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Old 02-01-2009, 05:20 PM
 
11 posts, read 24,680 times
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Default Response to Montana Guy's ??

The Roman Catholic Church within it's own dogma and doctrines says it is the oldest Christian church but this is not accurate. Historically the early believers were called Messianics (Christians) and this first happened in Antioch (Acts 11:26). At that time they had nothing to do with Rome. You will find no reference to a Roman Catholic Church in scriptures.

The word catholic is derived from the Greek kattholikos, meaning universal. The latin is catholicus. Examining the Greek kata is according to and holos is whole.

Basically it means that it is universal in extent and encompassing all, hence universal. Most are unfamiliar with the term meaning universal.

Today when a person says they are Catholic is usually denotes a member of the Roman Catholic Church rather than a universal believer.

Historically the Roman Catholic Church was not the first 'church' as the word church was ekklesia meaning the called out ones.

Today when you say church people usually assume one is speaking of an edifice for public and especially Christian worship whereas others say it the whole body of believers in Christ/Messiah.
Also when you say church people usually assume one is speaking of an edifice for public and especially Christian worship whereas others say it the whole body of believers in Christ/Messiah.

The early believers, the 120 in the upper room, were mainly Jews (disciples, Apostle Paul and others).

They were an irritant to the other Jews in the synogogue because they constantly preached that Jesus Gr. (Yeshua in Hebrew/Aramaic) of Nazereth is the Messiah.

To make a long story short they were called Christians (derived from Greek) but in Hebrew it was Messianics. It was recorded in Acts 11:26 when they were first called this.

One has to understand that in the tradition of Judaism (biblical Judaism not contemporary Judaism) it was acceptable to have differances of opinion on a variety of spiritual issues, so the Messianics were not expecting to be exiled from the synogogue.

The first congregational leader in Jerusalem of the Messianics was the brother of Jesus/Yeshua who is known as James.

Todays denominational crisis can be simply explained as a spirit of division.
The word itself - denomination - when analyzed is a divided nation.

Christendom has denied its Jewish roots and therefore most of the 'churches' follow a Roman format even if they are broken away or against the church of rome.

One wonders if maybe the divided nation of believers can not unite until they see the Jew as their brother, especially since Yeshua/Jesus is a Jew.

Some food for thought - hope it answered some of your question.
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Old 04-25-2009, 01:58 AM
 
26 posts, read 69,203 times
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Historically, the Greek Orthodox Church is the oldest Christian sect. This does not mean that it is the "best" Christian sect or religion because there is no such thing as a "best" sect or religion. As long as a religion unites people for the common good and provides spiritual fulfillment through love and compassion it is a great religion.

Christianity started out as a sect of Judaism. It was the Greek Jews who translated the Bible (Old Testament) from Hebrew to Greek - Greek was widely spoken in the ancient world, the way English is widely spoken around the world today. It was the Greek Jews who became the first priests and bishops of the Christian Church. Greek Jews were called "Romaniotes" or citizens of Rome. Initially, the Christian religion was a scattered, persecuted underground religion but as it became more focused and organized, it was called the "catholic" church, which means "universal" in Greek. The word "catholic" in ancient times did not refer to the present Roman Catholic Church. Eventually, Christianity became a religion separate from Judaism.

The Romans persecuted Christians because they refused to accept the Roman emperor as the ultimate power. Emperor Constantine changed this and became the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity, some say because he saw a flaming cross in the sky (suggesting mental illness, hallucinatory drug use, a delirious fever or maybe divine intervention, who knows?) while others say it was because he saw that the Christians were increasing in power and it was better to join them rather than fight them. Besides, if he claimed to be the Pope, or head of Christianity, the Christians would recognize him as the ultimate power.

At first, many Christians did not like the idea of a Roman emperor self-appointing himself as the head of the universal (or catholic) church, but most realized that it would be easier to accept him than fight him - after all, he seemed to believe in the Christian doctrine. So, the Patriarch of Rome became the primary patriarch because of its power and influence even though it was established well after the other four patriarchs (all Greek Orthodox) were established, although these four patriarchs were not called Greek Orthodox at the time.

