Jason's essay states:

    "Anybody who has spoken with Catholics about why they believe what they believe, or has heard the conversion stories
of former evangelicals who are now Catholics, should see a thread that runs through it all. Roman Catholicism doesn't
attract people because the evidence really supports it. It attracts people through the misrepresentation of evidence,
and, even moreso, it attracts people through bad philosophical arguments. Catholics can tell you that people should
follow "the church" established by Christ and the apostles, but they can't give any compelling evidence that "the
church" Christ and the apostles established was actually a worldwide denomination centered in Rome.

    Catholics can tell you that we should have an authority that  gives a correct interpretation of scripture for every Christian
to follow, but they can't give any compelling evidence that the Roman Catholic Church was actually given such authority.
In other words, Catholic apologists don't argue for Roman Catholicism so much on the basis of actual evidence as they
do on the basis of philosophy. In Colossians 2:8, the apostle Paul warned against this tendency to depart from Divine
revelation for the sake of following men's philosophies. Many professing "Christian" groups, including the Roman Catholic
Church, have failed to heed Paul's warning. "

        It is supremely ironic that Jason accuses the Catholic Church of following the philosophies of men, when a study of the history of Christian churches shows that all Protestant denominations are founded at dates later than 33AD by people other than Jesus Christ.

The essay continues:
"The popular Roman Catholic television network, EWTN, runs many programs that feature former evangelicals who are now
Catholics. One example is The Journey Home. This deceptive program features the conversion stories of many evangelicals
who have converted to Roman Catholicism.  Guests include popular converts, such as Kimberly Hahn and Robert Sungenis,
as well as many who aren't as popular. The program is done well from a Roman Catholic perspective, with enough emotional
appeal and enough truth mixed with the falsehood to deceive almost anybody who isn't constantly trying to discern between
truth and error. Surely most viewers are deceived."

    There is a difficulty with this conclusion; namely, how does Jason know that the former Evangelicals and the viewers who watch this program are the ones being deceived?  More precisely stated, what guarantee does Jason have that his flavor of Protestantism is the one that is completely true, and that all others are the ones being deceived? Does he claim infallibility for his denomination? If not, what proof does he have that all others are deceived?  What his "proof" boils down to is his personal opinion.

The essay states:
"It isn't just Catholic laymen watching EWTN who are being deceived by Roman Catholic apologetics. Many seemingly
intelligent evangelicals, even pastors, are being misled by Catholic arguments that don't really stand under closer examination. It seems that many popular Catholic apologetics books today will feature on their back covers a series of endorsements from former evangelical leaders who have recently converted to Catholicism. Of course, there have been many people converting the other way, from Catholicism to evangelicalism, but the conversions to Catholicism should still disturb evangelicals. With so many evangelical leaders now endorsing Catholicism as "Christian", and joining with Catholics in ecumenical movements, conversions to Catholicism are likely to increase."

    At least we can agree on the last sentence :-)

"Though the early Christians resisted the earliest attempts by the Roman church to usurp power for itself (,"

    Early Christians like the Apostles?  Or does he mean Irenaeus:

"It is necessary to obey those who are the presbyters in the Church, those who, as we have shown, have

succession from the Apostles; those who have received, with the succession of the episcopate, the

sure charism of truth according to the good pleasure of the Father. But the rest, who have no part in the

primitive succession and assemble wheresoever they will, must be held in suspicion." [St. Irenaeus;

"Against Heresies" 180-199 A. D.]



"You ought to know, then, that the bishop is in the Church and the Church is in the bishop; and if someone is not with the bishop, he is not in the Church. They vainly flatter themselves who creep up, not having peace with the priests of God, believing that they are secretly in communion with certain individuals. For the Church, which is One and Catholic, is not split not divided, but is indeed united and joined by the cement of priests who adhere one to another." [St. Cyprian of Carthage; "Letter to Florentius Pupianus" 254 A. D.]


"The Church is called Catholic, then, because it extends over the whole world, from end to end of the

earth; and because it teaches universally and infallibly each and every doctrine which must

come to the knowledge of men, concerning things visible and invisible, heavenly and governed,

learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals every class of sins, those committed

with the soul and those with the body; and it possesses within itself every conceivable form of

virtue, in deeds and in words and in the spiritual gifts of every description." [St. Cyril of Jerusalem;

"Catechetical Lectures" ca. 350 A. D.]


