The seed of the mess of Christian denominations that we have today started in around 108/140 A. D. with Ignatius Theophorus. “Ignatius Theophorus was an early Christian writer and bishop of Antioch. While en route to Rome, where he met his martyrdom, Ignatius wrote a series of letters. This correspondence now forms a central part of a later collection of works known to be authored by the Apostolic Fathers.” In one of those letters he used the word Catholic as he states, “Wherever the bishop shall appear, let the multitude of also be, just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church…” As we look through history we see a great representation of Christianity through the history of many men and women of God and many awful representations as well. The Catholic Church, whether we like it or not, became the visible church for the whole world to see.
During those first 300 hundred years of church history there was a lot of persecution against the invisible church; that was the church that did not compromised and did not lose the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A lot of people died simply because they were believers in Christ. A lot of Christian blood was shed during this period. A young Roman Emperor, emerged as the “savior” of the Christian Faith, did he really? Constantine the Great, converted to Christianity and declared Christianity the official Christian faith in Rome in 313 A. D. I not believe that Constantine was a Born-Again believer and I believe that:
- He was used mightily by Satan to mess up the church and mix the profane with the holy. To keep everybody at peace he mixed things up.
- Constantine version of Christianity became Prime Time and very prestigious.
- They lost the true Gospel message; the birth, life, resurrection and salvation through Jesus alone.
- Anybody that opposed the Catholic Church was considered heretic and killed.
- The Catholic Church abandoned God’s Word and embraced and institutionalized version of Christianity… a form of godliness. They moved far away from the Orthodoxy presented by the Original Apostles.
- True believers were still suffering persecution and it remained that way for over a thousand years.
Key men were instrumental in challenging the heresy of the Catholic church even before Martin Luther; Men such as:
John Wycliffe 1320s – 31 December 1384) was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, biblical translator, reformer, priest, and a seminary professor at the University of Oxford. He became an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th century and is considered an important predecessor to Protestantism. Wycliffe attacked the privileged status of the clergy which had bolstered their powerful role in England and the luxury and pomp of local parishes and their ceremonies. Wycliffe advocated translation of the Bible into the common vernacular. In 1382 he completed a translation directly from the Vulgate into Middle English – a version now known as Wycliffe’s Bible.
John Huss 1372 – 6 July 1415), a Czech theologian and philosopher who became a church reformer and an inspirer of Hussitism, a key predecessor to Protestantism and a seminal figure in the Bohemian Reformation. After John Wycliffe, the theorist of ecclesiastical reform, Hus is considered the second church reformer, as he lived before Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli.[note 1] His teachings had a strong influence on the states of Western Europe, most immediately in the approval of a reformed Bohemian religious denomination, and, over a century later, on Martin Luther. Hus was a master, dean, and rector at the Charles University in Prague.
Martin Luther, O.S.A. (/ˈluːθər/; German: [ˈmaʁtiːn ˈlʊtɐ]; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, Augustinian monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Luther was ordained to the priesthood in 1507. He came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church; in particular, he disputed the view on indulgences. Luther proposed an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in his Ninety-five Theses of 1517. His refusal to renounce all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Holy Roman Emperor.
Well, I wish I can say that after Martin Luther everything became ok with the church, but that is not true; that was the beginning of many, many, many denominations to come. Today we have more than 30,000 denominations.
To be continued…