The Church Of The Culdee


Hi everyone,

A Protestant, I’m debating, claims that the Culdee Church was the first church, and not the Catholic Church. He is claiming that the Catholic Church ‘wiped them out’ as well and that the Culdees were the “first Protestants”, supposedly founded by St. John the Apostle. I can’t seem to find any information from Catholic sources regarding this group. Could anyone help with this?

Here are some site that they posted:
The Johannine Celtic Church
Catholic Genocide of the Culdee



Something smells rotten in the state of Denmark… er… Scotland? Massachusetts?!?

Anyway, these claims just sound preposterous to me. I don’t understand how they can claim to be the true Church… (are any of John’s epistles addressed to them?)

Anyway, I don’t know how they can claim this. I would rather be in the Church founded by all the apostles rather than just some followers of St. John, anyway.


What a load of, well…, you know!!!

Secondly, however, there was a lesser known primary Christic streaming established by St. John the Evangelist. To quote Benjamin Walker in his work Gnosticism: Its History and Influence (1983): “From the very beginnings of the new Church there was a body of doctrine stemming from John to whom, it was said, the true secrets of Christianity had been communicated by Jesus. This teaching was strongly tinged with gnosticism. The Apocryphon of John, or the secret book of John, purports to reveal the ‘mysteries concealed in silence’ that Jesus taught him. The book was cited by Irenaeus, and a version of it was also found at Nag Hammadi. Many gnostic schools claimed the canonical gospel of John as a work embodying their own doctrines, and used it as a primary source of their teachings…It presents a mystical rather than a historical Jesus, with concepts derived from Alexandrian philosophy.” This Church of John and its followers, who have been called Johannine Christians, appears to have had roots both in the Middle East and Western Europe.St. Ireneaus tells us that St. John the Apostle wrote his Gospel to combat the Gnostics. In his Gospel, John stresses time and time again that Jesus is God and that Jesus came down from Heaven as flesh.

Ireneaus, who yes cites the book… he cites it in condemnation. That’s why he called it, “Against Heresies”, for goodness sakes!!!


Does anyone else know about this and how to refute this claim?


This is the same sort of thinking that some Baptists use (they were the first, dontcha know? :wink: ). This article in a recent issue of THIS ROCK might be helpful regarding the “Celtic Church” and Glastonbury:


I’m at work so I don’t have any books with me but if memory serves the Culdee Church was nothing other than the Celtic Church. It was in communion with Rome but it did have its own rites and liturgy.

One difference was that the primary form of local church government was handled by Abbots, and the position was hereditary. Eventually the obvious problems with a hereditary government took affect and Rome pushed for reform. Now most of that reform happened naturally with Latin rite priests and missionaries displaying more discipline and organization so for many they simply adapted.

Also the Christian Vikings who were in Ireland (Dublin) followed the Latin Rite. This gave a more natural inlet for Latin traditions to take hold.

So in the end while the Culdee rite did have a rich, ancient history. Doctrinally they were in alignment with Rome and always accepted Rome’s leadership. I will agree that it is a shame that a rite that had a strong missionary zeal and who gave us the portable New Testament is now gone. It is historically dishonest to say they were destroyed by Rome or were the first Protestants. The Culdees were thoroughly Catholic.

I believe the idea that they were a “protestant” church was first circulated by the English in order to get the Irish to feel patriotic about the protestant Church of Ireland. The Irish for the most part though didn’t fall for it.


Thanks for your help on that. :thumbsup: If you get a chance, in regards to those books, I would appreciate any additional information. :slight_smile:


See the end of your other thread, I posted a lot there


Celtic Christianity
A Sacred Tradition, A Vision of Hope
by Timothy J. Joyce

Journeys on the Edges
The Celtic Tradition
by Thomas O’Loughlin


The claim that the Culdee church was protestant came from presbyterians.


One of the Protestants I’ve been debating is once again spewing his same old stuff, I’m kind of frustrated at this and am not sure how to respond. I’d appreciate the help.

Here is what he wrote:

Let’s see, for about 600 years the catholic church was behind the inquisition, and it used it power over the civil government to do this, and as the people’s constitutional rights are taken away from them by congress and the president and as we head for the new world order, you know that the catholic church will want the power it once had. The culdee was formed 36AD, the catholic church was formed in 313 AD. Many times, council after council told the catholic church to leave the Culdee alone, but in one the catholic church killed 1100 preists and bishops of that church. A christian church would plants seeds and tell the truth of the word to bring people to thier church, not by the point of the sword. god gave us free will and we canot exercise fre will if we are in bondage and the catholic would keep in bondage through fear and guilt,with through Jesus we are saved from, which this church does not believe. If Jesus forgives you it’s like it never happened, but not with the catholic church. Better wake up and grow up, time is getting short.


