Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

“A History Of Error”

Paul mentions a brother in Christ named Linus in 2 Timothy 4:21.  According to christian historical sources, Linus went on to become the second bishop of Rome, possibly ordained by Paul himself.  The earliest witness is Irenaeus, who in about the year 180 AD wrote: "The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate.”  Linus is presented by Jerome as "the first after Peter to be in charge of the Roman Church, by Eusebius, as "the first to receive the episcopate of the church at Rome, after the martyrdom of Paul and Peter by John Chrysostom as "second Bishop of the Church of Rome after Peter", while the Liberian Catalogue presents Peter as the first Bishop of Rome and Linus as his successor in the same office.  There seems to be an extensive list of bishops of Rome from Peter to the Emperor Constantine, attested to by early church fathers such as Eusebius of Caesarea (Ecclesiastical History), Tertullian, Origen, Augustine, Ignatius of Antioch, etc.  Why do some christians believe the Catholic church began with Constantine in the fourth century when there is clear historical evidence to the contrary?

Swiss Guard

Dear Swiss Guard,

Actually, there isn’t clear historical evidence… most of those early church writers were very vague (and sometimes even contradictory) about what the church was doing at that time.  Furthermore, the church is supposed to have bishops… just not Catholic bishops!  1 Tim. 3:1-7 outlines the biblical requirements for a bishop – even if Linus was a bishop (also known as an elder – Tit 1:5) in the congregation in Rome – that doesn’t mean it was a Catholic church.  The Catholic church with a pope, cardinals, archdioceses, etc. didn’t begin to truly form until the days of Constantine when the Roman empire tried to control Christianity by making it the state religion (a practice that has been repeated in many countries throughout time).

In the end, Catholicism is a false religion because it isn’t built upon the Bible.  Any religion that doesn’t use the Bible as its standard of measure is false (Gal 1:8).  The Catholic church calls its priests “father” which is wrong (Matt 23:9).  It tells people that they can’t eat certain foods, and it tells their priests that they can’t marry – which is wrong (1 Tim 4:3).  The Catholic church teaches that the Pope is directly in contact with God and that people should follow him… once again, wrong.  Christ is our direct connection to God (Heb 1:1-4), and the Bible is what we should follow (2 Tim 3:16-17).  Everything about the Catholic church’s organization is in direct opposition to the Scriptures.  The question isn’t how old a church is; the question is whether or not Christ is its head (Eph 5:23).  There is only one pattern for the church (Eph 4:4-6), and the Catholic church is not it.