The Church of Rome gets some things right, but others wrong, about church history

Colosseum of Rome (Photo by Joyce Thiel)


Ran across the following on a Roman Catholic website:

Catholic Church

Founded by Christ, propagated by His apostles, from Jerusalem through Asia Minor to Rome as its permanent world center, from which it spread throughout the world according to the mandate of its Divine Founder:

Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28). (Catholic Church. Star Quest Production Network, Priest Roderick Vonhögen – Chief Executive Officer.

Now, it is absolutely certain that the Church founded by Jesus began in Jerusalem as Acts 1 and 2 show. It is also absolutely certain that the apostles went from Jerusalem via Antioch to Asia Minor. BUT while it is true that the Apostle Paul went to Rome, there was no type of mandate that Rome would be its “permanent world center.”

Notice what Jesus taught in Matthew and Paul taught in Hebrews using the Rheims New Testament and the New Jerusalem Bible (both are approved Catholic versions/translations of the Bible):

22…and you shall be odious to all men for my name, but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved. 23 And when they shall persecute you in this city, flee into another (Matthew 10:22-23, RNT).

22 You will be universally hated on account of my name; but anyone who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next; and if they persecute you in that, take refuge in another. In truth I tell you, you will not have gone the round of the towns of Israel before the Son of man comes. (Matthew 10:22-23, NJB)

14 For we have not here a permanent city: but we seek that which is to come (Hebrews 13:14, RNT).

14 There is no permanent city for us here; we are looking for the one which is yet to be. (Hebrews 13:14, NJB).

Thus, to claim that a city such as Rome could possibly be the “Eternal City” for Christians is to go against scripture as even Catholic renderings of scripture effectively prove that no single city, including Rome, could have remained the headquarters of Christendom for nearly 2000 years, if people are willing to actually believe what is written in the Bible.

Furthermore, it should be mentioned if there was to be one city from the beginning to the end, it likely would have had to be Jerusalem (cf. Revelation 21:2) as the Christian church began there (Acts 2) according to Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Church of God scholars.

What about the claim that the Church of God in Rome was originally founded by Peter and Paul (which is what Irenaeus falsely suggested in the late second century)? Notice this comment from a Catholic priest and scholar about Irenaeus, Peter, Paul, and Rome:

Irenaeus focuses on the church of Rome which he describes as “greatest, most ancient and known to all, founded and established by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul.” Here we must acknowledge a bit of rhetoric, as the church of Rome was obviously not so ancient as those of Jerusalem or Antioch, nor was it actually founded by Peter or Paul (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 147).

The Catholic Encyclopedia also agrees with F.A. Sullivan here (and not Irenaeus) as it states this about Paul’s epistle to the Romans:

Paul would have worded his Epistle otherwise, if the community addressed were even mediately indebted to his apostolate (Merk A. Transcribed by W.G. Kofron. Epistle to the Romans. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Furthermore, the Bible clearly agrees with The Catholic Encyclopedia, and F.A. Sullivan here. The Bible shows that Paul did not start the Church in Rome–thus the apostolic tradition that Irenaeus relied on is a fraudulent one–as it is not true–it is a myth. For here is what Paul wrote to the church at Rome:

20. And I have so preached this Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build
upon another mans foundation:
21. But as it is written, They to whom it hath not been preached of him, shall see: and they
that have not heard, shall understand
22. For the which cause also I was hindered very much from coming unto you (Romans 15:20-22, Rheims NT of 1582).

There is no way that Paul could have written the above if he considered that he founded or co-founded the church in Rome as in these verses he explains that he did not first come to Rome lest he build on another man’s foundation. (Note: I choose to use the Rheims New Testament of 1582 A.D. as this is considered to the Catholic standard English translation of the New Testament).

Catholic scholar F.A. Sullivan also further agrees, as he wrote:

…it doesn’t appear that Paul ever appointed any one person as “resident bishop” over any of his churches…(Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 35).

Admittedly the Catholic position, that bishops are the successors of the apostles by divine institution, remains far from easy to establish…The first problem has to do with the notion that Christ ordained apostles as bishops…The apostles were missionaries and founders of churches; there is no evidence, nor is it at all likely, that any one of them ever took up permanent residence in a particular church as its bishop…The letter of the Romans to the Corinthians, known as I Clement, which dates to about the year 96, provides good evidence that about 30 years after the death of St. Paul the church of Corinth was being led by a group of presbyters, with no indication of a bishop with authority over the whole local church…Most scholars are of the opinion that the church of Rome would most probably have also been led at that time by a group of presbyters…There exists a broad consensus among scholars, including most Catholic ones, that such churches as Alexandria, Philippi, Corinth and Rome most probably continued to be led for some time by a college of presbyters, and that only in the second century did the threefold structure of become generally the rule, with a bishop, assisted by presbyters, presiding over each local church (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, pp. 13,14,15).

And that is certainly correct concerning Rome. There were no “bishops of Rome” in the first century and certain Roman Catholic scholars understand this, hence the idea that there is an unbroken line of bishops in apostolic succession from Rome and Rome being the “permanent world center” for the true Church is false (more information can be found in the article Apostolic Succession).

And as far as getting the gospel out to the world as a witness is concerned, the true church was not limited to Asia Minor. True churches were spread throughout many lands, such as northern Italy, France, Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Antioch, and elsewhere.

And where did those churches come from? Well, logically, they did not come from Rome, but from the Smyrnaeans (an earlier Church era) in Asia Minor and Palestine. According to A.N. Dugger, Dr. T.V. Moore noted:

“The type of Christianity which first was favored, then raised to leadership by Constantine was that of the Roman Papacy. But this was not the type of Christianity that first penetrated Syria, northern Italy, southern France, and Great Britain. The ancient records of the first believers in Christ in those parts, disclose a Christianity which is not Roman but apostolic. These lands were first penetrated by missionaries, not from Rome, but from Palestine and Asia Minor. And the Greek New Testament, the Received Text, they brought with them, or its translation, was of the type from which the Protestant Bibles, as the King James in the English, and the Lutheran in German, were translated.” — Dr. T. V. Moore, The Culdee Church, chapters 3 and 4, and Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, pp. 25, 26 (As cited in Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, pp. 90-91).

So, it was Asia Minor, and not Rome that was the main location of the true Church of God in the first and second centuries, and even into the third century. And while a confederation involving Rome rose up in the second through fourth centuries, it ended up changing doctrines and not holding to original Christianity in many ways.

Most people, Catholic or otherwise, simply do not know enough about the real truth about early church history. But they can if they are willing to look at the truth of what really happened. Here is a link to a free online pdf booklet: Continuing History of the Church of God.

Some items documenting these and other items of possibly related interest include the following:

What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
The Ephesus Church Era was predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D. The Church of James, Peter, Paul, and John, etc. Here is a link to a related video sermon: Ephesus Church Era.
The Smyrna Church Era was predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D. The Church led by Polycarp, Melito, Polycrates, etc.
Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom? How should Matthew 16:18-19 be understood?
The Apostle Peter He was an original apostle and early Christian leader. Where was Peter buried? Where did Peter die?
The Apostle Paul He was a later apostle, but also an early Christian leader.
The Apostle John He was an original apostle, early Christian leader, and the last of the original apostles to die.
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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