There is a major myth perpetually perpetrated by papal pretenders and their apostate Roman Catholicism that when we read the “holy and catholic church” in the ancient creeds this is actually a reference to the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). When the truth is the RCC itself is a false religious system, a pseudo-Christianity, which Dr. John MacArthur rightly calls the best front for the kingdom of Satan, as well as another religion entirely.
Men and women, as anyone familiar with the history of the ancient Christian Church knows the word “catholic” is actually derived from the Greek word katholikos, which is the one used in the early Creeds. In the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology we read that katholikos means:
“‘throughout the whole’ [of a thing]… When the term begins to appear in the [Creeds]…‘one holy catholic and apostolic church’ — it [means universal] and thus accents the unity of the church in spite of its wide diffusion.” (199)
In other words; these early Creeds refer to “all those called out to assemble”—or the “catholic”—as in universal and invisible Church all over the world. It’s not at all speaking of the Roman Catholic Church. Any Biblical scholar not blinded by his prejudices will tell you there simply was no recognized Pope in Rome until late into the sixth century as you are about to see.
Here is what Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989), author of the classic textbook the Kingdom of the Cults and a recognized expert in the field of Comparative Religion, actually had to say about this myth being spread by the Church of Rome that it is the Church spoken of in the ancient creeds:
Let us learn what history has to say. Before the year 590 AD, with the ascension of Gregory the First, there was no centralized Roman authority. It was not until the tenth century, when the eastern and western churches split, that there was anything known as the Roman Catholic Church—tenth century of the Christian Era—a thousand years after the fact. (Roman Catholicism—Peter the Rock, Church Tradition and the Bible, CD Rom, available from Walter Martin’s Religious InfoNet)
These are the facts: Prior to that time there just wasn’t any primacy of the Roman Bishop. He was treated the same as any of the other prominent Bishops within the various early Councils of the ancient katholikos, or universal, Church. Now consider the following from William Webster in his book The Matthew 16 Controversy:
What was the attitude of the Ecumenical Councils towards the bishops of Rome? If Roman Catholic teaching is correct and [really] has been accepted throughout the history of the Church as orthodox, then the popes should have always exercised supreme authority over the Church and all Church Councils. We should find this historically acknowledged by the Councils both in teaching and proceedings. But the facts reveal a different story.
The Ecumenical Councils never viewed the position of the bishop of Rome as one of supreme authority over the Church.
The Councils, in fact, always operated independently of Rome and with authority derived, in their view, directly from the Holy Spirit, and not in any sense dependent on Roman approval. Contrary to seeing themselves under the authority of the Roman see, the Councils viewed the popes as subject to the authority of the Council itself,… (161,162, emphasis added).
Webster then goes on to discuss the famous Council of Nicea, which was “convoked by the emperor Constantine in 325 A.D. Canon 6 of this Council demonstrates that the church of Rome had a very limited jurisdiction which was not universal” (163).
Then in eminent church historian Philip Schaff’s classic History Of The Christian Church we find out that canon 6 of this Council states:
The Nicene fathers passed this canon not as introducing anything new, but merely as confirming an existing relation on the basis of church tradition; and that, with special reference to Alexandria, on account of the troubles existing there. Rome was named only for illustration; and Antioch and all the other eparchies or provinces were secured their admitted rights. The bishoprics of Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch were placed substantially on equal footing, yet in such tone, that Antioch, as the third capital of the Roman empire, already stands as a stepping stone to the ordinary metropolitans.
And finally Dr. James White, Director of Alpha & Omega Ministries—and a leading Christian apologist against Roman Catholicism—brings out an extremely important truth below when he says:
This canon is significant because it demonstrates that at this time there was no concept of a single universal head of the church with jurisdiction over everyone else. While later Roman bishops would claim such authority, resulting in the development of the papacy, at this time no Christian looked to one individual, or church, as the final authority.
This is important because often we hear it alleged that the Trinity, or the Nicene definition of the deity of Christ, is a “Roman Catholic” concept “forced” on the church by the pope. The simple fact of the matter is, when the bishops gathered at Nicea they did not acknowledge the bishop of Rome as anything more than the leader of the most influential church in the West. (Online source, emphasis added)