Archive for ‘Some History’

May 23, 2011

The Church Didn’t Come from the Bible…The Bible Came from the Church

Here is a concise time line of the history of the Bible, which may prove to be informative and helpful! ūüôā

AD 33: Christ establishes His Church in the days before ascending back into Heaven, (Matthew 16:18,19), therefore not leaving His flock untended and fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah 22:21-23.

AD 33: God sends His Holy Spirit over the Church on the day of Pentecost, so that it may be divinely guided, and the Teachings will not waver.

AD 51-121: The New Testament books are in the process of being written over the course of these years, as well as other early Christian writings that did not make it into the New Testament canon: the Didache (AD 70), 1 Clement (96), the Epistle of Barnabas (100), and the 7 letters of St. Ignatius to Antioch (107). Although the works are not the inspired Word of God, they can be used as historical documents through which we can see what Christianity was like during this time.

AD 67: Peter, the first bishop of Rome (which later became known as “pope”), was martyred in Rome, as the government did not allow Christianity in the city at that time. Peter is buried there, and his grave can still be viewed by travelers and residents of the city.¬† Paul was also martyred in Rome this same year.

AD 67:¬† Linus became the first successor of Peter, the second pope, after Peter’s death. Before Paul’s death, he references Linus in his 2nd letter to Timothy.

AD 140: Marcion, a businessman in Rome, taught that there were two Gods:
Yahweh, the cruel God of the Old Testament, and Abba, the kind father of the New Testament. Marcion eliminated the Old Testament as scriptures and, since he was anti-Semitic, kept from the New Testament only 10 letters of Paul and 2/3 of Luke’s gospel (he deleted references to Jesus’s Jewishness). Marcion’s “New Testament”, the first to be compiled, forced the mainstream Church to decide on a core canon: the four Gospels and Letters of Paul.

AD 367: This is the first time the list of books in the New Testament, as it is today, is decided upon and physically written down, by Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, in one of his letters.

AD 382: Pope Damasus I, reaffirmed the Athanasius’ list, making a list of them himself, in their present number and order.

AD 393: Since nothing bishops decide on is without accountability, the council of Hippo met in this year. The council of Hippo officially reaffirmed the list and order of the New Testament as it is today, first written down nearly thirty years before by the Bishop of Alexandria. It is at this council in this year that the New Testament as we know it today became declared the infallible Word of God, by Christ’s Church, nearly 400 years after Christianity began.

AD 397: At the Council of Carthage, the early Church leaders reaffirmed both the New Testament canon and the Old Testament canon as the infallible Word of God. This includes the 7 books of the Old Testament that modern day Protestants reject. It’s safe to say that this year is the official birth year of the Bible as we know it today.

AD 1536: Over a thousand years later, in his translation from Greek to German, Luther removed seven books from the Old Testament canon. I Maccabees, II Maccabees, Tobit, Wisdom, Sirach, Judith, and Baruch. His followers supported this, and today Protestants do not recognize these books as the infallible Word of God. Luther then proceeded to place 4 New Testament books, Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation in an appendix, claiming they were less than canonical. However, this was quickly shot down, as his followers were not in support of this.

AD 1546: Due to the hoop-lah Luther was causing, the Church met again in the Council of Trent to reaffirm, once and for all, that the 27 books of the New Testament canon, that was spoken by the Church so long ago, was indeed the infallible Word of God.


Most Protestant Christians, when asked, will say that they believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God because they have faith. After all, you can’t say that you Believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God simply because Scripture says so…that’s circular reasoning (if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t matter that it said it was, right?). I think we can all agree on that. Therefore, by accepting the Bible as the infallible Word of God, you are accepting the infallibility of at least one of the Oral Teachings in the Catholic Church…you believe something that was spoken by the early church Fathers, and has been passed down to you today.

I believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God, because I believe in the infallibility of the Teachings of the Church in which Christ formed. The Holy Spirit guides the Church so that even though the men who lead the Church are sinful by nature, the Church itself remains infallible, and they are therefore able to produce the divinely inspired work of the Holy Bible.

Sources/Places to Look for Affirmation:

Over the past few years, I have done much research on the history of the Church, which ultimately lead me to it. I adopted some wording in some of the explanations of dates from this site: http://www.davidmacd.com/catholic/timeline_of_how_the_bible_where.ht¬† In addition, any secular Church history book (I say secular because they are unbiased sources) will confirm the discussions that took place in the 300’s and 400’s at the Councils of Hippo and Carthage.

