Did Jesus really intend to establish a church?


I’m sorry, but I find what you said here to be bizarre. Either Jesus IS the founder of the Church and intended to establish said Church, or He is not the founder and had no such intention. To qualify it with the terms “theologically” and “historically” insults the intelligence of Catholic Christians.

Again, either Jesus founded the Church or He didn’t.

We need to stop acting as if the Bible is incapable of giving authentic historical witness. “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth,” as St. John Paul says, and it is reasonable to believe in the historicity of the Bible. Although it’s focus is on the Old Testament, I’m currently reading a fascinating book right now called “A Biblical History of Israel” by Provan, Long and Longman. As they deftly point out, this pitting of history against theology needs to stop.

So to the point at hand there is an absolute answer to the question, and Jesus did address the topic directly in Matthew 16:18. The comments are puzzling at best, and it will be good to see a full transcript.

Also, regarding Mary888’s comments on “pastoration”:

Why would you not preach the Gospel to seekers, or at least people who are not completely hostile to religion. As St. Paul says, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16) There’s nothing wrong with telling someone that something is true. You just have to explain why you believe what you do. You go from the premise that something is true or false, and then back up your claim with evidence. In regards to “suspending a strict rule”, I could understand someone not mentioning the 1 hour fast before Communion when explaining the Eucharist to someone. But to deny that Jesus founded a Church when talking to a certain group of people…? Again, St. Paul says to preach the Gospel in season and out of season:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim. 4:1-5)

When evangelizing, we must always be steady, being prepared to endure suffering as the world does not typically want to hear what the Good News entails. And it entails that Jesus founded a Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, to lead us into salvation. There is nothing wrong with preaching, nothing at all, but we must do it with patience, while at the same time exhorting those listening us to conversion. This is urgent, because as our Lord Jesus says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”


It seems that this particular news outlet is connected to the diocese as it is also linked on the diocese webpage, so that is a little disturbing.

Since those couple of paragraphs are certainly not his complete talk, I hope that is not the impression he left the youth, that he can not say with certainly that Christ intended to start a church.

Hopefully it is just poor reporting on the media’s part and perhaps will be corrected.


My apologies, I’ll try to do a better job. Keep in mind, though, that I speak for myself and not the Bishop.

For you that might be so, but not for a historian. A historian, at least a good one, has no choice but to work with the available sources. Any conclusion drawn from them must be defensible from the source material, not 2,000 years of Catholic theology. As I mentioned above, historians take different stances on whether or not Jesus intended to found a new church. They defend their stances with historical evidence, not theological evidence.

I’m sorry you feel this way, but that isn’t true. Theology and history are two different disciplines that use evidence very different and seek to arrive at different places. An honest historian will evaluate data without regard to Catholic theology whether or not they themselves are Catholic. In my view the best historian of the historical Jesus alive today is John P. Meier. He is a Catholic priest who just retired from the faculty at Notre Dame University. He has dedicated much of his life to understanding Jesus from a purely historical perspective, and has identified many areas of his life that might be at odds with Catholic theology. Every single one of his books has been approved by his Bishop, he holds many appointments at pontifical academies, and has been personally praised by several cardinals and at least one pope. Clearly they aren’t offended by the dichotomy between history and theology.

Absolutely nobody said that, and no historian would claim it doesn’t. That also doesn’t mean it is always historically reliable. It obviously isn’t. Luke messed up Herod’s genealogy, for starters.

No one tried that either. History and theology are different disciplines. They are not in conflict with each other. I’m a history professor. Never once have the good men and women of the Theology Department come to our building and tried to start a fight. It’s like biology and physics, we are just different. We aren’t opposed to each other. Just different.

I hope that helps. The Bishop is almost certainly not undermining theology, and there is nothing to panic about. Historians will never disprove Christian theology, just like theologians will never rewrite history. Some dishonest or overzealous amateurs will keep trying to do both however. Just ignore them.


And the Gospels – which record eyewitness testimony – don’t count as ‘historical evidence’? :thinking:

Ahh, the “historical Jesus” boondoggle! My favorite reflection about that approach comes from one of the scholars who worked in that field, and said something to the effect that when you search for the ‘historical Jesus’, what you end up with isn’t a ‘picture’, so much as a ‘reflection’; and instead of seeing Jesus, you see someone who looks a whole lot like yourself. :wink:

Meier himself said, in an interview:


Ummm, that was exactly the point of my post.