"Although there are many who believe that they themselves hold to the teachings of Christ, there

are yet some among them who think differently from their predecessors. The teaching of the

Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the Apostles, and

remains in the Churches even to the present time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is

in no way at variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition." [Origen; "The Fundamental

Doctrines" 220-230 A. D.]


"For Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the will of the Father, just as the bishops, who have been

appointed throughout the world, are the will of Jesus Christ. It is fitting, therefore, that you should

live in harmony with the will of the bishop." [St. Ignatius of Antioch; "Letter to the Ephesians" ca. 110 A. D.]

or Peter Chrysologus:

"Heed obediently {to} what has been written by the Most Blessed Pope of the City of Rome; for

Blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, provides the true faith to those who seek it.

For we, by reason of our pursuit of peace and faith, cannot try cases on the faith without the consent

of the Bishop of the City of Rome." [St. Peter Chrysologus; "Letter to Eutyches" 449 A. D.]


The essay continues:
"and men of more recent centuries have spoken out against the errors of  Roman Catholicism, today's generation of evangelicals doesn't seem too interested in hearing any of it. Men like Wycliffe, Cranmer, Edwards, Spurgeon, Ryle, and Lloyd-Jones
condemned Roman Catholicism as a false religion in no uncertain terms."

    Wait a minute-- I thought we weren't supposed to follow the philosophies of men?  What guarantee do we have that Wycliffe, Cranmer and crew have any authority to speak with certainty on these matters?  Why should a man believe them over Cyprian, Cyril, Ignatius, etc...?

The essay states:
"Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote in the January 1873 edition of The Sword and the Trowel: "In these times, when liberality is the only popular virtue, and zeal for truth the cardinal sin, it is worth much to let the public know assuredly that Popery is not the angel of light it professes to be. 'Distance lends enchantment to the view;' but, to the rightminded, to see Romanism is to abhor it....Essence of lies, and quintessence of blasphemy, as the religion of Rome is, it nevertheless fascinates a certain order of Protestants, of whom we fear it may be truly said that 'they have received a strong delusion to believe a lie, that they may be damned.' [2 Thessalonians 2:11-12] Seeing that it is so, it becomes all who would preserve their fellow-immortals from destruction to beplain and earnest in their warnings. Not in a party-spirit, but for truth's sake, our Protestantism must protest perpetually."

    Therein lies the difference between Protestantism and Catholicism.  It is the heart of Catholicism to believe and follow; it is the heart of Protestantism to protest.

Jason's essay goes on:
"Most evangelicals today don't seem too interested in actively opposing Roman Catholicism. When Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake as Protestant martyrs on October 16, 1555, Latimer said to Ridley, "We shall this day, by God's grace, light such a candle in England as I trust will never be put out.""

    Jason's use of the words of Protestant martyrs comes dangerously close to the "emotional appeal" he warns against at the beginning of the essay.  Let's address the point anyway, though.  Certainly, there were Protestants who died for their faith.  I do not wish to belittle them, but rather to leave them to the omniscience and mercy of God, Who, knowing their innermost hearts may well find there a love for Him which overrides the fallacy of their beliefs-- it is not for me or anyone else to say.
    What I can state is that the number of Protestants who died for the Protestant faith is dwarfed by the number of Catholic martyrs.  I could give any number of inspiring quotes, from Thomas More's "I die the King's good servant, but God's first" to Father Pro's "Long live Christ the King!" But the heart of the matter is that passion of belief does not guarantee the truthfulness of it.   Only the promise of Christ guarantees truthfulness, and it is the Catholic Church to which this promise has been given.

Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were bishops of the Church of England.  Is Jason trying to say that this is the Church founded by Christ against which the gates of hell will not prevail?  Does the Anglican Church speak infallibly?  If not, how do we know when it is right and when it isn't?  Should we all be Anglicans because Latimer
and Ridley died for that church?  What happens if we don't agree with something the Anglican Church says?  Where is our guidance, our certainty, our security?

The quote about the candle coming from two men about to be burnt at the stake paints a stirring and romantic picture, but unless the questions above can be answered, that is all it does.