The Greek Orthodox Church to this day calls itself the Catholic Church, which is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church but the name "orthodox" came about because the Greek Orthodox Church claims to have held on to the basic tenets of Christianity. "Orthodox" means "straight path," "correct," or "true." Eventually, the Western Christians became known as the Roman Catholic Church while the Eastern Christians became known as the Greek Orthodox Church even though both recognize each other as being Catholic churches. By the way, when Rome fell, power of the Roman Empire was transferred to Constantinople, where the leading Greek Orthodox Patriarch still resides and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch actually became the dominant Christian patriarch for centuries until the Turks captured Constantinople. Since Constantinople (now called Istanbul) was under Muslim control, the Greek Orthodox Church of Constantinople lost its influence and the Russian Orthodox Church started to gain in power. Eventually, the Patriarch of Rome (or the Pope) became influential again.

Many theologians and historians have claimed that the Greek Orthodox Church is the oldest Christian sect but for the sake of political correctness they say that the Greek Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church are both descendants of the original Christian Church while the Protestants rebelled against the Roman Catholic Church because they felt that the Roman Catholic Church had become too hierarchal - focused on the authority of bishops and the Pope rather than on Christianity. The present Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Churches (Eastern Orthodox Churches is a better term because they include the Greek Orhodox, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox and other Orthodox churches) recognize each other but do not recognize the Protestant churches.
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Old 04-25-2009, 10:36 AM
 
1,139 posts, read 960,648 times
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Originally Posted by Verdor View Post
Historically, the Greek Orthodox Church is the oldest Christian sect. This does not mean that it is the "best" Christian sect or religion because there is no such thing as a "best" sect or religion. As long as a religion unites people for the common good and provides spiritual fulfillment through love and compassion it is a great religion.

Christianity started out as a sect of Judaism. It was the Greek Jews who translated the Bible (Old Testament) from Hebrew to Greek - Greek was widely spoken in the ancient world, the way English is widely spoken around the world today. It was the Greek Jews who became the first priests and bishops of the Christian Church. Greek Jews were called "Romaniotes" or citizens of Rome. Initially, the Christian religion was a scattered, persecuted underground religion but as it became more focused and organized, it was called the "catholic" church, which means "universal" in Greek. The word "catholic" in ancient times did not refer to the present Roman Catholic Church. Eventually, Christianity became a religion separate from Judaism.

The Romans persecuted Christians because they refused to accept the Roman emperor as the ultimate power. Emperor Constantine changed this and became the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity, some say because he saw a flaming cross in the sky (suggesting mental illness, hallucinatory drug use, a delirious fever or maybe divine intervention, who knows?) while others say it was because he saw that the Christians were increasing in power and it was better to join them rather than fight them. Besides, if he claimed to be the Pope, or head of Christianity, the Christians would recognize him as the ultimate power.

At first, many Christians did not like the idea of a Roman emperor self-appointing himself as the head of the universal (or catholic) church, but most realized that it would be easier to accept him than fight him - after all, he seemed to believe in the Christian doctrine. So, the Patriarch of Rome became the primary patriarch because of its power and influence even though it was established well after the other four patriarchs (all Greek Orthodox) were established, although these four patriarchs were not called Greek Orthodox at the time.

The Greek Orthodox Church to this day calls itself the Catholic Church, which is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church but the name "orthodox" came about because the Greek Orthodox Church claims to have held on to the basic tenets of Christianity. "Orthodox" means "straight path," "correct," or "true." Eventually, the Western Christians became known as the Roman Catholic Church while the Eastern Christians became known as the Greek Orthodox Church even though both recognize each other as being Catholic churches. By the way, when Rome fell, power of the Roman Empire was transferred to Constantinople, where the leading Greek Orthodox Patriarch still resides and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch actually became the dominant Christian patriarch for centuries until the Turks captured Constantinople. Since Constantinople (now called Istanbul) was under Muslim control, the Greek Orthodox Church of Constantinople lost its influence and the Russian Orthodox Church started to gain in power. Eventually, the Patriarch of Rome (or the Pope) became influential again.

