A Scriptural and historical response to those who wonder whether Catholics are actually Christians. Is the Catholic Church authentic, authoritative and apostolic? Are Catholics Christians? Find out in this presentation where facts shall be separated from fiction.
Who is a Christian?
Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. “Christos” is Greek which means “anointed” i.e. The Anointed One according to the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as other books of the Bible.
The word Christian is derived from the Biblical Greek word “Christianos” which means “a follower of Christ”. It is used to refer to those who followed the lifestyle and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and have been baptized.
The earliest usage of the word “Christian” is found in the Acts of the Apostles written by St. Luke. Here the word was used to refer to followers of Jesus of Nazareth who were in Antioch. St. Luke writes: “and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians.” -Acts 11:26 RSV
Who is a Catholic?
The word Catholic comes from the Greek adjective “katholikos” which means “universal” which is derived from “kata” meaning “according to” and “holos” meaning “whole”.
Note: The word “Catholic” is used in the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds and many non-Catholics try to claim it for themselves by arguing that the “catholic church” is the invisible, universal brotherhood of all believers. This is unfortunately an unhistorical view that deliberately overlooks the actual use of the word at the time these creeds were written.
Ironically like the word “Christian”, the word “Catholic” also was used by a bishop of Antioch named Ignatius. In his letter written to Christians in Smyrna, He says: “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; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]
St. Irenaeus of Lyon: “The truth is to be found nowhere else but in the Catholic Church, the sole depository of apostolical doctrine. Heresies are of recent formation, and cannot trace their origin up to the apostles.” (Against Heresies 3:4 [A.D. 189])
St. Cyril of Jerusalem: “And if you ever are visiting in cities, do not inquire simply where the house of the Lord is–for the others, sects of the impious, attempt to call their dens ‘houses of the Lord’–nor ask merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the name peculiar to this holy Church, the Mother of us all, which is the Spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God” (Catechetical Lectures 18:26 [A.D. 350])
A Catholic is a member of the Church that traces its origin all the way back to Christ and His Holy Apostles. St. Pacian:
“And shall the Fathers rather follow our authority, and the antiquity of Saints give way to be emended by us, and times now putrifying through their sins, pluck out the grey hairs of Apostolic age? And yet, my brother, be not troubled; Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname. The former gives me a name, the latter distinguishes me. By the one I am approved; by the other I am but marked.” (Epistle to Sympronian 7 [A.D. 375])
Are Catholics Christians?
Catholics are Christians.
For over 1000 years there was only the Catholic Church. In the year 1054, a schism occurred in the Church and the eastern part of the Church split off. They are known today as the Eastern Orthodox Church.
In the 1500s some Catholics decided to break off from the Catholic Church and start their own churches in what is known as the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church is the single tree every other Christian denomination has broken off from, each taking a truth with it, but leaving a little behind every time another branch breaks off.