OK, here is a partial transcript, put on your thinking caps fellow Catholic apologists, and see how you deal with this one. In answer to the question posed by a caller, “We were first” referring to what Catholics (like Bill Bennett) say about the Catholic Church, Koukl responds:
“So let me ask you a question, do you know anything at all about the early church? Have you read the Book of Acts? … So the early church, was the early church based in Rome? … No, the early church was based in Jerusalem, and also had leadership in Antioch. So the first church was not the Roman Catholic Church … That church, the universal group of Christians that looked to Rome for its leadership, was the first church? This is false. It’s false. The first church was in Jerusalem. … So the Roman Catholic Church is not the first church. … So if you’re dealing with the biblical texts, you don’t see the Roman Catholic Church in play early on, in fact you don’t even see that for the first 350 years. … So you don’t see this like ‘Rome in charge’ for the first 300 or 400 years, and they were there first. This is nonsense. Every follower of Jesus Christ can easily claim those first 400 years as his spiritual forebears. There was no Roman Catholic Church then, this is a fiction of history. … You see, I don’t think that Jesus came to build an organization…and if Jesus didn’t come to build an organization, then it doesn’t make sense to ask ‘which organization is the right one?’ So when Roman Catholics say we’re the ‘true church’ I say that’s nonsense, because the church is not an organization. And the Roman Catholic Church was not Roman Catholic until the Roman bishop gained power over everybody else, and that was long into the process. Certainly past the Council of Nicaea. You don’t see any of that stuff in play early on.” (From Koukl’s “Stand to Reason” 6/17/2007)
I know Koukl’s logic is just impeccable and his history totally correct :rolleyes: but let’s see how well you do in answering these tough tough objections. I have a few answers up my sleeve, but mainly just quotes from secular and Christian historians since I’m lazy.
“If art is the organization of materials, the Roman Catholic Church is among the most imposing masterpieces of history. Through nineteen centuries, each heavy with crisis, she has held her faithful together, following them with her ministrations to the ends of the earth, forming their minds, molding their morals, encouraging their fertility, solemnizing their marriages, consoling their bereavements, lifting their momentary lives into eternal drama, harvesting their gifts, surviving every heresy and revolt, and patiently building again every broken support of her power.” (Will Durant, Story of Civilization: The Age of Faith [volume 4, 1950], page 44)
1950 - 1900 = 50 AD. BINGO.
From The Primacy of Peter by Orthodox scholar John Meyendorff:
“Let us turn to the facts. We know that the Church of Rome took over the position of ‘church-with-priority’ at the end of the first century. That was about the time at which her star ascended into the firmament of history in its brightest splendor…Even as early as the Epistle to the Romans, Rome seems to have stood out among all the churches as very important. Paul bears witness that the faith of the Romans was proclaimed throughout the whole world (Rom 1:8)…we have a document which gives us our earliest reliable evidence that the Church of Rome stood in an exceptional position of authority in this period. This is the epistle of Clement of Rome…We know that Clement was ‘president’ of the Roman Church…” (Afanassieff from Meyendorff, page 124)
“The epistle [Clement of Rome to the Corinthians]…clearly shows that the Church of Rome was aware of the decisive weight, in the Church of Corinth’s eyes, that must attach to its witness about the events in Corinth. So the Church of Rome, at the end of the first century, exhibits a marked sense of its own priority, in point of witness about events in other churches…Apparently Rome had no doubt that its priority would be accepted without argument.” (Afanassieff from Meyendorff, page 125-126)
“Rome’s vocation [in the “pre-Nicene period”] consisted in playing the part of arbiter, settling contentious issues by witnessing to the truth or falsity of whatever doctrine was put before them. Rome was truly the center where all converged if they wanted their doctrine to be accepted by the conscience of the Church. They could not count upon success except on one condition – that the Church of Rome had received their doctrine – and refusal from Rome predetermined the attitude the other churches would adopt. There are numerous cases of this recourse to Rome…” (Afanassieff from Meyendorff, page 128f, 133)