I have finished the first volume of William Jones Church History, and I’d like to jot down a few notes before launching into the second.
It is often told to me that only the Catholics can claim that their history goes back to the time of Christ. Such claims are uninformed. Though much of history is obscured due to the affliction of those who opposed the church of Rome, the record of the Novations, Paulicians, the Christians in Piedmont valley in 800 A.D. who were taught by Claude a bishop there, and the Waldenses who came some hundred so years later. Each group in its turn was persecuted by the church of Rome, many were tortured and killed because they dared oppose the Papacy.
Christ told the disciples that Christians would be known by their love one for another. It seems strange to me, that if indeed Christ’s Church was properly upheld by the bishops of Rome, that they did not heed nor evidence such brotherly love.
Other notes of some import, the doctrine of infant baptistism did not show itself until sometime in 400-500 BC, or perhaps later. The worship and veneration of the saints and martyrs did not evidence itself until a little earlier than infant baptism, and was the source of some dispute among those who held the Papacy. One situation of note is recalled that Pope Constantine issued an edict forbidding the use of images and such in the church, and Pope Steven IV who followed (i think) promptly issued an edict countermanding the order.
The doctrine of Transubstantion, which holds that the Eucharist becomes the actual physical body and blood of Christ, is the logical equivalent of cannibalism, a practice the early Christians were often accused of and had often to offer a defense against.
If the passage in Matthew when Christ said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock will I build my church.” is spoken of by Catholics to mean that Peter was made vice-regent and was the first Pope. There is some confusion rising from the passage, yet Peter in his epistle noted that Christ was the chief corner stone, the stone that the builders rejected, and that all Christians were as living stones. If Peter taught that Christ was the foundation of the church, then he would have understood that Christ referred to Himself.
Also, all throughout the history of the Church of Rome, the Bishops there and later on the Popes, sought to establish through civil law the kingdom of Christ. Those who opposed or taught against Papal decree were persecuted and often killed. Those who were to important to kill were banished or imprisoned. Christ during His ministry noted on several occasions that His kingdom was not an earthly kingdom. It seems that the church in Rome neglected this doctrine.
Paul teaches us in many of his epistles that we as Christians are to submit ourselves to the kings and magistrates of whatever government we are under. Yet the Popes often declared themselves above the kings and refused upon more than one occasion to submit to the authority of the Monarch in whose jurisdiction they resided.
This is not a complete list, and I have not included much source material because I haven’t time right now. William Jones’ History of the Christian Church may be consulted if you wish to research more thoroughly some of the issue raised here.