“Christ’s Church and Catholicism: A Historical Examination of the One True Church.” Final Paper for History 195: The Christian Conversion: From Roman Contexts to Modern Interpretations (First-Year Writing Requirement). December 2010.
At twenty double-spaced pages, this paper is the closest I have ever come to writing a book. Unlike most U-M freshman, I fulfilled my First-Year Writing Requirement not with English 124 or 125, but by taking a History of Writing class. My particular section focused on the Roman Empire and the process by which it became Christian. The course pack for the class included several readings from influential figures in early Christianity, which provided a good historical insight as to the belief and practice of the early Christian Church.
The claim of the Catholic Church to be the one true Church of Christ is founded upon its ability to trace its teachings back to those of the very first Christians. Hence, my paper was a historical examination of early Christian belief in three topics of particular dispute among Christians today: the Papacy, the Bible, and the Eucharist. Using sources contemporary to the time period, I first identified what the earliest Christians believed on these topics. I then held these beliefs as prerequisites for any church today claiming to be the true one. In the end, I found that only one Church—the Catholic Church—continues to hold all three apostolic beliefs regarding the Christ-given authority of the pope, the role of tradition in interpreting scripture, and the literal presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist.
Similar to my Directed Self-Placement essay, this piece also foreshadowed things to come. I wrote this paper before I even declared my major in statistics, but somehow mathematics still found its way into my writing. After a nearly twenty-page build-up to my conclusion, I find it amusing how I decided to deliver the punch-line in mathematical proof style: “Thus, by transitive property, the one true Church of Christ is the Catholic Church.”
Although I really only considered the historical angle of Catholicism, I found that researching and writing this essay helped to strengthen my faith. As I wrote in the paper’s introduction, “The mere fact that Catholicism can be authenticated without tapping into the theological realm is a convincing argument in and of itself.”