The confusion about the catholic Church

We continue our comments on the document that a Mormon sent to us.(*)

The last time we commented on the following passage from chapter one in that document:

Throughout Christendom, there has been a lot of controversy over Deity.  Not only has there been a struggle over the nature of God, but there has also been much misunderstanding about the name or names of God.  To understand how this confusion came to be, we must go to the source of said confusion and trace its path to modern times.

You can read our reply to these historically inaccurate statements in the following article: Was the Church ignorant about the Nature of God?

In that article we have seen that the Church already knew her God through what He had revealed to her in His Word. Indeed, the Church became the Church by believing what God had revealed about Himself. Without faith in that revelation the Church would not exist. We have seen that for three centuries the Church was not having “a lot of controversy over Deity” within her own ranks as Stephen suggested with the expression “throughout Christendom”, but she was having those controversies with the unbelievers who opposed the Faith.  It is not true that there has been “a struggle over the nature of God” or that “there has also been much misunderstanding about the name or names of God” as Stephen wrongly suggested, but there was a struggle to find the best way of expression of our Faith that we received once for all from the Apostles of our Lord. For three centuries, the main problem for the Church was to find the best technical vocabulary to express her Faith. She had to find a unified way to communicate her Faith in the context of the Greek mind that was different from the biblical context. The Church was not trying to find out what her Faith is, but she was trying to find out what is the best intelligible way to express it. It is in this way that the Church reached the final step in this process with the Nicene crisis and with the related Creed that resulted from this crisis. If the Lord wills and we live, we will explain the details about that crisis in another article, when we comment on Stephen’s wrong ideas about that crisis. Stephen says that in order to understand the “confusion” that he imagined, he must go to the source of that confusion… And guess where he imagines that source is! Well, he imagines that the source of that imaginary “confusion” is in the Nicene crisis. This clearly shows the ignorance of Stephen Douglas concerning the facts of history that we explained in details in our article Was the Church ignorant about the Nature of God? In fact, we are not surprised to see a cultist misled concerning what happened in the history of the Church, as his teachers have deceived him. If he were not deceived concerning such things, he would not be a cultist. We have seen that the “confusion” about which Stephen is talking is not a confusion in the Church concerning God, but it is a confusion in his own mind. And this confusion that Stephen has is the result of refusing the clear Word of God and thus stumbling on the stone of stumbling: “”A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.” (1 Peter 2:8). This stone of stumbling is the only true God YHWH Himself who was incarnated: Jehovah of hosts, him shall ye sanctify; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will be for a sanctuary; and for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” (Isaiah 8:13-15) Indeed, all cults and false religions stumble on this stone. But the Lord Jesus said:

“And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

(Matthew 11:6)

We pray for Stephen that he may be saved from these deception and may come to the knowledge of the truth.

~

Now, in this article I will not comment on Stephen’s ignorance concerning the Nicene crisis and the Athanasian Creed that he mentioned in his manuscript. I will leave that for another article, if the Lord wills. This time I will comment about the confusion of Stephen concerning what the catholic Church is. Indeed, those who are confused about the Rock of the Church, Jesus Christ, will surely be confused also about His Church (cf. Matthew 16:15-18). So let’s begin by quoting what Stephen said in chapter one of his manuscript:

The Catholic Church first defined the nature of God by the Athanasian Creed of the Third Century AD.  This Creed preceded the formal organization of the Catholic Church in 325 AD.

First, let’s note that the definition of the Nature of God is in the Word of God, and no human has the right to define His Nature. The Church only found the best human way to express this definition in an intelligible way. We have seen this in details in the article: Was the Church ignorant about the Nature of God? So let me note in anticipation that it is not the so-called Athanasian Creed that defined the Nature of God, and it is not true that this Creed preceded the imaginary formal organization of the Church in 325 A.D. There is nothing called “organization of the Church”, as the Church is not an organization but an organism (the body of Christ). And the date 325 A.D. has nothing to do with what Stephen Douglas imagines. And what an ignorance to say that the Athanasian Creed came before 325 A.D…. We’re really dealing with a deep historical ignorance here…

But let’s come back to our topic in this article. What is the catholic Church?

Well, first let me note that Stephen once again ignorantly refers to the Church with the term “Catholic” with a capital “C”. In this way he implies that he is talking about the Roman Catholic “church” which in fact did not exist as a separate organization before the divisions in the visible Church began to happen. And that’s of course long after 325 A.D. The catholic Church has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic heresy. In fact, the Roman Catholics took that title “catholic” for themselves to deceive people into thinking that they are the true Church. On the other hand, others have taken for themselves the title “apostolic”, and still others took the title “orthodox”. When the official divisions began to happen in the visible Church, each group wanted to take for themselves a title that would give them a certain credibility or authority, as if the names or the titles mean anything without the essence…

I will give you a simple historical explanation, and you will see how Stephen Douglas is misled. And first I begin with the definition of the term:

What does the term “catholic” mean? It is very simply the Greek term “katholikos” which means “universal”. The Armenians have a “Catholicos” who is the leader of the Armenian Apostolic church. This doesn’t mean that this leader is a Roman Catholic as Stephen imagines each time he reads the term “catholic”. This means that he is the leader of the whole (universal) Armenian Church (according to the Armenian Apostolic church).

