SOME PEOPLE HAVE the notion that all the established churches today belong to Christ. Others wonder why there is such a proliferation of churches that are in conflict with one another when in fact, there is only one Church established by Christ. The origin of these various churches was taught by Christ in one of His parables.
THE SON OF MAN SOWED
THE GOOD SEED
According to Christ’s parable, the “kingdom of God” is likened to “a man who sowed good seed in his field”:
“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.” (Matthew 13:24 NKJV)
The “sower of the good seed” is the “Son of Man” (or the Lord Jesus Christ):
“He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” (Matthew 13:37 NKJV)
The “good seed” that was sowed by Christ are the “children of the Kingdom”:
“The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.” (Matthew 13:38 NKJV)
According to the Lord Jesus Christ, the “kingdom” is given to the “flock”:
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32 NKJV)
The “flock” referred to is the “Church of Christ”:
“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” (Acts 20:28 Lamsa)
How the “Son of Man” (the Lord Jesus Christ) sowed the “good seed” (the Church of Christ)? The Lord Jesus Christ built His Church:
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 NKJV)
The Lord Jesus Christ built only one Church. He said, “I will build My church.” He did not said, “I will build My Churches.” This Church was called in the name of Christ because:
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NKJV)
Thus, the Church built by Christ is called “Church of Christ”:
“For just as the human body is one and yet has many parts, and all its parts, many as they are, constitute but one body, so it is with the Church of Christ.” (I Cor. 12:12 NTME)
Even Catholic authorities testified that the Church built by Christ is called “Church of Christ”:
“5. Did Jesus Christ established a Church?
“Yes, from all history, both secular and profane, as well as from the Bible considered as a human document, we learn that Jesus Christ established a Church, which from the earliest times has been called after Him the Christian Church or the Church of Christ.” (Cassily, Francis B., S.J. Religion: Doctrine and Practice for use in Catholic High Schools. 12th and revised edition. Imprimi Potest: Charles H. Cloud, S.J. Provincial of the Chicago Province. Imprimatur: George Cardinal Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1934, p. 442-443.)
THE ENEMY SOWED THE TARES
This parable of the Lord Jesus Christ proves that there is only one true Church that Christ built, the Church of Christ. Why, then, are there many churches today? How have they come about? According to the parable of the Lord Jesus Christ, this is what followed:
“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.” (Matthew 13:24-25 NKJV)
The “enemy” came while “men slept” and sowed “tares.” The “enemy” who sowed the tares is the devil:
“The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.” (Matthew 13:39 NKJV)
The true Church of Christ is likened to the “good seed” sowed by the Son of Man (or established by the Lord Jesus Christ). Aside from the Lord Jesus Christ, was there anyone else who built other churches? Yes, the “enemy” or the devil. The devil sowed “tares” (the true Church of Christ is likened to “good seed,” thus, the “tares” are the false churches).
The devil sowed “tares” while “men slept.” What the Lord Jesus referring by “sleep” is death:
“These things He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’ Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’ However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.” (John 11:11-14 NKJV)
Apostle Paul explained to us who were those “asleep” or dead after whose passing away the devil sowed tares. This is what he said in Acts 20:29-30:
“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29-30 NKJV)
Apostle Paul said, “...after my departure...from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” He is referring to his death (Acts 20: 25, 37-38, and II Tim. 4:6).
Thus, after the death of the apostles, the enemy sowed the tares, or the devil established the “false church.”
HOW THE TARES WERE SOWN?
It was not the devil himself who will come and establish the false church (the “tares” as mentioned by the parable of the Lord Jesus), but he will use an instrument:
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (II Thessalonians 2:9-12 NKJV)
They will come according to the working of satan (the devil), with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with unrighteous deception. They will make the people believe in lie that they all may be condemned. They are those Apostle Paul referring to in Acts 20:29-30:
“I know that after I leave, fierce wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. The time will come when some men from your own group will tell lies to lead the believers away after them.” (Acts 20:29-30 TEV)
When Apostle Paul said, “I know that after I leave,” he is referring to his death. Thus, after the death of the apostles, Apostle Paul warned us that “some men from your own number will tell lies to lead the believers away after them.” This is how New International version rendered this verse:
“I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30 NIV)
Thus, after the death of the apostles, “from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things” (NKJV), “some men from your own group will tell lies” (TEV), and “from your own number men will arise and distort the truth” (NIV). Who were those referred to by Apostle Paul that “among them” or “from their own number” men will arise telling lies or distorting the truth? This is what the Bible says in Acts 20:28 and 30:
“Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.
