Question:

Hi,

I read your web page on why some of Catholic teachings are wrong. I would like to point out some of what I think are fallacies of your argument and I’d appreciate a response.

Starting with your timeline:

Priests

Early 2nd Century Separation of clergy and laity, this also goes with your argument that there were no “Priests” only the priesthood of believers.

The Bible itself talks about “Priests”. Most certainly every Christian is a priest or else we could not have a personal relationship and access to God. But does not the Greek of the Bible give the requirements for good Presbyters? Presbyter is where we get our word Priest. Same with the Greek Septuagint; they use the word presbyter for the Jewish Levitical priest. So the Bible itself speaks of an “ordained” priesthood.

Ignatius of Antioch:

"Follow your bishop, every one of you, as obediently as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Obey your clergy too as you would the apostles; give your deacons the same reverence that you would to a command of God. Make sure that no step affecting the Church is ever taken by anyone without the bishop’s sanction. The sole Eucharist you should consider valid is one that is celebrated by the bishop himself, or by some person authorized by him. Where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be; just as, wherever Jesus Christ is present, there is the Catholic Church" (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).

"In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him" (Letter to the Trallians 3:1-2 [A. D. 110]).

Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch during the lifetime of some of the Apostles. He was a personal disciple of John the Apostle and learned from him. Antioch is where we were first called Christians and the city through which Paul often travelled. If he believed this in 110, he must’ve believed it earlier in his life. If that’s the case, and he is wrong, why do we not ever see any mention of this heresy condemned by the Apostles?

Councils

You say that the second century saw the gathering of Elders in a region. What, then, would you say the council in Acts was? Was it not a meeting of Church leaders discussing an article of faith?

Easter

Constantine wanted to preserve the unity of the empire so he strongly suggested that the Church settle the matter of who Jesus Christ was. He did not have any part in the decision making and it did not bind the Church to the Roman state in any way. AD 325 did not mark the first time that Easter was celebrated. If I remember right, it was at the Council of Nicea? Where the date that Easter would be celebrated was made universal. People were celebrating this day long before AD 325. They were just celebrating on different days.

Confession to Priests

Confession of sins to ordained ministers started long before AD 329.

Ignatius of Antioch "For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ" (Letter to the Philadelphians 3 [A.D. 110]).

Tertullian [Regarding confession, some] "flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness" (Repentance 10:1 [A.D. 203]).

"The Church has the power of forgiving sins. This I acknowledge and adjudge" (ibid. 21).

Hippolytus [The bishop conducting the ordination of the new bishop shall pray:] "God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . pour forth now that power which comes from you, from your Royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and which he bestowed upon his holy apostles. . . and grant this your servant, whom you have chosen for the episcopate, [the power] to feed your holy flock and to serve without blame as your priest, ministering night and day to propitiate unceasingly before your face and to offer to you the gifts of your holy Church, and by the Spirit of the high priesthood to have the authority to forgive sins, in accord with your command" (Apostolic Tradition 3 [A.D. 215]).

Origen [A filial method of forgiveness], "albeit hard and laborious [is] the remission of sins through penance, when the sinner . . . does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine, after the manner of him who say, "I said, to the Lord, I will accuse myself of my iniquity"" (Homilies in Leviticus 2:4 [A.D. 248]).

Prohibition of Clergy to Marry

You say that the prohibition of the Clergy to marry happened in the third century. That is a false statement. There were married priests long after that but Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was not married. Polycarp was also a disciple of John the Apostle. If you recall, Smyrna was mentioned in Revelation. This is one of the few churches that Christ did not have a complaint against. Polycarp was bishop at the time that most scholars think Revelation was written. If there was no doctrinal complaint from Christ, why should we doubt Polycarp?

Mass Replaces the Lord’s Supper

What do you mean by this? And why is this date given? Christians were celebrating the Eucharist from the first days of the Church and they believed it to be the body and blood of Christ.


Answer:

I had been asked for the sources for the timeline in the past. They were listed out in "Why did Catholicism start and when did it happen?" Because of your question, I added a link to this documentation to "What is wrong with Catholicism?" Placing a date for changes in beliefs is difficult. Often a belief is espoused, but is generally rejected, but then over time becomes accepted. I tried for the dates when a practice or belief was generally accepted. I also, when possible, quoted Roman Catholic sources who acknowledge that a certain belief or practice was not held from the beginning. Most of your points are addressed there, but I'll add a little more to the other issues you raised.

Regarding priests:

"This word (etymologically "elder", from presbyteros , presbyter ) has taken the meaning of "sacerdos", from which no substantive has been formed in various modern languages (English, French, German)" ["Priest," Catholic Encyclopedia.]

So while the word "priest" was derived from presbyter, its meaning did not. Besides, in the list of qualifications for a elder, presbyter, bishop, or overseer is the requirement: "the husband of one wife" (I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6), "having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination" (Titus 1:6), and "one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence" (I Timothy 3:4). Something clearly changed from the beginning, even if you claim that priests are the successors of they presbyter. But actually in the Roman Catholic church it is the bishops and above who claim to succeed the presbytery.

They use of the words make tracing the change a bit difficult because the meanings shifted. You see the use of presbyter as references to the priests, where I see it as reference to the eldership that had become corrupted with one elder becoming the head and taking on the title "bishop." That these other elders eventually became the priests is understandable, but I was looking for the distinction in class.

Regarding Acts 15, no it wasn't a council. It was members of the church in Antioch bringing to the attention of the church in Jerusalem that it had members going out from it teaching a false doctrine. See "The Autonomy of the Local Church" for more details.

Regarding the prohibition of priests to marry, I could find no proof that Polycarp was single as you claim. Instead, I found in a Eastern Orthodox site: "Bishops (presumably including Polycarp) in the Early Church were married" [Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp]. Making requirements based on rumor is not proper.

Regardless that you disagree about the dating of a few points, the overall point remains the same. The teachings of the modern day Roman Catholic church is different from the first century teachings and those changes developed over time.