Jason's first item in the list of things to expect from Catholic Apologetics states:
"1.    Dismissing Obvious Flaws in Roman Catholicism, as Though They're Unimportant

Many discussions between evangelicals and Catholics begin by analyzing passages like Matthew 16:18 and John 21:15-17. But why do Catholic apologists have to resort to reading assumptions into passages such as these? Why can't they find any passages of the New Testament that overtly teach the papacy, the Immaculate Conception, Purgatory, etc.?"

There are two points which must be made here
1. A thorough Catholic discussion of Matthew 16 does not require any assumption, because it uses the term "keys of the kingdom".  This is a term with which every Jew was completely familiar.  They knew what  it meant, because they lived in the culture that used that term.  We have to do a bit of research to get to it though, because we're not as well-versed in the OT and ancient Hebrew culture as they were. For example, if we hear that someone has been
appointed a Supreme Court Justice, is it an assumption to say that this person will be ruling in national court cases?  No; no assumption is required because we all know what that job title means.  Likewise, when Jesus gives the Keys
of the Kingdom to Peter, is an assumption needed to say that he is being given the administrative position of authority?  No; Jesus, Peter and every Jew knew what that office meant.  For a clue, read Isaiah 22.

As to the other doctrines mentioned, they are all Scriptural.  The fact that there is no sentence in the Bible which states "There is a purgatory" does not negate other Biblical passages which refer to the concept of purgatory without using the name "Purgatory".

The greater assumption is to look at passages like "But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25),   "So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as
he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable
twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures." (2 Peter 3: 15-16)  and "Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah  the prophet, and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And he said, "How can I, unless some one guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. " (Acts 8: 30-31) and say that the Bible alone *clearly and explicitly* states *everything* that is to be believed and in the exact way that it is meant to be

2. Others on the list have made this comment as well, but it bears repeating.  The term "Trinity" was first
used by Theophilus of Antioch in 181 AD. Does that mean that Christians did not believe in the Trinity before
then, and that in 181 they decided to create the doctrine? Try to find the words "altar call" in the Bible.  Where
are the words "Methodist", "Presbyterian", "Anglican", etc... in the Bible?  Where is the word "fundamentalist"?

The essay continues:
"And why does nobody in the earliest centuries of Christianity ever describe a papal office?"

I hope that this is ignorance.  The only other alternatives are willful deception and some mental obstacle, neither
of which I wish to attribute to the author of this essay.  In my previous post, I quoted from the early Christians,
so I don't want to repeat myself here.  If those quotes weren't early enough, however, let's just look at the role
of Peter as portrayed by the Bible:

Peter was mentioned in the Bible more than any other Apostle  (191 times; John was mentioned the second most: 48 times). He was the first named when the 12 were listed (Mt 10:1-4; Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:14-16; Acts 1:13) and acted as the spokesman for the Apostles (Mt 18:21; Lk 12:41; Jn 6:68). Peter was one of the few accompanying Jesus at the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mk 5:37; Lk 8:51), the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1; Mk 9:2; Lk 9:28), and the agony in the garden (Mt 26:37; Mk 13:33). Jesus is mentioned to pray for Peter alone (Lk 22:32), the only one who was told to "strengthen your brethren" (Lk 22:32), and the only one who Jesus said had received divine knowledge by a special
revelation (Mt 16:17). After the Resurrection, Peter was the first Apostle to enter the empty tomb (Lk 24:12) and the first Apostle to whom Jesus appeared (Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5). Then, after the Ascention, he was the first to preach to the crowds at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40), the first to work healings (Acts 3:6-7), the first to raise the dead after Christ (Acts 9:40), and the one who received God's revelation that the Gentiles were to be converted and baptized (Acts 10:46-48). He was also the one who called for a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:22) and the first to recognize
and refute heresy (Acts 8:14-24).

Does the Bible contain the words "Peter was the first Pope"?  No.  It doesn't need to.  It tells us that Jesus
gave him the keys of the kingdom, and then shows us Peter exercising this office.

The essay states:
"Among the many Christian and non-Christian documents that discuss Christianity in the early centuries, why do none refer to a Pope?"

    This is getting tiresome, and I suspect it's not the last time we'll hear this :-)  Oh well, let's give a few more quotes:

"I now inquire into your opinion, to see whence you usurp this right for the Church. Do you presume, because
the Lord said to Peter, 'On Cephas I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom in heaven', or
'whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven', that the power of binding
and loosing has thereby been handed on to you?... What kind of man are you, subverting and changing what was
the manifest intent of the Lord when He conferred this personally upon Peter? On *you*, He says, I will build my
Church; and I will give *you* the keys... and whatever *you* shall have bound or *you* shall have loosed, not
what *they* shall have bound or *they* shall have loosed." [Tertullian; "Modesty" 213 A. D.]

