Protestants, when did the Catholic Church go bad?

This question is intended mainly for Protestants. When, exactly did the Catholic Church as we know it now cease to be the true Christian church? Back when I was Protestant, we always focused on the early Church (up to Augustine), and then skipped to Luther, Calvin, et al. When I started looking into it, I found that Augustine and a lot of the REALLY early Christians (Ireneus, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Ignatius of Antioch) were very “Catholic,” especially compared to the reformers. Just out of curiosity, where do most Protestants draw the line (e.g. a certain council, pope, theologian, etc.) between the early Church and the “corrupt” Roman Catholic Church?

I don’t know, but I think that if the early church corrupted, then that means a lot of people were in trouble from the time of the death of the last apostle until Martin Luther in the 1500’s. Why would the true faith of the early believers just suddenly disappear and then reappear 1500 years later?

As a Protestant, I never thought of the Church “going bad”.

I never thought of it being the original New Testament church to begin with. I wasn’t taught that way and I don’t believe most Protestants are.

I am beginning to see that the Catholic Church was the original church, but I still don’t think of it as going bad.

CatholicZ09, that’s one of the main reasons I’m coming home! However, I know that there are a lot of Protestants out there who are much smarter and more knowledgeable of history than I am, and who are still convinced that their Protestant tradition is the truest to the early Church and that the Catholic Church has veered from the Truth. I’m just curious as to why.

Can’t say the church went bad per se, but, when the priesthood, and the papacy and indulgences went up for sale, the stains of the inquisitions, it’s hard not to imagine that people would think that the church went bad. I would say that she has had some good black eyes given over the years, but she’s always come back.

I guess I could have worded that better. I was never taught that early Church was “Catholic,” but that it was united for the first few hundred years and that the Catholic Church eventually picked up some “crazy theology.” If my preacher ever quoted an early church Father, it was usually Augustine, but never anybody after him (until Luther/Calvin). Why?

I’m not sure I understand your previous opinion… was it that the original NT church ceased to exist?

I realize the CC has it roots from the early days as one of the original sees…My thoughts
are sin begets more sin…From the start people chose side of favorites ie “I’m of Cephas, I’m of Paul”. If the rest of the sees were at fault why didn’t the protestant split come from the orthodox side. The CC has a much soddid history compared to the orthodox even up to the present(irregardless of the size). Another irony is I see some blame against protestant reformers like their at fault for the split…Like you blame a child for the sins the parent committed… One day we will be like Him and able to know the truth…

Good luck with that

When, exactly did the Catholic Church as we know it now cease to be the true Christian church?

for clarity I think it to be a Christian Church, just not the one true Church

Just out of curiosity, where do most Protestants draw the line (e.g. a certain council, pope, theologian, etc.) between the early Church and the “corrupt” Roman Catholic Church?

well since you asked, here is my opinion: I don’t think that you can draw a clear line as the error is quite varied. There is nothing wrong with the mid 2nd century view of Mary as the new Eve, but there is most certainly something wrong with the elevation of Mary to sinless, co-mediatrix. It could be acceptable if the immaculate conception, the bodily assumption and the perpetual virginity were simply left as part of extra-biblical miracles that one could believe or disbelieve, but to make them required beliefs and then to make them part of the over the top elevation of Mary is error. When did the Catholic view of Mary become so corrupt that it would have disqualified the CC as the one true church?..well that would be a subjective call and of course, the problems are not in any way limited to the matter of Mary.

Another example would be the elevation of the bishop to a monarchical position. That seemed to start about the time of Ignatius, but it wasn’t the situation throughout the empire at that time. Ignatius’ insistence on the centrality/necessity of the bishop may have even been a practical and good solution to battle heresy, but to make it the required form of Church governance for all time is just wrong. From there, the situation wrt a ministerial clergy just seemed to get worse (in some regards). The view of the Lord’s Supper went down the wrong path and as a result a priestly caste was needed to officiate (even though the term “priest” is essentially unused in the first two centuries of the Church wrt offices within the church). The more matters one considers, the more complicated the whole issue becomes…

If you are determined to have a time specified, then I would say that by the end of the second century the problems are well on their way and by the end of the 4th century they are pronounced (though the problems would continue to grow in size and number…perhaps Vatican II would represent a step back in the right direction). In any event, one could go on and on discussing the introduction of various errors and development of those errors into ever more serious errors, but it is impossible to say when such error achieved a critical mass.

What do you mean by “the Lord’s Supper went down the wrong path?” :confused:

To my muddled thinking (considering the time of day and how long I’ve been up and all)…the issue is not so much pointing to any one point at which the Roman Catholic Church diverged from Catholic Tradition as it is an issue of a particular organ of the Roman Church, the Holy See and the arrogation of powers by it at the expense of the College of Bishops. At the same time, I I think the Vincentian Canon shows that such doctrines as Indulgences, the Treasury of Merit, the Immaculate Conception, and Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Co-Mediatrix, are not truly catholic: they are not present, for example in the Churches of the Byzantine, Coptic or Oriental East, nor Papal Infallibility as defined by Vatican I.

Though, an argument for where the Roman Chrch did begin to vere off tending to coincide with the (necessary for the continuance of public order in post-fall Rome) assumption of temporal powers, -not the least with the creation of the Papal States through the donation of Pepin of France- is one I do take seriously (although one could make the argument that the Constantinian Settlement brought the whiff of corruption and compromise into the sanctuary of Mother Church…On the other hand, without that, we might not have had the birth of monasticism and the Desert Fathers.)

