The origin of the Roman Catholic Church according to

So someone on Facebook posted links to this anti-Catholic website called gotquestions, and while most of it is the same old anti-Catholic rhetoric, there’s a tract from it that make some “interesting” claims that’d I’d like someone here to address:

This one claims the Catholic Church didn’t exist until Constantine legalized Christianity (another tract on the website further claims Catholicism is a mixture of Christianity and Paganism), but a part I find interesting is it claims:

“The term Roman Catholic was defined by Emperor Theodosius on February 27, 380, in the Theodosian Code. In that document, he refers to those who hold to the “religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter” as “Roman Catholic Christians” and gives them the official sanction of the empire.”

Did the term “Roman Catholic” first come into being in the Theodosian Code? Wikipedia says the absolute earliest it was used was in 1208 after the East-West Schism.

This tract also claims, “The vast majority of churches in the first four centuries derived their authority and doctrine from the Bible and traced their lineage directly back to the apostles, not to the Church of Rome”, which gotquestions basically claims is the origin of “Bible-Believing Christians” that exist today. It’s as if they believe they existed at the same time of the Catholic Church for its first 1500 years. But one would think if Bible-Believing Christians existed at the same time Catholics did, that’d be HUGE news, and would easily be verifiable by neutral history books. But it’s not. So where did this idea Sola Scriptora Christians are the true “first” Christians and have thus existed for 2000 years come from?

Finally, this tract lists a bunch of “teachings” of the Catholic Church and compares them to “Biblical Teaching.” Could anyone address the accuracy of their Catholic Teachings? I should note gotquestions actually has a tract ( that addresses Catholics complaining their presentation of Catholic doctrine is inaccurate, which it counters with they receive many compliments from former Catholics claiming their articles about Catholicism are true, and that all their articles are written by former Catholics and others with “extensive experience with/knowledge” of the Church. So you could say their sources for backing up their claims are nothing but anonymous ex-Catholics and self-appointed experts.

The whole Theodosian Code can be found in, let’s say, Some of the relevant parts are translated in The part they quote is “C. Th.XVI.i.2”. The specific words "Roman Catholic Christians’ are clearly not in there.

And I’m not sure what was supposed to be a point - if those words were there, what would that show?

Now, of course, since those words aren’t there, it does show that that website is not trustworthy. :slight_smile:

I’m pretty sure it comes from wishful thinking.

You can make a much stronger conclusion from that part of their tract. After all, in it they admit that they argue against strawmen, that they have been informed about that, that they understood that they have been informed about that - and that they deliberately do so further.

And if they deliberately argue against strawmen and refuse to argue against anything else, we can conclude that they have no case against the actual Catholic faith, and that they probably know that.

Given that admission, I’d say that going through their writings line by line would be superfluous.

Not going to address everything, but Catholics practice an apostolic faith, as did the Church of the first four centuries. This includes “Biblical faith” in its entirety, but Biblical faith is not the total sum of what it is to be Christian.

With how much they want to “blame Constantine,” it’s a wonder they adhere to Trinitarian/Nicene Christianity at all.

Remember, the Bible did not exist as it does today until circa 400 A.D. And, there was no printing press to mass product it until a thousand years later. And people throughout the world were generally illiterate. So this claim is extremely questionable at best.

Yes, it sounds like the standard anti catholic fantasy verbally vomited by dubious and shadowy unnamed ex-Catholics and so called Biblical experts.

We’ve heard it all before.


  • No individual or organization ever went broke bashing the Catholic Church

  • Most Protestant organizations would dispute much of their own description of true Christian beliefs. But there’s little financial market for bashing Protestantism, especially if your own organization identifies as Protestant.

  • There are many holes in the arguments presented. To take one historic example, they, like others, draw a straight line from Constantine essentially making Catholicism different from “Christianity” and part of the state, all the way to the Holy Roman Empire, as the State church. The reality is that whatever Constantine did, some of the next emperors were anti-Catholic - either Arian or Pagan. So if the Catholic Church had been the established church, that period was brief, and had to endure other religions being the established church.