"You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the
chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head - that is why he is also called Cephas - of all the Apostles; the
one chair in which unity is maintained by all... Anyone who would set up another chair in opposition to that single
chair would, be that very fact, be a schismatic and a sinner." [St. Optatus of Milevis; "The Schism of the
Donatists" ca. 367 A. D.]

We can also consider the actions of the early Christians:
In about 80 A.D, the Church at Corinth deposed its lawful leaders. The forth bishop of Rome, Pope Clement I, was
called to settle the matter even though St. John the Apostle was still alive and much closer to Corinth than was Rome (he was in Ephesus at the time). [NOTE: Clement wrote his first Letter to the Corinthians in response and
chastised them for deposing the leaders.]

 Jason goes on:
"Why did such influential men as Cyprian and Augustine write entire treatises relating to church government without mentioning a papacy?"

    Goodness.  Here's Cyprian:
"There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one Chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is
not possible to set up another alter or for there to be another priesthood besides that one alter and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering." [St. Cyprian of Carthage; "Letter of Cyprian to all His People" 251 A. D.]

And here is St. Augustine:
"The Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should.... With you, where there is none of these things to attract or keep me.... No one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion.... For my part, I should not believe the gospel
except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church."

Jason states:
"Why does nobody in the first two centuries ever claim that Peter was a bishop of Rome, much less a Pope?"

OK, so 233AD is his cut-off point for a quote.  Here we go:

"Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church." [Iraneus; "Against Heresies" A.D. 189]

"It is recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and Peter, likewise, was crucified during the reign {of
Nero}. The account is confirmed by the names of Peter and Paul over the cemeteries there, which remain to the
present time. And is confirmed also by a stalwart man of the Church, Gaius." [Caius, Presbyter of Rome and Historian; "Disputation with Proclus", ca. 198 A.D.]

"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the Churches, we
shall confound all those who, in whatever manner... assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out
here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient Church known to all, founded and organized
at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, that Church wich has the tradition and the faith
which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the Apostles. For with this Church, because
of its superior origin, all Churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world; and it is in her that
the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic tradition." [St. Irenaeus; "Against Heresies", ca. 180 A.D.]

NOTE: the following quote is 19 years later than the cut-off point, but it's so nifty that I couldn't resist:

"With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics
and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principle Church, in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did
they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostles, and among whom it is
not possible for ferfidy to have entrance." [St. Cyprian of Carthage; "Letter to Cornelius of Rome" 252 A.D.]

Also note that the quote from Tertullian cited above is from 213AD.

Jason continues:
"Why is it not until hundreds of years after the apostles have died that doctrines like the Immaculate Conception
and the Assumption of Mary arise?"

Again, this is simply not true.  It is highly convenient, however, to make such claims, because it places all of
the burden of proof on the Catholic who has to find quotes to support a myriad of doctrines.  It would take
several posts to adequately address the issue of Mary, and this has already been done on this list.  It is worth
repeating, however, what Joseph wrote in his post: "the oldest drawing in the Roman Catacombs is a scene of the
Assumption.  And it is signed "Luke A P""  Pictures drawn in the catacombs also show the Eucharist.
For a nice website on the catacombs, check out
To address the issue more directly, we may refer to  references to Mary treat as "the New Eve" (remem-
bering, of course, that Eve was created without the stain of original sin):

"Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying: 'Behold, O Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word'. Eve, however, was disobedient; and when yet a virgin, she did not obey. Just as she, who was still a virgin although she had Adam for a husband... having become disobedient, was made the cause of death for
herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race... Thus, the knot of Eve's disobedience was
loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith."
[St. Irenaeus; "Against Heresies" 180-199 A. D.]

Also: "...Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free of every stain."
[Ambrose; circa 430 AD]

We find that Mary was referred to as "holy", "innocent", "most pure", "intact", "immaculate" by many early Christian writers [Irenaeus 140?-202?;  Ephraem 306-373; Ambrose 373-397].

