Protestant opinion on where Roman Catholic Church went into apostasy?

As all Protestant denomination(including ones that do not consider themselves of being Protestant just “christian”, e.g. non-denominational churches) are products of the Reformation. If this is the case, that they all can tie their historical “family” tree back to Rome, then my question’s are:

Did the RCC fall into Apostasy from the beginning?
Did the Roman Catholic Church fall into Apostasy gradually? If so, when or roughly when?
Did the Roman Catholic Church fall into Apostasy just before the Reformation? A generation or two before…
Or am I completely wrong and Protestantism did not grow out from the RCC and the Reformers are the original church and had nothing to do with RCC?

I just want to know what my brethren Protestant’s think. I am NOT trying to prove them wrong\or right… Again, just looking for their side of history…

Please be respectful with your replies!


How do you think the Holy Spirit would answer your questions?

1 Like

I am not asking for me to “think”, I’m asking what Protestants think\know…
Don’t really understand your response…

but thanks for taking the time to respond!!!


I have always wondered this too, great questions. I have no answer of course. That’s probably why I’m Catholic instead of Protestant! lol


I don’t know that they have any real consensus on the matter. The narrative goes something like this:

The early church was truly Christian and there was no such thing as a papacy. Individual churches pretty much ran their own affairs. There were various councils that decided the “big issues”. Constantine declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire not too long before that empire fell. In the absence of any opposition, the church at Rome gradually began usurping more and more power, under a papacy (bishopric of Rome) that kept growing in influence, and somewhere along the line, Rome went apostate. It didn’t happen all at once. Practices and beliefs alien to Scripture and to true Christianity (so they say) began creeping in and made a bad situation even worse. There were scattered groups and reformers here and there, but everything was under Rome’s control. “True Christians” (again, say they) suffered and were persecuted. Finally, Luther stood up and said “enough is enough”, and the whole thing came crashing down, with Rome retaining power wherever it could.

If you had to fit the whole story on the back of a postcard, that’s pretty much how it would go.

It is all a case of “whose ox is being gored?”. The period from roughly 500 to 1500 AD is summarily dismissed by the secular world, and by Protestants, as “the Dark Ages”, which is a shorthand way of saying “everyone was Catholic, everything revolved around the Catholic Church, life was horrible, everyone was ignorant, and it’s best to forget about it, as one would dismiss a bad dream, there’s nothing about those thousand years that concerns us in the least”. On the other hand — while acknowledging that things were by no means perfect in that millennium — the Catholic views this as a glorious “Age of Faith”, when much of Western society “worked the way it is supposed to”, and we have never seen anything remotely like it since then.


That was emperor Theodosius. Constantine just legalized it.


Only a few groups claim the CC went “apostate” (totally wrong).
A few more groups claim portions of Catholic doctrine became heretical (unscriptural).

I think most groups claim the CC added on a lot of “extra baggage”, beliefs that are not anti Scripture, but not called for by Scripture.

Then a few groups disagree with none of the dogma per se, just hesitant about some aspects of the papacy.


As with most everything Protestant, it depends on who you ask. Many believe it was Constantine who created the Roman Catholic Church. Most, however, answer the when. They just keep repeating the same disproven stories they were taught.


Mea culpa.

Even Homer nods.


1 Like

I don’t think Roman Catholic Church went into Apostasy, and I have never been taught that Roman Catholic Church went into Apostasy. To me personally RCC is like my father that my mother never mentioned after they separated.


Never. Apostasy is a rejection of the faith. Catholicism has never rejected the faith.


Which is why I regularly say;
Regarding doctrine and practice, use of the term Protestant is folly.

1 Like

I don’t believe the “church” fell or will fall into apostasy. The Church has some pathetic actors and they’re very visible. But truth doesn’t become non truth because of those actors. And even if there was but only one true genuine Catholic on the face of this earth, the Catholic faith/church would still be the one that Jesus built. It’s His Church and before it totally would apostacise I have to believe Jesus would step in.

The RCC never rejected the faith. They never denied the Trinity or that Jesus died for our sins. There were definitely reforms that were needed, though.


To all;

There is a very good book on this subject titled; The Apostasy That Wasn’t, by Rod Bennett. I own this volume and highly recommend it. There is a good review of it to be found here;

1 Like

ok this is going to be long i will go trough every protestant arguments and see it trough a historical context

first most protestants never say that the church fell in to apostasy but rather corruption.

the first and major protestant argument is that the catholic church added things that are unbiblical/ not found in the early church.

this has some merit example the concept of the immaculate conception.

and we know some Christians did believe this as the Muslims belived something similar about her so its pre 600s
There is also agustine speaking about her but its not 100% confirmation

And the earliest in late antiquity she had tittles like super-innocent", and “singularly holy” again all of this is during late antiquity
so its not 100% confirmation for Catholics that the church believed this but it does give more validation to the ´protestan arguments that these concepts evolved over time.

but these are unknowns ie no one cant claim the early church belived this , but again no man deny that they believed this .

to claim 100% that it is or its not is arguing from a pre supposition.

in some other cases the evidence for it is overwhelming this is why i (personaly) i disagree with the notion of papal supremacy , since it has so much evidence that it was a concept that evolved over time

Catholic theologian Francis A. Sullivan claims "expressed agreement with the consensus of scholars that available evidence indicates that the church of Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century.

