Today millions upon millions of people left their houses calling themselves ‘Christian’ and have gone out to various sects which they call ‘churches’. The question is: who is a Christian?
I am prompted to ask this question based on two things I read this morning. An ‘Evangelical pastor’ in the USA, said he has left Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisory council given the fact that Trump said all sorts of lewd things about women in 2005 and have not shown any sign of true repentance despite the Trump video apology for this. This ‘pastor’ seems to be propagating some Christian principles, that is not wanting to associate himself with someone reeking of sin! But the important question comes up: Is this man, this ‘pastor’ a Christian to being with?
The second thing that prompted this question is: I was observing hundreds of people trooping to a nearby ‘church’ with great devotion, baring all problems of transportation and personal discomfort. They march. Some singing and dancing while in large buses conveying them to their ‘church’. I am prompted to ask: Who is a Christian? Are all these people claiming the name ‘Christian’ indeed Christians?
To answer this question, we need to honestly investigate the origins of the word ‘Christian’ in both history and tradition. I know some, deluding themselves may discountenance the importance of history in understanding Christianity. But still, history, Tradition and the scriptures are tenable here.
Originally Christians weren’t even called Christians. They were called ‘disciples’ (in strict translation it means ‘students) of Jesus of Nazareth. Later, in the city of Antioch, they received the name ‘Christians’ (Acts 11:26). This probably happened in the A.D. 30s. This term spread very quickly—probably to the amazement of those Jewish individuals who did not wish to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah (Christ) who even resurrected from death!
The term kataholos, which means the whole or universal in Greek started to be used to address Christians as early as 40AD. The thought was apparently that these were Christians who believed and practiced according to what body of Christians as a whole did, in contrast to what some particular group thought or did. Over the course of time, kataholos came to be represented by the parallel English word ‘Catholic.’
Ignatius of Antioch, who lived around 107 AD did not introduce kataholos to be the name of Christians. However, his letters contain the earliest known uses of it in a surviving document. It may well have been used in other Christian writings prior to this, but we have simply lost them. It certainly was in general use in speech before this point, because Ignatius writes in such a way that he already expects his readers to know this term and what it means. He also uses the term in more than one of his letters, meaning that he expects people in more than one place to know the term.
This indicates that in his day—at the beginning of the second century (circa A.D. 107)—the term was already in widespread use. For it to be used in such a broad manner, it would have required some time to pass into currency in the Christian community, meaning that the term probably was coined sometime in the second half of the first century. We don’t know who first used it, but it was a suitable description of the Church Christ founded and so was already in general use by the time Ignatius wrote.
We have to deal with a misconception before we proceed. The question is: did Christ start any Church? This questions needs to be answered is we will answer our original question.
From the scriptures, it seems that Christ at least had an intension to ‘START A CHURCH’. When He started to gather His apostles, he called only Twelve. This Twelve is significant since, as some theologians have said, represented the 12 tribes of Israel and that this 12 means the representative of the tribes in the New Israel. Why didn’t Christ call more people to be apostles? Why stop at 12? Again, after Judas hanged himself, the apostles sought to replace him with Mathias. Why? Why did they have to stick with the number 12?
Although we may not get the entire answer but it does show that the 12 are the leaders of the citizens of the New Israel. Throughout the scriptures we saw that it was St. Paul that was again called the apostles. He became the 13th. But all the apostles had Peter as their head. If there is a head. What will this head be heading?
Part from this Christ himself called Peter to be head and used the possessive pronoun ‘my’ to represent the fact that he has a Church. ‘And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’. (Matthew 16:18). This means that indeed Christ started a Church of His own, with the Apostles being its head and Peter is the overall head.
But why do people conclude always that Christ did not start any church? It is because of the confusion in this world and the fact that many sects have arisen with no links to Christ and His Apostles and so people needed to console themselves with lies upon lies.
Still, we see in history that the Catholic Church is that Church of Christ, arising from the Scriptures. We can conclude this since there is a clear history that shows that the Church moved from one point to another, first called Christian and later called Catholic.