Here are some additional links:

http://www.ntcanon.org/index.shtml

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm (chronological list of popes)

http://www.ntcanon.org/Athanasius.shtml#Festal_Letter (references the writings of the Bishop of Alexandria, who first comprised the list of the New Testament)

Other writings from Church leaders and people of these times serve as historical documents through which we can see what was happening in the Church, particularly by those who attended these historical councils. (Some of those can be found here: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/churchfathers.html). Early writings from those who participated in the Council of Trent show the need to reaffirm the 27 books of the New Testament, as Martin Luther desired to remove 4 of them.

Bibles from pre-Martin Luther days have been preserved in museums across the world, confirming what the Old and New Testament canon comprised of before the 1500’s, in which include the 7 books Protestants reject, proving that Martin Luther later removed them.


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April 29, 2011

“What is the Point in the Pope?”

One question I received in response to my last post, which happens to be a common inquiry people have about the Church, is “what is up with the pope? Why is he necessary?”. I understand this feeling, because I used to question this as well. I thought that Catholics worshiped the pope and looked to him as God, believing that He is an infallible human. There are a lot of things people think Catholics believe when it comes to the pope and most of them do not coincide with what the Church actually teaches. So let me give you the other side of the story.

I need to start off by explaining, as I have kind of touched on in previous posts, that the universal  Catholic Church is essentially one Church.  It operates as one, it believes as one, and it worships as one. The only reason the Church is separated into separate buildings across the world is simply because it is physically and logically impossible to get every Catholic in the world in the same place, at the same time. Therefore, there are only different church buildings to serve different areas. A small town or city may have just one church building, whereas a larger populated city may have one per a certain amount of square miles. This concept differs from other Christian churches, in that with others you may have two churches of the same denomination within two miles of each other, who remain separate not because of geographical  boundaries or issues with space, but because there are certain things they are not in accord with each other about, which causes them to remain separate.

Since we are one Church, we have, like any other church, leaders who are ordained by God to shepherd the flock. Since there are geographical distances between this one church, a system was created to assure that we remain united as one family, one body of believers, all in one accord. Each individual church building (called a “parish”) is lead by one or two priests (depending on the size of the parish). A group of parishes that are all in close proximity to each other are part of a “diocese”. The parish I serve at, St. Charles in Nederland, is part of the diocese of Beaumont—or, Beaumont and surrounding areas. Another nearby example is the diocese of Galveston-Houston. Each diocese is lead by a bishop. It’s the bishop’s God ordained responsibility to shepherd those in his diocese, and to assist and advise the priests in the diocese in shepherding their individual parishes.

And the pope? Well, he’s just another bishop. He is the bishop of the diocese of Rome. And since Rome was chosen as the capitol location (because if it is one Church, then logically somewhere has to be designated as the central location), then the bishop of the diocese of Rome was given the role as the spokesman for the other bishops and for the Church.

Something I think a lot of people who hold misconceptions about the pope miss is that every Christian church has a teaching office of some sort and every Christian church has a designated leader and spokesman, in order to effectively lead the flock closer to God.

But isn’t it dangerous to give that much power to one man?

The pope is not without accountability. All of the bishops work together, through constant prayer and meditation, to decide how they can best shepherd their people, how they can lead their people the closest to God, just like the leaders of any other Christian church strive to do. When a decision has been reached, the pope serves as the spokesman for the Church, but he has made no decisions by himself. These men have no power of their own, nor are they infallible. They are men, with faults and shortcomings just as you and I. The Teachings of the Church, however, spoken by Jesus through the bishops, are believed to be infallible.

(((Read: the Teachings of the Church that are believed to be infallible are denoted with a capital “T” in the word Teaching. For example, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, one God in three parts, which is not directly referenced and named in scripture, is considered an infallible Teaching of the Church. Big T Traditions are believed to be the Word of God, spoken through the Church which sits in the seat of Christ. There are other traditions, such as the celibacy of priests,¬† that are susceptible to change and are not claimed to be an infallible Teaching of God)))).

Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He established a physical Church here on Earth for his believers to call home. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven. Whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19

Jesus was physically leaving. He would always be with us through the Holy Spirit and always a prayer away. But physically, He was going back home to Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. But he did not leave us with nothing. He established a physical Church to stand in for Him during His physical absence. He graciously entrusted Peter and his apostles to lead His people closer to Him and to guide them in worship.

Peter, the first bishop, answered the call of Jesus.¬† Together with the other disciples, they established the Church and, as we read about in the book of Acts, different apostles brought the Church to other nations. An apostle would then lead and shepherd a community in this new place.¬† (Sound familiar from what I was talking about before? ūüėČ This was the beginning of what later would be known as a “diocese”) Over the years, Christianity spread, and this tradition of apostolic succession remained. Approximately 2000 years later it still stands.

