Question about the History of Christianity


#1

What was indeed the first organized Christian Church? Was it in fact Roman Catholic? Or was it some other?


#2

since there is no other Church, except the easter Orthodox (who broke from allegiance to the Roman Pontiff over issues of doctrine and governance but maintain apostolic succession) who even manage to come up with a legitimate claim to be the original Church founded by Jesus Christ and in fact can document their human founders, yup, it is the Catholic Church (Roman is one rite within the church).


#3

Hi mjf,:wave:

Well, the word church can be used in a couple of ways, one referring to an individual church or community, the other meaning a group of churches or communities in communion with each other. This question I would think is in reference to the latter (ie. the Catholic Church).

After Christs death there were the churches that we see mentioned in the Bible, both in the Epistles, and in Revelation. These Churches were in communion with each other, meaning that they had no divisions between them, docrtrinally they were the same although they might have had different practices in some cases. This was the one and only Christian church of the time.

The early church was divided into 5 Sees, each was begun by an Apostle, but all were in communion with each other. There was the See of Rome (the seat of the successor of Peter)in the West, and the other 4 Sees in the East.

In 1054 there was a split between East and West. To make a long story short, the Papal Legate of that time excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, he in turn excommunicated the Pope, and here we are today. Sad situation.

So the answer to your question I guess is that there was one Universal Church in the beginning, after that it would be a tie between the Catholics in communion with Rome, and the Eastern Orthodox in communion with Constantinople.

Hope that answers your question, these things can get pretty complicated.


#4

There was just one Christian church. Early on it was called “Catholic” but that just meant “universal.” Mostly it was just called “the Church,” since there was no other.


#5

[quote=mjf150]What was indeed the first organized Christian Church? Was it in fact Roman Catholic? Or was it some other?
[/quote]

That’s not a reasonable way of putting the question. Over 2000 years stuff changes and develops. The Church of the second century didn’t look like the Catholic Church today in lots of ways (though it had begun to call itself Catholic). How you interpret that (change, development, apostasy, whatever) depends on your theology. It isn’t a question that can be answered historically. What is clear is that Catholics and Orthodox (including the non-Chalcedonian churches) have a direct continuity with the early Church that none of the Protestant churches do (though institutionally as well as doctrinally Anglicanism and some forms of Lutheranism come closest).

There were many different groups claiming to be Christian from the very beginning. There’s no way in the state of our current knowledge to figure out which of them was the “oldest.” There aren’t even any real criteria by which to answer such a question. However, the only one that has survived to this day was the group that called itself the “Catholic Church.” However, it has split into many different forms over the centuries, and while Catholics and Orthodox do have more continuity than Protestants, we Protestants are also descended from the early Catholic Church and claim to be its heirs along with you.

In Christ,

Edwin


#6

[quote=Contarini]That’s not a reasonable way of putting the question. Over 2000 years stuff changes and develops. The Church of the second century didn’t look like the Catholic Church today in lots of ways (though it had begun to call itself Catholic). How you interpret that (change, development, apostasy, whatever) depends on your theology. It isn’t a question that can be answered historically. What is clear is that Catholics and Orthodox (including the non-Chalcedonian churches) have a direct continuity with the early Church that none of the Protestant churches do (though institutionally as well as doctrinally Anglicanism and some forms of Lutheranism come closest).

There were many different groups claiming to be Christian from the very beginning. There’s no way in the state of our current knowledge to figure out which of them was the “oldest.” There aren’t even any real criteria by which to answer such a question. However, the only one that has survived to this day was the group that called itself the “Catholic Church.” However, it has split into many different forms over the centuries, and while Catholics and Orthodox do have more continuity than Protestants, we Protestants are also descended from the early Catholic Church and claim to be its heirs along with you.

In Christ,

Edwin
[/quote]

To be precise, in terms of Catholic ecclesiology, the term Church is misapplied to groups without the apostolic succession. Without the authentic priesthood, there is no Church. Sect is more appropriate.


#7

"Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains . Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church" (Letter Ignatius to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).
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St. Paul’s letters are full of admonitions to maintain unity. Christ’s prayer was “that all may be one” (John 17). When St. Ignatius of Antioch, was being taken to the Coliseum under Roman guard to be thrown to the lions for his Faith in 107 AD, he wrote to the Smyrnaeans: “Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” He considered only those “within the sanctuary,” obedient to the bishop as to the Apostles, sharing the same Eucharist, to be “the Catholic Church.”

