The Scriptures do teach that many people will fall away, but they never indicate that there would be a Great or near-Great Apostasy. Many of your preferred proof-texts in fact teach that “many (not all, not most) will fall away”, which is exactly what the Catholic Church of Christ has consistently taught. Before my concluding remarks, I will quickly address the secondary passages your group uses to support its interpretation of the primary passages I have already reviewed.
As you read through the remaining passages the Protestant Church of Christ uses to support its theory, I ask you to consider the relationships of the mass of Scriptures I have already presented with these—to consider if these secondary passages reasonably indicate an Apostasy as your group insists, to decide if the Catholic Church is truly less credible than yours, and if the Scriptures in any way whatsoever indicate that your “Bible-only” group is the institution Jesus intended to carry the lantern of God.
Matthew 24:5 reads (and is accompanied by Mark 13:6 and Luke 21:8): For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. First, reasonable Catholics do not declare, “I am the Christ.” Second, Jesus was speaking of the end of the Jewish world (the destruction of the Temple). The passage, however, is representative of Christian history. People have indeed led people of God astray over the centuries, but it is not reasonable to argue that the Church which was responsible for including St. Matthew’s account in the Bible is the same Church that simultaneously led people into the Apostasy. Think about the illogic of your own model, which teaches that the Bible establishes the Church (not that the Church established the Bible);8 so if the Catholic Church is guilty of leading the people of God into Apostasy, then why did she create the tool that, supposedly, in your own minds, creates the Church?
Acts 20:29-30 reads:
I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
And Jesus was right, of course. Wolves did come into her with destructive doctrines, and they did go out from her and develop those doctrines into the heresies that she wrestled with for centuries—some of which lasted longer than Protestantism has even existed. The Catholic (not Protestant) Church of Christ battled every ancient heresy, and her stewardship has not ceased. Ministers of error indeed draw away disciples, and is it not more reasonable to understand that such ministers are better represented by your body—a body born from Protestantism, which was born from men who went out from the real Church of Christ, and is founded on a euphemism for impostor-ism: patternism?
2 Peter 2:1 reads:
But false prophets also rose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you . . . .
Again, chronological reasoning suggests that Johnny-come-lately sects are more likely to be false teachers (orthodoxy precedes heresy). Any “Bible-only” group can, in its own mind, claim it is the “true Church”, and fortunately the true Church of Christ never taught by word nor by letter that the “Bible only” is the sole-authority for Christian living, but rather, that the Church (not the Bible) is the pillar and foundation of truth. Does your group maintain orthodoxy by clinging to the pillar and foundation of truth and how she interprets her own Scriptures?
Jude 17-18 reads:
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”
Again, your group has no reason to teach that the Catholic Church follows ungodly passions. What it can do, however, is teach that the Catholic Church follows passions that are alien to the Protestant Church of Christ’s private interpretation of the Bible. Can you not consider how private interpretation of the Bible might be an ungodly passion?
St. Jude’s letter is short; its theme is one that is foreign to the Protestant Church of Christ: authority. St. Jude urges readers to deepen their grasp of the apostolic Faith. He did not exhort them to “read the Bible” (the Bible never teaches “Bible-only” Christianity), but to mind the Church’s authority. But, what authority? Your group cannot answer that question because the “Bible only” (as your group claims) is your group’s only authority. Verse eight describes false teachers as men who reject authority, which of course, indicates a magisterial human authority. To what magisterial authority do your teachers submit other than themselves? Do your teachers submit to the authority of your elders? Which elders? Are your elders not elected by people who, again, have no magisterial authority? It is impossible for your group to reject authority within its self-made paradigm, but in reality, your paradigm itself proves that your group is not formed by any New Testament “pattern”; it cannot be the true Church of Christ.
8 For more, see the popular and fairly indicative Church of Christ apologetics website from La Vista Church of Christ; http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVarticles/DoesTheChurchProduceTheBible.html as of January 12, 2014.