Early Church, or Churches?

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Catholics claim that their Church is the first Church created by God. A unified Church and the only Church. If this is true, then why did the apostles travel around the world founding Christian Churches that were different? Wouldn't have these Churches founded by His deciples be almost exactly the same? Also, if these FIRST Churches were flawless, since His apostled created tem, then why does Jesus adddress the seven Churches through the letters to repent and change their ways? Please help. Thanks!

-- S. Gisewhite (sharvin@acsworld.net), January 07, 2004

Answers

The Apostles did not found "churches that were different". They founded new communities of the One True Church, all united in doctrine, in structure, and in worship. Today that same True Church continues to found new communities, and to be united in doctrine, structure, and worship. That's what its founder, Jesus Christ, meant when He prayed "Father, that they all may be ONE, even as you father and I are ONE". That's what Paul meant when he wrote "There is ONE body and ONE Spirit, just as also you were called in ONE hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism. (Ephesians 4:4-5) How vastly different that biblical description of the Church is from the doctrinal chaos of modern manmade denominational religion.

The teaching of Christ's Church was and is flawless because it is of divine origin, and its correct and authoritative interpretation is guaranteed to the One Church Christ founded. However, the individual members of His Church are not flawless. They are human, and they are therefore sinners. That's why they were called to repentance then, and are still called to repentance today. The need for repentance is common to every church; but the fullness of truth obviously does not exist in every church, since manmade churches all conflict with one another, and truth cannot conflict with truth.

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), January 08, 2004.


I beleive its a terminology error.

For instance, Paul can enter a city, say Corinth, and found a Church their. But this sint a seperate Church as the united teachings of Christ, ut rather a seperate communitgy, also called a Chruch.

As far as catholisism goes, it woudl be like a Preist entering a forgin country, say Somalia, and founding a church their. It's still a Catholic Church, in full communion with Rome, but its also a new Church in the form of beignnew to thearea and compised of people new to Christ.

The Spacific Church is new, but part of the larger, older institution.

-- ZAROVE (ZAROFF3@JUNO.COM), January 08, 2004.


Dear Mr. or Ms, Gisewhite:
Paul is correct as he explains why the Churh and ''the churches'' are as One. There is One Founder, Jesus Christ. The disciples of His early Church are missionaries in the beginning. He gives them an everlasting mission. They are to take the Gospel to all nations and baptise new disciples. Ever since then, the Catholic Church has fulfilled this obligation.

To clarify, it is the ONE Faith; called the Catholic Church. It's understood that to cover the world requires that newer communities be added as time goes by.

You ask: ''Also, if these FIRST Churches were flawless, since His apostled created them, then why does Jesus adddress the seven Churches through the letters to repent and change their ways?''

Slight corrections: The apostles never ''created'' any new churches. They ADDED to the numbers of the ONE Church. They appointed successors, bishops, in the newer communities, whom John calls ''angels''. These angels are the ones Jesus warns, in the message to the seven mission churches. He says, they (the bishops) will lose the ''lampstand'' if they fail Him.''

Recall He states that He ''walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands,'' the Catholic Church in her infancy. Jesus Christ is the everlasting Communion between these seven from the beginning, when they heard the Holy Gospel. Because they are ONE Church, one faith, one baptism. Christ founded only one-- the Holy Catholic Church.

Seven bishops (angels) are either complimented for their great faith, or rebuked for their failings. Human beings can definitely offend God. But He still commands his One Church. The very reason He dictates these letters to Saint John. JESUS is King of His Church! That will be until the end of the world, according to His promises. He will return on the last day as King and Judge.

-- eugene c. chavez (loschavez@pacbell.net), January 08, 2004.


Hello Mr. S. Gisewhite,

Yes, The Catholic Church is indeed flawless in all its teachings for it is the Church Jesus Christ founded. Even though throughout the centuries there has been trouble within the church begining with Judas, the one who betrayed our Lord. Now Judas betrayal, does this flaw the Church, by no means whatsoever! But you must realize that there has been many Judas in the Chuch thoughout the centuries these men sinned and as you very well know priests and bishops etc. are humans and at times they fall, and this being only a small hand full throughout the centuries. The majority of Priests, Bishops and Popes whom the Lord left to take care of his Catholic Church are Great servants of the Lord. Given that, the Catholic Church still remains Holy without blemish. Not to worry our Lord said "not even the gates of hell can prevail against it," It does not mean the devil is not trying, oh yes, he is trying, but he will not prevail. Jesus Christ is Lord.

God Bless you,

Palatto1

-- Lee S. (palatto1@aol.com), February 02, 2004.


Here are some quotes from the VERY early church concerning the hierarchial structure of the Church:

The hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church

"Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore- knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry." Clement of Rome,Pope,1st Epistle to the Corinthians,44:1-2 (c.A.D. 96),in ANF,I:17.

"Accordingly,elect for yourselves bishops and deacons,men who are an honor to the Lord,of gentle disposition,not attached to money,honest and well-tried; for they, too, render you the sacred service of the prophets and teachers." Didache(c.A.D. 140),in ACW,6:24

"See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is[administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid." Ignatius of Antioch,Epistle to the Smyraens,8 (c.A.D. 110),in ANF,I:89-90.

"Hegesippus and the Events which he mentiones. Hegesippus in the five books of Memoirs which have come down to us has left a most complete record of his own views. In them he states that on a journey to Rome he met a great many bishops, and that he received the same doctrine from all. It is fitting to hear what he says after making some remarks about the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. His words are as follows: And the churchIll of Corinth continued in the true faith until Primus was bishop in Corinth. I conversed with them on my way to Rome, and abode with the Corinthians many days, during which we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine. And when I had come to Rome I remained a there until Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And Anicetus was succeeded by Soter, and he by Eleutherus. In every succession, and in every city that is held which is preached by the law and the prophets and the Lord.' " Hegesippus,fragment in Eusebius Ecclesiastical History,4:22(c.A.D. 180),in NPNF2,I:198-199.

"Since, according to my opinion, the grades here in the Church, of bishops, presbyters, deacons, are imitations of the angelic glory, and of that economy which, the Scriptures say, awaits those who, following the footsteps of the apostles, have lived in perfection of righteousness according to the Gospel." Clement of Alexandria,Stromata,6:13(A.D. 202),in ANF,II:504-505.

" Our Lord, whose precepts and admonitions we ought to observe, describing the honour of a bishop and the order of His Church, speaks in the Gospel, and says to Peter: I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' Thence, through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the Church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers.s Since this, then, is founded on the divine law, I marvel that some, with daring temerity, have chosen to write to me as if they wrote in the name of the Church; when the Church is established in the bishop and the clergy, and all who stand fast in the faith." Cyprian,To the Lasped,Epistle 26/33(A.D. 250),in ANF,V:305.

"And before you had received the grace of the episcopate, no one knew you; but after you became one, the laity expected you to bring them food, namely instruction from the Scriptures...For if all were of the same mind as your present advisers, how would you have become a Christian, since there would be no bishops? Or if our successors are to inherit the state of mind, how will the Churches be able to hold together?" Athanasius,To Dracontius,Epistle 49:2,4(c.A.D. 355),in NPNF2,IV:558

The Indefectibility of the Catholic Church

"But [it has, on the other hand, been shown], that the preaching of the Church is everywhere consistent, and continues in an even course, and receives testimony from the prophets, the apostles, and all the disciples--as I have proved--through [those in] the beginning, the middle, and the end, and through the entire dispensation of God, and that well-grounded system which tends to man's salvation, namely, our faith; which, having been received from the Church, we do preserve, and which always, by the Spirit of God, renewing its youth, as if it were some precious deposit in an excellent vessel, causes the vessel itself containing it to renew its youth also. For this gift of God has been entrusted to the Church, as breath was to the first created man, for this purpose, that all the members receiving it may be vivified; and the [means of] communion with Christ has been distributed throughout it, that is, the Holy Spirit, the earnest of incorruption, the means of confirming our faith, and the ladder of ascent to God. 'For in the Church," it is said, "God hath set apostles, prophets, teachers,' and all the other means through which the Spirit works; of which all those are not partakers who do not join themselves to the Church, but defraud themselves of life through their perverse opinions and infamous behaviour. For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church, and every kind of grace; but the Spirit is truth." Irenaeus,Against Heresies,3:24 (A.D. 180),in ANF,I:458

"But I shall pray the Spirit of Christ to wing me to my Jerusalem. For the Stoics say that heaven is properly a city, but places here on earth are not cities; for they are called so, but are not. For a city is an important thing, and the people a decorous body, and a multitude of men regulated by law as the church by the word--a city on earth impregnable--free from tyranny; a product of the divine will on earth as in heaven." Clement of Alexandria,Stromata,4:26(A.D. 202),in ANF,II:441

