Is Emperor Constantine Founded Roman Catholic Church?

Excerpt From: Catholic Answers To Protestant Objections

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican, Rome
 This is an excerpt from the E-Book that I am trying to write.
 
Objection:
            The Catholic Church is not founded by Jesus Christ, the Emperor Constantine was the one who founded the Church of Rome thus its foundation and origin is paganism and not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Answer:
            The premise that the foundation of the Catholic Church is paganism can only be true if it is indeed founded by the emperor Constantine. However this is not the case even before the birth of Emperor Constantine the Catholic Church already existed. As a matter of fact this great pagan emperor converted to Christianity on his deathbed and was baptize as a Catholic. Constantine became the emperor of Rome from 306 A.D until his death on 337 A.D, all the emperors before him scorned Christianity and persecuted each and every followers of Christ from the laity, the priests and the bishops. Constantine was the 1st Roman emperor to support Christianity and become Christian. From the time of Constantine, Christianity became the Roman religion.[1] If the emperor Constantine was the founder of the Catholic Church then it would be superfluous for him to convert to the religion that he himself founded. However, Constantine converted to Christianity which logically would imply that Christianity (Catholic Church) already existed even before Constantine was born. Furthermore, Constantine issued the edict of Milan which gave Christianity legal status in the empire. At the end of the fourth century, in the year 380, Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman Empire.[2] Prior to the edict of Milan Christians in Rome cannot publicly and freely practice their religion for the fear of being persecuted and killed like what the previous emperors did. Therefore, even before Constantine became an emperor and issued the edict of Milan the Catholic Church already existed and was being persecuted for hundreds of years. The idea that the founder of the Catholic Church is Emperor Constantine is baseless and no iota of historical proof will ever support it. 300 hundred years prior to the birth of Constantine a Catholic bishop already spoke of the existence of the Catholic Church and this bishop was even martyred in Rome! St. Ignatius bishop of Antioch explicitly mentions the Catholic Church on his letter to the Smyrnaeans, this faithful bishop wrote; “Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there, just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”[3] St. Ignatius of Antioch was compelled to call the Church that Jesus Christ founded “Catholic” “in order to separate itself from the various heretical groups and sects, the ancient church began calling itself “Catholic.” This title underscored both its universality and the inclusiveness of the witness on which it stood. It was the church according to the whole, that is, according to the total witness of all the apostles.”[4] Emperor Constantine cannot be the founder of the Catholic Church because even before his birth the Catholic Church already exists and this Church and the Church that Jesus Christ founded in 33 A.D (Mt.16:17-19) are one and the same. Aside from St. Ignatius of Antioch another faithful bishop also called the Church that Jesus Christ founded as the Catholic Church. St. Polycarp in his letters to various Christian communities attests that the Catholic Church and the Church that Jesus Christ founded are one and the same. St. Polycarp wrote; “The Church of God which sojourns in Smyrna, to the Church of God which sojourns in Philomelium, and to all the dioceses of the holy and Catholic Church in every place: May mercy, peace, and love of God the Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ be given to you in abundance.”[5] These are just a few statements coming from the early Church Fathers which prove that the Catholic Church already exists even before the time of Emperor Constantine. Logically it follows that emperor Constantine cannot be the founder of the Catholic Church, it is inconceivable to admit that emperor Constantine is the founder of the Catholic Church even without an iota of historical proof. Sadly, Protestants are willing to accept any baseless claims against the Catholic Church even if it cannot be proven historically and biblically. A person or people who claim to be following Christ must also know how to accept the truth even if they are not amendable to it, and this is the truth that Emperor Constantine is not the founder of the Catholic Church nor its origin is paganism. The sole founder of the Catholic Church is Jesus Christ when he said to Peter “Though art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church” (Mt.16:17-19). Out of desperation and ignorance of history Protestants use this claim in order to dismiss the divine origin of the Catholic Church but a close reading of history it can be proven that their claim is false and inaccurate.
           

[2] John E. Schwarz, A Handbook Of The Christian Faith, p.150, (2004)
[3] St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to Smyrnaeans 8:2, William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Church Fathers Vol.1, p.25, (2010)
[4] Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, p.66, (1984)
[5] The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp 155/157 A.D, William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Church Fathers, p. 30, (2010)
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