Protestants Say: “The Catholic Church Did Not Exist Until 400 A.D.”

Main Entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Main Entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Donald: How can you say that the Catholic Church was established by Jesus Christ Himself? When googling “Origin of The Catholic Church, you learn that The Catholic Church was established between 300 to 400 years after Jesus walked on the Earth.

BFHU: Well, as we shall see Google is not infallible. The years 325- 400 AD or there about, is often cited b/c Emperor Constantine decreed peace and legality for the Catholic Church. For most of the preceding years since the Crucifixion of Jesus, the Church had been desperately persecuted. Therefore, Christians were pretty much in hiding and there were no ecumenical councils until Nicaea. But the Christian Catholic Church was alive and well despite the persecutions.

Jesus Himself said He would found a church.

Mt 16:17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

The Catholic Church of the Holy Sepulchre is built over both the rock of Calvary and the Tomb of Jesus. Below is an aerial view of the domes of the Church.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher has been destroyed and rebuilt several times through the centuries. The church we see today was constructed by the Crusaders.The small grey dome covers the rock of Calvary, and the large dome covers the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection.

Here is the floor plan of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre . Calvary is just to the right of the main entrance to the Church and the Tomb is marked in orange.
So, the Catholic Church built a church on the Holy Site of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In fact the Catholic Church has built churches on all of the Holy sites of Israel.

Also, historically this church that Jesus founded, has always been called Catholic Here are some quotes from the early Church Fathers: The Early Church Fathers on The Church

Ignatius of Antioch-[A.D. 110]

Follow your bishop, every one of you, as obediently as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Obey your clergy too as you would the apostles; give your deacons the same reverence that you would to a command of God. Make sure that no step affecting the Church is ever taken by anyone without the bishop’s sanction. The sole Eucharist you should consider valid is one that is celebrated by the bishop himself, or by some person authorized by him. Where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be; just as, wherever Jesus Christ is present, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).

The Martyrdom of Polycarp-[A.D. 110]

When finally he concluded his prayer, after remembering all who had at any time come his way – small folk and great folk, distinguished and undistinguished, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world – the time for departure came. So they placed him on an ass, and brought him into the city on a great Sabbath (The Martyrdom of Polycarp 8 [A.D. 110]).

Irenaeus [A.D. 189]

The Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said (Against Heresies 1:10 [A.D. 189]).

Tertullian [A.D.200]

Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago – in the reign of Antoninus for the most part – and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled (The Prescription Against Heretics 22,30 [A.D.200])

Cyprian [A.D. 251]

The spouse of Christ cannot be defiled; she is uncorrupted and chaste. She knows one home . . . Does anyone believe that this unity which comes from divine strength, which is closely connected with the divine sacraments, can be broken asunder in the Church and be separated by the divisions of colliding wills? He who does not hold this unity, does not hold the law of God, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation (On the Unity of the Catholic Church 6 [A.D. 251]).

Peter speaks there, on whom the Church was to be built, teaching and showing in the name of the Church, that although a rebellious and arrogant multitude of those who will not hear or obey may depart, yet the Church does not depart from Christ; and they are the Church who are a people united to the priest, and the flock which adheres to its pastor. Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God’s priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another (Letters 66 [A.D. 253]).

For an interesting thought experiment—>Which Church Did Jesus Start?

2 Responses

  1. However, these were mere harbingers of things to come. The crushing blow for premillennialism came with the Edict of Milan in AD 313, by which Constantine reversed the Roman Empire’s policy of hostility toward Christianity and accorded it full legal recognition and even favor. Historian Paul Johnson calls the issuance of this edict “one of the decisive events in world history.69 With it, no longer was the blood of the martyrs the seed of the church. Rather, Christianity would be, in many ways, a mirror-image of the empire itself. “It was catholic, universal, ecumenical, orderly, international, multi-racial and increasingly legalistic.”70 It was a huge force for stability.71 Hence, Christianity after 313 would become worldly, rather than other-worldly.

    The church’s new-found favor from Rome caused dramatic upheavals. Jerome complained that “one who was yesterday a catechumen is today a bishop; another moves overnight from the ampitheatre to the church; a man who spent the evening in the circus stands next morning at the altar, and another who was recently a patron of the stage is now the dedicator of virgins.”72 He wrote that “our walls glitter with gold, and gold gleams upon our ceilings and the capitals of our pillars; yet Christ is dying at our doors in the person of his poor, naked and hungry.”73

    • Charles,

      Yet the Church still continued on didn’t She? She is still standing today, and She has fed many hungry and clothed many naked. She has taken care of many orphans, widows, and the sick. Christ is still alive in Her today, in the Holy Eucharist. She still remains the Church that Christ started, regardless of how many black-eyes man has tried to give Her. She will continue on and so will the Mass, until Christ comes, as the “gates of hell will never prevail against Her.” For every bad person within Her, there have always been at least 100 good ones. She gives to us the Old and New Testaments, and Revelations when we walk within Her doors. She provides the only instructions Christ ever gave to which He would abide in us, “By the eating of His Flesh and the drinking of His Blood.” She is the only Church which fulfilled the prophecy of the Blessed Mother, “That all generations shall call me blessed.” She is Sacramental, She is Holy, and She is the One Apostolic Church. She stands on Her own, and She is Catholic. God Bless, SR

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