The History of Christianity #43
Our Scripture verse today is 2 Peter 1:1 which reads: “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Our quote today is from John Napier. He said: “The god of Roman Catholic doctrine is not the God of the Bible; therefore, that leaves only one alternative, the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4). Thus, the vast majority of those in the Roman Catholic Church are lost. However, those in Roman Catholic churches who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ alone and do not embrace the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in their heart may be saved.”
Today, we are looking at “The Deposit of the Faith” (Part 8) from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).
The Ancient Catholic Church
The original meaning of Catholic church referred to this episcopal collegiality, as well as with the multiform witness to the gospel in several canonical gospels. The word catholic means “universal,” but it also means “according to the whole.” To separate itself from the various heretical groups and sects, the ancient church began calling itself “Catholic.”This title underscored both its universality and the inclusiveness of the witness on which it stood. It was the church “according to the whole,” that is, according to the total witness of all the apostles and all the evangelists. The various Gnostic groups were not “Catholic” because they could not claim this broad foundation. Indeed, those among them who claimed apostolic origins did so on the basis of a hypothetical secret tradition handed down through a single apostle. Only the Church Catholic, the church “according to the whole,” could lay claim to the entire apostolic witness. This was the warranty of the church’s orthodoxy, and this was the reason why “Catholic” eventually became a synonym for orthodox or “correct teaching.” Ironically, through an evolution that took centuries, debates regarding the true meaning of catholic came to be centered on the person and authority of a single apostle – Peter.
Next time, we will look at The Teachers of the Church.