Sure there were developments, but all of them are consistent with the Scriptures. Also, don’t forget the Eucharist. The belief that the bread and wine become the true body and blood of Christ dates back to the very beginning, and is only preserved in the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Another thing I think they went off in a tangent is trying to explain a lot of mysteries with earthly knowledge. Ie Aristotle. I never understood that…To be honest I had a pretty radical conversion experience and try to do my best to be obedient to the Lord…If I felt
prompted by the Holy Spirit that I needed to join a ancient church, I would choose orthodox in a heartbeat…I just see them be more like what I read in the sacred scriptures…

The Catholic Church can not sin. Christ will not ever allow it to err. The Catholics “within” the Church are sinners, same as anyone else, and are obviously not entitled to that protection unless they can figure out a way to perfect themselves (I certainly haven’t met anyone who wasn’t a sinner). During the middle ages when you had things like some priests and even bishops trying to sell salvation to people, you had a couple of corrupt popes milking europe of money, I can fully understand Martin Luther’s disgust (though that might be a stronger word than he himself would have used). But his separating from the True faith, regardless of his reason, was an act of rebellion all the same. He didn’t trust in God and continue to pray and help solve anything. The Church worked through its problems then as it will today. When Luther split he created a whole new beast that grew more and more and continued to splinter off more and more and now there’s so many individual protestant/non denominational faiths that all preach similar yet different things, all claiming in one fashion or another to be “correct” or the “true church”. But that simply isn’t the case. Despite having a couple of corrupt popes, even those men never ONCE taught in error on a matter of faith (ie speaking infallibly from the magisterium). For men who were so active in their sinning, this is proof (in my eyes as well as others) that Christ’s promise in Matt 16:18 to always be with His Church and that the gates of hades will never overcome it, is true and alive to this day. To expound on what I meant earlier when I said that the Catholic Church can not sin/can not commit an error. It’s because the Holy Spirit is always guiding the Catholic Church because it is the only Church in the world our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ built Himself. What the world sees today, and what Luther saw in his day, was the human element of the Church. The fallible element, the weak sinful element. He saw what a bunch of sinners were doing and felt the Church itself lost its way. He lost faith in Christ’s promise to always protect His Church and so broke away, he rebelled (not because he wished to cause scandal or cause a divide but because he didn’t know what else he could do). Sadly that wasn’t the right answer. If he had trusted in Christ and believed Him then he would have had enough sense to stick around and ride out the storm, if he wasn’t willing to get his hands dirty and help fix things himself. Ultimately the entire protestant collection of faiths all started on a single act of rebellion by an honest man with honest intentions. But he put his faith in himself being able to “restore” or “reform” the Church when he should have left His faith with Christ. Just my two cents.

Please pardon the new Catholic weighing in. :slight_smile:
As a Protestant I had the idea that the church of the New Testament had ceased to exist, and Christianity had been trying, on and off, to go back to that ever since. It was interrupted by long, muddled periods of general ignorance, complicated by illiteracy, poverty, and lack of good historical and archeological evidence. I thought that Christians today were better suited to recovering to the New Testament church model than those at almost any time in history; there appeared to be a widespread “early church” movement in many evangelical circles, pastors appeared to have the opportunity to gain more knowledge than ever and to have more freedom than ever to direct the course of their congregations, and we lived in an “information age” that was starting to leave no excuse for ignorance among the laity; plus we had the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were totally cool. :thumbsup:
I never saw the Catholic Church as “going bad” at all; I only thought of Christianity in general as veering off target.

Isn’t the real question here why after about 1000 to 1100 years of fighting with great success to hold the Church generally unified (there were always groups that disagreed and practiced their own forms of Christianity, but they were subject to successful suppression and eradication) the unity began to break down? The Great Schism saw the division of the Roman Catholics in the west and the Orthodox Catholics in the East. By the sixteenth century divisions had occurred which have never been reversed.

Historians give a number of causes for the reformation; or at least the circumstances and events that triggered it. Simony, sale of indulgences, corrupt hierarchy, and others are named. It seems to me, however, that the invention of movable type and the tremendous increase in production of printed books and pamphlets, particularly of the Bible translated into vernacular languages, and the following enormous growth of literacy, created developments and movements that were simply too big for the Church to suppress as it had done quite effectively in earlier times.

It was not a question of the Church going bad; it is a question of loss of perceived universal authority.

I never understood the fighting as His kingdom was not of this world and if you lived by the sword you did for it…God doesn’t need a physical army to do warfare…We wrestle not against flesh and blood…

I take it you mean the wars between protestants and catholics after the reformation. Those were cause mainly by German princes who tried to use religion as a weapon for power, not because they were seeking truth.

The “fullness of time” in which Christ came required three things:

  1. Hebrew monotheism, obviously
  2. Roman infrastructure
    3. Greek philosophy and language

The New Testament is written in Greek and was meant by God to instruct the world, specifically, the Hellenized Greek culture which was then the dominant culture. Paul said:


Philosophy was and is simply that, the study of the things plain in nature. This lead Plato, Aristotle’s teacher, to determine the soul existed, that death was the separation of the soul from the body, that there was an afterlife, and that there was only one God. All of these premises are spot on with the Bible–and Plato did not have a Bible.

I think you are automatically thinking “paganism” or “polytheism” when you hear “Greek philosophy.” I am going to refer you to this piece by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese where the relation between Socrates (Plato’s instructor) and Christianity is explained.

To be honest I had a pretty radical conversion experience and try to do my best to be obedient to the Lord…If I felt
prompted by the Holy Spirit that I needed to join a ancient church, I would choose orthodox in a heartbeat…I just see them be more like what I read in the sacred scriptures…

Well, the Orthodox get a lot of things right, but they misunderstand some important things like original sin and the Immaculate Conception, contraception, divorce, and of course the papacy.

No I mean all the wars crusades and such…The church was called to spread the gospel,
not protect cities, fight wars for God with their own army make banks ect…

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