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Did Jesus found the Catholic Church

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/5/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,967 times Debate No: 87730
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




Jesus didn't come to cause confusion, hence he gave the world a visible Church to guide the people of God to all truth. This church is the Catholic Church, and all other christian churches are missing elements of the truth.


As my opponent spontaneously sent me this challenge, I shall accept and wait for my opponent to put forth an argument.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to my opponent for excepting my out of the blue challenge. I find it very important that Chritians seek the history and othodoxy of their own faith, so i will focus on why the catholic Church is founded by Christ and the concquences of that.

My first argument will be focused on the early father of the Church. By looking at and reading the writings of the early church fathers we see what was the faith that the apotles preached, and what did the early church look like.

Fathers on the papacy:

St. Irenaeus
"The blessed apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the church [of Rome] . . . handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus" (Against Heresies 3:3:3 [A.D. 189]).

Cyprian of Carthage

"The Lord says to Peter: "I say to you," he says, "that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. . . . " [Matt. 16:18]. On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. . . . If someone [today] does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; first edition [A.D. 251]).

Fathers on the Eucharist:

St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110 A.D.)

They [i.e. the Gnostics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that THE EUCHARIST IS THE FLESH OF OUR SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again. (Letter to Smyrnians 7:1)

St. Justin the Martyr (c. 100 - 165 A.D.)

For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, AND BY THE CHANGE OF WHICH our blood and flesh is nourished, IS BOTH THE FLESH AND THE BLOOD OF THAT INCARNATED JESUS. (First Apology, 66)

Fathers on Mary:

St. Athanasius (c. 296-373)
"Be mindful of us, most holy virgin, who after childbirth didst remain virgin; and grant to us for these small words great gifts from the riches of they graces, O thou full of grace. Accept them as though they were true and adequate praises in they honor; and if there is in them any virtue and any praise, we offer them as a hymn from ourselves and from all creatures to thee, full of grace, Lady, Queen, Mistress, Mother of God, and Ark of sanctification" (Orat. In Deip. Annuntiat, nn. 13, 14. Int. Opp. S. Athanasii) (Blessed Virgin, p. 80).

St. Ambrose (c. 339-397)
"The prophet David danced before the Ark. Now what else should we say the Ark was but holy Mary? The Ark bore within it the tables of the Testament, but Mary bore the Heir of the same Testament itself. The former contained in it the Law, the latter the Gospel. The one had the voice of God, the other His Word. The Ark, indeed, was radiant within and without with the glitter of gold, but holy Mary shone within and without with the splendor of virginity. The one was adorned with earthly gold, the other with heavenly" (Serm. xlii. 6, Int. Opp., S. Ambrosii) (Blessed Virgin, p. 77).

I know that is lengthy but it shows what the faith of the church was in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, century. St. Ignatius of Antioch was the bishop of Antioch and would have likely known the apostles based on their timelines. So these teachings are founded upon the apostolic teachings of the time.

Another argument i will make is that the Church founded by Christ must appeal to more then sacred scripture alone. Why? because the early church was uneducated and without a canon of scripture. How could Christ found a church based on sola scriptura if there was no complete bible. The church as said by St.Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians has always appealed to tradition passed on by the apostles (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Christ's church must also have a link to St. Peter and the authority given to him by Christ. Jesus tells us He will build his Church upon the rock of Peter and that the gates of hell will never prevail against it (Matt 16:18). Only the Catholic Church has an unbroken succession of bishops going back to the apostles.

Lastly Jesus founded a church with His authority. Without the holy spirit guiding the Church we become subject to all sorts of error and heresy. Jesus gives the apostles the authority to bind and loose sins as well as power over the diabolic. This authority has not left the catholic church and preserves her from teaching error.

All other churches can trace their roots back to either the great schism or the protestant reformation. Only the Catholic Church can claim it was Jesus himself who built his church on the apostles and thus the Catholic Church is the one true church of Christ.

Refences :
The Bible
The Protestant's Dilemma ( by devin rose)


Rebuttal I: Pro's Case.

Pro's case is largely an appeal to the authority of random people... Everything comes in the form of a quote... An opinion.

Regarding the text from Matthew, this is a bit semantically... When Jesus says he will "build his Church," he does not mean he is founding the Catholic Church, or any specific Church. It means he's laying the blueprints for the Christian belief. The Rock being mentioned is Jesus himself, and he is central to the belief of Christianity. The "Church" is merely his flock.

In no way is Jesus specifically founding a Church... Founding the Church and founding the beliefs the Church is centered around isn't the same. By that logic, Jesus founded the Westboro Baptist Church... And Steve Jobs founded every single company that centers around making Iphone accessories and apps.

The closest to an actual Church that Jesus founded was his personal ministry. Refer to Argument I for the remainder of this case.

Argument I: Roman Church v Catholic Church.