Many theologians and historians have claimed that the Greek Orthodox Church is the oldest Christian sect but for the sake of political correctness they say that the Greek Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church are both descendants of the original Christian Church while the Protestants rebelled against the Roman Catholic Church because they felt that the Roman Catholic Church had become too hierarchal - focused on the authority of bishops and the Pope rather than on Christianity. The present Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Churches (Eastern Orthodox Churches is a better term because they include the Greek Orhodox, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox and other Orthodox churches) recognize each other but do not recognize the Protestant churches.
My history is lacking, but I do see some obvious mistakes. One, Constantine was never the Pope. I realize you never said he was Pope, but you did say he was the head of the church. And the head of the church is the Pope, so just clarifying that. And the other big one I saw, was Constantine did not make the head of the church located in Rome. The early church fathers far before then recognized the authority of Rome.

189 A.D. Early Church Father St. Iranaeus of Lyons Writings Against Heresies Book 3 Chapters 3:1-3:

(Excerpt from CHURCH FATHERS: Against Heresies, III.3 (St. Irenaeus))
Against Heresies (Book III, Chapter 3)

A refutation of the heretics, from the fact that, in the various Churches, a perpetual succession of bishops was kept up. 1. It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to the perfect apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity.
2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.
3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.
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Old 04-26-2009, 03:45 AM
 
26 posts, read 69,203 times
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DNick,
My post was confusing as I was trying to discuss a variety of subjects at once and I apologize for this. It is true that Emperor Constantine was not the Pope but he did act as a head of the Christian Church even though he did not declare himself to be the Pope. Boniface III was the first to use the title "Universal Bishop" by the decree of Emperor Phocas in the 600s. Eventually, this title came to mean the Pope by courtesy. You are correct in that I never said in my earlier post that Constantine was the Pope but I can see that the ambiguity of my post may lead many to believe that I was saying that.

In my posts, I am trying to answer the question of "Which is the oldest Christian sect?" from a purely secular point of view and not from a religious or spiritual point of view. The Roman Catholic Church today claims that it is the "Vicar of Christ" because it is the sole successor to the primacy of Simon Peter or the Petrine Primacy (from the Latin of Petrus = Peter). The Greek Orthodox Church rejects this claim. Yes, the Bishop of Rome had the highest honor long before Emperor Constantine but not the primacy. Basically, the Bishop of Rome was given the honor of "first among equals" but not the primacy. Today, the Greek Orthodox Church of Constantinople (Istanbul) is called by the Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox and other Orthodox churches as being the "first among equals" in the Eastern Orthodox religion but this doesn't mean that this church is the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Let me expand on my earlier, ambiguous post. The Romans made a deal with the various religious groups in its territories - you can worship in your own religion as long as you accept the Roman Emperor as being the ultimate political and spiritual authority. The Jews accepted this for the most part and avoided persecution until Jesus challenged the authority of the Roman Emperor, claiming that God is the ultimate authority not the Roman Emperor. Many secular historians claim that other Jews, the Greeks, as well as other groups also rejected the Roman Emperor's authority although for some reason, Jesus became the most prominent. This became the major tenet of Christianity, which aggravated the Romans. When the Romans executed those Christians who refused to recognize the superiority of the Roman Emperor, these executed Christians became known as martyrs and more people began to challenge the Roman Emperor. It is interesting to note that Jesus never intended to create a new religion. He simply disagreed with the way Jews were conducting their own religion. Jesus did not like the fact that Jews were giving into the Romans and conducting business in the temples. But he never turned his back on Judaism and was hoping to strenghten Judaism, not establish a new religion. When historians look at writings from Jesus' period, there isn't any mention of him for the most part - only some indirect references. It was many years later that Jesus became prominent so obviously people were passing down stories of Jesus.

