How did the Catholic Religion come about?


About two thousand years ago the life and death of Jesus Christ forever changed the world. He was condemned for heresy by the Jewish people proclaiming to be the Messiah, promised in the old testament. He was crucified, died and buried. Followers initially abandoned him.

However, in time they strengthened and emerged, testifying of an empty tomb and telling all the world that God has raised Jesus from the grave. After hearing this the Jewish people were stabbed in the heart, and they asked what should we do. They were told to repent, to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remissions of sins, and he who does that shall receive a gift of the Holy Ghost.

With the passage of time and the saving of many souls, the same gospel that preached to the Jews will also onto Gentiles at the house of Cornelius, the centurion. From the house of Cornelius, the good news about Jesus Christ spread among Jews and Gentiles.

In time, the Apostle Paul will appear establishing many churches and as the gospel spread. By the middle of the first century, the journey and story of Jesus Christ began to be recorded in the four gospels. Along with these, there were letters written by the Apostles. Which will collectively establish the new testament. The clearest connection between the old testament and new is found in prophecy, and the scripture says that “Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy man of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). The scriptures foretold of the first coming of Christ into the world and look forward to his second coming where he will judge the living and the dead. However, before that time Jesus has warned that the Church would endure great trials and afflictions for the sake of the gospel. The Apostle Paul gave a similar warning when he gave farewell to the Ephesian elders. Paul said that after his departure there will come wolves, grievous wolves who will lead the sheep away. Paul was so adamant about this imminent threat, and he said, “Therefore watch and remember that by the space of three years I cease to warn every one night and day with tears” (ACTS 20:31). He not only warned of grievous wolves but also of the “many, which corrupt the word of God… (2 Corinthians 2:17). Jesus has also foretold that his disciples would be persecuted and killed for their faith. He said, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted and shall kill you. And ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9). The Apostle Paul has been inspired to write “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14).

In fulfilment of these warning, the Church was persecuted in the early centuries, Christians were hated and hunted by Roman emperors, beginning with Nero in the first century and ending with Diocletian at the start of the fourth century. By the beginning of 314 A.D., the face of what was called Christianity would undergo a dramatic transformation when the Roman Emperor Constantine won the famous battle of Milvian Bridge 312 A.D. A victory that will make him the sole emperor of Rome. Before the battle, Constantine claimed that he had seen a vision of a cross emblazoned on the sun and heard a voice tell him “In this sign conquer”. He adopted this symbol, went forward and conquered his enemies. A short time later Constantine will sign the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. granting tolerance and protection of Christians. With the emperor’s conversion, Christianity will become the state’s religion, after which he started building churches. He gave himself the title Vicar of Christ (or bishop). He was honored as bishop of bishops. After some time, the empire will suffer its decline, and the bishops of Rome will rise and take to themselves the title of Constantine. Some believed that this was to be the start of Catholicism. The word “catholic” means universal. Jesus created one universal church for all mankind. It is believed that the Catholic Church was established by Jesus with his words spoken in Matthew 16. Jesus asked his disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The disciples then offered various answers – “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” But the question that Jesus then asked was crucial: “But who do you say that I am?”

The answer provided by Simon Peter set in motion the formation of the Catholic Church by Jesus. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” With this answer, Jesus established the Catholic Church with Simon Peter designated the first Pope. Peter was the first pope of the Church. Peter addressing the other Apostles explicitly states his leadership role: “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth…” The Roman Catholic Church traces its beginning back to the original church that was established at Pentecost in AD 30. Christians started the church in Rome almost certainly by AD 50. Paul visited the well-established church in AD 63. The Roman Catholic Church can trace its roots all the way back to the original Christian church in Rome. This is the truth about the Catholic church, some believe that it started after Constantine declared Christianity the religion of Rome, but the truth is the Catholic Church is much older as I state here.

Now we will talk little about the Orthodox Church so you may understand the differences and the similarities between both Churches. People believe that the Orthodox Church was founded on the Day of the Pentecost, 33 A.D. Anointed by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Apostles establish churches throughout the Middle East. St. Paul, the most dynamic of the Apostles, traveled west, founding churches in Asia Minor, Greece, and ultimately Rome. Centuries later, the Emperor Constantine I moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople, and in 323 declared Christianity the official religion of the empire. The early Church was made up of five self-governing dioceses: Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome, whose bishop was considered primus inter pares, or “first among equals.” These dioceses (later known as patriarchates) cooperated as one faith until the Great Schism of 1054, when Rome separated from the other four patriarchates. The eastern patriarchates remained united as the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Both the church’s claim to be the one true church. But that does not matter because both religions believe in the same things. We will mention them now. Both the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox church understand God that exists in three forms, known as the Trinity. God is the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father is the creator of the world. The son is Jesus, and finally, the Holy Spirit is the spirit that enters people’s souls during their lives.

Next up is the Saints. Both churches share the same Saints; they play a central role in the spiritual lives of the Catholics and Orthodox alike. The difference here is the physical representation. The Roman Catholics use statues to represent the saints while the Orthodox use paintings to represent the angels. For the Roman Catholics, there is a procedure for choosing sanctioned saints. This process is known as canonization, and it does not exist in the Orthodox Church.

Now let’s talk about leadership. The main difference here is the Papal supremacy. The Roman Catholics believe the Pope is the Vicar or the living embodiment of Jesus. In the Catholic church, he is the head of Christian religion. Eastern Orthodox Catholics view the Pope as the head of Christianity in Rome, and as a geographical responsibility. The Orthodox church comprises of a collection of national churches. Each of these churches has its own leader know as a patriarch, and they have bishops, who comprise the synod, or governing council.

Finally, I will mention a couple more differences between the two churches. Roman Catholic priest cannot marry while the Orthodox priest can, if the marriage predates assumption of the priesthood. Unmarried men who join the Orthodox clergy must proclaim a vow of celibacy, similar to all Roman Catholic clergy. Another difference is that the Orthodox Church allows its believers to divorce, while the Roman Catholic church does not.

To summarize. Both churches believe in the same. They have some differences that I’ve mentioned and more that are not mentioned here. But you must remember both believe the same which is God. You should know that discussions are currently made to bring the churches closer to unity.

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About

The Modern Catholic

The Modern Catholic

I was born and raised Catholic. I created this blog to explain the Christian Faith through modern terms, along with telling my experiences.