I’m enrolled in a medieval history course at my university, and so far the professor (along with the textbook we’ve been assigned) has been very hostile towards Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular. I’ve done my best to defend some of the practices of the church (the lecture is very open to comments), but we’re entering an area next monday where my knowledge isn’t sufficient to offer a full defense of the church: early Christianity.
I’ve gathered through her comments that the professor plans to make a few key accusations against the Church:
***- *That the early church was a “personal” religion without a formal structured authority. The emergence of a class of clergy and of the episcopate (bishops) was an abberation and a distortion of the original intent of Christ.
- That some of the early church allowed the ordination of women and that “debates raged” about whether women should be ordained. Female ordination was eventually put down by the illegitimate authority of the Church.
***- *That the emergence of large churches and the celebration of a “single kind of Mass” was a massive departure from the original Christianity. She’s going to argue that early christians met in their homes and celebrated a “fellowship ceremony” without the Eucharist or anthing resembling the sacramental priesthood.
***- *That the church became embroiled in temporal considerations as early as the council of Nicea and thereby departed from the faith of the apostles. By becoming intertwined with the political authority of the Roman empire, the faith was corrupted.
- That Christian belief was initially fluid and “pluralistic” and that the introduction of dogma (with the ecumenical councils) was a violation of this plurality and mutual acceptance of “different kinds of truth”.
- That the Papacy didn’t exist in the early church. Peter never had any kind of supremacy over the other apostles and certainly had no infallibility. (protestants and Orthodox stay out of this one, please )
- That confession, penance, and purgatory were inventions of the church later on and have no basis in the early church.
I know that most of these ideas are junk, but some of them are difficult to contend with an I need solid historical sources to back myself up if I’m to offer a defense of the Church. Can anyone recommend some solid, orthodox reading for me to do (available online, preferably) about the early church and its harmony with teachings of the Catholic church? I have exactly one week to arm myself for what’s sure to be a full assault on the church! I need you to give me weapons! I want to blow these arguments out of the water.
Also, can anyone tell me about other ideas that might come up to challenge the church?
Thanks for your help!