Protestants who call themselves "Catholic"...

This is a question that is primarily for Catholics who dialogue with Protestants.

For many years I have been aware of Protestant religions that realize the early Church called itself Catholic, so they appropriate the term for themselves & instruct their followers to refer to themselves as “Catholic”, thereby denying the exclusive use of that term to what they call the “Roman” Catholic Church-- as if there were a significant difference between the ancient Catholic Church & the modern Catholic Church. They do this in order (1) to create the illusion that the ancient Catholic faith & belief system are much more directly related to their own than is the case, & (2) to bolster their claim that the ancient Catholic Church was a sort of generic “mother-Church” to all Protestant faiths, although they disparage any close relationship between the ancient Catholic Church & the modern Catholic Church. The splitting-point between the ancient Catholic Church & the modern Catholic Church is usually given as c. 330 AD & is associated with the reign of Constantine, although I recently encountered a poster on another thread who put the date as late as c. 600-800 AD. Unfortunately the poster got banned before I could explore his reasoning.

Following some version of the above reasoning is virtually the only way for a Protestant to get around very early references in Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement, & elsewhere to universal papal jurisdiction. Many traditional Baptists, as many of you are probably aware, even deny that they are Protestants at all, claiming that their religion dates back to the time of the Apostles.

I wonder about the best way to approach such people, in order to demonstrate the unity of the ancient Catholic Church with the modern Catholic Church, & that no Protestant sect is found anywhere prior to the 16th Century. I believe that their insistence on the above points indicates a deep-seated uncertainty about the true antiquity of their religion, & in some cases even a possible suspicion that the ancient Catholic Church & modern Catholic Church might be identical. If so, then it behooves us to help them towards that realization.

To show that this is possible, I have cited on another thread the experience of David J. Webster, a former fundamentalist Baptist minister who converted after finding what he describes as “…over 40 clear references to distinctly Catholic tenets of faith in the 135-year period immediately following the New Testament (AD 100-235).” (And my Protestant friends, before you swarm me claiming that “the ‘Roman’ Catholic Church didn’t exist at the time in question”, the statement isn’t mine-- it’s Webster’s. Although, for the sake of disambiguation, I do believe he’s correct & that the writings of the ECF strongly support his view.)

I will parenthetically observe that I personally don’t refer to my Church as ‘Roman’ Catholic, since I believe that to do so is to concede this point to Protestants who have unjustifiably appropriated the term for themselves. My Church is the only Catholic Church that has ever existed, exclusive of their unfounded claims, identical with the Church of the Apostles.

One approach would be doctrinal-- to take a sampling of 3 or 4 Catholic & Protestant doctrines, seek those doctrines in the writings of the ECF, & follow them thru to a few hundred years after the claimed splitting-point. This approach would be very time consuming, & I’m not sure how effective.

Another approach-- the one that I’ve usually favored myself-- is to demonstrate universal papal jurisdiction from an unimpeachable source at a very early date. This is an all-or-nothing approach, & the Protestant knows that if he concedes it then he’s lost his entire argument. Also, it’s a frontal attack, so Protestants are usually deep in their defensive trenches on this one.

Another approach that I’ve occasionally used is to show that the Roman pontiff, along with the college of Catholic bishops, was the universal arbiter of issues like the Easter controversy, the promulgation of the decrees of ecumenical councils, & the codification of the Bible from the 2d thru the 5th Centuries, & that other non-Catholic religions were nowhere involved. This approach is a little less in-your-face than the “universal jurisdiction” approach, but it often still gets hung up on side issues.

Obviously there’s no point in trying to prove anything to someone who is in bad faith to begin with, but for the benefit of someone who is genuinely seeking the truth I think we have an obligation to provide it in as convincing a manner as possible.


I’m kind of curious who you are dialoguing with. In my experience, most Protestant groups who utilize the term Catholic somehow in opposition to Roman Catholic (say, Lutherans, Anglicans) wouldn’t argue that that church “split” in the fourth century. But I certainly wouldn’t pretend to know every group’s individual talking points.

True, as to your main point.


That would be the classic example-- traditional Baptists. In many cases I haven’t determined the specific religious affiliation of my correspondents because the dialogue takes place in a discussion forum like this one & their religion is peripheral to our discussion. I’m reasonably sure that I haven’t had this conversation with any Anglicans or Episcopalians, because the split between their denominations & the Catholic Church is well documented.

OK, I wasn’t aware that traditional Baptists had appropriated the designation “Catholic,” but then I don’t know much about them.

I am an Anglican Catholic in the Anglican Communion—***Catholic ***is viewed as universal–all Christians, in all times, in all places. This is closer to the more ancient understanding of the word Catholic, as noted in The Original Catholic Encyclopedia:

“Catholic.—The word Catholic (katholikos from kath holou—throughout the whole, i.e., universal) occurs in the Greek classics, e.g., in Aristotle and Polybius, and was freely used by the earlier Christian writers in what we may call its primitive and non-ecclesiastical sense. . . . .”

Sorry, can’t help you out on these “technicalities” of faith, but to let you know that as a protestant that roamed through many, many protestant “faiths”, so many very true to Christ, I have now found through a 3 year study and prayer found the “missing piece of the puzzle”, the Catholic Church IS the Church He founded and you can trust to remain true. Although evil men were apart of the church HE REMAINED faithful to His promise to HIS CHURCH and is still there…oh, my , YES, YES, YES!!! I have prayed for HIs guidance and found Him in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I didn’t even know what this was…but, oh the amazing power of His presence there!!! IF you don’t know this (as I didn’t) GO, pray there and if you know HIM you will KNOW HE IS THERE!!! Alleluia!! I challenge you to honestly ask Him to show you, then go to a Catholic “Adoration” hour and pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the “monstrance” and tell me if you don’t really know He is present…it was an “eye opener”…by the Holy Spirit. THEN, read the early Church Fathers (Augustine, etc.) and you will be in “awe” as to what you NEVER thought possible :slight_smile: I never ever thought I’d become Catholic but the Holy Spirit led me to the Catholic Church, it is amazing…the last “piece of the puzzle” in my faith journey!! I’m so grateful to have found this and want the same for all those who truely seek Him as I did also to know.

