I’d like to start with several premises:[LIST]
*]Christ was very clear that he intended to found ONE Church – he never spoke of churches in the plural, such as “You are Peter, and upon this Rock I found my churches.”
*]Christ intended his Church to be visible --a light that would not be hidden, not an “invisible” Church.
*]At the Last Supper he prayed that the world would come to believe because of the unity of the Church – impossible to do, both if the Church is seperated into thousands of competing factions, and if it were an invisible Church.
*]There is no New Testament precedent or justification for a multitude of competing and independent “churches”: In the Acts and Epistles, the local churches that exist in seperate places are not independent, but under the central authority of the Apostles. There is no biblical justification for this arrangement to be changed. There was only ONE Church.
*]For 1500 years this Church (including the Orthodox) has been ONE, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. It is an undeniable fact that this same Church exists to this very day.[/LIST]The original Church cannot be a denomination; denominations are, by definition, fragments and break-off’s of the original whole. Any thing that isn’t the main body of something it belongs to, is a denomination of that main body.
We can think of it in terms of a nation’s wealth: The United States has a base amount of wealth in it’s Treasury. All other representations of this wealth can come in various forms; bank notes, if you will – $100, $50, $20, $10, $5, $1, and various coins. All of these are called --you guessed it – denominations. They are not the original wealth of the Treasury, only small, broken off bits of it that nonetheless could not exist without the Treasury as a whole.
In the same way, non-Catholic Christian faith communities, while they may still be Christians, are all denominations, and are thus little bits and pieces of the whole – the whole spiritual treasury and fulness of truth that is found only in the Catholic Church.