Which Church was the First Church


So it goes ...
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Hi radarmark —
... Armenians, Ethiopians, and Assyrians all pre-date the Catholic-Orthodox Church.
I know we've discussed this before, but why do you think that?
The Church — which I would not classify as Catholic, Orthodox, Armenian or whatever — was founded at Pentecost. Tradition has it that from here the twelve went their various ways (James was killed before he even began).

The Ethiopian Church dates back to the Apostolic era (Acts 8:26-40). But the church in Ethiopia followed the Egyptian Church in its split with the mainline Church over the monophysite debate, one of the main points of contention between the Latin/Greek and what came to be known as the Coptic Church.

Thus I would say there was no distinct Ethiopian Church existed before the Council of Chalcedon (451AD), any more than there was a distinct Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox Church. There was only ... the Church.

As for Armenia, again it was founded in the Apostolic Era, but became separate from the communion in the early 4th century when King Thiridates III declared it a local and autonomous church under his kingship.

Same with Assyria — The local synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (410AD), held at the Sassanid capital saw the local bishops elect a formal 'Catholicos', or leader. The first, Mar Isaac, was required both to lead the Christian community, and to answer on its behalf to the Sassanid Emperor. Here we see true universality of the church coming under local pressure and succumbing to national interests.

The Greek Orthodox Church itself suffered this nationalising tendency, just witness the rise of Constantinople, 'climbing over' the older and more senior patriarchies of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria, to declare itself 'the New Rome' and seek to usurp the authority of the Petrine Office. Nor can the interfering of the Eastern Emperors be dismissed, whereas the West was much more robust (and better situated) to see off local national interference.

One of my patrons, St Maximus the Confessor, born in Constantinople, was a defender of Chalcedon and fought against the Coptic Schism (one of the more obscure schisms in the church, and a clear indicator of Rome's independence of political interference) was kidnapped by the Constantinople party, along with Pope Martin I, tried, tortured and died from his treatment and yet is regarded as more an Eastern saint then a Western one, even though he defended the West and was vociferously critical of the East (hence his epithet of 'confessor' — he confessed the true faith, which included Peter as head of the church on earth).

St Maximus also argued that the filioque clause, inserted into the creed by local bishops to clarify a point of understanding in their contending with surviving elements of Arianism, was entirely orthodox because they supported the claim from Greek texts and Greek saints, and argued as the Greek Church argued.

But this was the seventh century, and already tensions were making themselves felt East and West ... it would take a few more centuries for either side to end up hurling condemnations and excommunications at each other ... and really only then, around the turn of the first millenium, do we see Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox as distinct and opposed communities.

God bless,

Which church was the first church?

Which church is teaching the true teachings of Jesus?

Which church is following the word of G!d?

Seems to me, most often the answer will be "mine" and each will have their reasons and convincing evidence like an infomercial by Billy Mays (pbuh).
Thomas, that may be your doctrine and your dogma. That is not the doctrine or dogma of the three churches I cited. You are correct from your point of view. Incorrect from theirs, for they say that the Catrholic-Orthodoxy split from their (and to them the only) original curch.
As wil states this will always come back to "my Church". Those of us outside of Church Structure who are looking for ways to reconcile dogmas, to be inclusive in the blessings, always come back to this. Or even the "harder theology" of "one way". I am too much a skeptic to buy in.
Thomas, that may be your doctrine and your dogma. That is not the doctrine or dogma of the three churches I cited.
I think it was, for the first centuries, the schisms occurred later, that's my point.

In the case of Ethiopia, the distinction of the Ethiopian Church did not come about until it followed Egypt into schism over the Christological definition of Chalcedon (451AD). Until then, the church in Ethiopia accepted Conciliar decree on matters of doctrine and dogma. Prior to 451 there was no distinct entity with its own doctrine or dogma ...

