St Peter's Basilica

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Roman Catholic Church: Origins 4

When Rome converted to Christianity, Christianity started to flourish. Many more people converted to Christianity since it was the legal thing to do and more and more people became open to the message of Christ! However, as the Church expanded, She became open to erroneous teachings, heresies! The first major teaching that launched itself on the Church was from Arius! Arius was an Archbishop who was teaching people that Christ was not God. He was just a prophet sent by God! The implication of this is far reaching. It means that Christ is not the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. It means that Christ is not the person being referred to in the Gospel of John Chapter one verse one! Many millions of people accepted what Arius was teaching and so there was confusions since the apostles taught that Christ is God and is the Second person in the Trinity! A Church council was called in the town of Nicaea to deal with Arian heresy! A Church council is actually a general meeting of Church leaders, bishops, who have to come together to officially restate the Chruch’s position on any issue that has arisen. In history, the Nicaean Council is actually the Second council in the history of the Church. The first council was recorded in the Acts of the Apostles 15. That council was called to deal with the idea that non Jews who are converting to Christianity needs also to be circumcised! Some people, including St. Peter, was teaching that membership of the Church is not limited to being baptized. You need also to be circumcised! This caused a lot of confusion. So the Apostles gathered in Jerusalem to iron things out and reconfirm what Christ taught them. In that council it was affirmed that baptism is the central sacrament of Christian initiation that allows someone to become a member of the Church of Christ that is priestly in character! It is this type of council that was called by the Church to deal with the heresy being taught by Arius. Constantine was present at this council. Indeed he helped to organize it! The Council of Nicaea firmly reiterated that Christ is God and is also the Second Person of the Trinity! Christ is God incarnate who is both Man and God. The two natures are united in what is known as hypostatic union. None of the natures displaced the other when he was in the world. The Church has spoken and it is final. From then on, it became dogma, a final teaching of the Church! The Church cannot come out any time in the future to suggest that this teaching is wrong. This is becuase any dogmatic pronouncement made by the Church is actually done by the Holy Ghost and so the Holy Ghost cannot be wrong! After this pronouncement, the Arian heresy did not stop. It festered. Many people, especially in the East (such places as Egypt, Syria and Constantinople) continued to teach that Christ was not God. There was constant bickering between those who follow the Church and those who follow Arian heresy. In fact, sometimes, it resulted in open fight in the streets. After sometimes, the Arians modified their teaching and started to say that Christ is God only when he performed miracles and during the transfiguration! For them Christ’s God-ness comes and goes depending on the situation and whenever He is God he seizes to be man and when he is man, he seizes to be God! Also, they started to teach that God the father and God the Son are not of the same substance and so God the Son was created by God the father! But this is a form of Semi-Arianism! Such Saints as St. Athanasius continued to fight in Alexandria Egypt, preaching everyday against the heresy of Arius and wining back many thousands of people back to the Church! Up till today, we still have those who believe strongly in the Arian heresy and sometimes we see the vestiges of Arian heresy in today’s Pentecostalism!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Roman Catholic Church: Origins 3

Many emperors of Rome coming after Nero kept up the brutal killings of Catholics. As this killing was going on, Romans are being surprised that Christians easily, willingly submit themselves to death rather than worship idols and offer incense to them. So instead of the killings destroy Christians, it emboldened them as many more Romans converted to Christianity. Not the use of the words Christianity and Catholicism interchangeably.

As more Romans continue to adopt Christianity in large numbers, Rome found itself suppressing riots and insurrections throughout the empire as more people reject the method of killing Christians and many supporting that. So riots were the order of the day and Rome was spending resources suppressing these riots, including trying to suppress band of brutal runaway slaves made up of gladiators.
The emperor ruling at this time was Constantine, a man in support of stopping the killing of Christians. He had other more ingenious plans on how to finish off Christians without the constant bloodletting. He was planning to re-educate them forcefully into the Roman culture. 
As Rome was suppressing riots, it was also facing a war with Germanic tribes who plunder the vestiges of Rome spreading fear and terror among the Roman suburbs. So, Rome wanted to invade Gaul, today’s Germany to put a final stop to these murderous raids.  So as the war preparation was on, the head of the Catholic Church who have been in hiding somewhere in the catacombs, the Roman underground went to the emperor knowing that the emperor will either listen to him or he will die. So he gambled.
This pope told Constantine that he should make the crucifix his standard in the coming war promising a sure victory. Constantine was intrigued and he agreed. And so he went on to win the war decimating the Germanic tribes taking thousands of them prisoners.
When he returned to war, he converted to Catholicism and changed the law making Christianity to official religion of the whole of the empire. Pagans were on the defensive but what is written is written. This means that Catholicism permeated all aspects of life of Rome. The emperor have an oversight as to who is appointed Bishop or the location of any Church.
So the Christians triumphed over Rome and the Pope was given a house and he started to rule over Christianity in peace. Thus what we now call Roman Catholicism was born. It is also a testimony that it was only in Rome that existed the most organized center of Christianity, where St. Peter ruled from, albeit in secret.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Roman Catholic Church: Origins 2

