Church History

Cover of the "mythical" booklet "Trail of Blood"

What is the history of Baptists? Can they trace their roots back to the 1st century? Many ”fundamentalist” Baptists believe they can. Are they correct?

There is a booklet that is very popular among this fundamentalist crowd. It is entitled “The Trail of Blood”. The booklet claims that Catholics persecuted the true Christians — the Baptists — leaving behind a trail of blood.

I used to believe this premise and now that I have looked more carefully I wrote an article about this booklet and this the idea Baptists are the true Christians that have survived Catholic attempts to destroy them. Here is how my article begins:

“When Baptists attempt to discover the origins of their tradition they are faced with a historical dilemma. The search for Baptists roots hits a dead end in the sixteenth century. Most acknowledge that Baptist tradition is a tributary flowing out of the Protestant Reformation, but others attempt to discover a line of historical continuity, of doctrine and practice, back to Jesus and even John the Baptist. These Baptists are commonly referred to as “Baptist Successionists”. . . “

-For my full article on the Trail of Blood, click here (pdf).
-For other articles and references, click here.
-For more such articles and letters, click here.

{ 19 comments }

squadIn my talk Swimming Upstream I usually tell the story of 40 Roman soldiers who chose to freeze naked on a frozen lake in 320 AD rather than deny Jesus Christ.

St. Basil, Doctor of the Church, told of the heroic martyrdom of 40 soldiers in a homily. They had been executed fifty years before his episcopate. They died a heroic martyrdom in Armenia around AD 320.

They had been executed by Emperor Licinius. There have been churches built in their honor — even a chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Here is how I tell the story in my talk:

The Twelfth Legion — nicknamed “Armed with Lightning” —  was the best and the bravest warriors of the Roman Empire.

RomanLegion2When the great Roman army was sent to fight in far-away Armenia, no soldiers were braver or more loyal than this band of soldiers. But news reached Emperor Licinius that many Roman soldiers had accepted the Christian faith.

A decree was dispatched: “If there be any among your soldiers who cling to the faith of the Christian, they must die!”

The Prefect called the soldiers together and asked: “Are any of you Christians? The 40 soldiers stepped forward and stood at attention. The Prefect had not expected so many, nor such select ones.

He demanded they deny their Christ and offer sacrifices to the pagan gods. They refused. Not a single man would deny his Lord.

Finally the Prefect said, “The decree of the emperor must be obeyed. I order you to strip and march out upon the lake of ice.”

I40-martyrs-of-sebasten the meantime fires were built along the shore with tubs of warm water to entice the men to recant their faith.

The 40 soldiers were stripped and marched on the ice to the center of the lake. They broke into their chant: “Forty soldiers, fighting for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and the victor’s crown!” 

In the night, overcome by cold, one soldier caved in and crept toward the fire, renouncing his Lord.

f1From the darkness their chant echoed in the cold: “Thirty-nine soldiers, fighting for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and the victor’s crown!”

One of the guards keeping watch over the freezing men was amazed when he saw a brilliant supernatural light overshadowing the Christian soldiers on the ice.

At once he announced “I too am now a Christian, threw off his uniform, cast aside his sword. He disappeared into the darkness to join the thirty-nine. 

Shivering beside the thirty-nine soldiers of Christ he joined their cry, “Forty soldiers, fighting for Thee, O Christ, to win for Thee the victory and from Thee, the victor’s crown!” 

230628.bAt daybreak most were dead, the stiffened bodies of the confessors who still showed signs of life, were killed. They were all burned and their ashes tossed over the ice.

(Picture: Church marking the place of their martyrdom)

For more information read Taylor Marshall’s blog and the Wikipedia entry.

{ 1 comment }

The Old Testament Canon and the “Council of Jamnia”

Many popular myths are believed simply because people want to believe them—not because they are true. Wishful thinking is a poor substitute for truth. It is always preferable for one to dig deep and discover the facts and not just believe things because one wants them to be true.

IMG_6527In order to reject the Catholic Bible, it is popular in some Protestant circles to claim that the Jews had a closed canon of Scripture in the first century and that the early Christians accepted this final Jewish collection of inspired writings as final and binding upon the Church. The Council of Jamnia is usually assumed as the “proof” for this assertion. At the “Council of Jamnia” you see, the Jewish rabbis supposedly got together—something like an Ecumenical Council in the Catholic Church—to lay down specific criteria for inspired Scripture and to finally define and close the Old Testament canon.

Is this true? First, we will look at how various authors defend the Protestant exclusion of seven books based on a flawed understanding of the so-called “Council of Jamnia”. Second, did this “council” actually discuss the limit of the Old Testament canon, and third, if so, did they have the authority to close the canon? Fourth, did they actually compile a final list of accepted writings and fifth, and very importantly, if such a decision had been made, would the Christian be bound by that decision? We will conclude with the teaching of the Catholic Church and why we can so securely trust it.