It is this same Church that was prosecuted by Rome and many were killed by gladiators and by wild animals.
We need to ask, which other ‘Church’ was in existence in the first 1, 500 years of Christianity? The answer is the Catholic Church which was the epitome of the prayer of Christ. Christ said: ‘And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.’
Here we see that Christ has united ALL those who are to worship Him under on fold and under ONE shepherd. Which Church best represent this ONE Fold? The Catholic Church epitomizes this for 1, 500 years.
Then the confusion began. It started in Martin Luther who was looking at people’s corruption within the Church, the Catholic Church. Indeed there was abuse of power, abuse of holy things, many mortal sins among the hierarchy. Luther was angry over this as any true Christian will be. But instead of fighting against these, he started attacking the Church developing doctrines alien to the Church! He in effect was suggesting that the problem is not the people committing atrocities. The problem is the Church consequently Christ was wrong. Luther started to correct Christ!
This makes Luther be the first false prophet as was prophesied by Christ. In Matthew 24: 5, Christ predicted that many will come in His name and introduce false new doctrines and deceive many. So Martin Luther was the first to introduce false doctrines and claimed to have come in the name of Christ.
Many others followed in the footsteps of Luther, developing false new doctrines, fulfilling prophesy made by Christ in Matthew 24: 5.
Today, these false prophets numbers in their thousands to the extent that the world have forgotten about the Church of Christ!
This takes us back to the original question: Who is a Christian?
Is a Christian a follower of these false prophets Christ foretold? Is a Christian a person that knows the entire bible by heart and lives, like Christ but belongs to one of the many false sects developed by false prophets?
The answer is negative. No one outside the Catholic Church is a Christian as long as the Catholic Church is that Church established by Christ for the Salvation of All.
This means that the man who left Donald Trump’s ‘evangelical’ advisory board is not a Christian and those who fill buses dancing their way to what they perceive as ‘church’ are not Christians as well. Why is that? They simply do not hold the faith of Christ and the teaching s of the apostles and do not belong to the ONE fold of Christ, under ONE shepherd.
This conclusion is indeed most unpopular in the world to the extent that it is nearly impossible to convince anyone of the truth of this conclusion. How then can someone become a Catholic? Someone becomes a Catholic if the person is baptized in Christ using the formula ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost’ and then the person hold wholly and entirely ALL the doctrines revealed by Christ to His Church through the apostles. This is the true meaning of being ‘born again’. These doctrines are to be found in the Scriptures and in the whole of Christian Tradition. If any one were to deviate in the least degree from ANY of these doctrines, the person is NOT a Christian.
Today, the huge ‘Church’ which people say is the Catholic Church and which has its headquarters in Rome is not the Catholic Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Clickhere to learn why. This religion has deviated from the teachings of Christ since 1958. The Catholic Church has been reduced to a handful of people who, in great difficulties keep the true teaching of the Catholic Church. These remnants can be found in nearly all countries of the world, unknown, silently following Christ in His own way.
To conclude, Christ said it is not those who call me Lord, Lord that will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who does the will of my father in heaven. The question is: What is the will of the Father? Is this will the will of the false prophets who we call ‘pastor’? ‘Bishop’? ‘Evangelist’? ‘Prophet’? or simply our personal interpretation of the scriptures? Or what the general population thinks is the word of God? Is the will of God found in the Church of Christ? The Catholic Church? The pillar and Bulwark of the truth? (1 Tim 3:15).
Truly, as G K Chesterton said; Truth is truth even when everybody does not believe it. The world is sure in its errors and many people are deceived into creating a new Christ and a New Church that will suit their apostasy and give them false security. They will say ‘all is well. I am walking gin the Spirit. I am born again’. Christ did not start any Church’ etc. It is important those who follower false prophets whether they are in Rome or near my house or your house, to have a rethink and then become truly Christians!
By Malachy Mary Igwilo, on the feast day of St. Hedwig, 16th October 2016.