Friday, April 3, 2009

Catholics: The First Christians!

You know, one thing kind of always ticks me off and that is when someone says that Catholics are not Christian. I’m not quite sure when it ticks me off more---when it comes from a Catholic or a non-Catholic. When people say that Catholics are not Christian I believe that they are either a) ignorant or b) anti-Catholic and mean.
Obviously, when Catholics blurt this out, they are in the “a” category and are just ignorant about their faith. Nothing surprising there---many, many, MANY Catholics are ignorant about their faith. The “b” category is the one that really gets me though. Being ignorant is tolerable—people can learn.
To educate those who do not know. Christianity can basically be broken down into three groups a) Catholic b) Orthodox c) Protestant. Let’s give a short history lesson to explain.
At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, He picked 12 apostles. He sent these apostles out to teach, heal and baptize. He gave them authority. He placed the apostle Simon—later to be called Peter—in charge. There are a number of biblical references that I can point to in order to show the primacy of Peter but that is for a different day. The apostles were to be Jesus physical representation on Earth. Jesus did not intend for this physical representation to end when the first apostles died. This is demonstrated in the book of Acts when the remaining eleven apostles picked Matthias to replace Judas among the twelve. The 12 apostles were the first bishops. Peter, being in charge over the twelve, was the first pope.
For the first millennium, there was only ONE Christian Church. In the year 1054, there was a split in the church----Rome in the west (which is where Peter had settled and the head of the church was) and in the Constanople in the east. The reasons weren’t simple but I’m going to simplify them. First, there were a couple theological reasons—once that could be pretty easily rectified, the second being that the Eastern Church did not believe in the papacy—or that the Bishop of Rome had say over everything. I believe the main reason was probably political---there were many divisions between the east and the west. This eastern church is what we call the Orthodox church today. There are several different orthodox churches—Greek an Russian for instance.
Fast forward to the 17th Century. There are still only really two major divisions of the Christian religion---Catholic and Orthodox. In the seventeen century—Martin Luther came along. To say the church needed reform is an understatement. There were several things that needed fixing. But Martin Luther split from the Church on two basis---sola scriptura (scripture alone) and sola fida (faith alone). These two believes were against the Church authority---that only scripture held authority and salvation on faith alone as opposed to faith and works. Soon there were many other splits---and today we have upwards of 30,000 different Protestant denominations.
This demonstrates that the first Christians—the Christians that were martyred and persecuted. The Christians that spread the word of Christ throughout the world in the first centuries were-----Catholic. This demonstrates that Catholics and Christians were the one and only show in town until 1054 and that Catholics are still Christian today.
The second argument comes from anti-Catholics. From what I’ve seen, their main argument against Catholics being Christian falls back on sola fida. The whole sola fida argument is stupid to me, in reality it is based on different definitions of different words such as justification and sanctification The Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church actually came to an agreement about sola fida several years back. But some people do not like the Roman Catholic Church for some reason and spend their whole life attacking her and one way they can attack her is by saying that Catholics are not Christian.
I guess I should throw in a third group—a combination of the two. I believe that those who say that Catholics are not Christian because of theological differences and are anti-Catholic are ignorant too.


  1. Hi Jamie,
    I appreciated your comments! I am a Catholic convert from a long line of protestant churches, originally Baptist. In searching for what I believed to be the "true Church of Christ" I accidently ended up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ("Mormons"). BIG mistake! It only took me twenty-some years of active Mormonism to realize how wrong I was, although there are some wonderful people in the Mormon church. Then I thought, let's start at the beginning - which church was the first one? And in all my research, I realized, the Catholic Church was the first! I was taught in all of the churches I attended that the Catholic Church is the "whore of the whole earth", therefore I never even considered it! Yes, Luther did have some legitimate problems with the Roman Catholic Church, and some changes did need to be made, but Christ is her head, and while on earth he promised us, written in scripture, that "the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her", When I first knelt in prayer in a Catholic Church, I heard the Lord telling me, "You are home", and I was overcome by His peace and love. The Mass and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist are the most precious gifts besides the Holy Spirit that a person can have, and it is so plainly described in Scripture! (John 6:22-59). How could Protestants read the Bible so carefully and take these verses to be only a symbolical explanation?
    The Mass (as I understand it) is the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ for each of us which we are to join in, in response to his love, with our praises to God and sacrifices of our hearts. It then ends with the Lord's Supper, or Passover meal, in which the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation are shared with all believers to give us strength for the journey. We are then to go out and take the love of Christ to others

    I am so thankful for my experiences, as it makes me appreciate what I have be given through God's grace. I had to work and pray hard to find it! I have begun to read some of the writings of Dr. Scott Hahn, a former Presbyterian minister who, with his wife, converted to the Catholic Church a few years ago. He now teaches in a Catholic seminary and is an amazing witness! You can get his tapes (some available for $3.00) and books through St. Joseph Communications online. "The Lamb's Supper" is a wonderful CD about how the Mass and Eucharist is related to the Exodus and the Passover, for those who might be interested.

    May God bless you in your witnessing! In Christ, Pat

  2. Subject: Why I am Catholic
    I can tell you that most of the people who think they are Christian and crucify the Catholic Church are now doing the work of darkness. Some of them are just misinformed and some of them know that they are working for darkness. What we need to do as true Christians is to inform them with love. God will take care of the rest. But please for the love of God, don't waste your time fighting with them, some of them are intentionally involved in darkness, intentionally commissioned to waste your time. We need to move on to the person who is really seeking Jesus Christ. Learn new languages, because most in the US have already been exposed to so much anti-Catholic bias that unless God grants a supernatural Grace, they will not listen. But in other countries this is not the norm. They are receptive to the truth. One scripture stands out for me as a convert and that is: John 6:50-71 read it in context:
    "50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die
    51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven.
    52 If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.

    53 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

    54 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.

    55 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

    56 For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.

    57 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.

    58 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.
    59 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.
    60 These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum.
    61 Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it?
    62 But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you?
    63 If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
    64 It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life.
    65 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him.
    66 And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father.
    67 After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.
    68 Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away?
    69 And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
    70 And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.
    71 Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil?
    72 Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray him, whereas he was one of the twelve (Douay-Rheims, 1609).

    This was the beginning point for my conversion. The Catholic Church is not perfect but it is Gods. He will clean house in His due time. Good people need to fight the corruption outside and inside Her. Jesus said many who call themselves His are not His but belong to darkness. Our most important mission as I can see is to evangelize Catholics! They are the ones who don't know their own faith. This is the real tragedy.

    Douay-Rheims, John. 6.50-71. (1609). New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons

  3. Nice explanation... But I have one thing that I have to say about it. Orthodox is NOT the same thing as the Eastern Church. The Eastern Church is also known as Byzantine Catholics, and Orthodox, while seeming more similar to Byzantine Catholics than to Roman Catholics, are different. However, Eastern Catholics do believe in the papacy, and the only differences between Eastern and Western Catholics are differences between customs and traditions. I happen to be a Byzantine Catholic, and I'm proud of it! ;)

  4. Thank you for a wonderful explanation. I've always known that We Catholics were the first Christians, though non-Catholics don't like to hear it. We have a black history but the majority has been good. I am proud from where I came.