The Catholic Church was the only Christian Church until the Protestant Reformation in 1522 and it contains the fullness of truth as revealed in sacred scripture and sacred tradition. All other churches contain only partial truths at best. Today there are 33,000+ Christian denominations all teaching different and conflicting doctrines.
Most non-catholics do not believe that Christ established a visible Church, but instead believe that Christ established an invisible abstract church with no authoritative structure to teach the Truth. This belief makes no sense when subjected to the Bible, history, and common sense. This belief creates many false, conflicting, and confusing doctrines.
The fact is this: Christ did establish One Church and he promised that this Church would be with us until the end of time.
The Four Signs of the One True Church are that it is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic (see the Nicene Creed).
Three Possibilities Regarding the Church of Christ:* 1. Jesus established more than one church.
2. Jesus established an invisible, abstract, spiritual church in which all believers, regardless of denomination, are members. In this church, either: (1) Doctrine does not matter, or (2) Conflicting and contradictory doctrines are acceptable.
3. Jesus established One Church, which is visible and in which doctrine matters and does not conflict. This church contains the fullness of truth as revealed by God; all others have partial truth, at best.
Bible verses which prove the Catholic Church's teaching on One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church:
“Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalms 127:1) No one can rebuild the Church established by Christ.
“If I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth”. (1 Tim 3:15) This verse says that it is the Church (not churches) that is the upholder of the truth and not the Bible alone as most non-catholics believe. How can we know the truth if this invisible church is allowed by God to teach conflicting doctrines?
"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’" (Matt. 16:18-19). The Church is infallible and will not teach error. If the Church did teach error then the powers of death (hell) have prevailed over it.
Paul says: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,” (Col 1:24) Christ's Body is the Church! Would Christ allow his Body to teach errors? NO! Does Christ have multiple Bodies who teach different Truths? NO!
“Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Eph 5:25- 27) A church that teaches error would be blemished and therefore cannot be the Church which Christ died for.
“And I have other sheep , that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepard.” (John 10:16) Jesus specifically states that there is to be one flock and one leader! The belief that Christ created thousands of churches all teaching conflicting doctrines makes no sense when subjected to this verse.
“And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, (John 14:16) The Holy Spirit will be with the Apostles and the Church forever. The Holy Spirit cannot teach error.
Jesus Prays: “Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:11) No room for conflicting doctrines here.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Eph 4:4 -7) One, one, one, one, one, one, one........7 times in one verse! This verse screams of unity!
“I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (1Cor 1:10) No dissensions! Unity!
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. ”. (Mk 3:24-25) Jesus condemns interdenominationalism and conflicting doctrines.
“Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. (Act 20:28) Jesus purchased his church with his blood so why would he die for an invisible church in which doctrines do not matter?
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,…” (Eph 5:25)
"In order that He might present to Himself to the Church in all her glory, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she might be holy and without blemish," (Eph 5:27)
“And going down to Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem, and saluted the church, and so came down to Antioch” (Acts 18:22) The Church had to be visible if this verse is true.
“For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1Cor.15:9) The Church had to be visible if Paul persecuted it!
“And I answered, `Who are you, Lord?' And he said to me, `I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.” Paul did not physically persecute Jesus, but Jesus tells Paul since he was persecuting His Church he was persecuting Him. The Church had to be visible in order for this verse to make sense.
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace….. (1 Cor 14:33) The word of God says that God would not create confusion, but that's exactly what we see in the theologies of non-catholic churches.
“he (a Bishop) must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:7-9) The doctrines of Christ's Church are not changeable.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matt 18:15-17) What church do you tell it to if they all teach conflicting doctrines? This Church must be the Church which Christ founded or you will not get the Truth.
“Where the Bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrneans 8, 107 A.D. The early Church Christians mentioned by name, the Catholic Church. The Church was visible!
Something to consider: Why would Christ establish an invisible church where the truth is subject to the personal opinions of it's leader or members? This makes no sense, but is exactly what is taught outside of the Catholic Church.