How do I explain that the Catholic Church did not split from the Christian church?

By December 26, 2014 13 Comments

Full Question

Someone I know claims that the Catholic Church divided from the “Christian church” around A.D. 900. I know he is incorrect, but how do I explain it to him?


Tell him to go find a serious book on Church history and read it. There is no basis for what he is claiming. Not only were there no significant splits around A.D. 900, there were no splits anywhere near this period that resulted in a surviving group that was called “the Christian Church.”
The claim is so preposterous that one suspects your acquaintance has gotten something garbled somewhere along the line. If you really want to engage him on this subject, get more detail about what he is claiming. Insist that he give a source for the info, then research the claims made by that source.


  • Barbara says:

    I think the person that made this statement used a wrong choice of words. It’s not so much that the Catholic church separated, however during the 800-900s , there were several reformations in the church as a result of political uprisings and the economy. Hundreds of years before, however, it already began establishing its own doctrines and policies. So, in essence many consider the church separate as a result of its own church practices and teachings and not solely those of the early Christians as stated in the Bible. This has been a controversial subject throughout centuries: the church vs. scripture, resulting in continuous changes in the church throughout history.

  • John says:

    Has anyone here heard of the great schism? How about continuing and recent efforts for rapprochement with Orthodox Christians starting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew? In the ancient church there were five patriarchates in Constantinople, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria and Jerusalem. The patriarch of Rome is not the head of the christian church…he is the head of the roman catholic church. Issues of contention include the filioque and the primacy of the roman pope.
    Maybe someone at the website could look those up rather than calling other readers and scholars knowledge and claims of history preposterous.

    • Gerard Kenny says:

      One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church from the time of the Apostles…all other protestasnt churches are just cults started by mere men or kings!!

      • John says:

        The orthodox Christian church is what remained of the universal church, which was formed at Pentecost, after the great schism. It is not of the Protestant variety, rather reconciliation and reunification of catholic and orthodox Christian churches will result in the universal church returning to its christian fullness.

    • Daine says:

      Actually John if you look at history, The Bishop of Rome was the final authority and dissent against this really only started once Rome collapsed and the religious leadership in Constantinople thought they should be in charge as they were now the centre of the Riman world. However all the other churches rejected this and still accepted the Bishop of Rome as head. Plenty of Early church Father writings to support this. Hopefully the many Orthodox churches do come home to the Catholic Church and we can be one visible united church with one head and one body as Jesus wanted.

      • John says:

        Not quite. At the seven ecumenical councils, every bishop was allowed equal voice and equal vote. No primacy by Bishop of Rome or Bishop of Constantinople. Differences regarding filioque, papal supremecy remain differences between Catholic and Orthodox Christians. All other Orthodox churches in ecumenical communion currently retain the Nicene Creed from the original ecumenical council. Only the catholic version is different and the source of contention. When you are the only ones who change from the original, it cannot be said that those who stayed with the original were the ones that “changed”. If you could identify some specific writings of the Church Fathers to which you refer, I would be grateful to read and research further. Thanks.

        • Elias M A says:

          Dear John
          I am with you when church history is concerned, All the patriarchs were equal and the patriarch of Jerusalem was to preside over the synod.

    • eltrion says:

      No. In ancient church, in apostles era, the head of church is held by Peter the Apostle as we can read in Gospels, especially in John, when Jesus asked Peter three times wheter he loved him and then ordered him to guard His flock.
      Since then, it is the Tradition of the Church that the Seat of Peter that is the head of the Church.
      And history held the record that Peter went to Rome, became the bishop of Rome Community, and died as martyr there, buried in the Vatican Hill.
      And the Tradition of the Church recognized the Office of the Bishop of Rome as the head of the Christian Church.
      Please don’t cut the history according to your favor.
      For some times during the reign of Emperors that the head of the church was to be appointed by the emperor.
      And in those periods that the 5 patriarch emerged.
      And whatever the past held the pain, In 1965, Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras I nullified the anathemas of 1054,[2] although this nullification of measures taken against a few individuals was essentially a goodwill gesture and did not constitute any sort of reunion.[16] Contacts between the two sides continue: every year a delegation from each joins in the other’s celebration of its patronal feast, Saints Peter and Paul (29 June) for Rome and Saint Andrew (30 November) for Constantinople, and there have been a number of visits by the head of each to the other. The efforts of the Ecumenical Patriarchs towards reconciliation with the Catholic Church have often been the target of sharp criticism from some fellow Orthodox.[17] Source: wikipedia east-west schism.
      And I think you are the “one fellow Orthodox” mentioned there, criticizing the effort made by your own Patriarch. Since you don’t honor your own Patriarch, can we follow your opinion then?

  • Xtian says:

    There are two books i would recommend to/for your friend though many of them would never like to see such books talk more of opening them;
    1 Catechism of the catholic church
    2 Being a Catholic.

  • DL. says:

    It does not matter what banner the church wears, Catholic, Baptist, church of God, the list can go on and on, as long as a person accepts Jesus as their LORD and savior that is what matters, God loves all of us the same, he does not show favoritism to any one.

  • emmanuel kinene ssemakula says:

    the catholic church is the only church which shares the body and blood of JESUS as he said on the bread that “this is my body” and on the cup of wine that “this is my blood of the knew and everlasting convenant”.so the other christians just rush for the earthly miracles and they leave the great miracle of the bread of life in the catholic church.

    • John says:

      Actually your answer isn’t quite complete. The Orthodox Church also shares Holy Communion with the faithful during its Divine Liturgy, and has done so since the time of Pentacost.

      • craig says:

        Yes and they split from the Catholic church and they have valid Eucharist too, all those sacraments the church does, is rejected and no longer believed in after 1500 years and these things were told to do and explained by the lord himself and people protested against him and no longer walked with him and the same happens today because people have their own interpretations which they are their own church not of God and rejected everything the lord handed to his apostles and taught by the early church fathers and today people think they know the scriptures better than they did , all those sacraments were taught and practiced before the bible was written, look writings of the early church fathers on confirmation, confession, prugtory, Eucharist, Catholic church, apostolic succession, baptism and look up the didache written by the apostles themselves, you don’t leave virtue because of someone’s vice same with faith, you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. In the early church they were all united as one, and protest came up and people fromed their own, the lord said the gates of hell will never overcome the church and the Cath faith been standing for 2000 years unchanged and every time there’s a protest the church reaffirms its truths it been handed down. The awesome churches house God himself in the Eucharist body and soul in a special way like he is in heaven and anyone cam go see hom anytime

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