First, let’s clarify a few terms. The canon of Scripture refers to the final collection of inspired books included in the Bible. The Catholic Bible contains seven books that do not appear in Protestant Old Testament. These seven writings are called the deutero-canonicals, or the Second Law. Protestants usually call these writings the Apocrypha (meaning “hidden”)—books they consider outside the canon.

These seven writings include 1 and 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch along with additional passages in Daniel and Esther. Before the time of Christ, these writings were included in the Jewish Greek Septuagint (LXX)—the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures, but they were not included in the Hebrew Masoretic text.

To read the whole document, click here.

 

{ 2 comments }

Did St. Ignatius of Antioch REALLY Believe in Transubstantiation in the 1st Century?

January 10, 2017

A friend and fellow pilgrim got in a row with a friend on Facebook and asked for my help. You might enjoy the question and the answer. My friend wrote: “I have a quick apologetic question.  A Protestant Facebook page was denying the Eucharist and I pasted St Ignatius’ quote about the Eucharist, “Let us […]

Read the full article →

The Eucharist and the Fathers of the Church: Article by Steve Ray

January 2, 2017

The Eucharist and the Fathers of the Church, by Steve Ray The word “Eucharist” was used early in the Church to describe the Body and Blood of Christ under the forms of bread and wine. Eucharist comes from the Greek word for “thanks” (eucharistia), describing Christ’s actions: “And when he had given thanks, he broke […]

Read the full article →

Steve’s Interview on Guadalupe and Conversion of Human Sacrificing Aztecs

December 14, 2016
Read the full article →

At Guadalupe All Day! Wow! Conversion of the Americas

December 12, 2016

Join  us as we tour the whole shrine and grounds of Guadalupe along with a special Mass in front of the Tilma of Our Lady. Amazing climb to the top of Tepeyac Hill where Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego. For the homily in front of the image of Guadalupe, click here.

Read the full article →

Quiz: Did Jesus Found a Church and If So, Where Is It?

November 4, 2016

I am sharing this from John Martignoni’s e-mail and website at www.BibleChristianSociety.com. Thanks for your good work John! 1) Did Jesus found a church?  A) Yes; Matt 16:18  2) How many churches did Jesus found?  A) One; the church is the Body of Christ and there is only one body of Christ – Rom 12:5, […]

Read the full article →

Great Pictures, Charts and Info on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

September 25, 2016

Since we are having Mass in the Holy Sepulchre early this morning I wanted to share these many beautiful and helpful picture, diagrams, charts and more about the Holy Sepulchre. See all this wealth of information written and visual. For me this is the most holy and important spot in the Universe. It is where […]

Read the full article →

Why Protestants Reject 7 Books of the Bible – the Short Answer

August 19, 2016

Gary Michuta is an expert on the canon of Scripture, especially in regards to the Deutero-canonical books, what the Protestants call the Apocrypha. You can read his book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger to see what I mean. Recently a friend asked Gary for the short answer as to why the Protestants removed seven books from […]

Read the full article →

Mega-church Mania: One Mom’s Observations (she’s a good writer) and Observations from the Early Church

August 18, 2016

Mr. Ray, My eldest daughter invited me to my grandson’s ‘dedication’ at her new place of worship.  Worship? Sorry. Her new place of…..well, the giant Olympic-sized structure that, after being directed in by police/traffic officers, upon entering, reminded me of a mall.  Oh and by the way, I didn’t witness any worship. My 1st thoughts were…”Wow! […]

Read the full article →

Eucharistic Miracles Website

August 15, 2016

Interesting site with articles on the Eucharist and the Real Presence, a catalog of Eucharistic miracles and more. It is a wealth of information — especially as we approach Corpus Christi Sunday. I knew nothing of this as a Protestant and find it absolutely intriguing now. I am so glad to be a Catholic and […]

Read the full article →

Steve’s Interview about his trips to India, the Work of the Apostles after Pentecost and more

August 5, 2016
Read the full article →

Another Chart of the Apostles after the New Testament

August 4, 2016

I posted a chart a few weeks ago but this one surfaces and since everyone seemed very interested in the previous post, I thought you’d appreciate this one as well. Thanks to the ChurchPop.com website site. For another chart, click here.

Read the full article →

How Many Churches Did Jesus Intend?

July 31, 2016

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father… so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent […]

Read the full article →

Dear Protestant: Where Did You Get Your Bible?

July 26, 2016

From Little Catholic Bubble website Leila@LittleCatholicBubble Dear Protestant: Where did you get your New Testament? At least a couple of times every week, Protestants use New Testament verses to show me where the Catholic Church is wrong about something. I always make them take the necessary step back by asking the following: “Where did you get your […]

Read the full article →