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In doing research on Martin Luther, I stumbled upon this article. Which had the following quote:

If you are Catholic, you know that your religion was founded in the year 33 by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, true God and true man; and that this one Church, to which people must belong to be saved, will exist until the end of time.

Was the first "split" of the church in 1520 with Luther? It is safe to say that the Catholic religion was in fact started in the 33rd year of the Lord?

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Of interest Martin Luther's 95 Theses on these issues – r3s3arch3r777 Nov 5 '13 at 19:36
Too bad the whole book isn't online, its from the last chapter of this book,… – bit_ly_1selcQ3 Nov 7 '13 at 11:16
@some-free-mason: no, I'm pretty sure Jesus was the original denomination. – Greg McNulty Nov 7 '13 at 22:26
@GregMcNulty Sounds like you have a lead on an interesting answer! Maybe you could consider adding some sources to that and continue? – The Freemason Nov 7 '13 at 22:51
history of the catholic church – user13992 Sep 26 '14 at 20:51
up vote 23 down vote accepted

The word catholic means 'universal' and by that definition, yes, in fact the 'catholic' church is definitionally the first orthodox church. (In contrast, the Gnostics and others were heterodox.) The problem today is that most people see 'catholic' and assume it is the Roman Catholic Church. While Roman Catholics often do not like to hear those two terms distinguished from each other (and I write this as a Protestant) it is a useful distinction to be made.

Herein follows a quick history lesson, necessarily broad, but hopefully fun:

1. First there was the apostolic church

All those books in the Bible were written to the churches established by the apostles and earliest followers of "the Way." They weren't always legal, were often persecuted, and are the 'apostolic church' to which so many evangelicals want to return. Not that they particularly want to be the church in say, Corinth, where one guy was sleeping with his mom - nor do they particularly want to be the church in Ephesus which 'lost its first love,' but the idea of being Jesus' holy and perfect church still has a strong following.

Understanding when Judaism and Christianity diverged provides insight into what this early church looked like, and why this period is so problematic.

Now, the Roman Catholic church has a list of who was the leader of the Roman church - and its a pretty old list. (I think the earliest records that we can prove hit like the mid 100s.) But, at a certain point, it is just a guess. Indeed, Pope Sixtus I may possibly just be "the sixth guy" whatever his name was. It gets dodgy.

2. In 312 AD, it got legalized, and this is where people tend to think it went to pot.

When Constantine legalized the church after his vision at Milvan Bridge, the church underwent a radical change. What had been a counter-cultural phenomenon was now official, and eventually even the norm. Fairly soon, the Emperor wanted consistency, and so gathered several universal or "Ecumenical Church Councils." Drawing from as wide (you could almost say 'universal') cross section of Christianity as he could, there were efforts to describe what was and what was not heresy. This is the church that can most accurately be described as 'Catholic' for it was universal in its consensus. What it declared to be orthodox was in fact orthodox, and everything else could by imperial decree be called 'not-Christian.'

The structure of this church was loosely based on 5 key churches - the 'first among equals' being that in Rome.

During this Patristic Period (up through Augustine) and even into the early Middle Ages, there was always controversy and jockeying between churches, but it is generally thought of as being one church. There were differences between the Greek East and Roman West to be sure - not least of which was due to language and understanding - but the idea was still that it was one church. Up at least until 787, with the last of the 7 councils, that was in agreement.

3. Eventually, the Greek and Latin Churches excommunicated each other - in 1054, and Islam killed off the Orthodox

The biggest turning point in relations between East and West occurred in what is now called The Great Schism. Basically, the Bishop in Rome (the Pope) excommunicated the other 4 churches and the other 4 churches excommunicated the Pope in what was called the 'Mutual Anathema.' Chief amongst the remaining 4 was Constantinople, and as we all know, Istanbul was Constantinople, and you can't go back to old Constantinople, for its been a long time gone.

At this point, you have your first split - and it is between what we now know as the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches. Both thought of themselves as orthodox and both as catholic, but we know these churches by those terms today.

The problem for the Eastern Orthodox, however, was that Islam was reaching its heyday in the same period. The Caliphates had taken over the Middle East and were pushing into the heartland of those 4 churches, eventually leaving them moribund and hunkered down. In contrast, Europe was able to stave off the infidels and strengthen its position vis a vis the Orthodox. When, in 1204, for example, the Eastern Orthodox begged the Romans to protect Constantinople, the Romans sort of helped. They arrived in Constantinople to be sure, but they sacked it instead of protecting it. As you might imagine, this sort of left a bad feeling in everybody's mouth.

4. The Roman Church had its own Schism called the Protestant Reformation.

While it is fashionable to pin "the" date of the Protestant Reformation as October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral, the truth is it was much longer. Some say it goes back to William of Occkham in the 1300s. Pretty much everybody agrees the 1400s, with its three Popes, Popes who died having sex with their mistresses, and the whole Babylonian Captivity thing was at its low point. The truth is that the 'universal' church, that had been in the West, was splitting.

It is from this Roman church that all Protestants split - and Martin Luther - leading to the present situation we have today with a highly fractured universal church. Now, to be clear, the distinction between the churches is less than you might think.* All three churches agree on a lot - the divinty of Christ, the need for a Savior, etc... Indeed, I've argued that we mostly disagree on church governance. But, there is a fractured setting.

The question is, when we fractured, did we break up or break off? Roman Catholics say Protestants broke off. Protestants and Orthodox would be more likely to say we actually broke up. And, if we broke up, nobody can really say they were first, any more than mom or dad could say, 'I am the real family.'

So, to answer the question directly - Was Martin Luther splitting from the first denomination? A Qualified 'Yes' is in order, in that it was descended from the first church - but to say that the first church was the Roman one really is too much of a stretch. The truth is that the 'Catholic' / Patristic / Ecumenical church itself gave birth to the three major parts - the Orthodox, the Protestant, and the Roman Catholic church. How you want to name them is a matter of what parts of the church you want to emphasize, and what you think of apostolic succession.

To the Roman Catholics - yes, they are the legitimate heirs of the Bishop in Rome. But you know what? Even Queen Elizabeth has two drastically different sons. William can be claim to be first, but it doesn't mean Harry can't also claim to be an heir as well. Likewise, Byzantium considered itself part of the Roman Empire - and there would be a case based solely on the succession of Emperors - and there is a reason that historians distinguish the Eastern Roman Empire in Byzantium from the Roman Empire.

Personally, I think of them as three churches forming from a common root. Each branch takes on its own characteristics, and the whole is definitely one - but they are in fact branches from a common root. If you want to consider the Roman church the main branch, feel free - but acknowledge its place.

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Great answer to the question. You cleared up a lot of wrong ideas. However, I think that there is one small problem: Namely, the Byzantines may have wanted help, but the Roman Catholics only promised it on condition of reconciliation between religions. So it was always a no go there (for the true Orthodox. I believe that some actually wanted to go on with it). Rather, the sack of Constantinople, is what is known as the Fourth Crusade. I'm glad someone else likes that song... :D – Byzantine Nov 8 '13 at 15:19
There was an earlier split out of the council of Chalcedon - the Oriental Orthodox Churches have an equal or even greater claim to be the legitimate heirs of the Apostolic church due to the age of their churches. – bruised reed Sep 26 '14 at 1:10
And after a few hundred years of the Muslims killing Orthodox Christians (and they still are), Communists joined in the fun! (please note my sarcasm). +1 good summary – Dan Sep 26 '14 at 16:06
Just a historical note: the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches have never, to my knowledge, excommunicated each other as a body. In 1054, the papal legate, Cardinal Humbert da Silva Candida, excommunicated the patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Caerularius (without authorization, it would seem), and the patriarch responded by excommunicating the legate. See… for good summary. – AthanasiusOfAlex Oct 18 '14 at 7:51
@AffableGeek Well, the Protestant factions are 'Heterodox' too, according to Catholicism and the Orthodox. I think the heterodox/orthodox split here is artificial unless you indicate a Truth to base Orthodoxy off of. – the dark wanderer Apr 21 '15 at 22:23

Disclaimer #1: This answer is, in no way, intended to undercut or replace Affable Geek’s very well presented (and fun) overview of denominational history...or any of the other answers. This is simply an attempt to “flesh out” the Catholic Church’s claim to fame - namely Apostolic/Magisterial Succession – by presenting a very brief paper trail of Patristic writings supporting this claim. Please consider the following as nothing more than an extended “Catholic” footnote.

The word catholic is worn as a hat by many different churches and denominations. I’m not intending to define the “Catholic Church” (generic or specific) as much as I am the historical Catholic Hierarchy (a. k. a. Apostolic Succession).

The apostolic succession of bishops and their authority as protectors of the faith was one of the few points that were rarely debated by the Church Fathers. The doctrine was elaborated by Ignatius of Antioch (and others) in the face of Gnosticism, expounded by others such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Augustine, and by the end of the 2nd century AD was universally accepted by the bishops.

Ignatius of Antioch

Here in his letters to the Smyrneans, St. Ignatius goes so far as to state that following the local bishop is comparable to Jesus doing the Father’s will:

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Christ Jesus does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles. Do ye also reverence the deacons, as those that carry out [through their office] the appointment of God? Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrneans, 8:2(A.D. 110)

Later, in a letter to the Trallians, Ignatius tells his readers that bishops possess unsurpassed power and authority in the Church:

For what is the bishop but one who beyond all others possesses all power and authority, so far as it is possible for a man to possess it, who according to his ability has been made an imitator of the Christ of God? And what is the presbytery but a sacred assembly, the counselors and assessors of the bishop? And what are the deacons but imitators of the angelic powers, fulfilling a pure and blameless ministry unto him, as ... Anencletus and Clement to Peter? Ignatius, To the Trallians, 7 (A.D. 110)

Cyprian of Carthage

Here St. Cyprian teaches that the Church and the Bishop are one, and to be separated from the bishop is to be separated from the Church:

Peter speaks there, on whom the Church was to be built, teaching and showing in the name of the Church, that although a rebellious and arrogant multitude of those who will not hear and obey may depart, yet the Church does not depart from Christ; and they are the Church who are a people united to the priest, and the flock which adheres to its pastor. Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if anyone be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God's priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church, which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another. Cyprian, To Florentius, Epistle 66/67(A.D. 254)

Irenaeus of Lyon

True knowledge is [that which consists in] the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine. Irenaeus, Against Heresies,4:33:8 (A.D. 180)

Augustine of Hippo

It’s safe to say that St. Augustine is universally celebrated by both Catholics and Protestants. Augustine clearly states time and time again that if it were not for the Catholic hierarchy, he would not know salvation.

The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should, though from the slowness of our understanding, or the small attainment of our life, the truth may not yet fully disclose itself.

For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church. ... for it was through the Catholics that I got my faith in it; and so, whatever you bring from the gospel will no longer have any weight with me. Augustine, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus, 4:5, 5:6 (A.D 397)

About the Roman Bishop

Philip the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said: There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to to-day and forever both lives and judges in his successors. Council of Ephesus, Session III(A.D. 431),in NPNF2:XIV:223

Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, archbishop of the great and elder Rome, through us, and through this present most holy synod together with the thrice blessed and all-glorious Peter the Apostle, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the orthodox faith, hath stripped him of the episcopate, and hath alienated from him all hieratic worthiness. Therefore let this most holy and great synod sentence the before mentioned Dioscorus to the canonical penalties. Council of Chalcedon, Session III(A.D. 451),in NPNF2,XIV:259

I really don’t like to use clichés but…the list goes on and on, and the further the list moves away from the Apostles the more it exponentially grows.

For multitudes more see: I II III IV

Martin Luther

In contrast with the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs, Luther and his constituents rejected not only the authority of the Bishop of Rome, but the authority of all bishops and the entire ecclesiastical hierarchy as well. Luther introduced into Christianity the doctrine of Universal Priesthood

When compared to the Patristic writings above it becomes evident that Luther’s writings concerning “the Universal Priesthood” drastically diverge from the Apostolic Succession handed down to him by his predecessors.

That the pope or bishop anoints, makes tonsures, ordains, consecrates, or dresses differently from the laity, may make a hypocrite or an idolatrous oil-painted icon, but it in no way makes a Christian or spiritual human being. In fact, we are all consecrated priests through Baptism, as St. Peter in 1 Peter 2[:9] says, "You are a royal priesthood and a priestly kingdom," and Revelation [5:10], "Through your blood you have made us into priests and kings." (Martin Luther, Weimar Ausgabe, vol. 6, p. 407)

How then if they are forced to admit that we are all equally priests, as many of us as are baptized, and by this way we truly are; while to them is committed only the Ministry (ministerium Predigtamt) and consented to by us (nostro consensu)? If they recognize this they would know that they have no right to exercise power over us (ius imperii, in what has not been committed to them) except insofar as we may have granted it to them, for thus it says in 1 Peter 2, "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a priestly kingdom." In this way we are all priests, as many of us as are Christians. There are indeed priests whom we call ministers. They are chosen from among us, and who do everything in our name. That is a priesthood which is nothing else than the Ministry. Thus 1 Corinthians 4:1: "No one should regard us as anything else than ministers of Christ and dispensers of the mysteries of God. (On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church,1520)

To Luther’s credit, he does acknowledge in some of his sermons that much is to be owed to the Roman Catholic Church, almost as if he is echoing the founder of his defrocked Augustinian Order.

Yes, we ourselves find it difficult to refute it, especially since we concede—as we must—that so much of what they say is true: that the papacy has God’s Word and the office of the apostles, and that we have received Holy Scripture, Baptism, the Sacrament, and the pulpit from them. What would we know of these if it were not for them? Therefore faith, the Christian Church, Christ, and the Holy Spirit must also be found among them. What business has I, then, to preach against them as a pupil preaching against his teachers? Then there come rushing into my heart thoughts like these: “Now I see that I am in error. Oh, if only I had never started this and had never preached a word! For who dares oppose the church, of which we confess in the Creed: I believe in a holy Christian Church, etc.? Now I find this church in the papacy too. It follows, therefore, that if I condemn this church; I am excommunicated, rejected, and damned by God and all the saints. [LW 24:304].

Disclaimer #2: The following is entirely my own private opinion and should be skeptically received as foul fallibility.

Was the Catholic Church the first denomination? No.

Was the Lutheran movement the first denomination? No. The first denominational movement was the Arian movement. It lived longer than Protestantism currently has. It infected many Bishops over many centuries.

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+1 I think you are hitting the right academic questions and answer the specifics. My goal was to answer for the layman - and your answer is very, very good. – Affable Geek Nov 7 '13 at 14:56
But I cannot mark two as correct?!?!? I'll just keep changing it from one to the other every week. – The Freemason Nov 7 '13 at 18:04

The first "split" of the church was certainly not in 1520. There were several major schisms centuries before the Protestant movement got started, particularly the split between Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox church.

And even before that, the history of the Roman Catholic church is not nearly as clear as the article claims. A big hole exists in the historical record around the time of the fall of Jerusalem and for a few decades afterwards, and the curtain rises on a 2nd century AD with the Apostles dead and Christianity in turmoil. There were factions everywhere with wildly conflicting doctrines, a scene that would not be at all out of place in modern Christianity!

The Roman Catholic church as the institution we are familiar with today can basically be traced back to the 4th century; it was what emerged from all the chaos when Emperor Constantine decided enough was enough and commissioned a synod by fiat to resolve an official set of Christian doctrine.

