This will be in two parts, since I apparently am too long-winded for my own good…
[quote=ppcpilot]Dear brother, the early Church was no more “your” Church than it was my Church.
You are correct. It was the Church for all of us, universal in teaching in belief, left to guide and direct all of us in true christian teaching. The Church is and was here for all of us. In fact, the Catholic Church still opens her arms and recognizes all brothers and sisters in Christ as such, regardless of denomination. We should both understand that we have very real differences, and the Catholic Church does contend that certain teachings of the Protestant denominations are flawed. However, to the extent that we are united in doctrine and purpose, this is an extension of the Church, whether the Protestant realizes it or not. You see, Protestantism broke from the Catholic Church. While certain teachings were abandoned, others remain. Those that remain are inherently Catholic.
There is no place in the Scriptures where the Catholic church is mentioned.
First of all, nothing is proven by its absence. That is a very weak argument. The simple fact is that it was not necessary. Since there was only one “denomination” there really was no point in labeling it. Across the street from my house there is a mailbox. It is the gomer_tree mailbox, yet it was never referred to as such, until someone built a house across the street from me and put another mailbox up next to it. Suddenly, my mailbox is named, in order to differentiate it. The mailbox has not changed, nor has its purpose. It has just been labeled to clarify things.
Whatever assumptions the Roman Catholics have made about apostolic succession are a matter of interpretation that is in no way supported by Scripture.
Well, this just isn’t correct. There is clearly the laying on of hands and the passing on of a bishophric in Scripture.
However, the catholic (universal) Church is spoken of several times. There is one Church.
Again, agreed. There was one Church. God-willing, there will one day be again just one Church. (We argue, of course, that there is still only one fully true Church). Listen, I am uncertain as to why this is so inflammatory. Thinking logically for a moment, if there is a clear difference between two denomination - let’s point to the Eucharist - then it is either the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ or it is not. If two churches teach the opposite, then one cannot say it is unimportant, and there is really only one Church for those who “really believe.” The false premise there is that, for the Catholic, belief in the Eucharist is essential to true belief in Christ and all He did for us. To the Methodist, it is not. In all differences, either one is wrong, or both are wrong. As Catholics, we happen to believe that our Church teaches truth, and it is correct. If you do not have that same thought about your Church, then I would think you would want to seek out the full truth in all these questions. And if you do believe that, then you are simply proclaiming on a personal level what the Church proclaims on a magesterial level, and it is no less of a statement than the Catholic Church’s claim.
Your comments and arguments sound an awful lot like what the apostles faced from some of the more zealous Jews who insisted that Christianity had to be done their way.
Not so. There is great variation in Liturgical practices throughout the world. This is not akin to proclaiming certain doctrines as true, or watering such doctrines down for the sake of “unity,” which in reality is a paradoxical approach.