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CATECHISM

OF

ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

 

ROMAN AND GREEK CATHOLICS

     Question. What does Catholic mean?
     Answer. It means general or universal.
     Q. What does Catholic Church mean?
     A. It means general or universal church.
     Q. Do Catholics claim to be the universal or only church?
     A. They do.
     Q. Do they claim to extend back to the days of the apostles?
     A. They do.
     Q. Do they claim a succession of Popes back to the days of the apostles?
     A. They do.
     Q. Are these claims true, and can they be proven by history?
     A. They are not true, and cannot be proven by history.
     Q. Does it not seem strange they would make such claims, if they were not true?
     A. Well, yes. And yet when we think of the wild claims they make, and how they dupe their devotees, we need not be surprised. It would be safe to say that they have sold tons of wood, represented as pieces of the real cross on which Christ hung. It has not been long since the secular papers paraded the announcement. that they had on exhibition the real head of John the Baptist, which was brought in the charger. What the Catholics can’t claim is not worth claiming. They even claim that the Apostle Peter was a Pope in Rome, when there is not the slightest evidence that he was ever in Rome, and he certainly was not a Pope, or anything which favored a Pope.
     Q. What does the term bishop mean?
     A. Bishop in the Scriptures is a translation of the Greek word episcopos, and means an overseer or director. It is sometimes translated, overseer, and sometimes, bishop. It has the same signification as the term, pastor. A New Testament bishop was a pastor of a local church. In other words, a pastor of a Baptist church is bishop of the church. There was no such thing known in the early history of the church, as a Catholic or Protestant bishop, or cardinal, or anything beyond a pastor of a local church; just like the Baptists have today.
     Q. How many denominations claim a history back to the days of the apostles?
     A. Two. The Baptists and Catholics. All others concede an origin this side, hence the
fight lies between the Catholics and the Baptists.
     Q. Can you give us some impartial history of the church in the first centuries that we may decide whether they were Baptist churches or a Catholic hierarchy?
     A. Yes. Guizot, the great French historian, tells us that in the first (and largely so, in the fifth century), that there was no such thing as a separation of the people and clergy. That the members of the church elected their officers and ruled in all matters, and that by degrees the clergy separated themselves from the people. Here are his words: “There gradually became molded a form of doctrine, rules of discipline, a body of magistrates; of magistrates called Presbuħeroi, or elders, who afterward became priests; of Episcopoi. inspectors, or overseers, who became bishops.”—Hist. of Civilization, p. 37.
     Mosheim, the great German historian, in speaking of the church in the first century, says: “Let none, however, confound the bishop of this primitive and golden period of the church with those of whom we read in the following ages; for, though they were both distinguished by the same name, yet they differed in many respects. A bishop during the first and second century, was a person who had the care of one Christian assembly, which, at that time was, generally speaking, small enough to be contained in a private house. In this assembly he acted, not so much with the authority of a master as with the zeal and diligence of a faithful servant.”—Mosheim’s Eccl. Hist. p. 39, Vol. 1.
     Again: “The churches, in those early times, were entirely independent, none of them being subject to any foreign jurisdiction, but each governed by its own self and its own laws.”
—Ibid.
     Again: “The sacrament of baptism was administered in this century (first) without the public assemblies, and places appointed and prepared for the purpose, and was performed by an immersion of the whole body in the bap-
tismal font.”—Mos. Eccl. Hist. p. 46, Vol. 1.
     Q. Do all authentic histories agree with the above statements?
     A. They do without exception.
     Q. Is that what Baptists teach and practice?
     A. It is. No Baptist could have stated it better.
     Q. Do you mean to say these historians were not Baptists?
     A. Yes. That is what I mean to say. They were not Baptists. and had no connection in any way with the Baptists, but as impartial historians they wrote these facts.
     Q. In the face of these facts, how can the Catholics claim to extend back through these centuries to the apostles?
     A. I will let the Apostle Paul answer it. He says: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry” (as in case of priests), etc—i Tim. 4:1,2.
     Q. Can you tell us something about how and when the Catholic Church had its origin?
