To prove that the Catholic Church is the actual Church that Jesus Christ started through His Apostles and that She is directly connected with the Churches that we read about in the Bible, the first item in the sequence that must be established is the fact that Jesus did indeed start one Church through His Apostles. In other words, to logically prove a fact it must first be established that that fact is worthy to be proved, otherwise it is a non-starter. There are five points listed below that resolves this first thing.
- Jesus Establishes the Church:
That Christ Jesus started a new community through His Apostles that He intended to be permanent is a fact firmly established by Scripture in Matthew 16:18:
- “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.“
- Jesus Prays for the Visible Unity of His Church (John 17:9-21):
- “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth. I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, that the world will believe that you sent me.”
- Peter and the Apostles Add Disciples to the Apostolic Church (Acts 2:38-47):
- “Peter (said) to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.” He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day. They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”
- St. Paul’s definitive statements about the Apostolic Church:
– Ephesians 4:1-6:
- I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
– 1 Timothy 3:15:
- “But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.”
- Those who knew the Apostles Speak:
The book of Acts tells us that the disciples were first called ‘Christian’ in the city of Antioch, Syria and ironically, it was in that city that they were first written to be Catholics, around 107 A.D., although we do not know when or where they were first called by that name.
– Pope St. Clement I, was a Roman Jew who owed his conversion to SS. Peter and Paul. He was ordained by St. Peter and later became the third Pope about the year 91 A.D., following the death of Pope St. Linus. Writing to the Church at Corinth, Pope St. Clement I asserted authority over Churches outside of Rome, thus proving the primacy of the See of Peter:
“The Church of God which is at Rome, to the Church of God which is at Corinth, elect, sanctified by the will of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord: grace and peace from Almighty God, by Jesus Christ be multiplied unto you. Brethren, the sudden and unexpected dangers and calamities that have fallen upon us, have, we fear, made us the more slow in our consideration of those things which you inquired of us: … now God the Inspector of all things, the Father of Spirits, and the Lord of all flesh, who has chosen our Lord Jesus Christ, and us by him, to be his peculiar people… The messengers whom we have sent to you: Claudius, Ephebus, and Valerios Bito, with Fortunatus, send back to us again with all speed in peace, and with joy, that they may the sooner acquaint us with your peace and concord, so much prayed for and desired by us; and that we may rejoice in your good order.”
– Saint Ignatius was converted to the faith and a disciple of Saint John the Apostle. We learn from Saint John Chrysostom (344-407) that St. Peter appointed Ignatius as Bishop of Antioch to succeed him, and which territory he governed for forty years. It was during Ignatius’s tenure around 107 A.D., when he wrote a letter to the Smyrneans stating:
“Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people also be: as Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”
Letter from St. Ignatius to the Church at Rome, Bishop of Antioch, circa 107-110 A.D:
“Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the church which has obtained mercy from the majesty of the Most High Father, and his holy begotten Son Jesus Christ; beloved, and illuminated through the will of him who willeth all things which are according to the love of Jesus Christ our God which also presides in the place of the region of the Romans; and which I salute in the name of Jesus Christ (as being) united both in flesh and spirit to all his commands, and filled with the grace of God; (all joy) in Jesus Christ our God.”
– St. Irenaeus was born about 130 A.D. in Asia Minor and placed in the care of St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle and Bishop of Smyrna. He studied at Rome and later became a priest of Lyons in Gaul. In 178, he succeeded St. Pothinus as Bishop of Lyons. Writing between 189 and 199 A.D., he stated:
“But since it would be long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether, through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assembled other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition.”
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Even without much of a commentary, what I have proven with these texts from the Gospels, the Apostles, and the Fathers of the Church, all talking about a ‘Church’, that there is a substantive link between them. That is, they are all talking about the SAME Church (the Catholic Church). All of these men, within a 100 year time-frame, are all connected by this same united community that they are all writing and speaking about.
Most protestants will agree that Jesus did start a Church and that Peter and the Apostles did spead it, but they will assert, without proof, that that Church began teaching error and became divided after the Apostles died. They will also assert, in linear-error, that we (the community of individual Christian) are ‘the Church’ because it is the Holy Spirit (not a community of faith) that binds us.
6 PART SERIES ON THE ‘PROOFS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’:
- Prima Sequitur
- A Visible Reality
- Time Travel, Guys Named Peter, and Folks who Wanna Be Starting Something
- The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the New Covenant Seder/Passover Meal
- It all Stands or Falls on John 6
- It Has Been Proven to Work
Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Quotations from Pope St. Clement I and St. Ignatius are from The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden, A & B Publishers Group, Brooklyn, New York.
Quotations from other Church Fathers (excluding Pope. St. Clement I) are from Faith of the Fathers (Vols. 1, 2 and 3), Jurgens, William A., The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota.