Is the Church the church of Acts?


#1

Okay, yes–I know it is. However, one of my evangelical friends told me (with great pride) that her church is modelled on the early church. I quickly told her that the modern Catholic Church is the most like the early church (yes, I know it is actually the same church). I pointed to the hierarchial structure and teaching authority, but then I floundered. What would be a better or more complete response?


#2

Well, models are just imitations of the real thing, after all.

Actually, I recently read a wonderful refutation of the “modeled on the church of Acts” argument, but I can’t remember it now! Maybe it will come back to me.


#3

[quote=JMJ Theresa]Okay, yes–I know it is. However, one of my evangelical friends told me (with great pride) that her church is modelled on the early church. I quickly told her that the modern Catholic Church is the most like the early church (yes, I know it is actually the same church). I pointed to the hierarchial structure and teaching authority, but then I floundered. What would be a better or more complete response?
[/quote]

A better and more complete response would be to study the Book of Acts and point out to her how her “church” differs from that of the first century. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have claimed this about their church and soon end up leaving it because, after a while, even the most simplest organization will have to change and develop as they grow.


#4

The Church is the Body of Christ. It is a supernatural BODY. Like the natural body, it grows and develops. So, for one to insist that “their” church is exactly like the church of the first century is to ignore the very essence of Church.

There are, of course, certain essential aspects of the Church that one can trace back to the early Church: Eucharist, Aposotlic succession, the Papacy, the Communion of Saints, etc. These essential aspects have stood the test of time and have grown and developed as time, society, culture and understanding have evolved, yet they have remained essentially the same.

The Catholic Church, no question, is the Church founded by Jesus Christ on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. We know this by history, Tradition, and Scripture. However, NO church (even the Catholic Church) is identical to “the early Church.” It is not possible.

Unlike the early Church, no church today (especially in this country) must hide in secrecy for worship. Not many churches today are persecuted simply for claiming Jesus as Lord. There are on longer thousands of martyrs slaughtered as cannibals for their belief in the Real Presence.

SO, while some modern Protestant churches may fancy themselves the church of the early Church, plain historical fact and good doctrinal analysis would easily prove otherwise.

If I were having this conversation, I would inquire what specifically makes my friend believe that his/her church is the Church of the 1st century–then I’d break out my history books.


#5

[quote=JMJ Theresa]Okay, yes–I know it is. However, one of my evangelical friends told me (with great pride) that her church is modelled on the early church. I quickly told her that the modern Catholic Church is the most like the early church (yes, I know it is actually the same church). I pointed to the hierarchial structure and teaching authority, but then I floundered. What would be a better or more complete response?
[/quote]

Do they celebrate the breaking of the bread every time they come together to worship?


#6

[quote=JMJ Theresa]Okay, yes–I know it is. However, one of my evangelical friends told me (with great pride) that her church is modelled on the early church. I quickly told her that the modern Catholic Church is the most like the early church (yes, I know it is actually the same church). I pointed to the hierarchial structure and teaching authority, but then I floundered. What would be a better or more complete response?
[/quote]

Have you read the writings of the early Church Fathers? Ask your Evangelical friends if they have. They may want to do so before making such bold assertions.

St. Clement of Rome’s letter to the Cortinthians (AD 80) is rich with Catholic Doctrine regarding the Authority of the Bishop and clearly shows the primacy of Rome. (St. Clement was the first, second or third Bishop of Rome after St. Peter.)

St Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Smyrnaeans (AD 110) tells them “You must follow the Bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presberty as you would the Apostles.” St. Ignatius was a hearer of the Apostle John and was the third Bishop of Antioch.

I’d venture to say that few (if any) Evangelical Pastors would conform to the teaching of anyone but themselves. Let alone a Bishop. The concept is contrary to their sola scriptura doctrine and rejection of the priesthood.

Do they claim to be Bishops (or like Bishops) themselves? In this case, how is it they are of Apostolic origin? Apostolic origen was a requirement of a true Church Community in early Christianity.

This claim of theirs is quite rich! However, it is very much refuted by the writings of the Early Fathers.


#7

Jesus created the Church, said it would prevail until the end of time, and commissioned Peter and the disciples to bind, loose, and teach - to minister. There is a well-documented succession of human leaders from Paul to today, a person named Pope Benedict.

So is the Evangelical person’s church 2000 years old? Who runs their church, and what is their connection with other Church leaders if they are not the one that formed their Church?

