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Non-Catholics Section: Church History

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Non-Catholics Section:

Church History

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Important Notice: Items herein may not apply to all persons. References and translations may vary. We make no guarantees regarding any item herein. Do not take items out of context. Do not inflict harm on yourself or others, break laws, take unsuitable/incautious or inappropriate/drastic actions, or take figurative items literally. Use of site is at your own risk and is subject to our terms of use. For more terms information, see below and click here


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Do You Think the Catholic Church Was Invented After Constantine 'Legalized' Christianity?

Was There a "Great Apostasy" in the Catholic Church?

Doesn't the Galileo Episode Prove That the Catholic Church Isn't Infallible?

Doesn't the Treatment of Joan of Arc Prove That the Catholic Church Isn't Infallible?

Didn't the Catholic Church Burn Bibles?

Didn't the Catholic Church Force People to Convert?

Didn't the Crusades Authorized by the Catholic Church Kill Many People?

Shouldn't the Catholic Church Be Condemned for the Inquisition?

Doesn't the Catholic Church Have Many Things in its Past to be Ashamed About?

Question

Comments

Do You Think the Catholic Church Was Invented After Constantine 'Legalized' Christianity? 

Consider:

* If the Catholic Church was invented after Constantine 'legalized' Christianity, why are there historical records of the Church existing since it was established by Christ on St. Peter?

* If the Catholic Church was invented after Constantine 'legalized' Christianity, why can she show you an uninterrupted succession of popes beginning with St. Peter?

* If the Catholic Church was a fourth century invention, what happened to the Church founded by Christ in Mt. 16:18 - the Church that Christ promised would withstand the gates of hell?

* If the Catholic Church was a fourth century invention, why is the first known written use of the term "Catholic Church" traced to St. Ignatius of Antioch, around 110 A.D. [It should also be noted that St. Ignatius was a hearer of the Apostle St. John, and the third bishop of Antioch.] And, why has the term been in continuous use since that time?

* If the Catholic Church was invented after Constantine 'legalized' Christianity, why do even non-Catholic historians agree that the Catholic Church existed before Constantine was even born?

Was There a "Great Apostasy" in the Catholic Church?

Consider:

* Those who argue that there was a "great apostasy" in the Catholic Church are, by default, admitting there was a time before this presumed "great apostasy" in which the Catholic Church existed and was the true Church. Granting this, how could there ever be a "great apostasy" in the Church Jesus founded considering that Jesus said that the Church He founded would withstand the gates of hell (see Mt. 16:18)? Do you dare think Jesus - that is, God - was mistaken? How can one imagine that Christ wouldn't fulfill His promises? Do you similarly dare to accuse the Holy Spirit of failing in His duty to always remain with the Church (see Jn. 14:16-17)? Do you claim that Christ left them "orphans", despite His promise (see Jn. 14:18)?

* If there was a "great apostasy" in the Catholic Church, why is there no true evidence of this presumed apostasy? What exactly do you base your claim on? How scholarly and unbiased are these charges against the Catholic Church? Be prepared to present unbiased and scholarly evidence for your assertions that is not propagated by your own (or another anti-Catholic) sect.

* If there was a "great apostasy" in the Catholic Church, why does the Catholic Church still exist and still teach the same doctrines she taught in apostolic times? If you believe that the Catholic Church only held the true doctrines until the third or fourth century, how is it you explain that she couldn't manage hold on to Christ's true teachings for a few hundred years but she has held on to these "later", allegedly false, doctrines for 1600+ years?

* If there was a "great apostasy" in the Catholic Church, why do you (as a non-Catholic 'Christian') take your bible from the Catholic Church that supposedly apostatized? And the doctrine of the Trinity? And date using her dating system? 

* Are we seriously to believe there was a "great apostasy" in the Catholic Church - the Church that Christ founded - and that your 'church' is its replacement? Your 'church' which was founded by a human, your 'church' which has changed its own doctrines over time, your 'church' which has no history of miracles, martyrs, virgins, etc., your 'church' which wouldn't even know about Christ or the Bible if not for the Catholic Church that you claim apostatized? Your 'church' which wasn't even around until a few hundred years ago?

"The Catholic Church was recognized by the whole Christian world as the true Church of God for fifteen consecutive centuries. No man can halt at the end of those 1,500 years and say that the Catholic Church is not the Church of Christ without embarrassing himself seriously." (Catholic Convert, Former Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli)

Doesn't the Galileo Episode Prove That the Catholic Church Isn't Infallible?

Consider:

* Galileo "ran afoul of the Church for expounding unproven theories." Would you also criticize a modern school if it would not permit an instructor to teach unproven theories as if they true?

* The Galileo incident never involved an infallible pronouncement.

* Galileo was wrong in many of his theories.