With Assyria, the Creed and Canons of the first Council of Nicea (325AD) were accepted by the Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, but that council rejected the decrees of Ephesus (351AD) and sided with the Nestorian cause. Thus the Assyrian church was not doctrinally nor dogmatically different until the middle 4th century.

With the Armenian church, again we have bishops who were present at and accorded to Nicea I (325) Constantinople I (381). Unable to attend Ephesus (431) the local church agreed with its decisions. I think they, too, separated from the parent body at Chalcedon.

The Armenian Church claims to be the oldest national church, and that I don't dispute, but I don't see how any of them can claim to be older than the Church from which they sprang.


In the cause of ecumenical discussion, I think the churches cited are a lot further along the road than many might suspect here. The Coptic and Roman Catholic Churches are in communion (although tragically it seems the Copts are in the process of being wiped out in Egypt and elsewhere).

I think the others are in communion with Rome on brotherly terms.

But none can claim to be an 'older' church, for we were all one for the first few hundred years.

God bless,

The first church was, and always is ... the human Heart.

Good answer. :)

I think about the idea of a church in much the same why as Buddhists think about anatta. It's about the interconnection, not about what has been separated. (After all it is a congregation.)

Matt 18:20
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.
Hi Andrew —
The first church was, and always is ... the human Heart.
Indeed yes.

What few realise is the initiatic nature of the 'Way of the heart" within the Abrahamic Traditions ... indeed, you are as aware as I that many, failing to understand the hermeneutic keys of Scripture, insist there is no authentic 'initiation' in the traditional sense in Christianity.

Yet it is there ...

Jeremiah 4:3-4:
"For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, "Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath will go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds."

Deuteronomy 30:6:
"Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live."

Romans 2:28-29:
"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God."

Colossians 2:11-13:
"... and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions"

Of course, one of the key texts is the discourse with Nicodemus (John 3), and this, tied to the events on Golgotha, indicate precisely, especially in the symbolism of the rending of the veil, the end of any between the formal/exoteric and the formless/esoteric that defines the way in so many of its aspects.

The whole point of this is the Way of the Heart transcends all forms, and if Radarmark reads this, it's a shame that so many Perennialists, who would be the first to insist upon such, got so heated when at Vatican II there was an actual outreach to men of good will everywhere ...


The First Church is the World (for it is a theophany), and the First Book is the Book of nature ... every other church is subsequent to that, and yet, by virtue of our humanity, we all belong to the First Church.

God bless,

Again, thank you Thomas for your insight. I "knew" this but did not "understand". I am no perennialist (in a religious sense, only in an academic study sense), BTW.
A little learning is a dangerous thing ...

... and the Initiatic Tradition is as Perennial as the Stars in Heaven. ;)

Christians are taught the existence of the `One Initiator' through the words:
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:
and I will raise him up at the last day." ~John 6:44 ... also the familiar passage in John 14:6
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." ~John 12:32
For those interested in Initiation, the document here referenced is a brief compilation on the One Initiator, acknowledging Him by the Eastern appellation from the Puranas: Sanat Kumara.
Hi Andrew —
A little learning is a dangerous thing ...
You said it!

... and the Initiatic Tradition is as Perennial as the Stars in Heaven. ;)
Indeed the Tradition of which I speak is 'older' even than that!

Christians are taught the existence ... "
Rather a clunky way of putting it, but basically true, yes. Christian (generally) believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, everything tends to revolve around that.

Having seemed to affirm that by the texts you cite, I wonder how you can ignore their import and jump to such a conclusion as supposed in the document you reference!

Leaving apart the obvious and unsupported syncretism assumed as a given, let's look a little closer ...
Only the first two initiations which are implemented by the Christ and which are "under the supervisory probation of the spiritual Hierarchy ...
A 'spiritual Hierarchy' infers the angelic orders, and the angelic orders are subsequent to Christ, so your author has got his cart before his horse here!