The research of Jesuit historian Klaus Schatz led him to claim that, “If one had asked a Christian in the year 100, 200, or even 300 whether the bishop of Rome was the head of all Christians, or whether there was a supreme bishop over all the other bishops and having the last word in questions affecting the whole Church, he or she would certainly have said no.” But he believes it likely that 'there very quickly emerged a presider or ‘first among equals.

historians even labeled 2 eras of papal supremacy

First phase of papal supremacy begining in the late 4th and early 5th century to the late 8th

and the second phase from rom the middle of the 11th century and extending to the middle of the 13th century

advocates for this point to the filoque controversy as adding it without council was the whole reason of the problem , it was not theology it was the pope overextending his authority in the eyes of the bishops .

since they deemed it that they need it a council and the pope just responded iam the pope i can change it if i want to .

The early church and fathers would have never argument

The argument says the early church of the first second and in less degree the third would have not approved of the flowing things

Treatment of the heretics in the high middle ages:

With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the [sin]whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by [excommunication( its ok until here)

but also to be severed from the world by [death]( . For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the [faith] that quickens the [soul] , than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other [evil] -doers are forthwith condemned to death by the [secular] authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death. On the part of the Church, however, there is mercy, which looks to the conversion of the wanderer, wherefore she condemns not at once, but “after the first and second admonition”, as the Apostle directs: after that, if he is yet stubborn, the Church no longer hoping for his conversion, looks to the salvation of others, by excommunicating him and separating him from the Church, and furthermore delivers him to the secular tribunal to be exterminated thereby from the world by death.

i mean i like aquinas works but this …why? i mean excommunication killing herectics killing them why?

the church fathers would not advocate this m, they were pacifist and only excomunicated heresies and made books against them not kill them , heck when the first heretic was killed by the emperors orders the pope was not happy

why did the church change its mind ?

there is also crusades and in case of the cathars genocide

its a historical concensus the church was pacifist in these times (ie first to 4th century) said by their words and profesionals like Professor of Theology at Wheaton College writing that "literary evidence confirms the very strong internal coherence of the Church’s non-violent stance for the first three centuries.

its until later that we see the just war theory now i like most agustines work …but here he had massive problems

the bases of it is that believers had to choose between the testimony of the gospel, which included renunciation of violence, and responsible participation in political power, which was understood as an act of love toward the world.

The problem here is just war theory is entirely subjective. Anyone can declare any war just or unjust according to Christian teachings simply by declaring it so. (And hypocritically evangelical Protestants seem to have done just that, adopting Catholic just war theory

but also Catholics took another step from just war to holy war… yeah.

i can say the fathers would be opposed since …they where pacifist

the early church “tolarated slavery”

as in told slaves to obey their masters, but this was not an endorsement of slavery, but an appeal to Christian slaves to honor their masters and accept their suffering for Christ’s sake

the medieval church said :

We grant you [Kings of Spain and Portugal] by these present documents, with our Apostolic Authority, full and free permission to invade, search out, capture, and subjugate the Saracens and pagans and any other unbelievers and enemies of Christwherever they may be, as well as their kingdoms, duchies, counties, principalities, and other property […] and to reduce their persons into perpetual servitude.

this why encomiendas existed also the atlantic slave trade

No Papal condemnation of Transatlantic slave trade was made at the time. La Casas in 1547 declared that the Spanish never waged a just war against the Indians since they did not have a just cause for doing so.(going back to just war is subjetive)

but the protestans also had slaves , so hypocrite hypocrite , eve though some groups where anti slavery.

and well the church had debates over this , but Capuchin missionaries were excommunicated for calling for the emancipation of black slaves in the Americas…

so the early church was not pro slavery

while the medieval and later the early modern peroid church where advocates of slavery.

another example the fathers would never this:

example here benedict the IX , who didnt really care for the church and just wanted to get money and the cardinals had to get rid of him via bribes, so yeah benedic sold the papacy , but a month later benedict wanted to be pope again so he marched an army ala cesar and declared himself pope again , but then he wanted to get married so he left and gregory became pope .
but it was not over
it seems like beating dead horses was benedicts hobby aside from massive corruption, and he wanted to be pope again.

the Holy roman emperor had to fix this , a new pope was instaled but the HR emperor had enough of his anticis and excomunicated him.

so the protestant would say the early church would never allow these scandals to occur.

and would have never allowed Boniface the VIII , to arrest celestine , where boniface was murdered or died in prison eitherway you slice it boniface sentenced celestine to death.

then we have things like Urban VI began to looking his opponets like a facist.the borgia etc

and you can go on and on and say the early church would not have allowed these things

and i kinda agree here since the church not being part of a wealthy kingdom and have a large political base would not have allowed the papacy to you know did the things it did .

but if you put the early church in situation similar to the middle ages , iam not garanteed that the church would not abuse its political power.

1 Like

My understanding is that the word “Roman” was added 99 years ago, based on a slur made by Henry VIII. Too, that “Latin Rite” is actually more accurate…

And…wasn’t the Reformation a mass apostasy of sorts from the Church Jesus ACTUALLY founded in 33 AD that first Pentecost, in the Upper Room? Wasn’t it basically based on the grumblings of men who did away with 5 of the 7 grace-infusing Sacraments, and 7 Books of the alteady-determined Christian Holy Bible?

If my understanding is incorrect, if a validly ordained moderator/apologist/priest/bishop/etc
corrects me it would be appreciated, because I do not want to pass along misinformation.

1 Like

It was not a slur. The Catholic Church was often referred to as “Rome” or the “Church in Rome” or the “Roman church” or the “holy Roman Catholic Church” because that is where its headquarters were located. This usage appeared even before the Reformation. It’s like referring to the US government as “Washington” because D.C. is the seat of the federal government.

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