Pro's case is built around the idea that the ministry Jesus created, or even that the church Peter led, was the Catholic Church. However, the church under Peter was simply the Church of Rome, formed at a time when all Churches were separately ran in each city.

The Church of Rome didn't become the "Catholic Church" until the Roman Empire made the religion their State Religion. Technically, the Catholic Church was founded by Roman lawman after the Emperor's conversion to the faith.

Pro believes Christ used Peter to build the Church, but even that isn't true. The Church was founded by believers who looked up to Peter when he was there. Peter only spent a few of his last years in Rome, arriving long after the Church of Rome was founded, and was considered otherwise unassociated with Rome (2). The Church of Rome was literally created before Peter ever arrived. Scholar Bart D. Ehrman wrote that Peter couldn't have been the Bishop of Rome (later renamed the Pope) because the title, or position, of Bishop wasn't created until a hundred years after his death (2, 3).

"Peter, in short, could not have been the first bishop of Rome, because the Roman church did not have anyone as its bishop until about a hundred years after Peter's death." - Ehrman.

The Catholic Church was, at most, formed out of a Government take over of the Roman Church. It was most definitely not founded by Jesus or Peter. The Roman Church was founded by a plain group of Christians, and Peter only arrived later on in it's life to improve it...

Even in the founding of the Church of Rome, almost immidiately, Paul how to write letters to the Church correcting them on the flaws built into their beliefs... A bad founding is hardly a sign of a perfect founder.

[2] Oscar Cullmann (1962), Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr (2 ed.), Westminster Press p. 234
[3] Ehrman, Bart D (2006). "Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend.". Oxford University Press. p. 84.

Argument II: Catholicism Is Counter to the Scriptures.

The Catholic Church is in contradiction with much of scriptures. A plain example is the use of the word "Father" to reference one's teacher. Matthew 23:9 specifically says you may not call your priest 'Father.' [4]. As the Pulpit Commentary highlights, teachers should only lead you to God. Catholic Priests make themselves the centerpiece of one's salvation. You must go to them to learn how many times to pray... Otherwise you can not find forgiveness. This is against everything the Bible states. This includes 1 Timothy 2:5... "For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus..."

As Gill's Exposition of the Bible states:
"Christ's sense is, that he would have his disciples not fond of any titles of honour at all; and much less assume an authority over men, as if they were to depend on them..." [5]

The role of Pope, Cardinal, Archdioceses, Bishop, and Priest contradicts this. They have deep authority over men, even capable of "banning you from the religion and heaven." You MUST go to them to be forgiven (violating the part about not being dependent on them). In it's founding years, when Catholicism was created through the state merger of each church, the Church forced people to convert, breaking the authority premise almost immediately.


The Church of Rome wasn't founded by Jesus or Peter. The Catholic Church was created in the merger of independent church's under the state take over of the Religion four centuries later. The "Catholic Church" was created in the 4th century, and formed out of Church's Jesus and Peter didn't create.

The beliefs of this Church in no way reflect the most central teachings of Jesus.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you for your response I will first take a look at Matthew 16:18 to clear up your misconceptions about the verse.

" And I tell you, (talking to simon peter) you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".

Now the greek word for Peter is "Petros" which literally means "rock", so Jesus is literally saying I name you rock and upon this rock I will Build My Church, Jesus is not the rock Peter is. This in no way refers to the blueprint of christian belief, firstly no fathers of the church saw it this way because our Lord goes on to say in verse 19;

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven".

This is certainly shows that Christ gives His authority to Peter and that authority is over His Church. What could he bind and loose if he didn't have authority.

You also say the Church is His flock which is correct it is, but who does Jesus put in charge over his flock? John 21:15-17 tells us

"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?""Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."Jesus said, "Feed my flock".

Jesus puts Peter over his flock to feed and take care of them.

Rebuttal 1:

You say in no way is Jesus founding a specific Church and that all the churches were separately ran in each city. Well the New Testament makes it very clear that is not the case. In Acts 15 we read about a dispute in the Church as to whether one needed to be circumcised to be saved. Well the question was brought to the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem for a definitive answer

" 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question".

Then we see Peter standing up to make the final authoritative statement.

" After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." (Acts 15:7-11)

All the churches when they had disputes submitted to the authority and the teachings of the hierarchy established by Christ, Of which Peter was the leader.

Con you also state that the Church of Rome didn't become the "Catholic Church" until the roman empire made it their state religion but this is also untrue. As St. Ignatius of Antioch says in the 2nd century:

"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." St. Ignatius wrote this in 110 A.D hundreds of years before your proposed timeline.

Further you say that Peter was never the bishop of Rome but St. Irenaeus tells us in the 2nd century that in fact Peter was there Laying The Foundations.

""Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church" (Against Heresies, 3, 1:1 [A.D. 189]). "

Peter being the head of the apostles and as we've already seen had final say, would only go to Rome to be in authority there. Who is going to be in charge over Peter? no one he was most certainly bishop upon arrival.

A bad founding is a hardly a sign of a perfect founder? do you deny Christ was perfect? I think you need to look over that.

Rebuttal 2:

Firstly Matt 23:9 does not say don't call your priest father, it says call no man father. At best we can say Jesus is commanding his followers to not call religious leaders father. If that is the case that we should call no man father, WHY oh Why does Jesus say this in Luke 16:24

"So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire."

Did Jesus forget what he said? or is he saying that no man can be called father if they deny the initial fatherhood of God, you decide.

Next you say that the priesthood and the authority of the pope bishops and priest is not legitimate but then when have to consider this. In John 20:22 Jesus breathes on the Apostles and says this

"If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

How could the apostles forgive anyone's sins unless they heard the sins of the person? Are they just supposed to make random guesses at the sins they have committed? No, Jesus again shows the AUTHORITY of the apostles which is His authority and has been given to them for the benefit of the Church.

Lastly I will address the point of the succession of that authority. In Acts 1 the first thing we see is the Apostles getting together to decide who will take the place of Judas as apostle. How could this man be now given the authority of the apostles since Jesus didn't give it to him like he did the others? This only makes sense if the authority is passed to anyone the apostles ordain with this power. otherwise how could Matthias be given the title of apostle. Also we see in the Old Covenant that God gave priestly authority to the levites to preside over and teach the people of Israel. If God could pass down the authority from generation to generation in those day He most certainly can do it Today.


Well if you've read this far I give you props, that's a lot of reading. My main point is this. The Church of Acts, with The Apostles over the people and with the laying of hands on the presbytery (1 Timothy 4:14) is the same Church as the Catholic Church. Our Friend St. Ignatius makes it Very Clear in 110 A.D that wherever Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church. We cannot throw out the Church Fathers because we are looking at what was the history of the Early Christian Church. What did it teach and what was it saying about the apostles and the role of the leaders. As odd as it may seem I've only pointed out a fraction of the evidence. I've answered and refuted all your objections with the Bible and historical documents. We are forced to conclude that Jesus founded the Catholic Church.

Sources :
The Bible

Thanks alot for the Debate


Rebuttal I: Pro Case.

Pro has no actual response to the claim that Jesus was the rock. He merely denies it with no acedemia to back himself up. The highly prestiegous Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary sums my argument up as this:

"The word translated rock, is not the same word as Peter, but is of a similar meaning. Nothing can be more wrong than to suppose that Christ meant the person of Peter was the rock. Without doubt Christ himself is the Rock, the tried foundation of the church; and woe to him that attempts to lay any other! Peter's confession is this rock as to doctrine. If Jesus be not the Christ, those that own him are not of the church, but deceivers and deceived." (1)

To say that Peter is the rock is contracticary to the idea that only Jesus may lead us to salvation... That HE is the center point of our religion. And in regards to Pro's Matthew 16:19 verse... The phrase "I will give you the keys..." doesn't imply Peter had power over a church... It meant Peter was allowed to open the religion to the gentiles... An act deemed unacceptable in Judaism...

"The former Peter exercised when he took the lead after the effusion of the Spirit, and opened the door to the Jews. It was his action that admitted the Gentiles, without compliance with the distinctive rites of Judaism, to all the privileges of the gospel (see Acts 15:7)." (2)

Eitherway. This only implies a sense of power in the religion. Not that Peter is now the founder of the Catholic Church. The Churches listened to Peter because he was Christ's top apostle... Not because they were one Church founded under Peter... To say that Peter founded this Church's because they listened to him is like saying Obama founded the US because the US listened to him... Or that George Washington invented each state because each state listened to him...

Being a lead authority here is akin to JMK being called a 'leading authority on Economics' here. He didn't found economics here. Each Church, the Roman Church included, was founded uniquely and separately from Peter and Jesus, even if it's Jesus's teaching they followed.


Argument I: Roman Church v Catholic Church.

This is a silly response. The apostles are being called because they personally knew Jesus... They were the top knowledge on the subject. The Church didn't go to them because they founded the Churches, but because the Church's trusted them.

Pro needs to come to grips with that reality. Is RoyLatham the founder of Conservatism because Conservatives on DDO go to him for advise? Other people, separate of Jesus and the Apostles, founded the majority of Church's. They ask the people most knowledgeable for advise, but THEY still founded their Church's.

Reguarding St. Ignatius... He is not referring to the 'Catholic Church...' But to the 'Universal Church' using a romanized version of the greek term katholikos. What he is referencing isn't the Catholic Church that Pro is talking about, but instead a term for the general church as a whole to distunigush from 'fake' Churches. Much like referencing all of Europe as a whole in 1900, before the European Union existed. The term Catholic Church only got carried over to distinguish the western Roman state Church from the eastern "Orthodox Church," after the East-West Schism of 1054. and was not, prior, the actual name of the Church. Therefore, Ignatius could not have been referencing a specific Church at the time.

