Andrew, I believe there is one church. I believe the Westminster Larger Confession came very close -- very, very close -- to accurately describing this one true church in biblical terms:
Q. 63. What are the special privileges of the visible church?So yes, I believe that Christ calls even Roman Catholics, and gives them union and communion with him in grace and glory. But in doing so, he ignores and defies Rome's methods and decrees.
A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.
Q. 64. What is the invisible church?
A. The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.
Q. 65. What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ?
A. The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.
Q. 66. What is that union which the elect have with Christ?
A. The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband; which is done in their effectual calling.
Dr. William Witt, an Anglican who I've cited regarding Newman and Development, has not left that communion, but rather has decided to stay put where he is. And while I do not see myself becoming Anglican, he expresses some sentiments that I think we can largely agree with. Here is what he says:
So why not leave? I can only give my own reasons.While I'm not totally in agreement with this vision, I like this attitude very much.
So, first. Leave for what? Rome or Orthodoxy would be the obvious choices. At least they are the ones that are usually offered. When as a young man I left the Evangelical denomination in which I was raised, I became an Anglican because I believed that the Reformation was a reforming movement in the Western Catholic Church, and I was convinced that Anglicanism had come closest to getting that job done right. For the Roman Catholics, Vatican II was successful just to the extent that it incorporated many of the changes that had taken place at some time or another in Anglican history. Liturgy in the vernacular? Check. Communion in both kinds? Check. Renewed emphasis on Scripture? Check. In good critical translations? Check. Religious liberty? Check. Focus on salvation by grace alone and reconsideration of justification by faith? Check. Married clergy? Well . . . Vatican II didn’t do everything.
[JB note: These are for the most part merely externals, which provide cosmetic changes but do not change the heart and core of Roman Catholicism. And the focus on "grace alone" is not really a focus on grace, but it is a call back to the works-oriented process described here, which really is just a sacramental treadmill.]
At the same time, one thing has not changed. As I have always understood it, one only has two choices about the Roman Catholic Church. One either must become a Roman Catholic, or one can not. There is no maybe about becoming Catholic. To become a Catholic, one is required to accept all of that Church’s claims, including its claims about itself. If one accepts those claims, then one has no choice but to convert. But if one does not, one also has no choice. In that case, one cannot become Roman Catholic. And the Roman Catholic Church itself says that one cannot.
I am unable to bring myself to believe Rome’s claims....
[JB note: This became true for me, too. The more I came to know about Rome's claims, through what I've called "having been a devout Catholic," the more strongly I heard the voice of the Spirit who made me uneasy with these claims. And one of the reasons I do not worry about those who are converting to Rome now ... if they are genuine believers, they are, or will soon be experiencing a kind of buyer's remorse.]
Well, then? What about Orthodoxy? I want to claim the Greek Fathers for my own, of course—Athanasius, Cyril, the Cappadocians. I am even excited about learning from such lesser known lights as Leontius of Byzantium and Maximus the Confessor. And I recognize that the Eastern Church never accepted the authority of the bishop of Rome in the way in which Rome came to understand it. And I think they were right in that.
However, as with Rome, there are a number of things that Orthodoxy demands that I cannot quite bring myself to accept. Some are doctrinal niceties, for example, the somewhat abstruse distinction between the divine essence and energies. Or the doctrine of the filioque. I think the Western view is correct on both points. But at bottom, as I said above, I became Anglican because I believed Anglicanism was a reforming movement in the Western Church, and I am a Western Christian.
Mine is the tradition of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, but also of Hooker, and Luther, and Barth. A Western Orthodoxy that was able to embrace and incorporate this Western tradition (including the Reformers) as well as its own would be an Orthodoxy that I would find attractive, perhaps irresistible. But, to the contrary, Orthodoxy often seems rather to be suspicious of this entire Western tradition, including Augustine, and all who followed him. And, of course, such a Western Orthodoxy would look a lot like . . . historical Anglicanism.
As for leaving Anglicanism for another Reformation Church . . . what would be the point? All of the mainline Protestant churches are struggling with the same issue as is Anglicanism. The Episcopal Church is just ahead of the parade. The non-sacramental free church Evangelicals alone have stood their ground, and I admire them tremendously. But I left that tradition for a reason.
Finally, there is another reason. And that is that I am not willing to make this decision as an individual. Many years ago, I left one denomination as an individual, and joined another. I do not regret that choice, but since making it, I am committed to those who have become my companions. I have discovered true companions along the Christian journey in the Episcopal Church, and I do not intend to desert them. You dance with the one that brought you.
...the last thing confessing Christians in all the churches need is once again to draw lines in the sand against one another, to refuse to recognize Christ’s face in those who affirm the same Scriptures and confess the same Creeds. I can only regard the voices of those who ask me to leave Anglicanism for either Rome or Orthodoxy or some other Reformation Church as asking me to deny that the face of Christ can be seen in this Church.
Viisaus said: I believe what we need is a combination of truly Protestant and truly Catholic feeling, in the proper sense of both of these words.
We need to be ever ready to energetically PROTEST against the evils of this world, avoiding adulterous friendship with the world (James 4:4) and its easygoing ecumenical ways. Courage to protest even against highly influential notions like the Darwinian evolution, and also protesting against the moral and doctrinal corruption of our church leadership - against both to those who add to and take away from Biblical articles of faith.
We also need a truly CATHOLIC, universal sense of solidarity with all true Bible-faithful Christians around the world - to whichever church or congregation of faithful they might belong to, excepting only those who stubbornly cling to and defend obviously rotten outfits (like the RCC). This will prevent us from becoming a small vindictive Pharisee-separatist sect.