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Is there really a "One True Church"?

post #1 of 100
Thread Starter 
Let me preface by saying that I'm not being nasty or argumentative or intending to be offensive. I'm TRULY curious.

I've seen many people (especially my own Mama) refer to the Catholic Church as the "one true church". But I have no idea what the historical or actual basis is for that claim. I mean, when you think about it - does every religion not think they are the One? The right way to go? And if there's overwhelming evidence to show that the Catholic way is actually The One, than why is everyone not Catholic? Why do so many other religions also think THEY are the way to go?

Now, just to admit my own bias, I'm coming at this as a former Catholic who has left the church. I'm also not a believer in the idea that there IS even one true way to follow the divine. But I'm extremely curious as to why the RCC is so often called the One True Church.

I've had this same thought when my JW friend says that the JW faith is the only way to salvation, and then my Mom says the RCC is the only way to salvation, and my Quaker friend says that God will lead everyone to their own salvation, etc etc etc...

Or when we say the one true church, are we referring to Christianity in the more general sense and not the RCC specifically? That could make sense in my head I think. That the "One Way" is through Christ - but there are many many paths to following Him (or so is my belief anyway for whatever it's worth).

Ok, so any input is muchly appreciated. I really hope this doesn't turn into people fighting over whey THEIR way is the RIGHT way. I am just looking for any historical reasoning (in quick "dummy terms" for my pregnancy brain haha) as to why specifically the RCC seems to always say they are the way.
post #2 of 100
I don't normally chime in on these things but here's my 2 cents:

RCC follows the scripture in which Jesus states he will build his church upon the rock of Peter. Peter being the first Pope and follows the succession to the current day Pope.

After "roaming" through religion my adult life I find these things refreshing:
1. Currently RCC says that there is one church of Jesus Christ - all of which will one day reunited (which I'm sure is under the idea other churches will join back into them). Reunited meaning prior to the split (Martin Luther) that seemed to begin the splintering. It is currently said that all other christian churches are just not currently in "communion" with the RC faith - not that they are hellbound. So in short I guess it depends on the context and who is saying "One true church" to know really what they referring to..

2. I've also read in many Catholic texts that JC is the only known absolute way to salvation. This probably seems horribly narrow minded... but to me it doesn't seem to be. I was (sort of) raised southern baptist where we were routinely told everyone was going to Hell. I take the statement above to mean that as people we don't have all of the answers - we aren't "right" - what we do know is that last bit information we were given, which is that JC is definitely our salvation. I remember an Aunt once telling me that I needed to "save" a Catholic boyfriend from going to hell. My personal belief is that God gets to decide and I feel very refreshed to be a part of a community that honors that.

Now just as a disclaimer this is based upon my person experience and parish.. I am not an expert and don't attempt to play one on these boards
post #3 of 100
Well...here are my two cents....I don't usually share this stuff....*deep breath*.


I do believe that the only way to salvation is though faith in Jesus Christ, to ask the Lord into your heart, to be "born again". I am NOT however, an evangelical Christian, or a fundamentalist. I do believe that Christians have an obligation to share the gospel with others, but in a respectful and proper way.


I also believe that the next step in salvation is baptism, but that the Bible is clear that whomever has called upon the name of the Lord is saved, and saved forever. The Bible is clear to me that God does not and will never take away salvation-that once we call upon the name of the Lord and have Jesus in our hearts, we are saved, period. There are many Biblical references to support this.


As far as "church" goes, here's what I believe. I do not believe in having pastors, ministers, or any clergy at all. I, and the group of people I worship with, believe that in each city (or each locality), there should be one meeting hall (this term is not in ANY way related to the JW's Kingdom Hall) where we come to worship. We believe that: God's eternal purpose is to have a group of people, created in His Image, and with His Likeness, to be filled with Him as life to express Him and represent Him. We do have elders, who are not appointed, but are those Christians who are very experienced in the Lord who step up and take the lead in the meetings. We believe that the "Church" is not a physical place, not a building or the like. We believe that the church is the body of Christ, made up of all the members (anyone who has asked the Lord Jesus into their hearts), and we are accepting of any one who has a desire to meet with us. We are not an organization, or having any membership. We are simply Christians who are seeking Christ, who come together to enjoy the Lord.


We believe that God wants us to enjoy Him! To take Him as our daily portion. This means that we do not do outward things to please Him, but rather, focus inwardly in our spirit, and pray. When we pray, pray-read the Bible and sing with our hearts to the Lord, this is enjoyable! We believe that as we take Jesus as our daily portion, we are being inwardly transformed by His divine life that now lives inside of us. Because we cannot, in ourselves, ever be good enough, the Lord sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die on the cross for our sins. Through this, we are guaranteed salvation to anyone simply believes and asks Him to come into out hearts.


