Where did the word Catholic come from?

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Where did the Catholic term come from?

I have heard that it originated with a man by the name of Ignashish (spelled by sound). He found the word in a Greek pagon document from 300 BC. He was martyred for his faith, and the Catholic Church took the name Catholic in the next century.

Any ideas?

-- Tim (tlw97@cox.net), October 29, 2002



-- Emerald (emerald1@cox.net), October 29, 2002.


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God Bless

-- (seminarian@ziplip.com), October 30, 2002.

What "Catholic" Means The Greek roots of the term "Catholic" mean "according to (kata-) the whole (holos)," or more colloquially, "universal." At the beginning of the second century, we find in the letters of Ignatius the first surviving use of the term "Catholic" in reference to the Church. At that time, or shortly thereafter, it was used to refer to a single, visible communion, separate from others.

The term "Catholic" is in the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds, and many Protestants, claiming the term for themselves, give it a meaning that is unsupported historically, ignoring the term’s use at the time the creeds were written.

Early Church historian J. N. D. Kelly, a Protestant, writes: "As regards ‘Catholic’ . . . in the latter half of the second century at latest, we find it conveying the suggestion that the Catholic is the true Church as distinct from heretical congregations (cf., e.g., Muratorian Canon). . . . What these early Fathers were envisaging was almost always the empirical, visible society; they had little or no inkling of the distinction which was later to become important between a visible and an invisible Church" (Early Christian Doctrines, 190–1).

Thus people who recite the creeds mentally inserting another meaning for "Catholic" are reinterpreting them according to a modern preference, much as a liberal biblical scholar does with Scripture texts offensive to contemporary sensibilities.

Included in the quotes below are extracts from the first creeds to use the term "Catholic"; so that the term can be seen it its historical context, which is supplied by the other quotations. It is from this broader context that the meaning of the term in the creeds is established, not by one’s own notion of what the term once meant or of what it ought to mean

-- Scott (scott@41051.com), October 30, 2002.

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