I’m not Catholic but I’m having this debate on another BB and I can not get a Protestant to give me a satisfactory answer. I’ve never really been able to get an anti-Catholic Christian to answer this question for me, since I started asking several years ago.
Many Protestants over the years have considered the Catholic Church “The Whore of Babylon” the Pope “The Anti-Christ” and I know several people IRL and some who claim that Catholics are not even Christians.
However, after the death of Christ, the Catholic Church (and Orthodox) was the only game in town until Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis on a door and that was in the late 1400’s. If you read the history of Martin Luther you will find that he venerated Mary and even believed in her perpetual virginity as did many of the Protestant Reformers. He believed in the Real Presence of Christ during Holy Communion etc which are now held to uniquely Catholic beliefs.
So where were all these “true Christians” for all these years? Was there no Christianity from the time of say Penecost until around 1500? If Catholicism isn’t truly Christian, then how did Christianity get spread over Europe and the Americas?