There is a whole lot more from the early Church, but this post would be too long if I quoted everything, so I'll list websites.  Some of the writings listed below are not theological essays but recordings of legends.  I am not implying that everything here was meant to be taken literally, but I am attempting to show that belief in the Catholic doctrines
surrounding Mary did not come into existence for the first time hundreds of years after the deaths of the Apostles.

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Virgin Mary and Reply of the Blessed Virgin to This Letter:

Concerning the Passing  Of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Passing of Mary

The Birth of Mary the Holy Mother of God, and Very Glorious Mother of Jesus Christ

The First Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary

Jason's essay goes on to say:
"Catholic apologists often dismiss flaws in their arguments that are so obvious and so destructive to the claims of
the Roman Catholic Church. That doctrines like the Assumption of Mary and papal infallibility can't even be traced within two or three hundred years of the apostles, much less back to the apostles themselves, is just dismissed as if it's unimportant. Watch for Catholic apologists to dismiss gaping holes in their arguments, as if those gaping holes aren't important. They are important, and Catholics should be expected to account for them."

Nothing stated has been dismissed as unimportant by the members of this list who have responded, and every
"gaping hole" mentioned has been refuted.  The question now is, how should one respond when the Catholic
apologist has given proof that Catholic doctrine *can* be traced to the earliest days of the Church?

The essay "What to Expect from Catholic Apologetics and How to Respond" alleges that Catholics are
notorious for:
"2. Misdefining Terms

 Two of the most common examples of terms that are misdefined by Catholic apologists are the words "church" and "grace". Christ and the apostles defined "the church" as either a local assembly (1 Corinthians 16:19, 1 Timothy 3:15, Revelation 2-3)
or the spiritual entity consisting of all believers (Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 5:23-32, Revelation 19:7-9), but never as a worldwide denomination,much less a worldwide denomination centered in Rome."

The word "church" does sometimes refer to the local assembly in the Bible, and we continue to use the word in that manner today.  The word "church" also denotes a spiritual entity consisting of all believers.  This has been Catholic doctrine from the beginning: the Church consists of three "branches", as it were.  They are

1. The Church Triumphant-- so called because it consists of the believers who have perserved in the Faith and gone on to rejoice in the presence of God in heaven. Basically, they are those in heaven, who St. Paul assures us surround us as
a "great a cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12: 1).

2. The Church Suffering-- so called because it consists of the souls of believers who have died but have not yet been purified of all imperfections, and therefore remain in Purgatory until they are able to enter into the presence of God.  They are said to suffer because, first of all, we all know that letting go of our imperfections and impurities
is painful, and second because they long to be fully united with God in heaven. No doubt, our friend will object to this doctrine, because the word "purgatory" is not found in the Bible.  If all words not found in the Bible are to be rejected
immediately, however, we must also reject the words "Trinity", "altar call", "Protestant", "Fundamentalist", "Bible", "Sunday Service", etc...  Scripture passages which refer to this branch of the Church are: 1 Corinthians 3:15;
1 Peter 1:7; Job 1:5; 2 Macc 12: 43-46; Matthew 5:25-26; Revalation 21:27; Heb 12:6,10; Isaiah 6:5-7.

3. The Church Militant-- so called because it is made up of believers who are still living in this world, and therefore still "fighting the good fight".

All three of these "branches" are united in and by Christ, Who is the true Vine.  This is the *full* scriptural meaning of "Church".

Now, what Jason particularly seems to question is the fact that the Church Militant should be visible and have a heirarchy, intstead of being some nebulous, anarchic coalition.  (If the words "nebulous" and "anarchic" seem harsh, please consider what the practical implications of the "reformation" were: 28,000 denominations and growing, all believing differently.)

I do not, however, wish to refute his assertion by appeals to history and reason alone, but want instead, in all things, to appeal first to Scripture, which the Church tells us is "sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they [the books of the Bible] have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the
Church herself" (Dei Verbum, III: 11).

The Church is not *merely* a spiritual entity, but was also intended by Christ to have a visible aspect guided by an authoritative heirarchy:

[Matthew 5: 14] "'You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.'"  Note that the body of
believers is referred to as a city set on a hill-- hardly an appeal to invisibility.

[Matthew 18:15-17] "'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.'"
     Imagine the difficulties involved with bringing an errant brother to an invisible body, or to what has resulted from
the "reformation"-- a series of "local assemblies" with no central authority who therefore all believe differently
about what are often the most fundamental issues.

