When did early Christianity become corrupt if it ever did?

I have heard the claim from Muslims, Mormons, JW, Messianics and more recently on these forums the bahai, that the true and pure faith that Jesus had given the world was distorted as the teachings of men were more prominent in the Christian community.

I want to ask those bahai or if there are any Muslims or anyone else for that matter if they can present a substantial argument for the corruption of the Christian faith that modern day Christians of the five main traditions, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Oriental and Syriac Christianities, do not reflect the main faith which the apostles of Jesus held that they received by Jesus Christ.

Also if anyone has heard a credible argument, that they might reproduce that argument.

The primary corruption that I would offer up is the division into several, then dozens, now thousands of competing sects who have at time treated one another as anathema and even (God forbid!) at times waged war and killed one another in the name of Christ.

I would also suggest that the ill treatment of Muslims, Jews and others by various Christians (individually and at times collectively and organizationally) also falls under this category of “corruption”.

I do not see debates such as the primacy of Rome, Filoque, Sole Scriptura, the Real Presence etc. as nearly as important as the first two.

Leaving aside the ill treatment (which no one thinks is truely Christian and which every religion has a person in it responsible for doing some evil while claiming to be part of that religion), my primary purpose was to discuss the doctrines of the faith. You say the division caused is evidence of corruption but in that division there are still commonly held doctrines. All of the main groups I mentioned have a central belief in the incarnation, life and the death, then subsequently the resurrection of Jesus Christ as their main focus. The Doctrines of the trinity, hypo-static union, the importance of the Eucharist are also generally agreed upon.

But we can look at the history before all of these schisms even took place. What were the main churches throughout most of Christian history? They were four in number primarily, the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox, the Roman Catholic church and the Syriac Orthodox church. The time when the explosion of schisms occurred was in the doctrine of sola scriptura and the reformation.

But I would ask you, when did the faith in its totality become corrupt beyond the point of repair? Surely it cannot be in your mind only due to the treatment of those who claimed Christianity of others (we could point to the atrocities of Muslims and Jews against the Christians as well), but it must be on a deeper level, a doctrinal level. Your bahai teaching tells us we have our doctrines wrong and that is the main things I am concerned with and would prefer to keep the discussion on that line of thought.

Unless you agree with the doctrine of the trinity as defined and understood for most of Christian history, or the doctrine of the incarnation and resurrection also understood universally for most of Christian history.

But I would ask you, when did the faith in its totality become corrupt beyond the point of repair?

I don’t see Christianity as corrupt, either totally or partially. I see individuals and institutions who have made some bad decisions, but Christianity is not corrupt (nor is Judaism).

That I find odd. You have no objections to Christians attributing to Jesus the highest level of worship? Believing him to be the cause and source of all existence which sustains creation? That we believe God to be three in his person, One in his substance?

Bahais, correct me if I am wrong are Unitarian, and I do not know how it is possible to reconcile Unitarianism with Trinitarianism.

There may be a difference in believing beliefs to be wrong and believing the people to be corrupt. They aren’t necessarily one in the same.

I am talking about the theology primarily.

I believe the OP is aking when does B’ahai consider
Church doctrine/theology became corrupted.
I don’t believe the OP is asking when did people sin?

Actually there are people who think that Christianity became so corrupt that it ceased to exist until their sect and in some cases cults “restored” it back into existence. These people and they are many buy into the apostacy/restoration dichotomy.

They include the mormons, the JWs, the Seventh Day Adventists, and the Southern A Capella Churches of Christ.

Please do not become offended Disciples of Christ. I was not reffering to you. :slight_smile:

I agree, it became corrupt when satan started chipping away at it, breaking off 41,000 loosely based Christian splinter groups. If your Church has a founder anyone other than Christ, that should be a big red flag.

Something the Catholic Church would agree with you on :slight_smile:

“…The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided.(1) Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature…”

***- Unitatis Redintegratio, 1965 ***

vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19641121_unitatis-redintegratio_en.html

I would also suggest that the ill treatment of Muslims, Jews and others by various Christians (individually and at times collectively and organizationally) also falls under this category of “corruption”.