My prayers,

As a Baptist I feel I need to offer a bit of explanation.

Firstly, Baptists believe that their foundation goes back to biblical times because we view the church as universal. So when Christ says upon this rock I build my church we believe that he wasn’t forming one specific church. Thus any church or community of believers in Jesus Christ that confess him and believe in him with their whole heart and try to live his will in their life trance their beginning to the book of Matthew.

Secondly, this does not mean that Baptists deny any other church, denomination, or whatever you’d like to call yoursef, the ability to trance they history back to Matthew as well. We are not exclusivists. As long as you confess Jesus Christ, believe it in your heart, and try to live according to Christ’s example and requirements for us you are good wih us.

Bringing up the biblical canon actually works against your argument for universal jurisdiction since the rest of the ancient churches didn’t accept Rome’s decision about the canon and went on to develop their own.

You should realize that the intent of the reformation/DEFORMATION was to destroy the OHCAC. The term Roman Church is pejorative. I suggest you speak of the OHCAC that includes Oriental, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic East/West and all baptized in the tirnitiarian formula as part of the OHCAC.

Read the Westminster Confession 1646 concerning the Church

Read the 6th point of Calvinism

The Protestant mind that claims this catholocity has been inculcated in time by this notion. This would be called a “meme”…you can read Virus of the Mind to understand that. In essence it is a thought that gets transmitted by groups in time…ie tradition.

Read Lord of History, Eugene Kavane

Do not speak of Ancient, Medieval, Modern Church. This is a western Philosophical construct that has infiltrated Western Protestant thought. It is how the Protestants speak of the Ancient Church like it is so different than the OHCAC. If the Church is the body of Christ and Christ is the head then Christ cannot change and must be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow…you can see how this an ignominy to Christ.

Forget about using the Papacy, Doctrine or the like. Start with what you know of the above and use something you can agree on.

Speak of the OHCAC Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic East/West and all baptized in the Trinitarian formula as the OHCAC.

Look and see that the Samaritans of the Bible exist today and can be found living today about 146.

The Protestant parallel would be the Waldensians.

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

We can all agree that we are to look in the world to see what it is God wants us to know and if you look and see what I pointed out then you can understand that your dialogue should include some education and correction as it regards the use of that term.

You may not be familiar with all Baptists. My question for you would be what Baptist type are you? Here you can see the Baptist family tree.

You may say you are good with us. The reality of that statement is that it speaks for you and anyone in close proximity that agrees. You will admit and recognize that no Protestant speaks for any other Protestant and since there is no such thing as a Protestant church then you cannot speak for all Baptists or all Protestants.

On the other hand the OHCAC says that those that are baptized in the trinitiarian formula are truly Christian and part of the OHCAC. The OHCAC tells me I must admit that anyone that is so baptized is part of the OHCAC whether they think/believe they are or not. You, if baptized, are good with Christ and that is better than good with us.:thumbsup:

Your use of the Ancient Church is an ignonimy to Christ. Christ is the same yesterday, today and tommorrow. Christ is the head of the Church. The body of Christ is the Church. Jesus is not ancient, midieval or modern. This notion of Ancient is a western Philosophical construct that has infiltrated the Western Protestant mind. I suggest you consider more carefully what you are saying as to the notion of Christ as it regards historicity. There is no such thing as an Ancient Church except in your mind. I would say that Jesus pointed out that a mustard seed could grow into a large plant and that when Jesus founded a Church it was nascent and grew. This would make more sense.

The difference is is between the words catholic and Catholic. From what I’ve seen here, Protestants that know the difference have no desire to refer to themselves as Catholic.

The only non-Catholics who use the word Catholic are some of the wanna-be’s (Polish National Catholic, etc.) and maybe some of the over-the-top catholics such as SSPX.

Even the creed uses the lower case “c” catholic.

Is there a difference in the following:

Child of God

child of God

Explain to me if they are the same or different.:slight_smile:

If seen this in NE with a friend on mine who is minister at a non-denominational Baptist church here in New London CT.

Yet this congregation holds no ill feeling with the CC. In fact Matt and I speak all the time for he is very concerned about HHS, Abortion and many conflicts with the current administration.

His attitude is hey, lets teach these kids they can and should along. So in this sense I see no issue. I agree in fact.

We have had some very enlightening Biblical discussions, and I find no fault with this mans love of the Lord. nor is he in any way disrespectful of the Catholic Church.

I’m not his judge, he is lifelong friend, a Marine who Boxed for the Corp. He is a Morally Ethically sound, God fearing, grounded man. If any conversion is going on, the Holy Spirit is in charge. My job is to be his friend as I have since the 60’s


Rome didn’t make the decision, the entire Church did, and we most certainly agreed to that canon. There was never an agreement that this was the limit of canon, nor did we go on “to develop our own”. We already used the traditional OT of the LXX.

Health and Human Services? HHS?

Abbreviations are tough for those that do not know.

Get on board and stop referring to the Church as ancient or modern…Our OHCAC understands this…

Gaudiem et Spes (The Church in the Modern World)

The Church does not change…the world may but not the Church.

Waldensians became Presbyterians and in some cases Methodists later on so how accurate is that statement?

Right, sorry. :thumbsup:

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