“And from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28, 30 ASV)
So among the bishops will rise those who will tell lies or who will distort the truth. Apostle Peter calls them “false teachers”:
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (II Peter 2:1-2 NKJV)
As Apostle Paul said, “from your own number men will arise and distort the truth,” Apostle Peter said, “there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring destructive heresies.” Hence, both Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter explicitly proves that “false teachers” or “false prophets” that will be used by the devil to teach lies to lead the disciples astray came “among the numbers” of the teachers or bishops of the first Church of Christ.
Thus, the enemy will “sow the tares” through the “bishops” that will rise distorting the truth or telling lies. The devil is the father of lies (cf. John 8:44). Hence, lies are the teachings or the doctrines of the devil. What are some of the lies that will be taught to the first century Church and what will happen to them as they embraced these lies? Apostle Paul answered:
“But the Spirit speaks expressly, that in latter times some shall apostatise from the faith, giving their mind to deceiving spirits and teachings of demons speaking lies in hypocrisy, cauterised as to their own conscience, forbidding to marry, [bidding] to abstain from meats, which God has created for receiving with thanksgiving for them who are faithful and know the truth.” (1 Tim 4:1-3 Darby Bible)
The Bible said, “...giving their minds to deceiving spirits and teachings of demons...forbidding to marry, [bidding] to abstain from meats...” because of this, they were “apostatized.” Which church teaches and implements these doctrines? The Catholic Church forbids their priest to marry (they call this doctrine as “clerical celibacy”):
“Although celibacy is not expressly enforced by our Savior, it is, however, commended so strongly by Himself and His apostles, both by word and example, that the Church felt it her duty to lay it down as a law.
“The discipline of the Church has been exerted from the beginning in prohibiting Priests to marry after their ordination.” (Gibbons, James Cardinal. The Faith of our Fathers. New York: P.J. Kennedy and Sons, 1917, p. 328)
The Catholic Church also commands her members to abstain from meat in certain days of the year:
“What does the second commandment of the Church order us to do?
“It orders us to fast and abstain from flesh meat on certain days of the year.” (A Seminary Professor. Manual of Christian Doctrine: Comprising Dogma, Moral, and Worship. New York: Lassale Bureau, 1949, p. 317)
Thus, through the apostasy of the first century Church of Christ, the church established by the devil emerged. The rise of the “apostate church” is the fulfillment of what the Lord Jesus Christ said that when men were asleep, the enemy will come and sow the tares.
HOW THE BOOK OF REVELATION
DESCRIBES THE APOSTATE CHURCH
The Bible describes the “apostate church” as the “mother of harlots”:
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
“And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” (Revelation 17:1, 5 NKJV)
The Church built by Christ is likened to a “chaste virgin” (cf. II Cor. 11:2), so “harlot” symbolizes false church. However, the Book of Revelation mentioned “mother of harlots.” Thus, the book of Revelation is referring to the “false church” who is the mother of other false churches. The Book of Revelation also gave us the “marks” to identify the “mother of harlots”: “woman seated upon many waters,” and called “Babylon.” What does it mean that the “mother of harlots” is seated upon many waters? In Revelation 17:5, this is what it says:
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
“Then he said to me, ‘The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.” (Revelation 17:1, 15 NKJV)
“Universal” is what “seated in many waters” meant because the “waters” are “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.” Now, the Catholic authorities themselves testify that “Babylon” referred to Rome:
“Babylon: Rome. A metaphor probably founded on Jewish usage.” (I Peter 5:13 footnote, Douay-Rheims)
Which church claims to be “universal”?
“The word ‘Catholic’ means ‘universal,’ ‘extending all over the world.’” (Catholic Catechism. Part II. Imprimatur: Rufino J. Cardinal Santos. Manila: Catholic Trade School, 1961, p. 146b)
Which church claims to be universal and bears the name of Rome?
“The Church is called Roman Catholic because its chief ruler is the lawful bishop of Rome.” (Catholic Catechism. Part II. Imprimatur: Rufino J. Cardinal Santos. Manila: Catholic Trade School, 1961, p. 146a)
Thus, the Roman Catholic Church is the fulfillment of the “mother of harlots” mentioned in the Book of Revelation – the apostate church which is the mother of other false churches.
