Christianity's First Dark Age

Why does Acts end with Paul in Rome? And why is there such a dearth of comparable narrative post Acts?

Here is a website with some early Christian writings:

I have yet to find any contemporary Christian writings on the Jewish war with Rome, for example, which was surely a momentous event for Jewish Christians in general and the Jerusalem Church in particular.

And, yet, Acts’ authorship is often dated by the fact that it does not mention the Temple destruction because, the reasoning goes, if it were written later then surely it would have been included.

I adding my last post in the other thread about apostasy/succession. What I really want to know, is how can we trust Clement/Ignatius/Ireneus, etc…those Early Church Father’s that Catholics rely so heavily upon to show that they are “The Church.” I too am looking to fill in that blank from Acts to Ignatius/Clement and see what happened w/the fall of Jerusalem,etc. What about Paul chosing Timothy and telling him to chose elders. That has a little more meat to follow a church. Any writings from that church? We know in 1 Timothy that Paul has condemned Hermanaeus and Alexander (1 Tim 1:20). How do we know Clement wasn’t a follower of them? Or that the future bishops/Popes were not who Paul was prophesying about in 1 Tim 4:1-8? We know that the “savage wolves who would come and not spare the flock” would be from among the Ephesians as Paul tells them in Acts 20:17-31. Those could’ve spread to Antioch and Rome as well. I guess we’ll never know, so the only thing to go by is how the followers conform to the teachings of the apostles and Christ. If it opposes or adds it doesn’t seem like it should be a doctrine.
Here’s my post from the other thread.

Originally Posted by mercygate
For me, there is no “dark age”. I believe the quibble was about the “dark period” between the Apostles and Ignatius of Antioch and the teaching on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Ignatius was evangelized and taught by John the Apostle. He was in his 80s when he was martyred in 115 A.D. John is considered to have lived to ca. 90. That would make Ignatius around 60 at the time of John’s death. That is a very solid time line…Irenaeus refers to Peter having ordained Clement. It would not matter one whit whether Peter selected Linus or Clement.

This still is faith in Ignatius or Ireneus or whoever happens to be making that claim…in any case, it’s not an apostle or Jesus.

Bishops are not appointed by their predecessors. That has nothing at all to do with Apostolic Succession. Moreover, Petrine primacy is not the source of Apostolic Succession. All validly consecrated bishops trace their lines back to the Apostles. It’s more like a net than a line.

But those bishops are only given power if they agree w/the Pope so it’s really all based on the Pope which is based on apostolic succession to Peter …like the other apostles didn’t count or have as much power as Peter.

I think that you are really reaching to negate the existing evidence. Catholics understand that Peter’s faith is “the rock” – we just don’t separate it from Peter. And Petrine primacy is not “simply [saying] that they were a leader after him.” Peter is not isolated from the rest of the Church. We do aver, however, that Peter is essential to the enterprise. If you have Apostolic Succession (as the Orthodox have) and yet Peter is not in your house of bishops, then you are missing the ONE piece Our Lord Himself promised would be the identifiable ‘rock’ of His Church


So you (Catholics) are placing Peter ahead of faith. If the other churches don’t come from Peter, yet have faith than they are invalid? Common! Jesus never said you have to have faith in a group of people or in a certain lineage , etc., only faith in God, the gospel: that Jesus is from God, took the punishment for our sins by being the atoning sacrifice, and resurrecting from the dead and that we too will resurrect and live w/him for eternity in a perfect world by putting our trust /belief in him (and his message). That if we trust him (agree with him) we will unite w/him in purpose and spirit and therefore will change and become like him. That is the gospel to believe, not that we must believe everything he future Pope teaches on faith and morals and come up with a million disciples that if we don’t follow will send us to hell. This is not the gospel of Jesus. I’m getting more convinced that those first leaders really did either unintentionally misunderstand, or intentionally led others astray. It makes sense if the OT forshadows the new. The Isrealites did the same thing after they left Egypt…went back to idolatry and human ways of thinking, rituals that did not please God because they did not have faith, etc.