Why was the adjective “catholic” used about the Church? For the simple fact that the Bible says that we have ONE Faith, ONE body, ONE baptism, and that there is no more difference between the Gentiles and the Jews as it was the case with the Old Covenant. Here let me note that the majority of historians begin their history of the Church after the biblical times. But that’s wrong, because the history of the Church begins long before that; it begins with Christ and His Apostles. So let’s go there to see where is the origin of this term “catholic” or “universal”.

ONE Faith, ONE body, ONE baptism:

“[There is] one body and one Spirit, as ye have been also called in one hope of your calling;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism. (Ephesians 4:4-5)

So there is not a separate organization called the Jewish Church, and another called the Gentile Church, as many Messianic Jews try to suggest today. It is one universal (i.e. catholic) Faith that we have once for all received from the Apostles (cf. Jude 3). All Christians who follow the true biblical Christ (and not a Christ of their imagination) are part of this one catholic (universal) Faith. There is only one baptism, and it is the baptism in the ONE Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (cf. Matthew 28:19). Anyone who refuses this ONE Name of the Trinity is not part of this one baptism which is the sign of the one catholic or universal body of Christ, the Church. And this Church is one body; it’s not an organization as Stephen imagines. A body is an organism, and not an organization. You find order and harmony in the body of Christ, because all the members work as one body having one head that leads the whole body, and not because it is a human organization led by a human. This body is universally one; it cannot be divided; it is the body of Christ, just as the wife is the body of her husband and the husband is the head (cf. Ephesians 5:23-32). Christ is the head of the Church. He does not have many wives or bodies; He has only ONE body, the Church. And this one body was not officially formed in 325 A.D. as Stephen dreams, but look when this body was formed:

“For even as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also [is] the Christ. For also in [the power of] one Spirit we have all been baptised into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bondmen or free, and have all been given to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

This baptism with the Spirit into ONE body happened on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of our Lord, just as He promised (cf. Acts 1:5, Acts 2:1-4). And this day of Pentecost was surely not in 325 A.D…. This was fifty days after the resurrection of our Lord. And as you see in the verses above, this one body is a catholic body (i.e. a universal body), as it includes all those who believe, and not just the Jews as it was in the Old Covenant. This body includes Jews and Greeks (here the term “Greeks” refers to all Gentiles, and not only to the Greek people), both bondmen and free. It is a catholic or universal Church. And indeed, the wall that separated the Gentiles from the Jews was broken:

“but now in Christ Jesus ye who once were afar off are become nigh by the blood of the Christ. For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of enclosure, having annulled the enmity in his flesh, the law of commandments in ordinances, that he might form the two in himself into one new man, making peace; and might reconcile both in one body to God by the cross, having by it slain the enmity” (Ephesians 2:13-16).

Now, this catholic Church that was formed as one body on the day of Pentecost by Christ with the Holy Spirit is built on the rock of the truth which is “Christ, the Son of the living God”, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (cf. Matthew 16:15-18). [To understand more what this truth of “Christ, the Son of the living God” means, you can read our article What does the word “Messiah” mean? Who is the Messiah?] But a house that is divided against itself cannot stand (cf. Matthew 12:25). So if the Church of Christ were divided later against herself, as Stephen and many others are deceived to believe, then the promise of Christ would be void and the gates of Hades would have overpowered the Church. But the truth is that the body of Christ, the Church, was never divided, and the promise of Jesus was true and faithful. The divisions that you see today are divisions in the visible Church which is not wholly the true Church of Christ. There are many believers in this visible Church who are baptized and who even participate in all the practices of the Church, but in fact they are not true Christians and they are not true believers (read 1 Corinthians 10 to understand this truth). Indeed, the visible Church is a large house that contains “not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.” (2 Timothy 2:20) Only the vessels that are to honor are the true Church of Christ who is one body. This one body and its true members were indeed described by our Lord with the example of the Vine and the branches (cf. John 15:1-10). In that example, Jesus said that there are branches on this Vine that are not true branches that take their life from the Vine:

“I am the vine, ye [are] the branches. He that abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. Unless any one abide in me he is cast out as the branch, and is dried up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:5-6)

Although many are called Christians, and yet not all of them abide in Christ and take their life from the Vine. Those who do not abide in Christ are cast out as mere dead branches, and they finally find themselves in the eternal fire of Hell… Only those who truly take their life from the Christ are true members of the one invisible body of Christ.