Ask him for any secular source to provide proof of this.

The Apostle John died in Ephesus, not Britain.

I think they’re mixing him up with King Arthur!!! :rotfl:


It appears this issue came up again, here is a quote from a former Catholic convert to Protestantism:

Rome indeed wiped out the first Christian Church then virtually erased them from memory… Now she claims an unbroken line back to the Apostles… when really she wasnt, she just eliminated all opposition to the same claim

Does anyone have any more info on this subject?


Yeah, where is the slightest bit of evidence to prove this? I think your friend has made the outlandish statement. Maybe your friend needs to provide a little archaeological data to back it up?

Or is it the fact that there is no evidence enough proof that Rome wiped away all evidence?


This is their so-called “proof”:

I sent them rtconstant’s excellent post and this is what they said:

Apparently you have not read the whole thread or you would not be saying that. The Culdee Church refused to bow under Romes demands and like the other Churches that would not bow to the Pope the only thing left of them are some vague historical bits and pieces that Rome had over looked in their destruction.


This is something I got from your friends link.

Within the one hundred twenty-five years after the death of Columba, the Picts had been swayed enough by the mighty influence of Rome to adopt the Roman Easter. Nevertheless, the change in Easter did not represent a complete surrender to the Papacy.

Where do they have proof of this? Instead the Catholic Encyclopedia says this:

For the purposes of controversy it has been maintained some that St. Columba ignored papal supremacy, because he entered upon his mission without the pope’s authorization. … Indeed, in those days a mandate from the pope was not deemed essential for the work which St. Columba undertook. This may be gathered from the words of St. Gregory the Great, relative to the neglect of the British clergy towards the pagan Saxons (Haddan and Stubbs, III, 10).

Columba was a son of the Irish Church, which taught from the days of St. Patrick that matters of greater moment should be referred to the Holy See for settlement. St. Columbanus, Columba’s fellow-country-man and fellow-churchman, asked for papal judgment (judicium) on the Easter question; so did the bishops and abbots of Ireland. There is not the slightest evidence to prove that St. Columba differed on this point from his fellow-countryrnen.

I wouldn’t refer to “asking for papal judgment” in such strong terms as “swayed enough by the mighty influence of Rome”.


Here’s some more on the Catholic Traditions and the Celtic Church:

Moreover, the Stowe Missal, which, according to the best authority, represents the Mass of the Celtic Church during the early part of the seventh century, contains in its Canon prayers for the pope more emphatic than even those of the Roman Liturgy.

Why do you pray so emphatically for your oppressors? Interesting.

To the further objection as to the supposed absence of the cultus of Our Lady, it may be pointed out that the same Stowe Missal contains before its Canon the invocation “Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis”, which epitomizes all Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

Again, it looks like the good Celtics venerated the Blessed Virgin as well.

As to the Easter difficulty Bede thus sums up the reasons for the discrepancy: “He [Columba] left successors distinguished for great charity, Divine love, and strict attention to the rules of discipline following indeed uncertain cycles in the computation of the great festival of Easter, because, far away as they were out of the world, no one had supplied them with the synodal decrees relating to the Paschal observance” (H.E., III, iv).


**“Be it known to all men that the year of our Lord God 179, **Lucius the first Christian king of the land then called Britain, founded the first church in London. That is to say the church of St Peter upon Cornhill and he founded there an archbishop’s see or seat and made the church the metropolitan or chief church of the kingdom. So endured the space of 400 years unto the coming of St Augustine the apostle of England: the which was sent into the land by St Gregory the doctor in the church at the time of king Ethelbert”.

First, he is assuming that a king starts a church. Well was not Jesus a King? Did he not start the church? You need only show him that the Roman Catholic Church was established before 325 AD.

This quote says his church started in 179 AD, not eariler as he claims.

Second use the other church that claims to be Culdee, which is a form of catholic church.


Thanks for the responses, guys. Do you have any information specifically refuting the claim that the RCC “wiped out” the Culdee?


Do your good friends have proof that the RCC “wiped out” the Culdee? This lack of proof on their case certainly doesn’t mean that the RCC was ever that efficient in their “wiping out”. The RCC never hid from any of it’s fights against heresies no matter how violent they became. Why would She handle “Culdee-Gate” any differently?

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