Anyway, the Roman Empire was beginning to weaken and the Romans realized that they had to reach a deal with the increasing number of devout Christians (once again, this is secular history, not religious history). A patriarch was established in Rome and the Christians gave this patriarch the highest honor. The Roman Catholic Church claims that there is a spiritual reason for holding the highest honor but once again spirituality is a matter of interpretation, which is why I like to focus on secular history. Many Christians did not necessarily like the idea of setting up a Roman patriarch and giving this patriarch the highest honor but once again they were tired of persecution and the Roman patriarch accepted the Christian faith and did not recognize the Roman Emperor as being the ultimate authority so they relented. Besides, many outsiders (called barbarians or pagans) were invading the Roman empire so the Christians realize that some form of alliance with the Romans was necessary.

Emperor Constantine embraced the Christian religion - some say because he saw a flaming cross in the sky as I said in my earlier post. Christians say that this was divine intervention and this may well be the case, but he could have been suffering the effects of a mental illness, hallucinatory drug use (which was common in those days too) or a delirious fever but in any case, he fully embraced Christianity publicly. He moved the capital of the Roman empire from Rome to Constantinople (or New Rome) and this was when the Patriarch of Constantinople became prominent, which is why the Eastern Orthodox Churches call the Patriarch of Constantinople today "first among equals" as the Patriarch of Rome was called. The Eastern Roman Empire with its capital at Constantinople outlasted the Western Roman Empire by 1,000 years until the Turks captured Constantinople. With the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the other Patriarchs (Antioch, Jerusalem and so on) under Muslim control, the Greek Orthodox Church declined in importance and it was the Bishop of Rome who became dominant in Christianity.

But from a purely secular historical point of view, the Greek Orthodox Church would be the oldest Christian sect although it was not called the Greek Orthodox Church in those days. This doesn't mean that it is the best or most real Christian sect because there is no such thing.

Incidentally, although Greek Jews were around for many centuries and instrumental in establishing Christianity, today there are only about 13,000 Greek Jews in the world. There are 4 Greek Jewish synagogues or temples, one in New York City, USA, two in Greece and one in Israel. There are 13 million Jews of every type in the whole world. It's amazing how an ancient religion such as Judaism can be instrumental in establishing two other major world religions - Christianity and Islam - and then fade as a dominant world religion in modern times.

Thank you for your post, DNick.
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Old 04-26-2009, 12:49 PM
 
Location: Seward, Alaska
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Originally Posted by midnightbirdgirl View Post
The Way was the first church or what believer of Christ were called Over the years many denominations and sects and even cults have developed out of Christianity.
Even in the early church there were dissenters and heretics so being closer in time to Christ has nothing to do with the validity of a belief, it all has to do with what Christians follow His Word, and to not add or subtract from it.
In the beginning we only had the letters, and even then apostasy was warned about.
MBG
Correct. Before his conversion, the Apostle Paul (then called Saul) went around persecuting and jailing any who were found to be in "The Way".

Acts 9
1But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Then it is recorded in the Bible that they were first called "Chrisitians" in the city of Antioch. (Acts 11:26)

It therefore appears that "The Way" is/was the oldest Christian "sect"; maybe even before they were even called Christians.

Bud
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Old 04-26-2009, 01:05 PM
 
Location: Seward, Alaska
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Originally Posted by mams1559 View Post
Wouldn't the first Christian sect be Messianic Jews? Or would that still fall under Judiasm? Because clearly, the first Christians were Jews who followed and believed in Jesus, right? So doesn't it follow they, Messianic Jews, would be the first Christian sect? Just a thought...kinda for fun

That is also correct...the first Christians were indeed messianic Jews. But they weren't called messianic jews. They were called followers of "the way", by those who sought to persecute them...and first called "Christians" in the city of Antioch.

They didn't have "Catholic Church", or anything else "Church" back in those days...all that came later. If you read Paul's epistles, you'll see he just addressed his letters to the "church in such-and-such" (place). Nobody had a special "brand" or denomination, just different locations...

Bud
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Old 04-27-2009, 06:28 PM
 
Location: Out of Florida........
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Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
Maybe sect wasn't the right word but I know that the Christian religion has branched out from it's beginnings into a multitude of churches. I've always thought that the Catholic Church was the oldest of them all because I know that the Protestant religion split apart centuries ago and has itself been divided into many separate churches and I remember that Christianity became established in Rome which of course is the base for the Catholic Church. So is it true that the Catholics are the oldest part of the Christian religion and where did the word Catholic come from and what does it mean?

