The Great Apostasy



Please enlighten me on the following verse:

Acts 20:29-30

29I know that after my departure ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

As per an Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) member, this is a prophesy of St. Paul on the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church. They (Iglesia Ni Cristo here in the Phippines) is using this to counter our claim on the Mat. 16:18, “that the gates of hades will not overcome it”. He said that the true church disappeared to be founded later ihere n the Philippines by the late, Felix Manalo in, if my memory serves me right, the year 1914 - I know something is very wrong with their Church History.

The ravening wolves according to their teachings are the bishops and priests with the Pope, who has drawn away the Church from its true teachings.

I’m studying the given verse on Acts but would like to seek an experts help on the correct interpretation.

By the way, said Iglesia ni Cristo member is a former Catholic. I’m patiently trying to explain to him some of our basic beliefs and I know have planted some seed of doubts in him with regards to his present faith.

In Christ-Jesus and Mary!

how do you know that the wolves or preverse men reffered to in in the verse are Catholic leaders and not Luther, Calvin, or Jim Jones? :wink:

There were heresies in thethe early church. The first heretic was simon magus. He was a magician who said that he was greater than the creator. He is the one that wanted the apostles to give him the powers they had.

There were also many heretics that Irenaeus and Ignatius and Justin spoke against.

Christ also said that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against his church.

Suggest you read the following article by Catholic Apologist Patrick Madrid. It’s geared towards countering the Mormon version of the Great Apostacy, but it’s just as valid here.

The idea of “wolves” and “ravens” is a little vague. Taken in its present context, they could symbolize anyone from Luther to Magus to Iglesia ni Christo…

But the image seems imply that there would be some rending and tearing up of the truth. In this case, you would have to rule out the Catholic Church, because Her truths are always bigger and more full than those of the breakaway Churches. Also, the Catholic Church is the only Christian denomination that can point to a constant and unified tradition that is supported by history. That being the case, how could you claim that ours is the Church that led people astray? Keep in mind, that when you level this claim against the Church, you are not just singling out a handful of bad individuals in the early days of Christianity, you are singling out all of Christiandom straight through to the 1500s where Luther set things right (in the Protestant worldview).

That’s more than just a few disciples here and there. That is essentially EVERYBODY. In which case, Paul should have said something like: “In a few years (or generations, depending on your denomination) EVERYTHING here is going to totally go kaput. I know Christ said some nice things and being God and all, you would think the church He himself established would be mediocre at least, but those are the breaks…”

We are the same Church yesterday today and forever. We are one, holy, universal (catholic), and apostolic. These are not just cute sayings or creedal phrases – it is the truth.

Fact: The Catholic Church is the longest continously running man-made organization in the history of the planet. ('Cause it wasn’t made by a man, but by God.) :smiley:

The warning found in Acts 20:29-30 is also found in the following verses:

Mt 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come among you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. v.16: You will know them by their fruits . . .”

Mark 13:21: "And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ,’ or ‘Look, there he is,’ don’t believe it. v. 22: “False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, the elect.”

This was a pattern of words followed in farewell speeches. In Acts, St. Paul was saying goodbye to the presbyters (priests) from Ephesus, leaving them with his warning about false teachers ringing in their ears.

There have always been heresies competing with the True Faith. The heretics known as Judaizers were dealt with at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). The heresy of Gnosticism is spoken against often in the NT. As early as the end of the first century groups such as the Kerinthians and Ebionites developed, and early in the second century Elchasaites and Mandeans were on the scene, followed by a long line of others claiming to be the “true church.”

It has always been the Catholic Church vs. the heretics, and still is today.

Christianity is a revealed religion. Revelation is what God has told us about Himself through His words and His deeds. Revelation is from Christ to His Apostles through His Church. The Church transmits her knowledge, tradition, and doctrines through the successors to the Apostles, the Bishops.

Your friend should look not to the NT for the proof that the Catholic Church has never apostasized, but to history. The Catholic bishops trace their ordination back through the years in an unbroken continuum to the first century, to the Apostles themselves.

If Jesus – who was God – couldn’t keep the Church He founded from falling into apostasy, what hope is there that any man-made church could survive? If the Church apostasized, Jesus wasn’t God and was lying when he claimed he was (I AM, Jn 8:58) and when he said “the powers of death will not prevail against it (His Church).”

Jesus was God, and the Catholic Church speaks for Christ (Luke 10:16, Mt 10:40).

I hope this is helpful.

Scriptures quoted from the RSV.