Church History

“Ancient Baptists” and Other Myths

by Steve Ray on November 27, 2018

“Ancient Baptists” and Other Myths
Fr. Hugh Barbour, O.Praem.

Nicea, August 24, A.D. 325, 7:41 p.m. “That was powerful preaching, Brother Athanasius. Powerful! Amen! I want to invite any of you folks in the back to approach the altar here and receive the Lord into your hearts. Just come on up. We’ve got brothers and sisters up here who can lead you through the Sinner’s Prayer. Amen! And as this Council of Nicea comes to an end, I want to remind Brother Eusebius to bring the grape juice for tomorrow’s closing communion service . . .”

52athanasius23Ah yes, the Baptists at the Council of Nicea. Sound rather silly? It certainly does. And yet, there are those who claim the Church of Nicea was more Protestant in belief and practice than Catholic. I recently read an article in The Christian Research Journal, written by a Reformed Baptist apologist, who argued this very point. No, I’m not making this up. The article, “What Really Happened at Nicea?” actually claimed the Fathers of the Council were essentially Evangelical Protestants.

As a trained patristics scholar, I always feel a great deal of sadness and frustration when I encounter shoddy historical “scholarship,” whether it be in the pages of The Watchtower, a digest of Mormon “archaeology,” or a popular and usually well-produced Evangelical Protestant apologetics journal. But this article was so error-laden, so amateurishly “researched,” and so filled with historical and theological fallacies, that I simply couldn’t let it stand without response.

nicaea-sistineAll the classical Protestant confessions of faith expressing the beliefs of the various Reformation branches include the doctrinal proclamations of the ancient Catholic Council of Nicea, whereby Christ is professed to be “of one essence” with the Father. The original Lutheran Augsburg Confession of 1531, for example, and the later Formula of Concord of 1576-1584, each begin with the mention of the doctrine of the Nicene Council.

Calvin’s French Confession of Faith of 1559 states, “And we confess that which has been established by the ancient councils, and we detest all sects and heresies which were rejected by the holy doctors, such as St. Hilary, St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose and St. Cyril.” The Scotch Confession of 1560 deals with general councils in its 20th chapter. The Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, both the original of 1562-1571 and the American version of 1801, explicitly accept the Nicene Creed in article 7.

Even when the particular Protestant confessional formula does not mention the Nicene Council or its creed, its doctrine is nonetheless always asserted, as, for example, in the Calvinist Scotch Confession just mentioned, or in the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of 1647.

nicea-2At first glance, this all seems rather odd to the Catholic reader. After all, every branch of Protestantism professes the absolute and sole sufficiency of Sacred Scripture for establishing the fundamental points of doctrine. Why, then, do these various Protestant confessions bother to bring up the early councils (or any councils) when establishing their core teachings?

Well, we shouldn’t be too quick to accuse them of inconsistency just yet, for all of these confessions make it abundantly clear that the councils of the Church have no authority of their own, but only insofar as they teach things which have a clear warrant in the written Word of God. ………

Read more: http://www.catholicfidelity.com/apologetics-topics/other-religions/protestanism/baptists-at-nicea-by-fr-hugh-barbour-o-praem/

For Steve Ray’s Article: The Trail of Blood, Baptist Successionism.

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Cover of the “mythical” booklet “Trail of Blood”

What is the history of Baptists? Can they trace their roots back to the 1st century? Many ”fundamentalist” Baptists believe they can. Are they correct?

There is a booklet that is very popular among this fundamentalist crowd. It is entitled “The Trail of Blood”. The booklet claims that Catholics persecuted the true Christians — the Baptists — leaving behind a trail of blood.

I used to believe this premise and now that I have looked more carefully I wrote an article about this booklet and this the idea Baptists are the true Christians that have survived Catholic attempts to destroy them. Here is how my article begins:

“When Baptists attempt to discover the origins of their tradition they are faced with a historical dilemma. The search for Baptists roots hits a dead end in the sixteenth century. Most acknowledge that Baptist tradition is a tributary flowing out of the Protestant Reformation, but others attempt to discover a line of historical continuity, of doctrine and practice, back to Jesus and even John the Baptist. These Baptists are commonly referred to as “Baptist Successionists”. . . “

-For my full article on the Trail of Blood, click here (pdf).
-For other articles and references, click here.
-For more such articles and letters, click here.

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She Wrote that She is Worried about the Church…

by Steve Ray on November 10, 2018

In response to a concerned convert to the Catholic Faith.  What to think about all the scandals and the confusion and the divisions in the Church under the current Vatican? Here is my short response…

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You’re not the only one distressed by what’s going on in the Church today all the way up to the pope. There is confusion and division swirling everywhere, much of it instigated up to the highest levels and that is not a good thing. Plus we have Cardinals, bishops and priests who are acting scandalously — although in the big picture, I must say — there are only a very few in relation to the great ones that predominate in the Church.

This is a time where knowing church history is a big benefit. When you study the history of the Church you find out that there have been times much worse than now, many more scandals and awful popes. Discovering the lives of some of the popes of the past is enough to curl your hair.

But at this time, as a convert, I love being Catholic and I know this is the Church and I know that it has always been filled with sinners and often with some leaders who care more about their own well-being, agendas, and desires (even lusts) than they care about the sheep. That’s why God is always warning the shepherds because he knows their propensity towards self-interest.

But this is a great time to be a Catholic because we have a battle to fight and as far as I’m concerned, I feel I was born for a time like this. Yes, it often makes evangelism difficult but at the same time, it gives us a chance to talk with people about the Church that we may not have had before. People may want to bring up the issues and I always say, “Great, let’s talk!”.

