Church History

Mr. Ray,

My eldest daughter invited me to my grandson’s ‘dedication’ at her new place of worship.  Worship? Sorry. Her new place of…..well, the giant Olympic-sized structure that, after being directed in by police/traffic officers, upon entering, reminded me of a mall.  Oh and by the way, I didn’t witness any worship. My 1st thoughts were…”Wow! A frappucino Mass! Where do I get my 3D glasses?” 

Joined daughter, son in law and grandson in the biggest theater I’ve ever been in.  The music was ghastly and horribly loud. I found out later, I could have gotten ear plugs from one of the kajillion ushers. Seriously? I personally choose 11:00 Mass at St. Johns because of the music. So now this place is on strike # 6 or 7.  I’m still giving it a chance as I love my child and grandchild more than life. 

Music’s done. Smoke machine turned off.  Some hip, young guy puts down his guitar and welcomes us to the (lack of) worship service.  A special welcome to us uninformed-not-belonging-to-the-mega-church-there-because-of-the-dedication, schmucks. 

He also welcomed the 4 or so other locations as they are all gathered at their ‘malls’ watching on the big screen. Are you kidding me?!?! He then tells us that this dedication “is not a baptism as they don’t baptize infants. “The Bible is clear that we are saved by God’s grace, not by dedication, baptism, or our own works.”  And that “every baptism recorded in the Bible occurred when someone was old enough to make a faith decision.” 

I got up and walked out. Mostly because my husband wouldn’t let me stand up and yell “LIAR!” “Go home. Open your bible, read it and get back to us.” As today is Sunday and I went to Mass at my church with my live priest and beautiful music and the presence of our Lord and true praise and worship and forgiveness…..I’ll admit to you that I wanted to say worse. In my mind I did.

This daughter was a Catholic.  This daughter knows better.  I felt as though this daughter ripped my heart out and stomped on it.  She claims she ‘switched’ because her husband, while attending Mass with her, was offended and did not feel comfortable because she told him he could not receive communion as he didn’t understand the true meaning. They went church-hopping and ended up at Eagle Brook. Super mega franchise church. Did I say church? My apologies.

Please help me.  I’ve heard you speak at Little Canda, MN.  Which of your books would help me and God help her, my daughter. [Steve here: Crossing the Tiber would be the book. It is my conversion story and has effected thousands to come back to the Church - blessed be God] I say books as she is an avid reader.  Books are best in this case. 

I feel just sick that my grandson is this little nobody in this horrible excuse for a place of worship…or lack thereof.  I so want him to be a part of our beautiful, Catholic family. 

I must say, since I’ve been so very negative, that a good thing did come from this visit……daughters 2 and 3 (who happen to be teenagers, mind you) both stated from the back seat on the way home, “I can’t wait to go to real church tomorrow.” That was huge for daughter #2…..teenage angst and all that. I appreciate any help you can give me.

 Check out this video from a person who posted it as “This is my church.” This was shared and viewed at all of their campuses (a word they use for all of their satellite “churches”, rather, theaters.

STEVE RAY HERE: The current trend of mega-churches is pretty much an American phenomenon. It is a response to Americans’ desire for entertainment, theatrics, “big exciting stuff” and religion-lite. They don’t want a lot of commitment, history, or quiet. Mega churches replicate the media world. In the first century they would have been similar to the colosseum, the entertainment genre of the day.

I am not saying there is not good being done in the mega churches, there is. But the Church that Jesus Christ founded 2,000 years ago is not about entertainment but about sacrifice, the Eucharist and the liturgy given by the Apostles which has been practiced since the first century. This good mom has described it all very well.

Around 150 AD Justin Martyr described the apostolic Church of the second century following the pattern laid down by the apostles. There was only one church, the Catholic Church. Read this and tell me where you find it today :-)

Early Christians often celebrated the Mass in the catacombs

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.

Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. 

First century bishop St. Ignatius, disciple of the apostles wrote:

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. 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. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

And, 

But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come unto us, how opposed they are to the will of God. … They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes.

So dear mega church friends, where is your bishop? Where is your Eucharist? The heretics of the first century denied the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist. Where is the liturgy of the apostles on your stages? Even imagining Peter or Paul officiating at a Rock Concert church service is unthinkable. 

Thank God for the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church!

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Cover of the "mythical" booklet "Trail of Blood"

What is the history of Baptists? Can they trace their roots back to the 1st century? Many ”fundamentalist” Baptists believe they can. Are they correct?

There is a booklet that is very popular among this fundamentalist crowd. It is entitled “The Trail of Blood”. The booklet claims that Catholics persecuted the true Christians — the Baptists — leaving behind a trail of blood.

I used to believe this premise and now that I have looked more carefully I wrote an article about this booklet and this the idea Baptists are the true Christians that have survived Catholic attempts to destroy them. Here is how my article begins:

“When Baptists attempt to discover the origins of their tradition they are faced with a historical dilemma. The search for Baptists roots hits a dead end in the sixteenth century. Most acknowledge that Baptist tradition is a tributary flowing out of the Protestant Reformation, but others attempt to discover a line of historical continuity, of doctrine and practice, back to Jesus and even John the Baptist. These Baptists are commonly referred to as “Baptist Successionists”. . . “

-For my full article on the Trail of Blood, click here (pdf).
-For other articles and references, click here.
-For more such articles and letters, click here.

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Tears welled up in my eyes — again — at Mass last Sunday. It was not always so. As a former Baptist I used to think the Catholic Mass was a sacrilege and an abomination. How could anyone worship a piece of bread? Really!