Sin! Been around for quite some time. You'll find it in every "sect".
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Old 04-27-2009, 06:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
Maybe sect wasn't the right word but I know that the Christian religion has branched out from it's beginnings into a multitude of churches. I've always thought that the Catholic Church was the oldest of them all because I know that the Protestant religion split apart centuries ago and has itself been divided into many separate churches and I remember that Christianity became established in Rome which of course is the base for the Catholic Church. So is it true that the Catholics are the oldest part of the Christian religion and where did the word Catholic come from and what does it mean?


The oldest organized denomination would be catholic. doesn't necessarily guarantee correct teaching, though. Rather than reforming or correcting their heresy they split away from true Christianity.
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:27 PM
 
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Or is it you started the heresy, and formed your own religion
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Old 04-30-2009, 07:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Verdor View Post
DNick,
My post was confusing as I was trying to discuss a variety of subjects at once and I apologize for this. It is true that Emperor Constantine was not the Pope but he did act as a head of the Christian Church even though he did not declare himself to be the Pope. Boniface III was the first to use the title "Universal Bishop" by the decree of Emperor Phocas in the 600s. Eventually, this title came to mean the Pope by courtesy. You are correct in that I never said in my earlier post that Constantine was the Pope but I can see that the ambiguity of my post may lead many to believe that I was saying that.

In my posts, I am trying to answer the question of "Which is the oldest Christian sect?" from a purely secular point of view and not from a religious or spiritual point of view. The Roman Catholic Church today claims that it is the "Vicar of Christ" because it is the sole successor to the primacy of Simon Peter or the Petrine Primacy (from the Latin of Petrus = Peter). The Greek Orthodox Church rejects this claim. Yes, the Bishop of Rome had the highest honor long before Emperor Constantine but not the supremacy. Basically, the Bishop of Rome was given the honor of "first among equals" but not the supremacy. Today, the Greek Orthodox Church of Constantinople (Istanbul) is called by the Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox and other Orthodox churches as being the "first among equals" in the Eastern Orthodox religion but this doesn't mean that this church is the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Let me expand on my earlier, ambiguous post. The Romans made a deal with the various religious groups in its territories - you can worship in your own religion as long as you accept the Roman Emperor as being the ultimate political and spiritual authority. The Jews accepted this for the most part and avoided persecution until Jesus challenged the authority of the Roman Emperor, claiming that God is the ultimate authority not the Roman Emperor. Many secular historians claim that other Jews, the Greeks, as well as other groups also rejected the Roman Emperor's authority although for some reason, Jesus became the most prominent. This became the major tenet of Christianity, which aggravated the Romans. When the Romans executed those Christians who refused to recognize the superiority of the Roman Emperor, these executed Christians became known as martyrs and more people began to challenge the Roman Emperor. It is interesting to note that Jesus never intended to create a new religion. He simply disagreed with the way Jews were conducting their own religion. Jesus did not like the fact that Jews were giving into the Romans and conducting business in the temples. But he never turned his back on Judaism and was hoping to strenghten Judaism, not establish a new religion. When historians look at writings from Jesus' period, there isn't any mention of him for the most part - only some indirect references. It was many years later that Jesus became prominent so obviously people were passing down stories of Jesus.

Anyway, the Roman Empire was beginning to weaken and the Romans realized that they had to reach a deal with the increasing number of devout Christians (once again, this is secular history, not religious history). A patriarch was established in Rome and the Christians gave this patriarch the highest honor. The Roman Catholic Church claims that there is a spiritual reason for holding the highest honor but once again spirituality is a matter of interpretation, which is why I like to focus on secular history. Many Christians did not necessarily like the idea of setting up a Roman patriarch and giving this patriarch the highest honor but once again they were tired of persecution and the Roman patriarch accepted the Christian faith and did not recognize the Roman Emperor as being the ultimate authority so they relented. Besides, many outsiders (called barbarians or pagans) were invading the Roman empire so the Christians realize that some form of alliance with the Romans was necessary.