Ok. How can you trust Paul? How can you trust the Gospel authors? How do we know they were in the “true church” and not part of a schismatic sect? The only reason you have for accepting the writings of the Bible and not The Gospel of Thomas is that the church of Clement, Ignatius and Irenaeus–the Catholic Church–recognized them as divinely authoritative.

If you discard the Church, what reason is there for caring about any of it? The only reason you have for believing in the collection of writings known as the Bible is … because the Church said so. You can examine their reliability, historicity, authorship, dates, any aspect of the texts themselves, and never get at their divine authority. Excepting Revelation, none of the NT texts even claim to be divinely inspired. The divine authority of the scriptures comes to us only through extra-biblical tradition.

If the true church somehow escaped history and was something other than Clement and Co. , then they might also have a different set of scriptures. Or no sciptures. Of course, since the concept of “church” comes from the scriptures, the whole question becomes moot.

Some regard the Book of Revelation as a Christian writing in the apocalyptic style on the Jewish-Roman war with Jerusalem represented by the great city called Sodom and Egypt (Rev 11) and Babylon (Rev 17-18) and the Roman empire represented by the wild beasts (Rev 13) and scarlet beast (Rev 17).

I’ve heard lots of theories about Revelations but this is a new one for me. Do you know where I might find more on this?

It used to be that Catholic-bashing Protestants thought that the Church went astray following the Donation of Constantine in the fourth century-- when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire. Problem: when you read the post-biblical documents of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, such as the Didache, letters of Clement and Ignatius, etc., what you see is a Christian church that looks a whole lot more like the Catholic Church than like evangelical Christian churches – emphasis on leadership roles, particularly the roles of bishop, presbyter and deacon, liturgy (see, e.g., the Didache), and so on. Solution: obviously, the Church went astray as soon as the last book of the bible was written, despite the fact that all of these so-called “man-made” innovations have a solid biblical basis, and despite the fact that the canon of the New Testament was selected by the Church well after Clement, Ignatius, etc.! No, the early Church doesn’t look like modern evangelical churches. So – who’s wrong: Clement and Ignatius or Ted Haggard and Jerry Falwell? I guess you know who gets my vote.

According to Catholics, not Protestants

No, the early Church doesn’t look like modern evangelical churches.

Not in terms of the heirarchy, but it does in terms of the lack of rules/hundreds of “disciplines” the followers must obey in order to stay in a state of grace. It was more simple then, like the Evangelical/protestant churches are today.

You might start here:

Interesting, but this seems to be entirely a refutation of a particular Protestant interpretation. I didn’t find any discussion of the Jewish/Roman war.

But I did find the “Preterist” interpretation here:

In any case, Revelations is not much of a Christian narrative of the Roman/Jewish war.

Specifically, which “rules” exist today that early Christians did not have to follow?

Are you serious? Read the Code of Canon Law. The fact that there is one, and there are Code of Canon Lawers seems to say enough…but, I’ll provide a few examples:

  1. fasting on certain days/times being obligatory,
  2. having to believe Mary dogmas to be a Catholic,
  3. having to believe (accept/trust) anything other than “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again” to be a Christian for that matter,
  4. having to be in a certain posture to receive communion
  5. having to recite a certain formula to be forgiven or part of a sacrament
  6. having to make the bread with a certain recipe for communion
    the list goes on and on…

I for one will grant you that the Church has a great many more rules today than it did in the 2nd century. This would/could be for many reasons which are not associated with the Church going astray.
The biggest reason for the many “rules” to which you refer is simple. - People asking, “Yea but what if…” is the biggest reason.
Over the nearly 2000 years of Church history she has had to define and redefine issues trying to address the various “what-if’s” that people are coming up with.
Christ said Love your neighbor - simple - Yea but what if…
And the church needs to have some appropriate response.
Christ gave us one Great command - Love - - Love God and Love neighbor. Yet I know of no ChristianChurch, Catholic or Protestant that holds completely to these words except perhaps the Quakers. Everyone makes exceptions. War being one.

As to the specifics mentioned above, I would suggest that if one takes the time to do the reading on these, each makes good sense. It is just that most people do not wish to take the time to study upon them.


