In today’s world, there are thousands upon thousands of false religions who claim to be Christian Churches! Each of these false religions claims that their heads have been called by God. Many millions of people, including educated men and women, abandon reason and also flock to these false ‘churches’ claiming to worship God. The spread and acceptance of these false religions by society shows the dearth reason bedeviling society today. This explains why the family and society itself suffer from all sorts of devastating spiritual and intellectual illnesses.
Christianity is a historical religion and so NO ONE can see Christianity as something that fell out of the sky and so, we must look at what happened in the past to inform what is happening today.
How then can we identify the true Church of Christ? Distinguishable from these thousands of false religions that say they are ‘Christians’? Is it by simply believing that your ‘General Overseers’ was called by God? Is by simply believing in the miracles happening in your religion? To answer this question, we must go back to the bible and Tradition!
The true Church MUST BE APOSTOLIC! The Catholic Creed, framed at the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in the year 325AD stated that: ‘I believe in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church’! Simply having the word ‘Apostolic’ does not make a particular religion Apostolic. There must BE concrete evidences that link a true Church to the Apostles!
This attribute of the Church implies that the true Church must always teach the identical doctrines once delivered by the Apostles and which the Apostles got from Christ Himself and the Church ministers must derive their powers from the Apostles by an uninterrupted succession.
Consequently, no Church can claim to be a true Church whose doctrines differ from those of the Apostles or whose ministers (pastors) are unable to trace, by an unbroken chain, their authority to an Apostolic source.
The Church says St. Paul is ‘built upon the foundation of the Apostles’ (Ephesians 2: 20) so that the doctrines which it propagates must be based on the Apostolic teachings. Hence St. Paul says to the Galatians: ‘Though an angel from heaven preaches a Gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema’ (Gal. 1:8). The same St. Paul gives this admonition to Timothy: ‘The things which thou has heard from me before many witnesses, the same commend to the faithful men who shall be fit to teach others also’. (2Tim 2:2). Timothy must transmit to his disciples ONLY such doctrines as he heard from the lips of his Master, Paul.
Not only is it required that ministers of the Gospel should conform their teaching to the doctrines of the Apostles, but also that these ministers (pastors) should be ordained and commissioned by the Apostles or their legitimate successors. ‘Neither doth any man take honor to himself, but he that is called by God as Aaron was’ (Hebrew 5:4). How did God call Aaron? Well, this text evidently condemns all self-appointed preachers and ‘reformers’ for ‘how shall they preach, unless they be sent?’(Romans 10:15). Sent ofcourse, by legitimate authority and not directed by their own caprice or claiming to hear directly from God or interpreting certain events in their lives to mean that they have been called by God.
Hence, we find, that those who succeeded the Apostles were ordained and commissioned by the Apostles to preach and that no others were permitted to exercise this function of preaching and ministry. Thus we are told that St. Paul and Barnabas ‘had ordained for them priests in every Church’ (Acts 14:22). And St. Paul said to Titus: ‘For this cause I left thee in Crete…..that thou shouldst ordain Priests (pastors) in every city, as I also appointed thee’(Titus 1:5). Even St. Paul himself, though miraculously called and instructed by God, had the Apostles impose hands on him (see Acts 13:2-3), so that others should not be tempted by his example to preach without Apostolic mandate.
St Paul actually counters those who say ‘I have been called’ by God! Yes, God can call someone, but it must still be confirmed by the Apostles or their legitimate successors. Legitimate successors here are those who were appointed and commissioned by the apostles and those commissioned by these people also. Ask your pastor who commissioned him next time you go to Church, when he tell you, ask him who commissioned that person that commissioned him and see if it goes all the way back to the Apostles.
To discover therefore the true Church of Christ among the thousands of sects claiming to be Christian Churches, we have to inquire, first, which Church teaches whole and entire those doctrines that were taught by the Apostles. Second what ministers can trace back, in an unbroken line, their missionary powers to the Apostles?
Each person must ask and answer these questions for himself or herself since if you ask the wrong questions and arrive at the wrong answers, you are putting yourself on that road to hell where those against Christ and His Church go for all eternity.
The Catholic Church ALONE teaches doctrines which are IN ALL RESPECTS identical with those of the first teachers of the Gospel, the Apostles. How do we know this? We know this from the written testimonies of those who were with the Apostles! These we call ‘Church Fathers’ and their writings have come down to us. The Church fathers wrote things the Apostles were preaching and doing and we compare these to what we now believe to see that they are the same with what we now believe as Catholics! Look for a field of study called Patristic studies to learn more about these Church fathers!
Many have rejected the Church Fathers’ writings because it leads them directly back to the Catholic Church which they hate with every fiber in their being. This is intellectual dishonesty. Others have said that they cannot depend on the Church Fathers because some of their writings contain things out rightly un-Christian. These people already arrived at the conclusion before approaching the Church Fathers writings. They simply look at the Catholic Church and hate it and then condemn the Church Fathers because their writings lead to Catholicism which they hate. Talk of intellectual dishonesty!
Many intellectually dishonest people will ask: where is it in the bible that the Catholic Church is connected to the Apostles? Or is even mentioned in the Bible?
Alas, this is an era of ‘intellectual dishonesty’. We see intellectual dishonest in nearly ALL peoples living today as if the Devil has specifically instilled this vice in all peoples such that no one wants to obtain the truth, logically and honestly and through sound reasoning process. There are always gaps in peoples’ ways of arriving at what they believe and yet the society accept these half measures and people are generally not worried about these gaps.
First of all, there was no bible when the apostles were preaching! They simply made use of the word of mouth and were guided by the Holy Ghost and so could not teach anything contrary to the faith of Christ. This word of Mouth teaching has come down to us.
It is some of these word of mouth that were eventually written down as the New Testament! Other practices which the Church does and which are not written down is referred to as Tradition, with the capital T.
So when someone, knowing that the Bible is a later addition to the Church, which equally bears testimony, to what the Apostles were teaching, insist on seeing, word for word, ALL the perennial Apostolic teachings practiced by the Catholic Church, the person is indeed intellectually dishonest and cannot claim the name ‘Christian’!
There are many people who today claim to be evangelists, pastors, bishops, prophets, etc, who have no connection both in authority and doctrine to the apostles, yet millions of people adhere to these men at the detriment of their souls!
What then can we do for these people? We continue to speak out and pray for their conversion to the true Church, the Catholic Church lest they lose their souls at their death! We do this knowing that many people will rather go to hell than accept the truth!
We must also know that the huge religion, occupying Rome today, calling itself ‘Catholic Church’ and headed by the apostate, Francis has no connected to the Apostles!
They severed that connection the moment they introduced false new doctrine and changed the prayers which sustains the Apostolic Succession at priestly ordinations and consecration of bishops.
While we pray and preach to the millions who look at this false religion as if it is the Catholic Church, we must also pray for them to have the discernment to leave that huge false religion.
Presented by Malachy Mary Igwilo, Second Sunday of Esther, feast of St. George. 23rd April, 2017