Origin of the Church: who founded it?

We quote from Ludwig Ott’s book “Handbook of Dogmatic Theology”[13]

“The Church was founded by the God-Man Jesus Christ” (of faith)

The Vatican Council I made the following statement about the dogmatic constitution of the Church of Christ: “The eternal Shepherd and bishop of our souls (1 Pe 2, 25) decided to built the Holy Church in order to convert in everlasting the saving task of Redemption and in order that faithful people, bound by the faith and the charity, can meet as in the house of the living God (Dz. 1821)”.

Pius X, in the swearing against the errors of modernism (1910), stated that the Church was directly and personally founded by the true and historic Christ, during his life on earth (Dz. 2145). That Christ founded the Church means that he was the One who established its substantial foundations, as far as doctrine, cult and building goes.

In the gospels, we can clearly see how Jesus gathered the apostles around Him, and gave them the mission to evangelize: So, in Matthew 4, 18 we can read:“As he was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen), and he said to them, “Come, follow me, and I shall make you fishermen of men”

If Jesus says to them that He will make them fishermen of men it means that He wants them to become apostles, bringing men to God, to the Kingdom of God, to Jesus: And what is the Church but the assembly of those who preach the message of Jesus and follow it? Thus, when saying he will make them “fishermen of men” He is explaining that His Church will take place during terrestrial time and that the apostles will be the active leaders, those who will fish, and that common parishioners will be the “fished ones”, converted to God by the action of the Holy Spirit, through the apostles.

And that Jesus wants to found a society, His Church, is still clearer in Mt, 16, 18:“And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”.

It is also clear in the text that follows:“But if thy brother sins  against thee, go and show him his fault, between thee and him alone. If he listen to thee, thou hast won thy brother. But if he do not listen to thee, take with thee one or two more so that on the word of two or three witnesses, every word may be confirmed. And if he refuse to hear them appeal to the Church, but if he refuse to hear even the Church, let him to be to thee as the heathen and the publican. Amen I say to you whatever you bind on earth shall be bind also on heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loose also on heaven”.(Mt. 18, 15-17)

Here we have, on the first lines of the quote, the Church as an organized society in the words of Jesus, including the power to judge its children.[14]And at the end, Jesus expressly gives to the apostles the power to bind and loose, i.e. to set or cancel an obligation and also the power to forgive sins that is expressly mentioned in John 20, 22-23:“When he had said this, he breathed upon them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained”.

[13]Ludwig Ott, “Manual de Teología Dogmática”, 1986, Barcelona, Herder. Pg.415.


[14]  Sagrada Biblia, Bible, Nácar-Colunga version, ed. 1944, B.A.C,. Madrid, p.1089, (Mt 18, 17) nota 1