I don’t see how anyone can honestly think a Church other than the Catholic Church is Jesus’ church, bride, and Body…


#8

The big one for me that always gets 'em when Fundimentalists make this claim is to ask them to point to where any Church leader in Scripture started his own church or was “elected” or “selected”. Every time we see someone become the leader of a church in the NT, it was because he was “appointed” by someone in a higher position of authority, and this *always *involved the laying on of hands. Paul was the exception to the laying on of hands (he did receive these, but as a cure to his blindness, not as a commission to preach), but his calling came directly from God on Damascus, so no modern preacher can compare their calling to his. Nowhere in the NT do we see:

-a Bible-learned man starting his own local church
-a committe from the church selecting a new preacher
-elders “voted” in through a Democratic election
-preachers “voted” in or “selected” through democratic election among elders

And I’ve never heard of an Evangelical (that I’ve known) receiving his commission through the laying on of hands from a superior, especially since they don’t believe in a hierarchy church

Lastly, some groups like to point to their group of “elders” and point out that the early churches had these. It is useful to point out to them that nowhere does Scripture say these early churches had “groups” of elders, and since the word for priest comes from *presbuteros, *the Greek word for presbyter, we can assume that the plural “elders” means simply that there were plural churches, and each had its own elders (presbyters). After all, no where do we see evidence in Acts or otherwise acting as a group of “elders” in a Protestant church acts now.


#9

[quote=JMJ Theresa]Okay, yes–I know it is. However, one of my evangelical friends told me (with great pride) that her church is modelled on the early church. I quickly told her that the modern Catholic Church is the most like the early church (yes, I know it is actually the same church). I pointed to the hierarchial structure and teaching authority, but then I floundered. What would be a better or more complete response?
[/quote]

Ask them if he worships in some hut, or in a cave, under a tree?
Ask him if the first Church had Welch’s Grape Juice?
Rock band? Wednesdays Service? Age of reason? Birth Control?, Ask him if his minister was ordained with hands on,? Ask them if they had the bible as you see it today??? etc, etc,


#10

[quote=JaneFrances]The Church is the Body of Christ. It is a supernatural BODY. Like the natural body, it grows and develops.
[/quote]

This is the key point here. It is all about development. Your friend is claiming to have a seed, while the Catholic Church is claiming to be the blossomed tree of that seed from Acts.

If your friend’s Church were truly modeled after the Church in Acts, they should avoid reading much of the NT because the Church in Acts didn’t read it or have it. The book of Acts spans around 28 years I believe. In 2 Thessalonians, a letter written during this 28 year period of the Church in Acts, Paul commands oral tradition be kept. Most protestants will claim that the oral tradition spoken of by Paul here has been written down in its entirety now, therefore oral tradition is no longer necessary. If your friend truly follows the book of Acts, she should still be adhering to oral tradition because, even according to protestantism, oral tradition was still a form of revelation during times of enscripturation. If your friend claims that the oral tradition has been written down completely in the form of the Bible now, then your friend is claiming a development of doctrine. She cannot do this if she is mirroring the Church in Acts because she is trapped in time, and it is a time when oral tradition was the predominant form of revelation.

I suppose those are a few points. Almost every argument against your friend’s position will come from the development of doctrine (she invariably follows certain developed doctrines yet claims otherwise). Read (and have your friend read) John Henry Newman’s the Development of Doctrine. It is precisely because of the development of doctrine that he converted to Catholicism.

Peace,
Michael


#11

[quote=JMJ Theresa]Okay, yes–I know it is. However, one of my evangelical friends told me (with great pride) that her church is modelled on the early church. I quickly told her that the modern Catholic Church is the most like the early church (yes, I know it is actually the same church). I pointed to the hierarchial structure and teaching authority, but then I floundered. What would be a better or more complete response?
[/quote]

Hi JMJTheresa,
From beng involved in the Catechumenate Team in our Parish I learned from Acts 2: 42 that the church which Jesus promised to build himself, is this very Church.
The Church in Acts had ;
(1)… The Message (Kerygma)
(2)… The Fellowship (Koinonia)
(3)… The Eucharistia (the flesh & blood of Christ)
(4)… The Witness (Martutia)

all of which flows fron the Fountain of all Holiness,
Jesus Christ’s OFFERING of His Life as a Ransom for many.
This Church, which Cardnal Ratzinger now Christ’s Vicar, is that very same Church. (vine)
**This is THE EXODUS Jesus, Moses, & Elijah discussed **in Luke 9: 31.

On a clear day (under the revelation of The Holy Spirit) one can see these (4) evidences continuing in its members, …all because of the invisible power which makes it manifest.
Let us walk Confidently and Joyfully in it

I love it !

Thank you for bringing it up.
God has opened a door which no man can shut !

gusano


#12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.