformation. You forgot about the Orthodox. The schism occurred in 1054, almost 500 years prior to the Reformation.

And before that we have

You are correct. I forgot about the Oriental Orthodox.

J.N.D. Kelley’s Early Christian Doctrines book is a good place to start.

God bless,

Not to mention the Assyrian Church of the East and other such denominations that claim Christianity but without claiming to have been united with the RCC.

They were united with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. They break from the Catholic-Orthodox Church in 431 AD during the Nestorian heresy arised.

The claim that it was never in communion with the One, Holy Catholic, Apostolic Church is wrong. The Church then was Catholic Church, which consist of five Patriarchiates, Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Constantinople.

Whoops, my mistake. I was getting them confused with another one. Not sure which at the moment. I’ll find out later.

The question, and it is rather complicated, is how many of “heretics”, even though seperated from Rome, could be considered Christian.
Like take the Donatists, they were at odds with Pope Miltiades but they were Christian. They had their own bishops who were in control of their own churches.
It perhaps deserves its own thread sometime and people smarter than I will have to provide insight.

Here is some information on the Donatists from Wikipedia. You can do the search yourself to verify:

The rest of the Church was far more forgiving of these people than the Donatists were. The Donatists refused to accept the sacraments and spiritual authority of the priests and bishops who had fallen away from the faith during the persecution. Many church leaders had gone so far as to turn Christians over to Roman authorities and had handed over sacred religious texts to authorities to be publicly burned.** These people were called traditors (“people who had handed over”). These traditors had returned to positions of authority under Constantine I**, and the Donatists proclaimed that any sacraments celebrated by these priests and bishops were invalid.

The first question, therefore, was whether the Sacrament of Penance can effect a reconciliation whereby the apostate, or in some cases specifically the traditor, may be returned to full communion. The orthodox Catholic position was that the sacrament was for precisely such cases, though at the time the Church still followed the discipline of public penance whereby a penitent for such a grievous offense would spend years, even decades, first outside the doors of the church begging for the prayers of those entering, then kneeling inside the church building during services, then standing with the congregation, and finally receiving the Eucharist again in a long progress toward full reconciliation. The Donatists held that such a crime, after the forgiveness of Baptism, rendered one unfit for further membership in the Church, a position of extreme rigorism.


note the bold text. The word traitor derives from the word “traditors” which means"people who had handed over."

Yes, its more of a hypothetical question. For example, Protestants are considered seperated brethren but still Christian. I wonder how many of the heretics were Christian? Sure we have our Gnostics and so forth who would not be considered such, but some seem to me to be Christians still.
Like I said, probably another thread.

Thats a really good lead. To have someone prove a negative. Perhaps you should prove there were some, and then lets go from there.
Deacon Ed B

Well usually what happens is people talk past each other on these. See there is no dispute that the Roman Catholic Church is decended from the original Catholic Church. The real question is, it is a child of the flesh or a child of faith.

Just as Christians are the true children of Abraham by faith, and Israel put much in their decent by the flesh the question concerning the Roman Catholic Church is does it commit the same mistake by looking to it’s decent from the true church through a lineage of people.

It is only the true Church is it’s faith is THE faith. And so that is how you can prove it, to show that it is one and the same faith.

If you try to say this Pope came after that Pope and so on and so on, you will just see people’s eyes roll back in their head. Who cares, it proves nothing. Take Peter, in the very next passage after being told Jesus was giving him the keys he was called Satan by Jesus. So Peter was given the keys but no warrant to innovate or put himself ahead of or in opposition to Jesus. So now there is the relatively simple thing to examine the scriptures for they testify of God, and compare it to the Roman Catholic Church, if they are identical. There you go, proof.


This is the real answer, I think. There were no non-Catholic Christians before the Reformation because the Church controlled the definition of Christian up to that point. There have been hereticl sects throughout history, but they were not recognized as Christian Churches and the Church prevented their growth. They are often portrayed as oddball little sects or cults, but they were not that different than Protestants, they just didn’t thrive.

So are those groups non-Catholic Christian churches? I don’t know either. If the question is whether all those that believed Jesus was the Son of God belonged to the Church until the Reformation, I think the answer has to be no.

“Get behind me, Satan!”

Well, the Pope isn’t supposed to be above Jesus, who’s the true (ultimate) Head of the Church while the Pope is his Vicar.

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