From the Vatican Council I, Pastor aeternus, First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church:

The eternal Shepherd and Guardian of our souls, in order to continue for all time the saving work of redemption, determined to build his holy Church so that in her, as in the house of the living God, all who believe might be united together in the bond of one faith and one love.

English translation from Denzinger, 43rd edition. Ott, in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, classifies this definition as de fide.


All of this information makes me long to find out the whole context of this lecture. If anyone comes across a transcript of it, please post.


I just got a response from the Bishop’s office. Here is what it said:

"Thank you for your e-mail.

Indeed, the quote on its own is missing some important context that comes from the remainder of the very lengthy speech. All complaints I have heard about the speech are from people who did not attend.

I’ve asked our staff to adjust the online quote, as I think you are right that it is (at best) misleading."

I then sent a reply back asking if a transcript would be available to read or a recording to watch.


Email update:

"I’m sorry, but I do not have a transcript. I don’t believe Bishop Conlon worked from an explicit script so much as some collected notes.

There was a recording device at the event, but I have heard that it malfunctioned. If it is recovered, we will try and put it on the diocesan website."

So, unfortunately, it looks like we won’t have any way to really gain the context here.


…other than to be able to say, “it ain’t the heresy that it might appear to you to be.” Which should suffice, one might hope… :wink:


Luke chapter 16:
16:1. And he said also to his disciples: There was a certain rich man who had a steward: and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods.

16:2. And he called him and said to him: How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be steward no longer.

16:3. And the steward said within himself: What shall I do, because my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed.

16:4. I know what I will do, that when I shall be removed from the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

16:5. Therefore, calling together every one of his lord’s debtors, he said to the first: How much dost thou owe my lord?

16:6. But he said: An hundred barrels of oil. And he said to him: Take thy bill and sit down quickly and write fifty.

16:7. Then he said to another: And how much dost thou owe? Who said: An hundred quarters of wheat. He said to him: Take thy bill and write eighty.

16:8. And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.

16:9. And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity: that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings
16:10. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in that which is greater: and he that is unjust in that which is little is unjust also in that which is greater.

16:11. If then you have not been faithful in the unjust mammon, who will trust you with that which is the true?

16:12. And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

16:13. No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other: or he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Asking for everything (acrivy or strict orthodoxy as you prefer) brings the Lord the same gain as forgiving everything - none. God bless!


If there is enough fuss about it, Bishop Conlon may respond.

I strongly suspect however that he was quoted out of context by some intern or low-level lay staffer who didn’t realize there was going to be a big kerfuffle over the post as written.



His disciples remembered that it is written Zeal for Your house will consume Me.

The Jews then said to Him What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?

Jesus answered them Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.

Matthew 2-17-19


Yea buuut, heresy is a lot more interesting than mere misunderstandings.


:+1: LOL! :rofl:


In Bishop Conlon’s fairly recent Pastoral Letter “GO” to the Diocese of Joliet, in approx. the fourth paragraph he states:

“Now, the Church in the 21st century is the same Church that Christ established more than 2,000 years ago. We have the same Scriptures, the same sacraments, the same apostolic structure, the same mission or purpose.”

Why he would state something different at a particular gathering is anyone’s guess.


Interesting. I would still love to hear his lecture. I can’t believe that there’s no record of it. It sounds like, at the very least, it would be an interesting topic to listen to.


Umm… maybe because he’s not stating something different…? . :wink:


Where is it stated that he said this? I don’t see it in the link you posted.


We are working backwards, from English (in this group) back to Latin, back to Greek, back to Aramaic; I don’t have the etymology at hand but at least one meaning is “assembly”.

Christ was a Jew, and he went to Synagogue, and he worshiped in the Temple. It may be tongue in cheek, but he figured out that a significant number of his fellow Jews would not accept him as the Messiah - and so the Apostles were commanded to “set up assemblies” to carry on the New Covenant, as shadowed in the OT and brought to fruition during his three year ministry, passion, death, resurrection, and the sacraments he gave them (again, shadowed in the OT). And he clearly set up poor old Peter (one of my favorite saints) as the “rock”.

From that flowed more than one way (although all are parallel) to worship. However, history shows that one element eventually became the largest, and that was the assemblies from Rome, and moving through Europe and outward. And as time and needs enlarged and grew and moved forward, there was more and more need to provide order and answers, until we arrive at who knows how many dicasteries sorting out and shepherding all of the various aspects of guiding those assemblies.

And then there is the issue of the Holy Spirit guiding through the centuries.

So did Christ set up the Church - or was it the Holy Spirit which fleshed out what little Christ said?

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