The first one to sit on the Chair of Peter denied our Lord and of the other 11 “bishops” one of them betrayed Jesus and the rest of them fled. Later St. Paul confronted the first Pope Peter for being a hypocrite (Gal 2:11). We were never promised perfect leaders (nor perfect fellow sheep). From beginning to end Scripture warns us that many of our leaders will be problems and some even “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” So we should not be surprised.

Should we leave? Where else can we go?  Peter said to Jesus, “You’re the one who has the words of eternal life.”  Jesus is the one building his Church (not “churches”) and we know the end of the story already because the Bible tells us. In the end, we win and the Church will be triumphant. Those who have remained faithful will be rewarded, and those who have caused little ones to stumble will be punished severely.

If one thinks a pope or prelate is above criticism, read that section in my new book The Papacy: What the Pope Does and Why It Matters (released this month by Ignatius Press).

So, don’t be too discouraged but just pray and keep living out your Catholic life in a faithful way. Remember it’s not our job to fix it — though we pray and work toward that end. This is Jesus’ Church  — it’s built on him and he is building it. The pope is simply the successor of Peter. They come and go, good ones and bad ones, but the Church continues to march forward. Onward Christian soldiers!

God bless you!

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What Does the Word Catholic Mean? A History of the Word “Catholic”

October 29, 2018

As a Protestant, I went to an Evangelical church that changed an important and historical word in the  Apostles Creed. Instead of the “holy, catholic Church,” we were the “holy, Christian church.” At the time, I thought nothing of it. There was certainly no evil intent, just a loathing of the Catholic Church and a […]

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The Sign of the Cross: It’s History, Meaning and Biblical Basis

October 28, 2018

SIGN OF THE CROSS By Steve Ray The Sign of the Cross is a ritual gesture by which we confess two important mysteries: the Trinity and the centrality of the Cross. It is the most common and visible means by which we confess our faith. The Sign of the Cross is made by touching the […]

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Free Timeline of the 1st Century

October 22, 2018

The past is shrouded in a fog for most people. What was really going on in the 1st century during and after the live of Christ and the birth of the Catholic Church? Here is a simple Timeline of First Century Christianity. I created this to give you an overview on one page. I created the […]

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Who Says the Mass is a Sacrifice?

October 9, 2018

Who Says the Mass is a Sacrifice? Jimmy Swaggart (making a foolish and unhistorical claim): “The Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is, without question, one of the most absurd doctrines ever imposed on a trusting public…  Roman Catholic errors are inevitably human innovations that were inserted into the church during the early centuries. This teaching on […]

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The Eucharist and the Fathers of the Church: Article by Steve Ray

August 12, 2018

The Eucharist and the Fathers of the Church, by Steve Ray The word “Eucharist” was used early in the Church to describe the Body and Blood of Christ under the forms of bread and wine. Eucharist comes from the Greek word for “thanks” (eucharistia), describing Christ’s actions: “And when he had given thanks, he broke […]

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Mega-church Mania: One Mom’s Observations (she’s a good writer) and Observations from the Early Church

August 10, 2018

Mr. Ray, My eldest daughter invited me to my grandson’s ‘dedication’ at her new place of worship.  Worship? Sorry. Her new place of…..well, the giant Olympic-sized structure that, after being directed in by police/traffic officers, upon entering, reminded me of a mall.  Oh and by the way, I didn’t witness any worship. My 1st thoughts were…”Wow! […]

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Great Pictures, Charts and Info on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

June 25, 2018

Since we are experiencing the amazing and rare Solemn Entry into the Holy Sepulchre to visit the tomb today ushered in by the Franciscans, I wanted to share these many beautiful and helpful pictures, diagrams, charts and more about the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. See all this wealth of information written and visual. For me […]

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Dear Protestant: Where Did You Get Your Bible?

May 20, 2018

From Little Catholic Bubble website Leila@LittleCatholicBubble Dear Protestant: Where did you get your New Testament? At least a couple of times every week, Protestants use New Testament verses to show me where the Catholic Church is wrong about something. I always make them take the necessary step back by asking the following: “Where did you get your […]

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Quiz: Did Jesus Found a Church on Pentecost and If So, Where Is It?

May 19, 2018

I am sharing this from John Martignoni’s e-mail and website at www.BibleChristianSociety.com. Thanks for your good work John! 1) Did Jesus found a church?  A) Yes; Matt 16:18  2) How many churches did Jesus found?  A) One; the church is the Body of Christ and there is only one body of Christ – Rom 12:5, […]

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Pentecost: The Birth of the Catholic Church

May 9, 2018

                You can also purchase this talk here.                  

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The Technology of Scripture Study: The Middle Ages (and a hilarious video at the end)

April 16, 2018

“I am an ecclesiastical historian by training and a Bible software guy by trade. Which, I think, puts me in the unique position to write about the history of the intersection of technology and Scripture study in a series of posts.” Written by my friend Andrew Jones PhD: “We might start with a description of […]

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Short Thought on If or When it’s OK to Break from the Church

March 19, 2018

We must admit that the Catholic Church today is the same organization with unbroken continuity with that organization (Church) started in the 1st century. A reading of the Apostolic Fathers, the hinge figures between the Apostles and the later 1st and  2nd century, makes that clear. The question is whether at some point the one […]

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Does God Pick the Pope? [implied, Did God Pick Pope Francis]? by Jimmy Akin

March 14, 2018

Does God Pick the Pope? by Jimmy Akin “When Pope Benedict was elected in 2005, I was overjoyed.As much as I loved John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke to me in a special way, and I was thrilled when he became pope. I was puzzled, though, by the way people began announcing him as “God’s choice” and […]

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