As a point of interest, in all Christian Rites, the sacramental graces are conferred by the invocation of the Holy Trinity, and the activity of the Holy Spirit, and this is absolutely explicit in the case of baptism, as Christ Himself declares both in word and act. All graces are from God the Father, through the Son.

So the angels witness, but the Rite, and the charisms, are certainly not under their 'supervisory probation' in any way, shape or form!

So please do not try and separate us from the Love of God by the imposition of your masters, hierarchies or whatever other intermediate states you care to come up with ... I speak of a Mystery hidden from your Masters since before time began.

Let me echo the words of St Paul:
"For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 8:38-39

God bless,

Remember, Thomas, one-upping me does nothing except bolster that ego of yours ...

... and Christ isn't interested in the winner of the pissing contest [self-proclaimed or otherwise].
That much I can assure you. :eek:

It's about Brotherhood, not patristics. ;)

So please do not continue to try and place *yourself* above and before all others, all other religions, all other approaches and even before the very Christ whom & which you've made subservient to ego. In so doing, you miss the point entirely.

Keeping Christ on his alabaster pedestal [cruciform and bloodied], you cannot see Him in your fellow man, much less animal, tree or mineral. You certainly cannot see Him in those Wise Teachers who have always stood behind you in your earnest aspirations ...

... and I sometimes wonder, whether you can even see Him *at all*. :(

I will tell you because I know: Pushing and shoving will not get you there first.
The first, in fact, shall be last ... and the longer you puff up that ego, the harder it is to find anything worthy of the true Altar [within your heart], thus the longer before you meet the Christ.

You cannot both prepare Him room yet simultaneously insist on yourself here on the forums, or beat us - and all of Theosophical background - over the head with your special version of the bible, dog-eared and worn.

It just doesn't work that way, no matter what the pope and pontiffs may tell you.
So, Thomas, the Love of G!d is is eternal and ever-present as an essence of Chr!st Jesus?
Not to get involved in technicalities ('as an essence of Christ Jesus' could be used to support an Arian theology) yes.

I believe Jesus Christ is that love incarnate.

God bless

So please do not continue to try and place *yourself* above and before all others ...
I'm not, old chum, I'm just flatly rejecting your attempts to impose any barrier or impediment between Christian and Christ.

God bless,

Hi Radarmark —
As wil states this will always come back to "my Church".
I know ... but someone has to draw a line in the sand somewhere, surely? Otherwise, 'Jesus Christ' becomes anything anyone wants it to be ... ?

God bless,

I'm not, old chum, I'm just flatly rejecting your attempts to impose any barrier or impediment between Christian and Christ.

God bless,

As usual, Thomas, you misread every word, every sentence, every thought, every intention, every idea ... and even every reference I type (when you do bother to look these latter up).

The only impediment between the Christian and Christ is what is placed there by man himself, either individual or collective ... although yes, I will at least grant you that unfortunately we do sometimes contribute to the obfuscating effort which erupts or perpetuates, Brother between Brother, and this is a woeful transgression.

Nor do I reject the idea that we must "prepare Him room," as the expression goes, but you cannot do that for your fellow man (although you can certainly help and encourage him) ... nor can God do that for you, nor can Christ Jesus, Buddha, Sri Krishna and so on.

But as this thread was originally about the First Church, I will simply repeat my original thought - since this is the teaching of Christ Jesus direct:

The First Church was, and shall always be: the human heart.

As even a small child can understand this, and know the difference between harboring hatred (or dislike, disdain) for his peers or elders, and seeking cooperation, harmony and Goodwill ... I will leave it to the grownups among us [I Cor 3:2] to decide just what's going on within the heart (whether one's own or otherwise), and why, etc.

No need to complicate things. ;)
Hi Radarmark —

I know ... but someone has to draw a line in the sand somewhere, surely? Otherwise, 'Jesus Christ' becomes anything anyone wants it to be ... ?

This has been the standard way of defining God ---via mental speculative quess-work since time-immemorial.