So the true Church is one body, the body of Christ, and it cannot be divided. The divisions that you see are human divisions of the visible large house only. And while many people think these divisions only began to happen after the fifth century or even later, the truth is that these divisions already began in the days of the Apostles among the fleshly people who refused the one baptism and the one Faith of the Apostles. You can read about this fact in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 1 Corinthians 3:1-11, 3 John 9-10, Revelation 2:15. But those early divisions were only individual and narrow divisions that did not affect the overall wide unity of the visible large house until those divisions included also some large serious doctrinal problems with which the fleshly so-called Christians refused to follow the biblical truth. It is in this way that the wrong teachings of Roman Catholicism that are similar to the Nicolaitans (cf. Revelation 2:15) developed within the visible Church during time and later became a separate organization, and this organization wanted to take for itself the title “catholic”, because those heretics had the political power in those times and wanted to deceive people that they are the true catholic Church of Christ. They succeeded to deceive people like Stephen… If the Roman Catholics claimed to be the catholic Church, this doesn’t mean they are. In a similar way, if the Orthodox organization claimed to be the orthodox Church (“orthodox” means “having the right doctrine or worship”), this doesn’t mean they are the orthodox and that the Roman Catholic “church” is not the orthodox. The Roman Catholics claim they are orthodox just as much as the Orthodox!! Indeed, all churches everywhere call themselves the catholic or universal Church, but this doesn’t mean that they are part of the Roman Catholic church. There are many Eastern Orthodox churches that officially call themselves “Catholic”, and yet they are not Roman Catholic; they don’t follow the Pope of Rome. Take the example of the Armenian Apostolic church: This church is officially called “Catholic” or “Universal”!! Indeed, many people do not know such details. Yes, many non-Roman-Catholic organizations officially call themselves “Catholic”, but as they don’t have the same human power of the Roman Catholics so few are those who know that their official name is “Catholic”. That’s because the Bible says that the Church is catholic (universal), as we have seen above. Besides, did you notice how the Armenian church takes for itself the title “Apostolic”?… Does this mean the Roman Catholics do not also claim that they are apostolic? Not at all! But this is how each separate organization took for itself a biblical title after the divisions in the visible large house which is the visible Church. Let’s read together about the Armenian Apostolic church on wikipedia:

The official name of the Church is the One Holy Universal Apostolic Orthodox Armenian Church. It is sometimes referred to as the Gregorian Church, but the latter name is not preferred by the Church, as it views the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus as the founders, and St. Gregory the Illuminator as merely the first official head of the Church. (Read this in its source)

Yes, this church claims to be the one holy Church, because that’s what the Bible says about the true Church. This church claims to be the catholic or universal Church, because that’s what the Bible says about the true Church. But does this mean that this church is a Roman Catholic church? Not at all!! The Armenian Church was NEVER related to the Roman Pope. It is only lately, especially in the 17th century, that Roman Catholic missionaries came to Turkey, not to convert the Muslims to Christ, but to convert the Christian Armenians to Roman Catholicism… Only a little section of Armenians followed Roman Catholicism, while the majority remained in the one Holy Catholic Apostolic Orthodox Armenian Church which is NOT Roman Catholic. This church also calls itself apostolic, because the true Church has the one Faith of the Apostles. It also claims to be the orthodox Church, because the true Church should have the true orthodox Faith, but it is not related to the Greek Orthodox organization.

You already notice how much Stephen Douglas and his cultist friends are ignorant about the history of the Church…

So the Bible says that the catholic Church is a body, an organism, and not an organization as the cultists imagine. And this body was formed on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of our Lord, and not in 325 A.D. as Stephen Douglas has been taught by his Mormon teachers.

Now, besides all this, let’s quote the early Christian scholars concerning this word “catholic”, so that you may see how this date 325 A.D. is thrown ignorantly by Stephen. The Church Fathers believed what the Bible says about the Church: that she is the universal or catholic one body of Christ. So they called the Church catholic since the most early times. I will quote some of them, and I will underline the places where they call the Church “catholic” (in the translation, you find this word with a capital “C”, but it is the same term “catholic” which means “universal”):

Martyrdom of Polycarp:
“The Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna, to the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium, and to all the congregations of the Holy and Catholic Church in every place: Mercy, peace, and love from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied.” (Introductory greeting of The Encyclical Epistle of the Church at Smyrna Concerning the Martyrdom of the Holy Polycarp)
“Now, as soon as he had ceased praying, having made mention of all that had at any time come in contact with him, both small and great, illustrious and obscure, as well as the whole Catholic Church throughout the world…” (Chapter VIII)

Ignatius of Antioch:
“wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnæans, Chapter VIII)

Irenaeus:
the Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said.” (Against Heresies, Book I, Chapter X)

Note: The Martyrdom of Polycarp and the writings of Ignatius and Irenaeus are from the second century A.D., long before 325 A.D… Polycarp  and Ignatius are known to be students of the Apostle John, and Irenaeus is known to be a student of Polycarp. So wonder with me what Stephen Douglas means with that date 325 A.D…. Maybe he read this term “catholic” in the Nicene Creed and then thought that was the first time that this term was used, not knowing that since the days of the Apostles we have one Church, the catholic or universal Church of Christ, as we have seen in this article.

As a conclusion, we note that by using this term “catholic” in a negative sense, Stephen Douglas admitted that Mormons are not a part of this one catholic body of Christ, the Church, although he did this ignorantly. So Stephen admitted that Mormonism is just another cult that refuses to be associated to the body of Christ; and that’s what the term “sect” means. Indeed, Mormonism is a sectarian cult.

Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ

___

Posted in: Religious Movements / Mormonism
This is part 8 of the series: Answer to a Mormon’s manuscript

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