     A. Yes. In the language of historians quoted above: “It was developed by degrees.” The first account we have of it is given by the Apostle Paul, as follows: “For I know this, that after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”—Acts 20:29, 30.
     Again: “For that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped: so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”—2 Thcs. 2:3,4. This is the perfect picture of Rome, drawn by the pen of inspiration.
     Q. When did this prophecy of Paul take effect?
     A. Paul says: “This mystery of iniquity” had already begun to work in his day, but it took visible shape in the third century; sufficient to produce a rupture. It was in this century that pastors began to claim the authority of ruling bishops. The pastor at Rome put himself forth as chief, or archbishop. This effort at centralized power was approved by part of the church at Rome, and acknowledged in part by other churches. However, a large per cent of the church at Rome protested against any such claims to power on the part of the clergy, or any such tendency to centralization on the part of the churches. The matter grew warm, one party pressing toward centralized power, the other pleading for the simplicity of the worship of the fathers, with the absolute independence of the churches. In, or about 250 A. D., there was a vacancy in the pastorate at Rome. The centralizing party advocated the election of one Cornelius. a base, designing character, who aspired to leadership, and rulership, over his brethren and the churches of our Lord. The faithful, and sound in the faith of the church, remonstrated against the election of such a marl as pastor or bishop of the church at Rome. But the more they protested for Christ’s sake, the more solid and determined Cornelius and his party became. Seeing nothing else left for them to do that would maintain the purity of the faith, they put forth as their pastor, Novatian, a man of unquestioned piety and soundness in the eyes of all except Cornelius and his party. They tried to besmirch his character, but have utterly failed with all fair-minded people. Novatian, himself, did not seek the place, and did not want to take it when tendered to him. But in order to maintain the cause, he finally yielded. This brought about an open rupture in the church at Rome; and a like rupture followed in many other churches in that section. Novatian and his followers called themselves Calhari (the pure), but Cornelius and his followers called them Novatians. The dominant party from this time on denominated themselves as the Catholic Church. Being rid of the restraints of the other party, they plunged headlong into centralization; and their progress was much more rapid. In the beginning of the next century Constantine, at the head of the Civil Government, formed an alliance with this Catholic party for political ends. This is the beginning of the union of church and state. It was not long until a new trouble arose that hindered the climax of their purpose. A rivalry arose between Rome and Byzantium (now Constantinople). Each of these cities wanted to be the seat of government—the home of the would-be Pope. This rivalry kept matters in check for some time, each party restraining the other. In this way neither could reach the point of universal ruler. But when Phocas became Emperor of the East in 606 or 607 A. D., he acknowledged Boniface III, Bishop of Rome, as Universal Bishop. Thus he became Pope, the first Pope the world ever knew.
     Q. What does pope mean?
     A. It means father. It comes from the Greek word, papas—father. He is pope—the papa—of the concern, therefore it is called papacy.
     Q. Was the Pope’s rule supreme?
     A. No. In a measure, one hundred and fifty years later be became universal, temporal ruler. But the subjection of the East was with reluctance on their part. In 862 A. D., Photius, a patriarch, stirred up quite a deal of mutiny in the Eastern church. But after the death of their leader, communion was again restored. They continued in the pales of the Western church until 1054 A. D., while in a state of revolt led by patriarch Michael Cerularius they were formally ex-communicated by Pope Leo IX. From this time the world has had two Catholic churches—the Western or Roman Catholic, and the Eastern or Greek Catholic. It might be well to mention the fact that the Eastern church is now divided into three branches; one in Turkey with Constantinople as headquarters, one in Greece and one in Russia. These have separate governments, and different rulers. Many changes have taken place in both the Western and Eastern churches since their separation in 1054 A. D. The Western church has abandoned immersion for baptism, and adopted sprinkling in its stead. The Greek church still immerses. The above is a brief but essentially accurate statement of the Catholic hierarchy which poses before the world with such boasting claims of apostolic succession.

 
 
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