Are We Born As Adults, Or As Babies?

This question sounds simple enough for everyone to answer correctly,... well, almost everyone. Some, believe it or not, say there were cases in which some were never babies and they had to have started as adults.

Jesus Christ, who we all know to be, the Son of GOD, and therefore a divine person, began His humble life in His human form, His human nature, as a little helpless baby, just like the rest of us. He needed his mother and his foster father, St. Joseph, just like we needed our mother and father, to feed us and tend to our needs. Jesus grew and advanced in wisdom and age (Luke 2:52) just like we all do. It is said that the 'Creator of the Universe' was taught how to make furniture by St. Joseph, as Jesus became a carpenter too. Jesus later became the 'Bridegroom' (Matt 9:15) and the Church which He founded in Matt 16:18 became His 'Bride'. Jesus had shown us the humble, infant beginning of the Bridegroom, the facts that He matured in growth, learned, and gained in wisdom. But what about the Bride?

Now, some try to show that the 'Bride' started as an adult from birth. They look at the Catholic Church of today and try to equate it to the 'infant' Church which Jesus Christ founded, by looking at the 'Bride' as fully grown and matured from the very beginning. I actually received an inquiry as to why Peter cannot be found in the book of Revelation, named as the first Pope. Another asked me to show him the Immaculate Conception (defined in 1854) in Scripture (the last book of Scripture was written about 95-100 A.D.). Questions like this abound and few fundamentalists can accept the fact that the Church actually had an infancy.

By the way, who or what is the Church? The Church is all of us. We are the body, and Jesus Christ is the head (Eph 1:22-23, Col 1:24). Like any body we grow and increase in wisdom, and must be fed, both bodily and spiritually.

A newborn baby, being not ready for solid food as of yet, has to be fed with milk. So too, the infant 'Bride' Church, had to be fed with milk..."I fed you with milk, not with solid food, for you were not yet ready for it (1Cor 3:2)." It takes awhile for the mind and the body to become accustomed to this new Christian environment. The Bride had to advance in age and wisdom by taking one step at a time, just like the Bridegroom, or like a little baby learning to walk.

It is much easier for the baby to mature than it was for the 'baby Church'. After all, most babies do not have to be concerned with mere survival as the Church did. Remember, from the very beginning, the Church was persecuted by both the Jews and the Romans (and others as well), all vowing to eradicate this 'dangerous' new religion. The Church had to 'go underground' and practice in secret in catacombs, and use codes such as the fish symbol, as a sign of recognition to one another. The Apostles and Bishops were under constant fear of being persecuted and martyred, and they had to move in secrecy. In fact, most of the Apostles were caught and martyred, as well as most of the early Bishops and Popes (Bishop of Rome then). I would say this tremendous persecution slowed the progress of growth for the fledgling Church, but by no means stopped it. This persecution lasted for hundreds of years for the early Church, and it did not end until 313, when the Roman Emperor Constantine signed the 'Edict of Milan' allowing tolerance of Christianity.

After 313, the Church emerged from the underground and practiced openly. The very early Church consisted of Bishoprics or Sees, a Bishop would have his own domain in various cities such as Antioch, or Jerusalem, or Ephesus. The two main cities were Constantinople, called the Eastern Church, and Rome, called the Western Church. It was obvious from the beginning that there had to be one authority, so Rome was given preference as to be the authority from which all other Churches would follow. The Church was now no longer an infant but a child. And as a child there was a lot to learn.

What! A lot to learn? Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, so what is there to learn? We should have known it all from the very beginning! Aha, that is where fundamentalists err. "And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of Truth whom the WORLD cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But YOU shall know Him, because He will dwell with YOU, and be in YOU. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to YOU." John 14:16-18. So Jesus Christ will send His Spirit of Truth, not to the world, but to the Church He founded. He will not abandon it as parents would a child. He would care for His Church and not leave it orphaned, and He would do this forever, Matt 28:20.
This was foretold in Isaiah 59:21,
"My Spirit that is in you, and My words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed's seed, said the Lord, from henceforth and forever."
So now that the Church is guaranteed the Spirit of Truth forever, what is next?

Next we have John 14:25-26, "These things I have spoken to you while yet dwelling with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He WILL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you." Hmmm, He will teach you ALL things... Future tense, 'He WILL'. He did not say, He 'has taught' you all things did He? So, over a period of time the Holy Spirit will teach ALL things to the Church which Jesus Christ founded. Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of the Church, will build His Church, brick by brick, over a period of time, and do it slowly, as a child grows from infancy to adulthood.

Now, if we take a look at Church history, isn't this exactly what has happened? The fledgling Church had its first worldwide council at Nicea in 325, only 12 years after being freed from the yoke of Roman tyranny. Now the Church went to work, fulfilling the teaching of the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus Christ had said. The first thing the Bishops did at Nicea, was to decree that Jesus Christ is GOD, that He is equal to the Father and to the Holy Spirit, and they declared the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, as expressed in the Nicene Creed. Truly, the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church which Jesus Christ founded. What a marvelous beginning to a Church approaching puberty.

Another truth was revealed to the young Church by the Holy Spirit in 397, at the Council of Carthage. The Council finalized the Canons of both the Old and New Testaments. The Old would have 46 books, including the Deuterocanonicals, and the New would have the 27 books that all Bibles have today. The Bible was born by an infallible decision of the Catholic Church.

At the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Blessed Virgin Mary was declared the Mother of GOD, as revealed by the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, Jesus Christ was declared to be one person with two natures, one divine and one human.

In the second Council of Nicea in 787, it was revealed by the Holy Spirit, and decreed by the Council, to preserve and protect Holy Tradition.

At the Council of Lyons in 1245, it was decreed that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

In 1545, at the Council of Trent, the Bishops reaffirmed the Canons of both testaments of the Bible as set forth by the Council of Carthage, and declared that the official Bible of the Church to be the Latin Vulgate, which was completed by St. Jerome in 404. This Council also decreed that the Bishops are the direct descendants of the Apostles, something that had to have been revealed by the Holy Spirit.

In 1854, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was announced. At Vatican I in 1870, the infallibility of the Pope was decreed, and in 1950 the doctrine of the Assumption was revealed.

There you have it. To this day, the Bride is growing and maturing, and is gaining in wisdom as revealed by the Holy Spirit. The Bride is far from defining all truth as promised by Jesus Christ, but a great deal has been revealed to her over the last 1900 plus years. The Church is an adult now, and the Holy Spirit is still speaking, and is still teaching, and will continue to do so until the end of time.

Written by Bob Stanley on October 17, 1997

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