From Got Questions:
The Roman Catholic Church contends that its origin is the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ in approximately AD 30. The Catholic Church proclaims itself to be the church that Jesus Christ died for, the church that was established and built by the apostles. Is that the true origin of the Catholic Church?
On the contrary. Even a cursory reading of the New Testament will reveal that the Catholic Church does not have its origin in the teachings of Jesus or His apostles.
That is a matter of interpretation.
In the New Testament, there is no mention of the papacy, worship/adoration of Mary (or the immaculate conception of Mary, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the assumption of Mary...
The lack of mention of these things is not evidence that they are not true.
..or the equal authority of church tradition and Scripture.
The role of Tradition (as distinct from mere practice) is not as something in conflict with Scripture but as something complementary to Scripture, so that taken together with Revelation they reveal the fullness of truth.
So, if the origin of the Catholic Church is not in the teachings of Jesus and His apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, what is the true origin of the Catholic Church?
It is not a question of either/or but of both.
For the first 280 years of Christian history...
...which includes the time of Popes Linus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Telesphorus, Pius, Victor, Zephyrinus, Fabian, Cornelius, and others, which shows that the institution of the Church was well-established and visible to the world
well before the year 253 AD, which was the last year of the pontificate of Pope Cornelius, which shows the Church already had its origin long before Constantine.
Christianity was banned by the Roman Empire, and Christians were terribly persecuted.
...which is exactly what is recorded in Catholic history.
This changed after the “conversion” of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Constantine provided religious toleration with the Edict of Milan in AD 313, effectively lifting the ban on Christianity. Later, in AD 325, Constantine called the Council of Nicea in an attempt to unify Christianity.
The main issue of the Council of Nicea being to declare Arianism (the belief that Christ was inferior to God) to be a heresy, which was very important to the unity of Christianity, to be sure.
....While this may have seemed to be a positive development for the Christian church, the results were anything but positive. Just as Constantine refused to fully embrace the Christian faith, but continued many of his pagan beliefs and practices, so the Christian church that Constantine promoted was a mixture of true Christianity and Roman paganism.
That is a matter of opinion. What is true is that many of pagan practices were modified and adopted, just as the gentile practices off not observing Jewish circumcision and dietary law was adopted to make Christianity more universal.
Constantine found that, with the Roman Empire being so vast, expansive, and diverse, not everyone would agree to forsake his or her religious beliefs to embrace Christianity. So, Constantine allowed, and even promoted, the “Christianization” of pagan beliefs.
To the extent that pagan practices (not
beliefs) were adopted, Constantine had limited power. He would be opposed, if necessary. The Church existed before without the good will of the secular leaders and she would do so again in times to come.
Completely pagan and utterly unbiblical beliefs were given new “Christian” identities.
Total interpretive speculation.
Some clear examples of this are as follows:
(1) The Cult of Isis, an Egyptian mother-goddess religion, was absorbed into Christianity by replacing Isis with Mary.
The similarities are accidental and imperfect.
Many of the titles that were used for Isis, such as “Queen of Heaven,” “Mother of God,” and theotokos (“God-bearer”) were attached to Mary.
This was from Tradition of belief, and not from convenient adaptation as this suggests.
Mary was given an exalted role in the Christian faith, far beyond what the Bible ascribes to her, in order to attract Isis worshippers to a faith they would not otherwise embrace.
Pure speculation of motive that Got Questions would have no way of knowing, only assuming.
Many temples to Isis were, in fact, converted into temples dedicated to Mary.
Repurposing of structures by new religions is common, as we see in the various used of Hagia Sophia over the years.
The first clear hints of Catholic Mariology occur in the writings of Origen, who lived in Alexandria,..
Not true. Irenaeous wrote "The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God” when Origen was only 4 years old. Hippolytus wrote "Thus, too, they preached of the advent of God in the flesh to the world, his advent by the spotless and God-bearing (theotokos
) Mary in the way of birth and growth" in 217.
(2) Mithraism was a religion in the Roman Empire in the 1st through 5th centuries AD. It was very popular among the Romans, especially among Roman soldiers, and was possibly the religion of several Roman emperors. While Mithraism was never given “official” status in the Roman Empire, it was the de facto official religion until Constantine and succeeding Roman emperors replaced Mithraism with Christianity. One of the key features of Mithraism was a sacrificial meal, which involved eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a bull. Mithras, the god of Mithraism, was “present” in the flesh and blood of the bull, and when consumed, granted salvation to those who partook of the sacrificial meal (this is known as theophagy, the eating of one’s god). Mithraism also had seven “sacraments,” making the similarities between Mithraism and Roman Catholicism too many to ignore.
These are coincidences and nothing more. The literal interpretation of the last supper predated Constantine.
Church leaders after Constantine found an easy substitute for the sacrificial meal of Mithraism in the concept of the Lord’s Supper/Christian communion.
More speculation of motive.
Even before Constantine, some early Christians had begun to attach mysticism to the Lord’s Supper, rejecting the biblical concept of a simple and worshipful remembrance of Christ’s death and shed blood.
The two views are not in opposition.
The Romanization of the Lord’s Supper made the transition to a sacrificial consumption of Jesus Christ, now known as the Catholic Mass/Eucharist, complete.
More speculation as the origins of Catholic practices.
(3) Most Roman emperors (and citizens) were henotheists. A henotheist is one who believes in the existence of many gods, but focuses primarily on one particular god or considers one particular god supreme over the other gods. For example, the Roman god Jupiter was supreme over the Roman pantheon of gods. Roman sailors were often worshippers of Neptune, the god of the oceans. When the Catholic Church absorbed Roman paganism, it simply replaced the pantheon of gods with the saints.
False. The saints were never viewed as comparable to God like the Roman gods were comparable to each other. This explanation from Got Questions has just jumped the shark.