To the Trallians, Ignatius wrote: ". . . cling inseparably to God Jesus Christ, to the bishop, and to the precepts of the Apostles…do nothing without your bishop, but be subject also to the presbytery (priests). To the Ephesians, he wrote: “Let no one deceive himself: unless a man is within the sanctuary [the Church], he has to go with the Bread of God [the Eucharist] . . . one should look upon the bishop as upon the Lord Himself.” He urges, “continue in your flawless unity, that you may at all times have a share in God.” Ignatius wrote to Polycarp, Catholic bishop of Smyrna, “Be concerned about unity, the greatest blessing.”

This is obviously some cut and paste that I have accumulated and is the earliest writings I have but when you throw in the relationship these men had to the Apostles it makes a very strong case that the Church that Christ founded upon Peter was quickly known as the Catholic Church.[/size]


#8

I like this one from Irenaeus.(Against Heresies, Book 3, Chapter 3 and 4)

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[size=4][size=2]1. It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to “the perfect” apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity. [/size]

[/size]
[size=2]
2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority,(3) that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. [/size]

  1. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth. [/size]

#9
  1. But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom,(1) departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time,–a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles,–that, namely, which is handed down by the Church.(2) There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.” And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Dost thou know me?” “I do know thee, the first-born of Satan.” Such was the horror which the apostles and their disciples had against holding even verbal communication with any corrupters of the truth; as Paul also says, “A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”(3) There is also a very powerful(4) Epistle of Polycarp written to the Philippians, from which those who choose to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth. Then, again, the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times of Trajan, is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.
  1. Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life.(1) For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question(2) among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches?
  2. To which course many nations of those barbarians who believe in Christ do assent, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, without paper or ink, and, carefully preserving the ancient tradition,(3) believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendour, shall come in glory, the Saviour of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent. Those who, in the absence of written documents,(4) have believed this faith, are barbarians, so far as regards our language; but as regards doctrine, manner, and tenor of life, they are, because of faith, very wise indeed; and they do please God, ordering their conversation in all righteousness, chastity, and wisdom. If any one were to preach to these men the inventions of the heretics, speaking to them in their own language, they would at once stop their ears, and flee as far off as possible, not enduring even to listen to the blasphemous address. Thus, by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles, they do not suffer their mind to conceive anything of the [doctrines suggested by the] portentous language of these teachers, among whom neither Church nor doctrine has ever been established.

#10

[size=2]3. For, prior to Valentinus, those who follow Valentinus had no existence; nor did those from Marcion exist before Marcion; nor, in short, had any of those malignant-minded people, whom I have above enumerated, any being previous to the initiators and inventors of their perversity. For Valentinus came to Rome in the time of Hyginus, flourished under Pius, and remained until Anicetus. Cerdon, too, Marcion’s predecessor, himself arrived in the time of Hyginus, who was the ninth bishop.(5) Coming frequently into the Church, and making public confession, he thus remained, one time teaching in secret, and then again making public confession; but at last, having been denounced for corrupt teaching, he was excommunicated(6) from the assembly of the brethren. Marcion, then, succeeding him, flourished under Anicetus, who held the tenth place of the episcopate. But the rest, who are called Gnostics, take rise from Menander, Simon’s disciple, as I have shown; and each one of them appeared to be both the father and the high priest of that doctrine into which he has been initiated. But all these (the Marcosians) broke out into their apostasy much later, even during the intermediate period of the Church.[/size]


#11

the early church was the catholic church. it can be no other, for no other church is today believed what the early church believed and no other church can trace their authority to the very apostles.

Fathers Know Best


#12

As St. Irenaeos of Lyon describes “bishops of the Churches”. Indeed, we know that early Christianity was characterized by local episkopal churches or parokia primarily in the Eastern Roman empire. The churches were held together by common belief and by persons traveling for church to church such as Ignatij Theophorus Antioch and by epistls from other Churches such as those of the Roman Church attributed to Kliment Rome. Yet, it is not known how these local episkopal churches bound themselves or how they viewed themselves as the “Church”. It is certainly not true that local bishops were appointed by or that administrative, liturgical or doctrinal decisions were made only by the Bishop of Rome or by any other single bishop. However, the bishop of Rome did take an interest in other churches and helped them with epistls and messengers and exhortations.


#13

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