However, last Sunday I was overcome with emotion while sitting in an older Catholic church in a relatively poor area of town during a “normal” Sunday Mass. Why? Let me explain.
Dad reading
(Picture: Me on the right with the best dad in the world and brother David after going to Joy Road Baptist Church)

But first I have to take a step back in time to my delightful childhood.

The door of our Baptist church opened and the early arrivers stepped in with well-worn Bibles under their arms and colorful ties snugged up tight around the neck. Children with cute bow ties and frilly dresses were herded in and dropped off at Sunday School. Women adjusted their hats and smiled at all their friends.

It was always the same — enter the church with chattering friendliness accompanied by the organ or piano to set the mood. Everyone takes their place in the padded pews. The pastor steps up to the front and welcomes everyone, especially any visitors. They are asked to fill out the “Visitor Card” in the pews in front of them.

Then we all stand as he opens in a solemn and often wordy prayer.  A number is called out and we all grabbed our hymnal and proved we were real Christians by belting out the song, not just the first verse, but verses 1, 2 and 5.

For the rest of the story, click here.

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“11 Must-see Churches in Rome” Steve Ray quoted in Fox News Article

October 24, 2014

Since we leave for Rome today to pick up our 80 pilgrims for a pilgrimage through Italy, Greece and Turkey, I thought I would post this article so you can see some of the churches we will visit.  Here is the portion of the article in which I contributed. Teresa Tomeo also shares her favorite [...]

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Questions for “Bible Christians” that they can’t answer

October 1, 2014

http://www.catholic-convert.com/documents/QuestionsforBibleChristians.pdf  (David Palm is the original compiler of the insightful list.) Check out this list of Questions for “Bible Christians” that they cannot answer. I got a response in the Comments below, but thought I would post it here with my response. DAVID COMMENTED: It is refreshing to hear a Romanist admit they are not [...]

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Delusional Famous Baptist Preacher

August 1, 2014

“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.  (19th century London Anti-Catholic Baptist Charles H. Spurgeon in his Commenting and Commentaries, 1). But isn’t it ironic that Spurgeon is guilty of what he accuses [...]

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What Does the Word Catholic Mean? A History of the Word “Catholic”

July 10, 2014

As a Protestant, I went to an Evangelical church that changed an important and historical word in the  Apostles Creed. Instead of the “holy, catholic Church,” we were the “holy, Christian church.” At the time, I thought nothing of it. There was certainly no evil intent, just a loathing of the Catholic Church and a [...]

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11 Must See Churches in Rome: Steve Ray and Teresa Tomeo Interveiwed by Fox News Travel

May 6, 2014

Here are a list of great churches to see in Rome that are usually off the radar screen. Murals of torture and martyrdom, tombs of the Apostolic Fathers and much more. Enjoy the article at http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2014/04/24/11-must-see-churches-in-rome/

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Why Protestants Reject 7 Books of the Bible – the Short Answer

April 30, 2014

Gary Michuta is an expert on the canon of Scripture, especially in regards to the Deutero-canonical books, what the Protestants call the Apocrypha. You can read his book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger to see what I mean. Recently a friend asked Gary for the short answer as to why the Protestants removed seven books from [...]

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The Technology of Scripture Study: The Middle Ages (and a hilarious video at the end)

March 16, 2014

I am an ecclesiastical historian by training and a Bible software guy by trade. Which, I think, puts me in the unique position to write about the history of the intersection of technology and Scripture study in a series of posts. Written by my friend Andrew Jones PhD: We might start with a description of [...]

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St. Ignatius Steps on Luther; Mary Throws Luther out of Heaven

December 26, 2013

Two great Jesuit churches stand near each other in Rome. One is the Church of St. Ignatius and the other the Church of Gesu (Jesus). Both are imposing and majestic and reflect the glory of the Jesuits in their heyday.  The one to the left is called the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. In Italian [...]

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Google and the Vatican Work Together so you can Tour the Catacombs in Rome

November 27, 2013

Early Christian burial sites are now easier to see, both in person and via the Internet, thanks to 21st-century technology and collaboration between Google and the Vatican. “This is perhaps the sign of the joining of two extremes, remote antiquity and modernity,” said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi at a news conference Tuesday at the Catacombs of [...]

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Imperial President Promises Christians: “I Won’t Make You Marry Gays”…

June 26, 2013

…he won’t MAKE us marry gays? Oh, how kind of his majesty. So considerate of his subjects, especially us misguided and intolerant Christians. Obama the merciful! But before you bow in thanks to his Royal Highness beware that his anti-Christian, anti-conservative minions in the IRS might just remove tax-exempt status for any group refusing to marry [...]

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Brief Overviews of Paul’s Life — from the Place He Was Beheaded — Free Timeline

June 18, 2013

Two Videos: 1) Short Biography of St. Paul from the Place he was Martyred; 2) a Tour of the Sites of St. Paul’s Last Days. Enjoy! Steve gave a short biography of St. Paul at Tre Fontone where St. Paul was beheaded. This will give you a short introduction to St. Paul and his life [...]

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This Ad Shown on History Channel – Bravo!

March 10, 2013

Catholics Come Home ad

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My Two Books to Help Understand the Papacy and the Process

February 12, 2013

Ray, a former Evangelical Protestant and Bible teacher, goes through the Scriptures and the first five centuries of the Church to demonstrate that the early Christians had a clear understanding of the primacy of Peter in the see of Rome. (Click on book image to learn more or to purchase) He tackles the tough issues [...]

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