* Galileo's case involved false evidence.

* The Church has never claimed to be infallible in matters of science. 

* The Church has never claimed to be infallible in disciplinary measures. 

* Galileo was said to suffer only a "minor reproof", contrary to what some claim.

* When the Church took action against Galileo, remember that his research was unproven (he could provide no conclusive proof). In fact, believe it or not, the matter may still not be fully resolved. Modern science is notorious for putting forward its theories as fact - even though there is contradictory evidence!

Note: For information regarding papal infallibility and its limits, click here

Doesn't the Treatment of Joan of Arc Prove That the Catholic Church Isn't Infallible?

Consider:

* The condemnation of Joan of Arc may be traced to an individual - who was not the Pope and who did not enjoy papal infallibility. 

* The case of Joan of Arc never involved an infallible pronouncement.

* The Church has never claimed to be infallible in determining a particular person's innocence or guilt. 

* Why is it that you use one person's actions in the case of Joan of Arc to condemn the Catholic Church as a whole, but when a judge in a U.S. court rules wrongly you don't blame the entire United States?

* Joan of Arc was canonized (declared a saint) by the pope.

Note: For information regarding papal infallibility and its limits, click here

Didn't the Catholic Church Burn Bibles?

Consider:

* This question is commonly put forward by those outside the Catholic Church who are attempting to portray the Church as an enemy of the Bible. In reality, the Church is the Bible's greatest friend - it was her children (under the influence of the Holy Spirit) who wrote the Bible, it was she who gathered and preserved the books, and it was she who determined which books comprise the bible. And, when poor translations have arisen, she has taken steps to prevent her children from reading these corrupt versions. The Church has not burnt bibles to keep Scripture away from people. The Church has burnt bibles - that is, poorly translated bibles - to protect her flock. Remember that St. Peter says that scripture can be distorted to one's destruction (see 2 Pt. 3:16), and that history proves that corrupted scriptures can have dangerous consequences. Further, remember that the burning of dangerous books is biblical (see Acts 19:19). Finally, ask yourself, does not the Church that wrote, determined, preserved and protected the Bible have a right to dispose of poor translations as she deems appropriate?

Note: For more on the bible, click here.

Didn't the Catholic Church Force People to Convert? 

Consider:

* It is against the law in the Catholic Church to force anyone to convert ["Can. 748 §2 It is never lawful for anyone to force others to embrace the Catholic faith against their conscience." (1983 Code of Canon Law)]

* It has always been considered unlawful to force anyone to convert against their will.

* One cannot force anyone to believe anything.

* If, in the past, certain persons were forced to convert against their will, the responsibility for such actions rests with the person(s) involved - who were, perhaps, acting out of their zeal for the salvation of souls or who thought they were achieving "the lesser of two evils" - and not with the Catholic Church. The Church, of course, condemns forceful conversions of persons against their will.

Didn't the Crusades Authorized by the Catholic Church Kill Many People? 

Consider:

* Unfortunately, loss of life may be expected in all military conflicts. This loss of life, however, should not be considered in isolation when determining whether any particular conflict is justified. Remember that the Crusades were largely a defensive measure (and not a plan to make converts, contrary to the claims of some) which "occurred after six hundred years of constant provocation". Remember that the Church's enemies had brutally treated people, enslaved children, destroyed property, and taken over lands (including the holy lands). They forced conversions, persecuted people, and threatened more takeovers. It was many years before the Church took this military action. Is it not ironic that her enemies attempt to portray her as "bloodthirsty" when these hundreds of years of persecution seem more to attest to her great patience? And, if certain events occurred during this time in which there was excessive bloodshed, why is the Church as a whole, rather than the individuals responsible, to be blamed? Certainly the Church never condones excessive violence. In fact, she would rather seek to punish her children who were guilty of wrongful violence.

* Why is it that you condemn the Catholic Church for violence, even though her actions were defensive in nature, but ignore the fact that other so called 'Christian' religions have much violence in their past (which may be largely offensive in nature)?

* All who call themselves 'Christian' today should realize that they may never heard of Jesus if it wasn't for the Crusades. Of course, that's not to say that everything that happened in connection with them was good, but if they had not happened, you might be Muslim today. This is simply a fact of history.

Shouldn't the Catholic Church Be Condemned for the Inquisition? 

Consider:

* When evaluating the Inquisition (actually "inquisitions" since there were more than one), it is necessary to consider things in their full context. Although enemies of the Church will point to some abuses, they invariably fail to mention the reasons for the Inquisition's existence and other important facts. For example, they often fail to note that:

* The Inquisition was restricted in scope and was limited to those inside the Church (or who claimed to be).

* The Inquisition sought to protect the life of children (e.g. against ritual murders that were being performed on Christian children) and adults (e.g. against those who considered all matter evil and promoted murder and suicide).

