Can Christians Eat Bacon?

Can Christians Eat Bacon?

In the first years of the Church, there was a great crisis of faith.

Since Christianity began as a movement within Judaism, most of the earliest Christians were Jewish.  Many continued to follow the dietary laws and ritual customs which God had given to the Jewish people.  But as Christians, were these laws and customs still required by God?  This was an important theological question with real-life consequences.  For example, if a Greek man became Christian, did he have to be circumcised as God commanded in the Scriptures? 

The apostles and other leaders assembled in Jerusalem to discuss this matter (Acts 15).  Led by Peter, our first pope, the apostles clarified that Christians do not have to be circumcised or follow Jewish dietary customs, although moral obligations such as sexual purity remain in effect.  They then sent out a letter announcing this decision to all of the Christian communities. 

Here in the Bible Belt, we have become used to the idea of many competing churches, each with different beliefs and each existing more or less independent of each other.  It is easy to imagine that this is how it has always been, but the Council of Jerusalem paints a different picture.  It was taken for granted that the Christian communities would be united in beliefs and teachings. The apostles were not lone rangers, each starting their own church with a different version of the Gospel. Rather, there was "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all" (Eph 4:4-5). 

The Council of Jerusalem also demonstrates that the early Church recognized the teaching authority of the apostles.  Their letter was not sent out as a suggestion; the apostles were exercising the authority given to them by Jesus and they took it for granted that their teaching would be obeyed by all Christians who received the letter.  The apostles had been given authority and power to go out and teach all that Jesus had commanded (Matt 28:20) and to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1 :8).  In this crucial moment, Jesus worked through these leaders to continue his teaching ministry and protect his flock from error. 

Can this doctrinal unity and teaching authority still be found today, or has it been lost forever?  Catholics believe that the Catholic Church is the same church described in Acts.  For two thousand years, the Catholic Church has been teaching the same beliefs throughout the world.  These teachings do not change from place to place, or generation to generation, because they are the teachings of Christ.  When disagreements or new moral challenges arise, Jesus continues to work through the apostles' successors to guide his flock and preserve his Church in truth. 



Outreach Ads

Every month we set aside money to place an ad about the Catholic faith in our local Blythewood and Fort Jackson newspapers. Here are the text versions; to see a flipbook of the original ads, click here: Read More


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