IMO, as Thomas (may be un-knowingly) alludes to:

Godhead is an absolute Transcendent Entity with His own
"Name, Fame, Form, Personality, Paraphenalia, entourage & Pastimes"
This is what "defines" Godhead's Personage.

Ya'll ain't gonna know about Godhead's Personage except if Godhead reveals it Himself. In the mean time (during samsara) we develope ettiquette here on this material world of our terrestial abode.

OP: Which Church was the First Church?:

If we humans did not "evolve" from apes & aboriginal nomads ---then we have (as said in the Vedas) "de-volved" into foolish peons enmass**.

The first Church would have been inherent in the core of the social contract.

There would have been a social working order that was imparted and handed down since time-immemorial ---for, in the Utopias of the Golden-Ages of antiquity-Past (as per the Vedas & Puranas extensively describe) enlightened living was the defacto known purpose of existing and living in the material world's temporal abodes.

In the Utopias of the Golden-Ages of antiquity-Past, "Linking up with transcendence" was known as the path out of Samsara. All the devatas mutually where in the same boat.

Of course the Devas and their cousins the Danavas were much younger and more adventurous (as per the Upanishads & the Puranas extensively describe) thus causing many of the Puranic Histories to become voluminous.

Presently, the "Through-Line" of the History of the Human Condition is that we are at the end of the time span that started in the golden age of the cossmic calander (aka, Satya-Yuga) ---and now we live during last remnants of the 3 ages ---fully heading into the 4th and last era, aka Kali-Yuga.

As the Puranas describe: as Kali-yuga progresses, 'tamas-guna' becomes prominant in all affairs and endeavors.

The problem is not material facility and ease and comfort ---it's the ego-based hubris of day-dreaming despotic mafia-donn wannabes the world over, as the Status Quo for life.

The world is NOT the "Wild-West" any more.

The first church would have been holistic, organic ...and... as traditional past down generation after generation until Kali-yuga set in and the diaspora of tribes spread out to all the foothills ---prpbably prompted each step of the way, as an effort to flee from barbarian & despotic abuses.

**Ref: Comparative Volume of the 20th Century's (1900's):
1] Vital-Statistics (aka, 'death-rate') of Humans.
2] Volume of manufactured Production of Steel tonnage.

IMO, the ratio of steel :to: Human-lives lost through the war effort is astronomical.

Let me speculate as quantity: let me say, on average per-capita, there was 100 tonnes of steel was manufactured for each human born in the 20th Century.

Yet, an 80 year old person would have eaten only approx 15 tonnes of sundry foodstuffs through-out their life time ---based on a 2500 calorie a day diet.

IOW, the man-hours and natural resources used in the 20th Century is enormous compared to the needs of the masses.
Hi Radarmark —

I know ... but someone has to draw a line in the sand somewhere, surely? Otherwise, 'Jesus Christ' becomes anything anyone wants it to be ... ?

God bless,


That is the crux of the issue, is it not? In that sense I do not even know if the Jerusalem Group around James was really a "Church". I am no expert, but the extant differences between the Western, Byzantine, and Alexandrian texts do not seem to utterly disprove a possibility of a more Judaic or Ebonite manifestation (or some other radical interpretation).

Even if it was really and truly "the First Church", which of its many descendents (all or nearly all of which claim this status) are correct?

I certainly cannot tell (by reflexion or intellect). And they certainly are contradictory or inconsistent with each other. It is a matter of faith or belief which one one accepts, I think.

So for me, not for anyone else, nor as a matter of objective truth, "First Church" is kind of a variant of "my Church"; just as "J!sus Christ" is a kind of variant of "what I believe to be J!sus Christ". Of course there are variants that are just wrong ("First Church" as Reformed LDS just is historically not too bloody likely or "J!sus Christ" as the war-leader heading a crusade to kill off unbelievers just does not fit well with H!s words, as we have them).