Emperor Constantine embraced the Christian religion - some say because he saw a flaming cross in the sky as I said in my earlier post. Christians say that this was divine intervention and this may well be the case, but he could have been suffering the effects of a mental illness, hallucinatory drug use (which was common in those days too) or a delirious fever but in any case, he fully embraced Christianity publicly. He moved the capital of the Roman empire from Rome to Constantinople (or New Rome) and this was when the Patriarch of Constantinople became prominent, which is why the Eastern Orthodox Churches call the Patriarch of Constantinople today "first among equals" as the Patriarch of Rome was called. The Eastern Roman Empire with its capital at Constantinople outlasted the Western Roman Empire by 1,000 years until the Turks captured Constantinople. With the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the other Patriarchs (Antioch, Jerusalem and so on) under Muslim control, the Greek Orthodox Church declined in importance and it was the Bishop of Rome who became dominant in Christianity.

But from a purely secular historical point of view, the Greek Orthodox Church would be the oldest Christian sect although it was not called the Greek Orthodox Church in those days. As Christianity spread, it acquired well-educated members from the Greek or Hellenistic world, some who became bishops. Many Greek Jews started the first Christian churches. Greek Jews consisted of: (1) Jews who adopted aspects of the Greek culture; (2) ethnic Greeks who adopted aspects of the Jewish culture; and (3) other ethnic groups that adopted both the Greek and Jewish culture.

The fact that the Greek Orthodox Church may be the oldest Christian sect doesn't mean that it is the best or most real Christian sect because there is no such thing. Any religion, Christian or not, that promotes love, compassion and spiritual fulfillment is a great religion.

Incidentally, although Greek Jews were around for many centuries and instrumental in establishing Christianity, today there are only about 13,000 Greek Jews in the world. There are 4 Greek Jewish synagogues or temples, one in New York City, USA, two in Greece and one in Israel. There are 13 million Jews of every type in the whole world. It's amazing how an ancient religion such as Judaism can be instrumental in establishing two other major world religions - Christianity and Islam - and then fade as a dominant world religion in modern times.

Thank you for your post, DNick.
I would like to add that when the Patriarch of Rome was established, it conducted all services in Greek. Eventually, it switched from Greek to Latin. But all of the 5 original patriarchs - Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem and Rome were Greek patriarchs and conducted their liturgies in Greek.

Some on this discussion board thought that the Oriental Orthodox (which includes the Coptic church) and Assyrian churches were the oldest Christian religion and while it is not true, there is a reason why many would believe it to be true.

As the Christian religion became more focused and organized they started having councils. The Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.) and the Council of Chalcedon (451) were conducted in order to define the spiritual and religious doctrine of the emerging Christian religion. The Oriental/Coptic and Assyrian Churches broke away from the main body of Christianity because they did not agree with the doctrines established at the Councils; furthermore, they broke away long before this main body of Christianity split into what became known as the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches leading many to believe that they predated them.

But the main body of Christianity that existed before the Oriental/Coptic Church was Greek Orthodox although it wasn't called Greek Orthodox at the time - it was actually referred in some cases as the Orthodox Catholic Church; Orthodox means "true," "correct," or "straight path or way" while Catholic means "universal." Basically, the Christians were now saying that there was one correct and universal Christian religion as opposed to the scattered, underground Christian movement that existed earlier.

Today, the Oriental/Coptic Church is in dialogue with the Greek Orthodox churches for a reunification and the Assyrian church (called the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East) has a relationship with the Roman Catholic Church.

There is also dialogue, started by the Roman Catholic church, for a reunification with the Greek or Eastern Orthodox Churches but a barrier to this reunification lies in the refusal of the Orthodox Churches to recognize the supremacy of the Pope.

The Roman Catholic Church has been trying for a reconciliation with the Protestant churches as well because their goal is to have one great Christian religion under the authority of the Pope but it is this authority of the Pope that is being challenged by the Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches. It has been suggested that the definition of the Pope be changed from that of "God's Agent on Earth" to the spiritual head of Christianity but the Roman Catholic Church is not willing at this time to agree to this change. This is not the only barrier to Christian re-unification but it is one of the more notable barriers.
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