The Roman Catholic Church contends that its origin is the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ in approximately 30 A.D. The Catholic Church proclaims itself to be the Church that Jesus Christ died for, the Church that was established and built by the Apostles. Is that the true origin of the Catholic Church? On the contrary. Even a cursory reading of the New Testament will reveal that the Catholic Church does not have its origin in the teachings of Jesus, or His apostles. In the New Testament, there is no mention of the papacy, worship / adoration of Mary (or the immaculate conception of Mary, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the assumption of Mary, or Mary as co-redemptrix and mediatrix), petitioning saints in Heaven for their prayers, apostolic succession, the ordinances of the church functioning as sacraments, infant baptism, confession of sin to a priest, purgatory, indulgences, or the equal authority of church tradition and Scripture. So, if the origin of the Catholic Church is not in the teachings of Jesus and His apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, what is the true origin of the Catholic Church?
For the first 280 years of Christian history, Christianity was banned by the Roman empire, and Christians were terribly persecuted. This changed after the “conversion” of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Constantine “legalized” Christianity at the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313. Later, in A.D. 325, Constantine called together the Council of Nicea, in an attempt to unify Christianity. Constantine envisioned Christianity as a religion that could unite the Roman Empire, which at that time was beginning to fragment and divide. While this may have seemed to be a positive development for the Christian church, the results were anything but positive. Just as Constantine refused to fully embrace the Christian faith, but continued many of his pagan beliefs and practices, so the Christian church that Constantine promoted was a mixture of true Christianity and Roman paganism.
Constantine found that with the Roman Empire being so vast, expansive, and diverse - not everyone would agree to forsake their religious beliefs and instead embrace Christianity. So, Constantine allowed, and even promoted, the “Christianization” of pagan beliefs. Completely pagan and utterly unbiblical beliefs were given new “Christian” identities. Some clear examples of this are as follows:
(1) The Cult of Isis, an Egyptian mother-goddess religion, was absorbed into Christianity by replacing Isis with Mary. Many of the titles that were used for Isis, such as “Queen of Heaven,” “Mother of God,” and “theotokos” (God-bearer) were attached to Mary. Mary was given an exalted role in the Christian faith, far beyond what the Bible ascribes to her, in order to attract Isis worshippers to a faith they would not otherwise embrace. Many temples to Isis were, in fact, converted into temples dedicated to Mary. The first clear hints of Catholic Mariology occur in the writings of Origen, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, which happened to be the focal point of Isis ...