The pope and the other bishops today are the successors of Peter and the first apostles, who answered the call of Christ and established His Church, as one body of believers, in one accord, as Jesus desired for it to be.

April 15, 2011

Christ’s Plan for Christian Unity

I started my walk with God when I was fourteen years old. It was the summer before my ninth grade year, and before that year I didn’t really acknowledge God in my life. I believed in God, I had a Bible I thumbed through from time to time, and I went to church. But I wasn’t living a life surrendered to Him. He was a distant relative who crossed my¬† mind occasionally and who I visited from time to time, but who I wasn’t putting forth an effort to have a relationship with.

Summer before the ninth grade, God’s spirit won me over, and I found myself on my knees, giving my life to Him. About six months later I was baptized. It has been an amazing journey ever since. I was blessed to be raised in a church (a large Baptist church in my hometown) full of godly role models who I still look up to today, and amazing friends who held me accountable in my walk with Christ. I was highly involved in the youth group throughout high school, where I grew spiritually through summer camps, mission trips, and various events throughout the year. I am thankful that I had such a wonderful church to call home during an age in which temptations and threats to my walk with Christ were at every corner.

However, when I was about seventeen and a senior in high school, I began to question some things I had never thought about before. I questioned the concept of individual denominations. I wondered why there are so many different kinds of Christians: Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostals, Church of Christ, etc. etc. etc., all of which are set apart by some sort of difference in scriptural interpretation or practice. Then you had the identification of Non-Denominational, in which I¬† soon learned that “Non-Denominational”¬† has become another denomination in and of itself, except that one Non-Denominational church may interpret scripture entirely differently from another Non-Denominational church in the same ten mile radius.

The more I thought about this, the more it bothered me that as Christians, we aren’t unified. Christ wanted us to be unified. He wanted us to be one body, all in agreement with each other. I Corinthians 1:10 says “I appeal to you brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say, and there be no divisions among you, but you be perfectly united in mind and thought“.

I remember going through a hard time, as I was so broken about the fact that the Church was split up in so many ways, which is not what Christ wanted. But who is right? Common sense clearly states that there can only be one truth, not multiple truths. But when five different people say the Holy Spirit showed them to interpret scripture a certain way, and none of those ways coincide…well, that’s how a denomination is created. But which one, you must wonder, is right?

This is where the Catholic Church comes into play in my story. I studied, researched, asked questions, and researched some more, and learned that the word “catholic” means “universal”, which is how it got its name. The Catholic Church, for the longest time, was not called “The Catholic Church”, simply because it was the only form of Christianity that existed, until the reformation (there is also the East/West schism, which differs because this was a political split, not a theological one, which I may discuss in later posts. Today, the products of the schism are in union with the universal Catholic Church).

After the reformation when the Church split and continued to split over and over into various denominations, a distinguishing name became necessary, and “Catholic” was chosen because it means, “universal”. The first, original, universal Church. Universal because the teachings are consistent throughout the world. In essence, the Catholic Church is ONE Church, divided into separate buildings only because it is physically and logically impossible to get everyone in the world into one building at the same time.

So what’s your point?”

Well, my point is that the more I studied this and learned this, the more I realized that Christian unity, true Christian unity as defined in I Corinthians 1:10, cannot be possible without a single, binding teaching office that clearly outlines and sets in stone what each scripture means, how it is defined, and what Christ intended through His words. As it turns out, I learned, there IS such a teaching office, which is as old as Christ’s assumption into Heaven, established by Him, and followed through by those Christ ordained to stand in his place in his physical absence (see Matthew 16:18-19), and their successors. And those who Christ ordained were people who walked the earth with Christ, who physically were the closest to Him. This institution still stands today, approximately 2000 years later, and its lineage can be traced directly back to the first apostles and Christ Himself.

This is simply AMAZING to me. Christ didn’t just die for our sins and then leave us with nothing. After rising from the dead, he spent just a little bit more time on earth, ensuring that we had a Church to call home. He ordained leaders to shepherd us and He taught us how to worship. And then, He sent His Holy Spirit over the Church, to guide the sinners with whom He so graciously entrusted it, to ensure that “the gates of Hell will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18b).¬†¬†

That’s when I realized that I wanted what Jesus gave to us, just before He ascended back into Heaven. This physical Church was another one of Christ’s many gifts to us, and I wanted to be a part of that gift.¬† I wanted to be a part of something that was bigger than anything man could establish. I wanted to be a part of that physical, direct link to Christ and His apostles.

But more than anything, I wanted Christians to be unified as one, without divisions, as He intended. And I realized that meant going back to where it all began…