So, in closing, I do not believe that there is one "true church", but rather, one true way to salvation, through God's Son, Jesus Christ.
post #4 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvansMomma View Post
Let me preface by saying that I'm not being nasty or argumentative or intending to be offensive. I'm TRULY curious.

I've seen many people (especially my own Mama) refer to the Catholic Church as the "one true church". But I have no idea what the historical or actual basis is for that claim. I mean, when you think about it - does every religion not think they are the One? The right way to go? And if there's overwhelming evidence to show that the Catholic way is actually The One, than why is everyone not Catholic? Why do so many other religions also think THEY are the way to go?

Now, just to admit my own bias, I'm coming at this as a former Catholic who has left the church. I'm also not a believer in the idea that there IS even one true way to follow the divine. But I'm extremely curious as to why the RCC is so often called the One True Church.

I've had this same thought when my JW friend says that the JW faith is the only way to salvation, and then my Mom says the RCC is the only way to salvation, and my Quaker friend says that God will lead everyone to their own salvation, etc etc etc...

Or when we say the one true church, are we referring to Christianity in the more general sense and not the RCC specifically? That could make sense in my head I think. That the "One Way" is through Christ - but there are many many paths to following Him (or so is my belief anyway for whatever it's worth).

Ok, so any input is muchly appreciated. I really hope this doesn't turn into people fighting over whey THEIR way is the RIGHT way. I am just looking for any historical reasoning (in quick "dummy terms" for my pregnancy brain haha) as to why specifically the RCC seems to always say they are the way.
The Orthodox are as emphatic, or even more so, on this than the RCC (I'm Orthodox). There's an interesting relationship between the Orthodox Church and the RCC. We're the only church outside of the RCC that is held to have "valid" Sacraments (including priestly orders), also considered by the RCC to have maintained the Apostolic Succession in our bishops. We have some "errors" though - primarily that our church structure (ecclesiology) is collegial (all bishops working together) rather than monarchial (top down rule - aka the Pope) and some other things I can't think of off the top of my head, last but not least, that we don't acknowledge the pope as the head of the Orthodox, too. The Orthodox stance is that the Orthodox Church as maintained the faith as handed down by Christ and the Apostles for 2000 years. Rome added to it (ie papal infallibility and the Immaculate Conception) and the Protestant reformers subtracted from it (most Sacraments thrown out, 1500 years of Christian tradition and practice gone, etc.).

About the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" from the Creed:
http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=26

This might help:
http://www.oca.org/QA.asp?ID=26&SID=3

http://www.oca.org/QA.asp?ID=27&SID=3

For info about the Great Schism between the Orthodox and the RCC:

http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=142

http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=144
post #5 of 100
I agree with angelpie.
The church is the Body of Christ and Christ is the Head of it.
The "one true church" is the Body of Christ and all regenerated or saved Christians are a part of that one true church.
These members are found within most Christian denominations and groups and the RCC and EO and among those Christians who are not meeting with any group.
The body of Christ is composed of all regenerated Christians.
The various Christian groups, denominations, RCC and EO are groups that contain members of the Body of Christ, but none of those groups in and of itself is "the one true church".
In fact, there are most likely some people who are meeting within all of those groups who are not regenerated born again Christians and they are not members of the Body of Christ.
Only the Lord knows people's hearts and only He knows for sure who are members of His Body and who are not.
post #6 of 100
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by christianmomof3 View Post
I agree with angelpie.
The church is the Body of Christ and Christ is the Head of it.
The "one true church" is the Body of Christ and all regenerated or saved Christians are a part of that one true church.
These members are found within most Christian denominations and groups and the RCC and EO and among those Christians who are not meeting with any group.
The body of Christ is composed of all regenerated Christians.
The various Christian groups, denominations, RCC and EO are groups that contain members of the Body of Christ, but none of those groups in and of itself is "the one true church".
In fact, there are most likely some people who are meeting within all of those groups who are not regenerated born again Christians and they are not members of the Body of Christ.
Only the Lord knows people's hearts and only He knows for sure who are members of His Body and who are not.
That's sort of how my thinking goes too.
That if we're following God, that's the church.
But I guess I was referring more to how certain denominations refer to themselves as the right way to salvation. How can so many bible-based religions think they are the right way, when they are so different? Most Christian denominations are bible-based, yet they all have a totally different view of how to achieve salvation.

I'm probably not making sense. My toddler is trying to do a headstand on my lap...lol

I've been trying to think through my aversion to organized religious systems, and a lot of the same questions keep popping up. This is the big one. If a dozen religions (or more, I never actually counted haha) say they're the right way - are ANY of them the right way? Or all they ALL the right way?

So I was thinking I'm misunderstanding what is meant by "one true church", but to ask any Catholic around here - the catholic faith is the one true church as described by Jesus. But if that's actually so, then why are all those other denominations also (according to them) the right way? KWIM?