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I think there should be more credit given to the Apostolic Succession of Roman bishops here. Its very true that the Papal monarchy that we know and love today (and all of its pomp) did not come into its own until around the 800's. But to say that the Roman Catholic hierarchy was simply the chaotic brainchild of Constantine's political agenda sounds a bit too fundamentalist-ish. – user5286 Nov 6 '13 at 1:03
Not that I'm condemning fundamentalism as a whole altogether...just the prevalent idea that the Catholic Church was founded by Constantine. – user5286 Nov 6 '13 at 9:48

It is worth noting that the word "denomination" is in itself a difficult one. Neither the Catholic nor the Orthodox would agree that the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church is properly speaking a denomination.

The problem is that the word denomination implies equality, whereas both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church believe that they alone are properly speaking The Church, while others are either "not the Church" or only deficiently the Church.

For the Catholics, this position is most clearly set out in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (also known by its incipit Lumen Gentium), which was one of the main documents that came out of Vatican II. It was clarified (helpfully or unhelpfully -- an exercise for the reader!) in 2007 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a document with the snappy title Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the Church.

Lumen Gentium said that the Church of Christ subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church. The 2007 document clarified this:

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them. Nevertheless, the word “subsists” can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the “one” Church); and this “one” Church subsists in the Catholic Church.

That is to say, the body which is properly speaking "the Church" is the Catholic Church.

The word denomination implies an equality between this one true Church and the others that have a lesser status. In the same way, Catholic teaching would disagree with the image of the Church as a tree with one trunk (the early united Church) and multiple branches (the modern denominations.

You will see that, in the modern ecumenical movement, the word "denomination" is never used, because both Catholic and Orthodox churches disagree with the word's implications.

So, yes, Catholic teaching would indeed say that the Catholic Church is the one Church of Jesus Christ established in AD33. But to say that they are a denomination is potentially misleading.

On the other hand, the characterisations in the document linked in the question are, to put it mildly, a little dodgy...

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The study of Church history is a very exhaustive study, and the schisms in the church happened over a long period of time.

As far as the Catholic church being the first denomination, this is a very hard question to answer since both the churches were started by Peter. The Eastern Orthodox church which began in Jeruselem was an offspring of the Temple system in Judiasm. It is indefinite at which point the Church broke away from the Temple system, but is commonly thought that it became a separate entity before Paul went to Rome and established a church there. There are also some who believe that the church at Antioch may have been started by Paul at about that same time.

Until 1054 AD, Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism were branches of the same body; the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This date marks an important moment in the history of all Christian denominations because it designates the very first major division in Christianity and the beginning of "denominations."

You may find the following excerpt helpful.

• 33 Pentecost (A.D. 29 is thought to be more accurate).
• 49 Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) establishes precedent for addressing Church disputes in Council. James presides as bishop.
• 69 Bishop Ignatius consecrated in Antioch in heart of New Testament era-St. Peter had been the first bishop there. Other early bishops include James, Polycarp, and Clement.
• 95 Book of Revelation written, probably the last of the New Testament books.
• 150 St. Justin Martyr describes the liturgical worship of the Church, centered in the Eucharist. Liturgical worship is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments.
• 313 The Edict of Milan marks an end to the period of Roman persecution of Christianity.
• 325 The Council of Nicea settles the major heretical challenge to the Christian Faith posed when the heretic Arius asserts Christ was created by the Father. St. Athanasius defends the eternality of the Son of God. Nicea is the first of Seven Ecumenical (Church-wide) Councils.
• 451 Council of Chalcedon affirms apostolic doctrine of two natures in Christ.
• 589 A synod in Toledo, Spain, adds the filioque to the Nicene Creed (asserting that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son). This error is later adopted by Rome.
• 787 The era of Ecumenical Councils ends at Nicea; the Seventh Council restores the centuries-old use of icons to the Church.
• 988 Conversion of Rus' (Russia) begins.
• 1054 The Great Schism occurs. Two major issues include Rome's claim to a universal papal supremacy and her addition of the filioque clause to the Nicene Creed. The Photian Schism (880) further complicates the debate.