Actually I would argue that it was more complicated back then. The oral teachings of the Apostles and the various texts in circulation (not all of which made it into the bible) could lead to many questions. In fact many of Pauls letters were written to address specific questions that were raised by the Communites he had already taught.
So the "What if’s had started already back then.
Also the various (and sometimes spurious) documents back then could indeed lead to a situation like the Evangelical/protestant churches of today with one area teaching one thing and another area teaching another thing from the same or similar documents. That is why the Church decided to assemble the canon and centralize it’s teaching so that it would be truly ONe Holy Catholic and Apostolic.


There is a difference between organization, custom, and discipline and “rules that have to be followed.”

  1. These vary by the community, as they are communal acts; the bishops lead the community in united worship and performance of these acts. What’s different from early Christianity or the Jewish faith?
  2. These are probably fewer than you think, but it really just gets to the question: if something has been revealed as Truth and verified as such by the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t it be a rejection of God to reject that Truth that He has given? What’s different from early Christianity here?
  3. If that’s all you think there is to being a Christian, I wonder if you’ve even read the NT. The Apostles spent a lot of time and care to ensure right teaching and warn against false teaching because Jesus revealed Truth to us, and we need to accept that Truth. Did not most of those groups that Peter and Paul spoke out against and chastised, those groups even declared anathema, proclaim “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again?” If that’s all that needed to be agreed upon, boy, most of the NT wouldn’t have been written! If that formula is all that is required, then truth can contradict itself and God is pretty shallow, superficial.
  4. This is no requirement, but a custom to suggest proper reverence. What is so wrong with it, and how is this different than expressions of reverence in the early Church?
  5. Again, a custom. And didn’t Christ Himself tell us to use a formula for Baptism–Baptizing “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?” So how are ritual words (which are not absolute but can change because they are just meant to serve the purpose of showing faith, truth, and reverence) problematic in light of the early Christians?
  6. Again, a custom, guidance. How is this different from what local groups of the early Christians would decide? Or the Jews, who had a certain way they needed to prepare the matzoh that was the predecessor of the Eucharistic meal?

I encourage you to seek a better understanding of ritual practice and Catholic teachings, and to compare such things honestly to the worship of the Jews (who provided our foundation and origin as Christians by God’s own design) and of the early Christians. By God’s own design, worship of Him has long included reverent ritual and liturgy.

Again, the point is, not that there is something wrong w/practicing those things, just that it should not be required for salvation. Catholics impose doctrines that are required for salvation. They might not say that directly, becuase they say it’s “discipline” not doctrine, yet breaking a “discipline” sets you out of the state of grace because of disobedience “to God’s revealed Truth” so therefore your salvation* is *dependent on it. Like circumcision. There is nothing wrong w/circumcision, but for the Judaizers to impose that on the Gentile Christians as a requirement for salvation, was wrong. We should be able to fast if we want or not, get circumcized if we want or not, eat oat bread host or wheat or bleached flour or leavened or not, etc.

Where are all of those things stated as required by the Church for salvation?

Belief in dogma is required because it is God-given Truth defined by God as something we should accept.

Some particular actions are required by those who have accepted God and learned what He wants from because God has made some things clear that He wants from them–like Baptism, celebrating the Eucharist, getting married before having sex, participating in communal worship through the Divine Liturgy of the Mass. The list of true absolute requirements for obedient children isn’t actually that long.

to walk away from the real presence for reasons such as this :doh2:

Do you really believe that the True God required all the rituals and practices of the old covenant, and essentially a free-for-all in the new?

And there is the power of binding a loosing…

And there is that bit in Matthew about the gate being narrow…

It wouldn’t matter to any Catholics even if I told you because you defend everything since it’s “God’s Church.” Anything a Pope teaches is considered gospel truth and isn’t questioned .

No, there is often quite a lot of discussion about what Popes say, and even some disagreement. And it is permissible.

We also don’t defend everything that has been done on behalf of the Church or by its members.

So, for starters, do you really think all of those 6 points you gave were required for salvation? I thought I addressed them already. Were there others?