I'm totally rambling.
I'm going to go check out those links that were posted upthread, and come back a bit later, maybe with a clearer understanding.
post #7 of 100
I'll take the easy way out and say to what Tradd said. Once you learn the history of the early church and it's Traditions that resulted in the canonized Bible it's pretty clear what One True Church means.
post #8 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvansMomma View Post
How can so many bible-based religions think they are the right way, when they are so different? Most Christian denominations are bible-based, yet they all have a totally different view of how to achieve salvation.
There is your answer. Orthodoxy and the Catholic Church are not only Bible based, it's Scripture and Tradition. Protestants threw out Tradition along with most of the sacraments and weny to sola scriptura and sola fide. Whereas Orthodoxy and Catholicism maintain the importance of Tradition, after all scripture came out of tradition and they both maintain faith and good works are important.
post #9 of 100
That's the one thing that really bothers me about my church. They believe that the true priesthood was lost and restored, and that we are THE true church because we are the only church who has the restored priesthood and the fullness of the gospel. While I believe in the church and am a member, I am also a universalist at heart, and have trouble with anyone claiming to be the "one true" anything. It is disrespectful to me to other people's beliefs, and especially living in a home where my husband is pagan, respect is everything to me.
post #10 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
There is your answer. Orthodoxy and the Catholic Church are not only Bible based, it's Scripture and Tradition. Protestants threw out Tradition along with most of the sacraments and weny to sola scriptura and sola fide. Whereas Orthodoxy and Catholicism maintain the importance of Tradition, after all scripture came out of tradition and they both maintain faith and good works are important.

they threw out a good chunk of scripture too. but that is another thread all together. . . .

i believe there is One True Church and that all other Christians are trying really hard. I believe they are members of the body of Christ and the church universal but not part of the true church. They haven't embraced the fullness of the faith. its not a bad thing necessarily but i do feel they are missing on something really great.
post #11 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
they threw out a good chunk of scripture too. but that is another thread all together. . . .

i believe there is One True Church and that all other Christians are trying really hard. I believe they are members of the body of Christ and the church universal but not part of the true church. They haven't embraced the fullness of the faith. its not a bad thing necessarily but i do feel they are missing on something really great.
i agree with this although from a different religion. i do believe my faith has the fullness of the truth. that doesn't mean others are COMPLETELY off or "wrong". there is truth in all faiths and paths.
post #12 of 100
I just wonder why God, in is infinite wisdom and perfection, would choose to be so completely cryptic in how he wants us to worship.
post #13 of 100
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennica View Post
I just wonder why God, in is infinite wisdom and perfection, would choose to be so completely cryptic in how he wants us to worship.
I said the same thing to my JW friend, and she said "What's cryptic? It's right there written in the bible, everything you need to know". And you know, everything she points to will explain perfectly why she has certain beliefs - yet someone from another religion will point to the same thing and have a totally different perspective on what it means. So what's clear to her is so drastically different from say a Catholic person's interpretation.

In the beginning of Christianity, I think maybe things were quite straightforward and everyone knew how they were expected to worship. But over time, there have been off-shoots and divisions, and now so many people look to the same book and the same Christ and come up with so many different ways to believe.

It's very confuzzling to me.
I think this is another reason why Christianity has never really resonated with me - I like simple directives, and I don't like trying to read someone's mind and figure out what's expected...
post #14 of 100
Quote:
I agree with angelpie.
The church is the Body of Christ and Christ is the Head of it.
The "one true church" is the Body of Christ and all regenerated or saved Christians are a part of that one true church.
These members are found within most Christian denominations and groups and the RCC and EO and among those Christians who are not meeting with any group.
The body of Christ is composed of all regenerated Christians.
The various Christian groups, denominations, RCC and EO are groups that contain members of the Body of Christ, but none of those groups in and of itself is "the one true church".
In fact, there are most likely some people who are meeting within all of those groups who are not regenerated born again Christians and they are not members of the Body of Christ.
Only the Lord knows people's hearts and only He knows for sure who are members of His Body and who are not.
Well said!
post #15 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvansMomma View Post
In the beginning of Christianity, I think maybe things were quite straightforward and everyone knew how they were expected to worship. But over time, there have been off-shoots and divisions, and now so many people look to the same book and the same Christ and come up with so many different ways to believe.

The beginnings of Christianity were not straightforward, either. There were always many ways to interpret and believe. Orthodoxy developed to straighten it all out.