"And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail..." Origen,On John,5(A.D. 232),in ANF,X:346

"[F]or the rock is inaccessible to the serpent, and it is stronger than the gates of Hades which are opposing it, so that because of its strength the gates of Hades do not prevail against it; but the church, as a building of Christ who built His own house wisely upon the rock, is incapable of admitting the gates of Hades which prevail against every man who is outside the rock and the church, but have no power against it." Origen,On Matthew,12:11(A.D. 244),in ANF,X:457

"But we who hope for the Son of God are persecuted and trodden down by those unbelievers. For the wings of the vessels are the churches; and the sea is the world, in which the Church is set, like a ship tossed in the deep, but not destroyed; for she has with her the skilled Pilot, Christ. And she bears in her midst also the trophy (which is erected) over death; for she carries with her the cross of the Lord. For her prow is the east, and her stern is the west, and her hold is the south, and her tillers are the two Testaments; and the ropes that stretch around her are the love of Christ, which binds the Church; and the net which she bears with her is the layer of the regeneration which renews the believing, whence too are these glories. As the wind the Spirit from heaven is present, by whom those who believe are sealed: she has also anchors of iron accompanying her, viz., the holy commandments of Christ Himself, which are strong as iron. She has also mariners on the right and on the left, assessors like the holy angels, by whom the Church is always governed and defended. The ladder in her leading up to the sailyard is an emblem of the passion of Christ, which brings the faithful to the ascent of heaven. And the top-sails aloft upon the yard are the company of prophets, martyrs, and apostles, who have entered into their rest in the kingdom of Christ." Hippolytus,Christ and AntiChrist,59(A.D. 200),in ANF,V:216-217

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And finally, here are some very early quotes on the what the EARLY EARLY church believed about those who create schism:

Schism

"Why are there strifes, and tumults, and divisions, and schisms, and wars among you? Have we not [all] one God and one Christ? Is there not one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? And have we not one calling in Christ? Why do we divide and tear to pieces the members of Christ, and raise up strife against our own body, and have reached such a height of madness as to forget that "we are members one of another?" Remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, how He said, "Woe to that man [by whom offences come]! It were better for him that he had never been born, than that he should cast a stumbling- block before one of my elect. Yea, it were better for him that a millstone should be hung about [his neck], and he should be sunk in the depths of the sea, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my little ones. Your schism has subverted [the faith of] many, has discouraged many, has given rise to doubt in many, and has caused grief to us all. And still your sedition continueth." Clement of Rome[regn c.A.D. 91-101],To the Corinthians,46(A.D. 91),in ANF,I:17-18

"Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God." Ignatius of Antioch,To the Ephesians,5(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:51

"For there are many wolves in sheep's clothing, who, by means of a pernicious pleasure, carry captive(3) those that are running towards God; but in your unity they shall have no place." Ignatius of Antioch,To the Philadelphians,2(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:80

"Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If any one walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the passion [of Christ.]" Ignatius of Antioch,To the Philadelphians,3(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:80

"For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood; one altar." Ignatius of Antioch,To the Philadelphians,4(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:81

"But flee from all abominable heresies, and those that cause schisms, as the beginning of evils." Ignatius of Antioch,To the Smyrnaens,7(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:89

"See that ye follow the bishop, even as Christ Jesus does the Father." Ignatius of Antioch,To the Smyrnaens,8:2(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:89

"But those who cleave asunder, and separate the unity of the Church, [shall] receive from God the same punishment as Jeroboam did." Irenaeus,Against Heresies,4,26:2(A.D. 180),in ANF,I:497

"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." Cyprian, To Florentius,Epistle 68[66]:8(A.D. 254),in ANF,V:375

"Separate a ray of the sun from its body of light, its unity does not allow a division of light; break a branch from a tree,--when broken, it will not be able to bud; cut off the stream from its fountain, and that which is cut off dries up. Thus also the Church, shone over with the light of the Lord, sheds forth her rays over the whole world, yet it is one light which is everywhere diffused, nor is the unity of the body separated." Cyprian,Unity of the Church,5(A.D. 256),in ANF,V:423

This text may downloaded and viewed for private reading only. This text may not be used by another Web site or published, electronically or otherwise, without the written permission of the copyright holder. Joseph A. Gallegos 2001 All Rights Reserved.

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It is quite apparant that the Church operated as one cohesive unit, not splintering sects as we have today in Protestantism.

Gail

-- Gail (rothfarms@socket.net), February 02, 2004.



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