THE “MOTHER OF HARLOTS”
What other churches branched out of the Catholic Church? Let us take a look of the history of the Catholic Church:
The Nestorian Church and
Since the fourth century AD, a number of Eastern churches separated from the Catholic Church:
“To find a time when there was one Eastern Church we must go back to the centuries before the Council of Ephesus (431). Since that council there have been separate schismatical Eastern Churches whose number has grown steadily down to our own time. The Nestorian heresy left a permanent Nestorian Church, the Monophysites and Monothelite quarrels made several more, the reunion with Rome of frictions of every Rite further increase the number, and quite lately the Bulgarian schism has created yet another; indeed it seems as if two more, in Cyprus and Syria, are being formed at the present moment (1908).” (Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Eastern Churches” www.newadvent.org)
The Council of Ephesus in 431 AD produced the schism between the Nestorians and the Catholics, and left a permanent Nestorian Church:
“The Nestorians are now only a pitiful remnant of what was once a great Church...In any case the rejection of the Council of Ephesus (431) by these Christians in Chaldea and Mesopotamia produced a schism between them and the rest of Christendom. When Babaeus, himself a Nestorian, became catholicos, in 498, there were practically no more Catholics in those parts... protected by the Persian kings, the Nestorian Church flourished around Ctesiphon, Nisibis (where the school was reorganized), and throughout Persia. Since the schism the catholicos occasionally assumed the title of patriarch. The Church then spread towards the East and sent missionaries to India and even China.” (Ibid.)
Another schism in the Catholic Church in the fourth century AD:
“All the other separated Eastern Churches are formed by the other great heresy of the fourth century, Monophysitism. There are first the national Churches of Egypt, Syria, and Armenia.” (Ibid.)
The Monophysite controversy in the Catholic Church produced the Coptic Church (the Church of Egypt), the Ethiopic Church (the Church of Abyssinia, or Ethiopia), the Jacobite Church (the Monophysite Church of Syria), the Armenian Church (the Church of Armenia), and the Malabar Church of India.
Thus, the Nestorian Church and the Monophysite churches are the daughters of the Catholic Church from the fourth century AD.
The Eastern Orthodox Churches
Through the early centuries, the Catholic Church developed a “divergent line” resulted in the split of the Catholic Church into two churches:
“The Church developed along two divergent lines: East and West. The emperor and the bishop of Constantinople, who was called a patriarch, shared the leadership in the East. But the bishop of Rome acted as both civil and religious leader in the West...
“The East and the West differed on more than leadership and language. Increasing disagreements in theology and ideology were compounded by personality conflicts. Moreover, spirituality in the East and the West had distinctly different flavors. The East concentrated on the mystical and symbolic approach to faith. The West stressed properness and uniformity.
“This difference in perspective along with political and geographic preferences, split Christianity (Catholicism) in 1054 into the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Western Roman Catholic Church.” (Altemose, Sr. Charlene, MSC. Why Do Catholics...? Makati, Philippines: Salessiana Publishers, Inc., 1989, pp. 2-3.)
Their differences “split” the Catholic Church in 1054 AD into Eastern Orthodox Church and Western Roman Catholic Church.
“The first of the Eastern Churches in size and importance is the great Orthodox Church. This is, after that of the Catholics, considerably the largest body in Christendom. The Orthodox Church now counts about a hundred millions of members. It is the main body of Eastern Christendom, that remained faithful to the decrees of Ephesus and Chalcedon when Nestorianism and Monophysitism cut away the national Churches in Syria and Egypt. It remained in union with the West till the great schism of Photius and then that of Caerularius, in the ninth and eleventh centuries. In spite of the short-lived reunions made by the Second Council of Lyons (1274) and the Council of Florence (1439), this Church has been in schism ever since...The separation of the various national Orthodox Churches from the patriarch of Constantinople forms the only important chapter in the modern history of this body...Other causes have led to the establishment of a few other independent Churches, so that now the great Orthodox communion consists of sixteen independent Churches, each of which (except that of the Bulgars) is recognized by, and in communion with, the others.”
The Eastern Orthodox Church had split into sixteen independent churches, these are the following:
(1) The Great Church, that is, the patriarchate of Constantinople that takes precedence of the others. It covers Turkey in Europe (except where its jurisdiction is disputed by the Bulgarian Exarch) and Asia Minor. Under the Ecumenical Patriarch are seventy-four metropolitans and twenty other bishops. Outside this territory the Patriarch of Constantinople has no jurisdiction.
(2) Alexandria. It covers all Egypt as far as it is Orthodox, and with only four metropolitans.
(3) Antioch. It extends over Syria from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates as far as any Orthodox live so far East, touching the Great Church along the frontier of Asia Minor to the north and Palestine to the south, with twelve metropolitans and two or three titular bishops who form the patriarchal curia.
(4) Jerusalem. It consists of Palestine, from Haifa to the Egyptian frontier, with thirteen metropolitans.
(5) Cyprus. It is the old autocephalous Church, with an archbishop and three suffragans.
(6) Russia. This is enormously the preponderating partner, about eight times as great as all the others put together. The Holy Synod consists of three metropolitans (Kiev, Moscow, and Petersburg), the Exarch of Georgia, and five or six other bishops or archimandrites appointed at the czar's pleasure. There are eighty-six Russian dioceses, to which must be added missionary bishops in Siberia, Japan, North America, etc.