The text from Against Heresies referencing the existence of Paul and Peter in Rome... This in no way contradicts my statement. What the text leaves out is that Peter and Paul arrived after the Church had been founded. By Pro's logic, if you create a business, and a few years later, I become an employee, and help your business become a huge company, it was I who founded your business.

"laying out the foundation of the Church" means they helped give form to an already existing entity. Not that they created that entity.

A bad founding is in fact the sign of an imperfect founder. That's because it wasn't Jesus who founded the Church. Had it been Jesus who founded the Church, it wouldn't have needed constant help. We know this because Peter and Paul needed no help after Jesus was done founding, with in them, their faith.

Argument II: Catholicism Is Counter to the Scriptures.

Jesus calls Abraham "Father" because Abraham actually is the Father of the Hebrew in a biological sense and metaphorical sense... Jesus does not refer to him as Father in a spiritual sense. So Pro case is null. If Pro read what I wrote, he'd see that I said the text references calling a 'priest' Father... Not that ALL examples of calling someone Father is wrong. You can call your dad Father. But calling your religious leaders Father is a sin.

John 20:22 doesn't mean the Disciples could choose who got forgiven and who didn't... For Pro to accept this, is to defy all the preaching of Jesus, who spoke endlessly of how ONLY GOD can forgive your sins. What the text means is that the Apostles had the responsibility of teaching people how to be forgiven. As Gill's Exposition puts it:

"God only can forgive sins, and Christ being God, has a power to do so likewise; but he never communicated any such power to his apostles; nor did they ever assume any such power to themselves, or pretend to exercise it; it is the mark of antichrist, to attempt anything of the kind; who, in so doing, usurps the divine prerogative, places himself in his seat, and shows himself as if he was God: but this is to be understood only in a doctrinal, or ministerial way, by preaching the full and free remission of sins, through the blood of Christ, according to the riches of God's grace, to such as repent of their sins, and believe in Christ; declaring, that all such persons as do so repent and believe, all their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake..." (3).

This is akin to how a teacher of Math chooses who can and can not do math by who and how she teaches.

As for the part of Acts showing the Apostles electing a new members... They do this because the book of Psalms commanded it. They acted in compliance with authority, and not through their own authority.

""For," said Peter, "it is written in the Book of Psalms: "'May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,' and, "'May another take his place of leadership.'" -Acts 1:30

Had Palsms not commanded it, it's unlikely they would fill in Judas's spot. But if they did, it wouldn't show some odd God-given power... It would just be them filling in a vacancy in their specific group, which still had a ministry in the Middle East to teach.

Pro's cases all fall short of scriptural context. The use of the word "Father" for talking to the priests, and the anti-scriptural power of the Clergy and Pope all contradict the Bible. Gills even refers to the power to chose who can be saved or not (the power that the Pope and Priests have) as being that of the anti-Christ.


Pro's whole argument fails on one MAJOR error... Not understanding what it means to "found" something. It does not mean to have authority over it, or to be it's go-to guide. My KFC that I work at has to call a servicer when something goes wrong, so does that service get to call itself our Founder? Being a privately owned KFC, even the corporate didn't 'found' our KFC, but we go to them when we have questions.

Pro's attempts to show Peter had god-given powers that only God's allowed to have falls short of proven Peter founded the Church of Rome... or any Church. Even if Peter had powers, it doesn't mean he founded the Church.

The Roman Church, which would become the Catholic Church, was founded before Peter ever went to Rome. Pro only shows that Peter was a teacher for the Church... Not that Peter founded it... Or that Jesus founded it.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by PonticGreekMacedonian 2 years ago
Well the Church that is the closest to the Catholic Church is the Orthodox Church, they are both the oldest Christian Churches. It is known that the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches are the oldest Christian Churches! We are brothers of Christ!!!
Posted by one2one 2 years ago
The church Jesus started most definitely included the orthodox, until they broke with Rome. They recognise the primacy of the chair of Peter but not its supremacy. I pray one day The Orthodox Churches will come home and I believe there is good reason for optimism.
Posted by PonticGreekMacedonian 2 years ago
Actually the Catholic Church is not the only one, the Eastern Orthodox Church is also known to be founded by Jesus (I am Greek Orthodox)
Posted by rextr05 2 years ago
I sure hope pro can show a definitive link between Jesus & Catholicism, not only Christianity.
Posted by The-Voice-of-Truth 2 years ago
Will definitely follow this one.
Posted by donald.keller 2 years ago
Haha... hahaha ok. I'll accept.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by The-Voice-of-Truth 2 years ago
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