Prior to any organized church there were people who were called People of the Way, who met in homes as we see when Saul — who later was renamed Paul — went persecuting those people. So in some ways it could be said that they were the first denomination.

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Was Catholicism the first denomination?

If you consider the Catholic idea that Peter was made the head of the church and apostolic succession carried the idea on until Martin Luther, you might think Catholicism was first.

If you see denominations as divisions (Greek: hairesis) you can find them already occurring in Corinth;

1 Corinthians 1:10-13 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

If you consider a denomination to be a sort of self-replicating franchise brand, Gnosticism could be a candidate.

If you consider the primacy of Rome to be the start of the Catholic church, then it was quite some time before the regional authority of bishops was brought under subordinate jurisdiction.

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It straightforward if you use the process of elimination.

The early Church Fathers believed in transubstantiation so they were not protestants.
One example:

"This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus." "First Apology", Ch. 66, inter A.D. 148-155.

"First Apology", Ch. 66, inter A.D. 148-155.

The early Church Fathers believed in the primacy of the Papacy so they were not "Orthodox"

St. Irenaeus "The blessed apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the church [of Rome] . . . handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus" (Against Heresies 3:3:3 [A.D. 189]).

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The role of the papacy was under dispute long before 1054. To say that the doctrine of papal supremacy existed in the primitive Church is a difficult statement to justify. – lonesomeday Nov 7 '13 at 18:53
@lonesomeday You are mistaken. – bit_ly_1selcQ3 Nov 7 '13 at 19:14
I don't feel like that resource is reliable or comprehensive. I'd recommend Ted Campbell's Christian Confessions: A Historical Introduction and the entry "Primacy" in Lossky et al's Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement if you wanted to discuss this question further. – lonesomeday Nov 7 '13 at 19:20
Both of you need to watch your tone. You can disagree with each other without being jerks about it. That said, this answer needs more content to be acceptable, as it stands it's links only. I'm going to try to edit these comments to preserve the content but modify the tone as the content seems valuable. @lonesomeday – wax eagle Nov 8 '13 at 13:26
@lonesomeday You come comment on my answer, proclaim yourself the authority on the subject, and then proceed to dictate to me what resources I can and cannot submit for your approval to continue the debate. All in a condescending tone. Then you apologize to the moderator. BAH – bit_ly_1selcQ3 Nov 9 '13 at 14:06

Technically the first split would have occurred at the same time the church was formed by Peter. That is why we have what is called gnostic text. When Mary Thomas and others disagreed or went against Peter and his followers teachings, even though they were also with Yehoshu'a Immanuel and was taught by him as well. Their views and gospels got labeled has gnostic and were condemned by the church, to the point that they were ordered to be destroyed, which luckily for us some could not bring themselves to do so and save what they could. But honestly Baptist would have been before the Catholic Church. Since they consider themselves to follow along the same teachings of John the Baptist. Which was gathering in his followers and preaching the coming of the Immanuel before Yeshoshu'a set his disciples into motion to continue his church and the catholic church was formed. if you would like to read more about gnostic text this is a good starting point: The Gnostic Society Library. The gospel of Mary and the gospel of Thomas are both very good and I don't understand why they were left out of the Bible, Well actually I do but that is another topic altogether.

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I was just commenting on what was already here. While everything listed by Hani Gote, Cecil Beckum, Affable Geek and everyone else is great and very informative. I just wanted to put in the only things I think that they did not mention. – Joshua Harvison Nov 7 '13 at 2:49
You seem to imply that the gnostic gospels that carry the names of people like Thomas and Mary were actually written by those people. There's so much evidence against that notion that it is right to simply say that that is false. – fredsbend Jul 23 '15 at 13:56

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