* The Inquisition sought to protect the Church's most holy of possessions (the Eucharist).

* The Inquisition sought to 'weed out' those who had "infiltrated the Church with a desire to destroy her from within."

* The Inquisition sought to 'weed out' "those who were defying the Church's teachings and were using their influence to pervert the faith of many."

* The Inquisition sought to protect the faith and root out heresy - heresy that can cause the eternal loss of souls (see Ti. 3:10-11)

* Many persons of the time actually welcomed the Inquisition "as an instrument of peace and security."

* The Inquisition has been credited with "keeping Christendom intact"

* The Inquisition provided guilty persons an advance opportunity to repent and receive only a light penance.

* Certain practices of the Inquisition have been praised for their fairness (e.g. secrecy, large juries, higher standards, etc.), especially when compared to the secular courts of their time. In fact, they have been called "meticulous" in comparison with the secular tribunals of the time. They required evidence (as opposed to mere charges) and persons were given an opportunity to repent. Even when compared against various Protestant practices, certain aspects of the Inquisition have been called "lenient". In fact, some even purposely tried to have their cases heard there instead of in the secular courts in order to gain a fairer hearing.

* Only a small percentage of convicted persons were turned over by the Inquisition to the state for punishment (the number of deaths has been greatly exaggerated by non-Catholics - in fact, some have claimed a number of persons killed which totaled more people than had even lived there!). It was not millions that were killed, but it has been estimated to be a few thousand over the centuries. Compared to other court systems of this time, this actually was considered to be "quite moderate" .

* Although torture may have been employed in some cases it was used less frequently than in the secular courts of that time and may have had certain limits (possibly limited to those who refused to admit known facts). [Note: The above doesn't address the appropriateness of torture, but rather simply indicates that the Inquisition used this practice less than secular courts of the time.]

* Punishments given by the Inquisition have been considered to be more lenient than punishments given at that time by the secular courts. 

* The Inquisition was not used to persecute Jews - in fact, only those who were professed Christians were subject to Inquisition (note that Jews of the time may have pretended to be Christians - and had they not pretended to be such, they would not have been subject to the Inquisition). Remember that Spain had recently been liberated from the Muslims and had deported non-Christians "for security reasons".

* Although abuses occurred, they should be attributed to those persons who perpetrated them, not the Church as a whole. Further, it is said that the Church had a "softening effect" even on the Spanish Inquisition. It has also been shown that the number of abuses attributable to the Spanish Inquisition has been greatly exaggerated by her enemies. Finally, note that "Because of the Inquisition, Spain never suffered the internecine religious warfare unleashed by the Protestant Reformation (except in the Spanish Netherlands). Compared to the blood that would soon be shed between Protestants and Catholic, and between Protestant and rival Protestant sect, the blood on the hands of the Spanish inquisitors is but a thimbleful. Between 1551 and 1600, for example, the Spanish Inquisition claimed an average of four lives a year - making Spain by far Christendom's safest haven in this time of religious strife." (Crocker)

Doesn't the Catholic Church Have Many Things in its Past to be Ashamed About?

Consider:

* While acknowledging and condemning the sins of those in the Catholic Church throughout the ages, it must be noted that:

* The sins of her members belong to those who committed them and do not represent the official practice or teaching of the Catholic Church.

* The Catholic Church herself condemns all sinful behavior.

* The Church should not be blamed for the fact that her members do not live up to her teachings any more than the Church should be blamed that St. Peter denied Christ (see Mt. 26:69-75).

* The chosen people in the Old Testament also committed many crimes - but that didn't make theirs a false religion.

* The entire Church cannot be blamed for some sinful members any more than the entire United States can be blamed simply because she has some bad citizens.

* The Church is made for sinners and will always contain sinners, until the end of the world, as permitted by Christ (cf. Mt. 13:24-30, 2 Tm. 2:20).

* It is only to be expected that a Church which has existed for 2,000 years will have some unfortunate occurrences its past. Sects which have existed for far less time have also unfortunate occurrences in their past. "There may be some problems in our history - but at least we have a history!"

* Often, claims against the Church are exaggerated by her enemies. Things may be taken out of context, misunderstood, be based on rumors, or be outright fabrications. 

* Considering only negatives produces a very distorted picture of the Church - what about the countless benefits the Church has brought society? What about the many great saints the Church has produced (e.g. St. Augustine, St. Patrick, St. Francis of Assisi...)? What about all her charitable endeavors? Her advances to science? Her civilization of entire nations? Her protection of the poor and persecuted? Where would the world be had it not been for the Catholic Church? Honest, knowledgeable people would have to admit that the world would certainly be a much worse place without the beneficent influence of the Church for these past 2,000 years.

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