The Holy Roman Empire’s origins are debated, but it had nothing to do with the old Roman Empire, as a few centuries passed between the Fall of Rome, and Charlemagne.
Their preposterous historical timeline raises questions about their credibility in general.

Man why do we Catholics even grace such sites with our views? GQ is nothing more than and fundamentalist ant-Catholic propaganda site. They give answers alright, but it’s like asking a guy working on a garbage truck about neurosurgery. You get an answer, but would you really trust your life to his answer?

I heard this a long time ago and wrote the following blog article. THE PAGANIZATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH UNDER CONSTANTINE

Then you can check out the following CA articles that make GQ look like the rubbish that it is.
Constantine Has Been Beaten to Death

Did Constantine Found the Catholic Church? (audio)

Did Constantine Found the Catholic Church? (audio. Encore)

Any time you deal with stuff like this you have to ask for their sources for their information because almost without exception you’ll see that they either cannot provide them or if they do the source is also without any citations of source or else the source is just some a-C propagandist/preacher. Most of those who buy into that tripe are people who do not have the common sense or interest in doing their own homework to get authentic facts.

You would do well to read the following written by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church - which is, of course, quite a different thing. These millions can hardly be blamed for hating Catholics because Catholics “adore statues”; because they “put the Blessed Mother on the same level with God”; because they say “indulgence is a permission to commit sin”; because the Pope “is a Fascist”; because the “Church is the defender of Capitalism.” If the Church taught or believed any one of these things it should be hated, but the fact is that the Church does not believe nor teach any one of them. It follows then that the hatred of the millions is directed against error and not against truth. As a matter of fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do.

Read the whole thing here.

Rome had long ceased to be the capital of the Roman Empire by the time Christianity was legalized in 313 AD. The reason it’s called the Edict of Milan is because Milan, not Rome, had been the capital of the western Empire since 286 AD.

And the reason it’s called Constantinople is because Constantine made it his new capital in 330 AD. The Roman Emperors had basically nothing to do with the city of Rome by the time Christianity was legalized.

By the time Christianity became the state mandated religion in 380 AD, the western Empire was collapsing. Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 AD, by the Vandals in 455 AD, and Italy was conquered by the Ostrogoths in 493 AD. And the city of Rome was sacked 5 times in the following century by the Byzantines and Ostrogoths, leaving it basically a pile of rubble.

Long story short: the city of Rome had nothing to do with the imperialization of Christianity, other than to repeatedly bring back the new imperial capital of Constantinople from heresy in just about every century in the first millennium.

Constantine did not have anything to do with the origins of the Catholic Church.

That is a common Protestant narrative.

There is abundant evidence in scripture and tradition that shows the first century church was Catholic. They were led by bishops who distributed a Eucharist they believed to be the real body and blood of Christ. Peter and Paul also established an authoritative church in Rome characterized by apostolic succession.

Does that sound like a nonCatholic church? No.

From the 1st century, here’s a condensed history of the 1st 4 centuries of the Catholic Church.

#27 all internal links are operational.

As an aside,

Re: Wiki. Here are the disclaimers of Wiki on the bottom of each of their pages, that no one ever reads.

Not to mention, look at “edit” next to each paragraph. Who checks edits for accuracy?

This is why even grammar schools don’t allow Wiki as a valid resource

The canon of scripture was finalized in 381 at the council of Rome by Pope Damasus I. Before that there was no finalized canon. Therefore no bible for almost the first 400 years.

And THAT’s the point. The Catholic Church existed in writing, from the first century. All those “other” groups don’t exist. It’s all their invention to try and give themselves validity…

It came from the Protestant revolt.

Information, (as in accurate information) has never been in history, easier to access than today at one’s fingertips. People can find out anything, in seconds, at their fingertips if they are remotely interested.

It’s also easy to get faulty information just as easily. That’s why everything has to be vetted and taken from valid sources

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