It's pretty much always been a mess. We just need to see the grace and beauty through the mess. God is not cryptic. Just more than we can understand all at one time.
post #16 of 100
I don't think he is cryptic. he spelled out things pretty clearly and we have the Bible and Church Tradition being passed down to us generation after generation and considering its been 2000 years very very little has changed (in my church anyway). The only people to whom it is a mystery are those disregarding church history and tradition.

a good book to read on the subject is "becoming Orthodox" by peter gillquist. Its about these guys who went on a quest to find the early church and how they worshiped and practiced. They were quite surprised by what historical documents turned up and the light those documents shed on Biblical passages, and how very clear and obvious and logical it all was. I highly recommend.
post #17 of 100
Here is an article by then-Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) about the RCC's position on this topic:
http://catholiceducation.org/article...on/re0401.html

I agree with the above RC and Orthodox posters. Roman Catholics believe that Jesus founded the RCC, that it contains the fullness of faith, that it is guided by the Holy Spirit, and the "gates of Hell will not prevail against it."
That does not mean that salvation does not occur outside the Catholic Church or Christianity.

This was actually what brought me back to the RCC after being away for a decade. I had been attending Episcopal Church, understanding "one true church" to mean the believers who comprise the "Body of Christ." But the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. I really couldn't buy that the Holy Spirit was guiding the founding of the Anglican Church. Yes, God is able to accomplish much through many faiths and denominations, but history leads me to believe that other denominations are more man-made than divinely founded.
post #18 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvansMomma View Post
I said the same thing to my JW friend, and she said "What's cryptic? It's right there written in the bible, everything you need to know". And you know, everything she points to will explain perfectly why she has certain beliefs - yet someone from another religion will point to the same thing and have a totally different perspective on what it means. So what's clear to her is so drastically different from say a Catholic person's interpretation.

In the beginning of Christianity, I think maybe things were quite straightforward and everyone knew how they were expected to worship. But over time, there have been off-shoots and divisions, and now so many people look to the same book and the same Christ and come up with so many different ways to believe.

It's very confuzzling to me.
I think this is another reason why Christianity has never really resonated with me - I like simple directives, and I don't like trying to read someone's mind and figure out what's expected...
This is exactly what I mean. I was actually a JW most of my life and I'm not sure if any other religion thinks they are as "true" as JW's think they are. But what you are saying is correct, the same things they point to and claim mean one thing, catholics or whoever point to and claim they mean something completely different. Now why did God have to go and be so cryptic like that? Shouldn't it just be, I don't know, obvious if there was a path that was "the truth" that it was so. I mean obvious to everyone, not just a fraction of the worlds population, and not just to the people that are inside of that religion already.
post #19 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
I don't think he is cryptic. he spelled out things pretty clearly and we have the Bible and Church Tradition being passed down to us generation after generation and considering its been 2000 years very very little has changed (in my church anyway). The only people to whom it is a mystery are those disregarding church history and tradition.
Well, see that is cryptic. If God wanted everyone to know what religion was true, wouldn't he make that obvious in the bible? Why would tradition have anything at all to do with it? Why would church history have anything to do with it? It should be obvious from reading the bible which religion is true, if there is one religion that is true. Tradition and history are not proof of truth. Let me put it this way. If I knew nothing of any religions in the world, and you gave me a bible to read, would it then become obvious to me in which way I should worship? Would the way I worshiped then follow the path of any religion? This is what I mean by cryptic. It is only obvious to people who are already a member of that religion. Others looking in can't see that this one religion is "true" and all others are false, or not as true.
post #20 of 100
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennica View Post
This is exactly what I mean. I was actually a JW most of my life and I'm not sure if any other religion thinks they are as "true" as JW's think they are. But what you are saying is correct, the same things they point to and claim mean one thing, catholics or whoever point to and claim they mean something completely different. Now why did God have to go and be so cryptic like that? Shouldn't it just be, I don't know, obvious if there was a path that was "the truth" that it was so. I mean obvious to everyone, not just a fraction of the worlds population, and not just to the people that are inside of that religion already.
You get it. What I'm confused about. You get it...lol
I actually have had some really cool discussions with this friend of mine (the JW one) about how 'interesting' I've found it that she reads one passage and sees it so differently than my Mom does (who is Catholic). And I'm not even presuming to say which is "wrong" or "not right". I just find it weird or interesting or wahtever the word, that both can be so different and claim to be the 'right way'. Ya know?

So a few of the links here in this thread have pointed out WHY the Catholic church is referred to as the One True Church. Handed down from Jesus and the apostles and all that. I get that. I can see that. So why aren't all Christians....Catholic? If there's that reasoning to believe that it's the way Jesus wanted his church to be handled, and the non-catholic Christians are followers of Jesus and the bible...why not just be Catholic if that's what Jesus wanted.

I'm not arguing or saying anyone's wrong, or right for that matter, it's just a question I've had from time to time. Just trying to work through the rambling thoughts I have about different religions. I really hope nothing I've said is offensive to anyone, that wasn't my intent at all.
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