While enduring the early persecutions of the Roman government (65-300 A.D.), most of professing Christianity went through a gradual departure from New Testament doctrine concerning church government, worship and practice. Local churches ceased to be autonomous by giving way to the control of "bishops" ruling over hierarchies. The simple form of worship from the heart was replaced with the rituals and splendor of paganism. Ministers became "priests," and pagans became "Christians" by simply being sprinkled with water. This tolerance of an unregenerate membership only made things worse. SPRINKLED PAGANISM is about the best definition for Roman Catholicism.
The Roman Emperor Constantine established himself as the head of the church around 313 A.D., which made this new "Christianity" the official religion of the Roman Empire. The first actual Pope in Rome was probably Leo I (440-461 A.D.), although some claim that Gregory I was the first (590-604 A.D.). This ungodly system eventually ushered in the darkest period of history known to man, properly known as the "Dark Ages" (500-1500 A.D.). Through popes, bishops, and priests, Satan ruled Europe, and Biblical Christianity became illegal.
Throughout all of this, however, there remained individual groups of true Christians, such as the Waldensians and the Anabaptists who would not conform to the Roman syste