As we discussed in out last post, the destruction of Jerusalem saw the fleeing of the people from Israel to different parts of the known world. Those who fled included the apostles. St. Peter went as far as Rome! When he got to Rome, there were already some Jews who were Christians having fled to Rome at the beginning of the Revolt. When they saw Peter, they recognized him as Peterus, the rock. They all have been taught that Peter is the head of the heads of the Church. At this Time, The Emperor of Rome Nero hated Christians because they counter nearly everything Roman. They do not join in the worship of Roman gods. So he kept seeking for ways to destroy them. When a fire broke out in Rome, (some of the traces of this fire are preserved in today’s Rome), Nero called his Army officers and told them it was the Christians that started this huge fire threatening the whole city. Some military people, who later converted to Catholicism, told the story of how Nero himself started the fire just to prove that he is a god. He said that he will start a huge fire and them he will simply sing and the fire will be stopped. When the fire started, he sang, the fire burned on he then accused Christians! Nero sent killer squads to punish Christians. Many were killed by bows and arrows and a majority was brought to the arena and was eaten by tigers and lions to entertain Romans. This was the start on nearly 300 years of Christian persecution and killings throughout the Roman Empire. It was during this persecution that the army noticed that Peter is the head of Christians so the thought that when they kill him publicly, his death will demoralize the Christians making them lose their faith. So, Peter was brought to the arena, before a huge crowd, with the emperor present, they wanted to crucify him just like Christ! But Peter begged that he should be crucified upside down so that he will not die in the manner of Christ. They killers agreed and Peter was crucified upside down. His body was left to rot in the sun but Christians took his body to a place called Vatican Hills and buried him there without the authorities knowing about this. After the death of peter, the elders elected another man called Linus, who has been accompanying Peter in his preaching duties, as the new head.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Roman Catholic Church: Origins 1

The Catholic Story: Origins

The Name Catholic means universal. Its origin is from the Greek word katholicos, which means widespread or universal. 
When Jesus Christ came to this world to die for the Salvation of all, he did want to establish a new covenant, a universal covenant. Those who want to be part of this covenant will enter it through baptism. He also established an institution called church or ecclesia in Greek. We know this because he called peter to be the head of this ecclesia when he told him “on this rock I will build my Church, the gates of hell will never prevail against it” we remember that Christ changed the name of Simon to peter which means Rock. What he is here saying is that he will make Peter his Vicar on earth that is someone that stands in physically for him after he is gone back to heaven. We must always remember that it is Christ that is the head of the Church.
We learn from this passage that Christ indeed has a Church, by that possessive pronoun used “my Church”.
Christ went ahead to call other apostles who will be the pillars of his new religion. He consciously called 12 people, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. So, the new Christ’s Church becomes the new Israel, as Christ did not come to abolish the old law but to fulfill it.

We know that not all things that happen in the life of the new religion are recorded in the bible. It is impossible to have such a record. The bible itself says that not all things Christ did is recorded and so not all things the members of the Church did is also recorded. This is important because there are many who ask the question “is it in the Bible” as if the Bible is ALL IN ALL of Christianity. No it cannot be as we will see in our conversations.

In the year 70AD, that is some 40 years after Christ went up to haven on Ascension day, Jews in Jerusalem revolted against the Roman forces occupying Israel. Remember that the Church of Christ was stationed in Jerusalem. This means that the apostles were there, preaching the Gospel and being confronted by the Sanhedrin as we see in the Acts of Apostles.

In this Revolted, Romans unleashed Roman fury on Israel and decimated that nation. This means that the killed thousands of people and destroyed buildings. Infact all the buildings in Jerusalem were destroyed including the temple! The remaining population that did not die went into exile! This includes the apostles!

The apostles went to various nations preaching the Gospel. St. Thomas went as far as India to evangelize. Infact Thomas tomb is in India today. St. Paul went to Greece. St. John Went to Ephesus in Greece with Mary mother of God since Christ entrusted him with the care of his Mother.
St. Peter went as far as Rome!
As this spread was going on, a Church elder in Antioch, in Greece called the spreading Church katholicos,! Remember also that it is in this same Antioch that followers of Christ, members of the new religion were called Christians!

Since then, many writers and Historians started to call the Church of Christ Catholic since according to them, it is now a universal Church since it has spread throughout the known world!