Again, agreed:

“…In faithfulness therefore to the truth of the Gospel, the Church is following the way of Christ and the apostles when she recognizes and gives support to the principle of religious freedom as befitting the dignity of man and as being in accord with divine revelation. Throughout the ages the Church has kept safe and handed on the doctrine received from the Master and from the apostles. In the life of the People of God, as it has made its pilgrim way through the vicissitudes of human history, there has at times appeared a way of acting that was hardly in accord with the spirit of the Gospel or even opposed to it. Nevertheless, the doctrine of the Church that no one is to be coerced into faith has always stood firm…”

- Dignitatis Humanae, 1965

vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html

“…For although the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all means of grace, yet its members fail to live by them with all the fervor that they should, so that the radiance of the Church’s image is less clear in the eyes of our separated brethren and of the world at large, and the growth of God’s kingdom is delayed. All Catholics must therefore aim at Christian perfection(24) and, each according to his station, play his part that the Church may daily be more purified and renewed. For the Church must bear in her own body the humility and dying of Jesus,(25) against the day when Christ will present her to Himself in all her glory without spot or wrinkle.(26)…”

***- Unitatis Redintegratio, 1965 ***

This is news to me. How have I wandered through these forums for so long without hearing this kind of claim yet??

I know very little about Church history, so I couldn’t even begin to tell you when such-and-such church went wrong or how it developed. I do think that Christianity had corrupt ideas floating around very early on, though, through the likes of Paul and his understanding of the Gospel. If the book of Colossians was written by Paul, that shows that the doctrine of the deity of Christ was very early as well.

It’s an interesting topic, but history is not something I know much about. I can’t prove, from historical sources, what Jesus’ apostles believed.

Before we begin to even talk about whether Paul corrupted Christianity, I would ask do you believe Paul was at least sincere in his efforts? I mean we have his testimony and we know the general account of his ministry from the book of acts. His testimony goes like this.

2 Cor: 3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Sure, he probably was sincere in believing that he was an apostle. I don’t trust the book of Acts as an accurate source of history, though.

Why? If I might ask.

The author of Acts quotes Deuteronomy 18:18 and says that this is referring to Jesus, but I disagree-- I think it’s referring to Muhammad. The episode of Paul’s conversion experience on the Damascus road is narrated in vivid detail in Acts, but Paul never mentioned it in any of his letters. He says that he saw Jesus Christ and that he had a revelation, but that could mean anything. If Paul’s conversion was as elaborate as Acts describes, surely, Paul would’ve appealed to it to prove his calling.

Not only that, but the author of Acts also contradicts Paul. Paul, in the book of Galatians, says that after his conversion he went straight to Arabia, while in Acts, it says that Paul went straight to Jerusalem.

I’m writing based on my memory. I can give you the references if you want (I’ve got several Bibles in my room).

Best argument I’ve heard is for 325 AD, at the First Council of Nicaea. This was the first time in which a powerful secular authority (the Emperor Constantine) was able to exert influence over the Christian doctrine.

As soon as you mix anything secular, earthly, or materialistic with the Doctrine of the Christ, that doctrine becomes polluted.

Surely that you disagree with whom Deuteronomy is referring to is not cause to deny the historicity of the events in question. Also as to Paul’s silence concerning his vision of Jesus on Damascus, why does silence automatically mean that it did not happen? Paul could have referenced alot of things about the life of Jesus which we almost certainly was aware of, being in close communion with the apostles. Paul we need not doubt had a thought stream and belief system which could not possibly be recorded in all the epistles of his which survive.

I might note however what acts says and does not say when we compare it to galatians.

Acts 9: 23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

Now if we read the text as if this is happening the very next day this might be the case that Luke is contradicting what Paul says in Galatians. But the Epistles takes place over many years and I think a quick reading of it could give the false impression alot of these events are taking place soon after the other. This is within a span of what, thirty years? Between the start of Paul’s ministry and his imprisonment before his execution in Rome? I do not think Luke forces us to read the event in this way and Paul’s statement that he went straight to Arabia fits in quite nicely, but was an omition by Luke. Either because he did not know or he chose not to add it. Omition however is not exclusion.

26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

You make an assumption that Christianity was a unified whole in those first centuries. Yes, one fairly large group formed fairly early on as they put "proto-catholic-orthodox in key positions throughout the empire. As this group gained popularity and finally the emperor became friendly with Christians. There still was conflict t with two faction claiming authenticity …/Arians and by now Catholic. Wasn’t. Nicea called to decide the “correct” understanding Christa nature…

The catholics wrote profusely against the other sects sometimes with shocking language

You make assumptions that can’t hold up. There was no monolithic Christian until after 70CE Christianity existed within the synagogue as an alternate view of what being a Jew entails, this was a distinctly Jewish movement Formosa of the first century.

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