[1 Timothy 3:15]"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."  How is it possible to have a pillar and bulwark of truth
which teaches different and disparate beliefs as true?

No. The Church to which Jesus and the Apostles referred was not merely spiritual, nor was it merely local without
a central authority.  Consider the actions of Paul who, although personally commissioned by Christ to be an
Apostle, first went to check in with Peter (Galatians 1:18), then after fourteen years went up to Jerusalem to speak
to "James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be  pillars" about preaching the Good News to the Gentiles
(Galatians 2:1-2, 9).  Remember that Scripture speaks of a heirarchy, mentioning the offices of  bishop (episkopos):
Acts 1:20, 20:28, Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:1-2, Titus 1:7, 1 Peter 2:25; elder (presbyteros): Acts 15:2-6, 21:18,
Hebrews 11:2, 1 Peter 5:1, 1 Timothy 5:17; and deacon (diakonos):  Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

It is not possible, however, to speak of the visible, heirarchical nature of the Church without reference to
the office of Peter, who was given the "keys of the kingdom" by Jesus (Matthew 16:18).  Now, as stated
elsewhere, everyone knew what this job title entailed; it was a visible, official role of authority, second only
to the King, in a visible, heirarchically-ordered Kingdom; it was also an office which, once vacated, was filled
by a successor ( Isaiah 22: 19-22).  The fact that Peter exercised this office is also clear from Scripture: he
acted as a spokesman for the Apostles (Mt 18:21; Lk 12:41; Jn 6:68), was the first to enter the empty tomb
(Lk 24:12), was the first Apostle to whom Jesus appeared (Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5), was the first to preach to the
crowds at Pentecost  (Acts 2:14-40), the first to work healings (Acts 3:6-7), the first to raise the dead after
Christ (Acts 9:40), and the one who received  God's revelation that the Gentiles were to be converted and
baptized (Acts 10:46-48). He was also the one who called for a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:22) and the
first to recognize and refute heresy (Acts 8:14-24).

There isn't enough room here to quote the early church fathers on their belief in the visiblity of the Church, but
here is a good website for those who are interested:

Jason posits that the Church was never meant to be "a worldwide denomination, much less a worldwide denomination centered in Rome."

First of all, the Church is not a denomination.  It is the Body founded by Christ; groups which have broken off from it are called denominations.  Second of all, the Bible tells us that this Body is to be spread throughout the whole world:

[Matthew 24:14] "And this gospel of the kingdom will  be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony
to all nations; and then the end will come."

[Matthew 28:19] "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"

[Mark 13:10] "And the gospel must first be preached to all nations."

[Luke 24:47]"and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning
from Jerusalem."

Thirdly, the Scripture speaks vehemently and clearly on the fact that the Church is to be unified, and that schism
and divisions are evil and not of God:

[Matthew 12:25]"Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, 'Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste,
and no city or house divided against itself will stand; "

[John 10: 16] "And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my
voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd."

[John 17: 20-23] "'I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,
that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that
the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them,
that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one,
so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.  '"

Also see Acts 4:32, Romans 13:13, 16:17, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 3:3-4, 10:17, 11:18-19, 12:12-27, 14:33, 2 Corinthians 12:20, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 4:3-6, Philippians 1:27, 2:2-3, 1 Timothy 6:3-5, Titus 3:9-10, James 3:16, and 2 Peter 2:1.

And so we see from Scripture that the Church founded by Jesus on the rock of Peter is visible, heirarchical,
meant to be spread throughout the whole world, and meant to be unified as one Body.  Jason's mention of
Rome is a strawman-- the designation of Rome itself is arbitrary-- we view it as the center of the Church merely
because that is where Peter was bishop, and therefore where his successors (those to hold the keys of the
kingdom after him) sat-- not because there is somethinginherently special about that city in particular.

What Jason needs to do is look at his own denomination, and ask himself the following questions: Is my
denomination unified in doctrine?  Can my denomination change doctrie by a show of hands? Does my denomination contain the office of holding the keys of the kingdom?  Is my denomination the "city set on a hill" referred to by Jesus?  Does my denomination have any guarantee that it will remain unified and will always teach Truth?  When was my denomination founded?  Who founded it?  Does my denomination possess the authoritative heirarchy detailed in Scripture?  Can my denomination trace itself back to the Apostles?