(7) Carlovitz (1765). It was formed of Orthodox Serbs in Hungary, with six suffragan sees.
(8) Czernagora (1765). It has one independent diocese of the Black Mountain.
(9) Church of Sinai. It consists of one monastery recognized as independent of Jerusalem in 1782.
(10) The Greek Church (1850). It has thirty-two sees under a Holy Synod on the Russian model.
(11) Hermannstadt (Nagy-Szeben, 1864), the Church of the Vlachs in Hungary, with three sees.
(12) Bulgarian Church. It is under the exarch, who lives at Constantinople. In Bulgaria are eleven sees with a Holy Synod. The exarch, however, claims jurisdiction over all Bulgars everywhere (especially in Macedonia.
(13) Czernovitz (1873), for the Orthodox in Austria, with four sees.
(14) Serbia (1879), the national Church of that country, with five bishops and a Holy Synod.
(15) Rumania (1885), again a national Church with a Holy Synod and eight sees.
(16) Herzegovina and Bosnia, organized since the Austrian occupation (1880) as a practically independent Church with a vague recognition of Constantinople as a sort of titular primacy. It has four sees.
The “Mother Church” of
Other Western Churches
The Roman Catholic Church is also said to be the “mother church of the Protestant and other churches that broke away from it”:
“The Roman Catholic Church is thought by some to be the mother church of the Protestant and other churches that broke away from it over time. Prominent among these are Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican churches and other Christian faith communities formed over time from these.” (Wikipedia, s.v. “Mother Church”)
Lutheranism, one of the leading Protestant denominations, spread from Germany to Poland, the Baltic Provinces, Hungary, Transylvania, the Netherlands, Denmark, the Scandinavians, and in the United States:
“Lutheranism dates from 31 October, 1517, when Luther affixed his theses to the church door of the castle of Wittenberg. Although he did not break with the Catholic Church until three years later, he had already come substantially to his later views on the plan of salvation. The new teachings, however underwent a great change after Luther's return from Wartburg (1521). Before he died (18 Feb., 1546), his teachings had been propagated in many states of Germany in Poland, in the Baltic Provinces, in Hungary, Transylvania, the Netherlands, Denmark and Scandinavia. From these European countries Lutheranism has been carried by emigration to the New World, and in the United States it ranks among the leading Protestant denominations.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Lutheranism”)
Another daughters of the Roman Catholic Church are the Calvinistic churches. Calvinism is the second form of Protestantism caused by the 16th century Reformation. Calvinistic churches in Europe came to be known as “Reformed Churches” and in Scotland as “Presbyterian Church,” thus, the reason why “Reformed Churches” and “Presbyterian Churches” both can be found in the United States. The Reformed Churches were brought in the Unites States by immigrants from continental Europe, and the Presbyterian Churches were brought by immigrants from Scotland.
Another daughters of the Roman Catholic Church are the Anglican churches:
“Before the breach with Rome under Henry VIII there was absolutely no doctrinal difference between the faith of Englishmen and the rest of Catholic Christendom, and "Anglicanism", as connoting a separate or independent religious system, was unknown... When news of the papal decision against the divorce reached England, Henry VIII gave his assent to four anti-papal statutes passed in Parliament in the spring of 1534, and in November the statute of the Royal Supremacy declared the King to be Supreme Head of the English Church (without the limiting clause of 1532), and an oath was prescribed, affirming the Pope to have no jurisdiction in the realm of England.”
With the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church, another form of Protestantism emerged, the Anglicanism. However, Anglicanism produced not only one church (the established Church of England), but there were offshoot churches:
“A term used to denote the religious belief and position of members of the established Church of England, and of the communicating churches in the British possessions, the United States, and elsewhere. It includes those who have accepted the work of the English Reformation as embodied in the Church of England or in the offshoot Churches which in other countries have adhered, at least substantially, to its doctrines, its organization, and its liturgy. Apart from minor or missionary settlements, the area in which Anglicanism is to be found corresponds roughly with those portions of the globe which are, or were formally, under the British flag.”
The Anglican churches in the United States came to be called “Episcopal Churches.” The Methodists Churches are offshoot of the Church of England, and so the Puritans. Holiness and Pentecostals are heavily influenced by Wesleyanism (the teachings of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism).
There are other churches that branched out of the Roman Catholic Church, and many churches also branched out of those that branched out of the Roman Catholic Church. In light of this fact, it is not wrong to say that the Catholic Church is indeed the “mother church” – the “mother of false churches.”