Your choice of words ("except") admits that the Church of Rome has historically existed since the First Century and admits it was apostolic.
What? It does exactly the opposite! Having an unscriptural organizational org with a unity of belief that is largely on paper, and in reality is an unholy amalgam of disparate beliefs, including unscriptural ones, hardly constitutes saying the Church of Rome has historically existed since the First Century and admits it was apostolic! Must RCs read their own beliefs even into Prot responses!
Do you believe its candlestick was removed ? If so, which year or century do you believe that occurred and when do you believe Christianity was restored and re established ?
Christianity was never re established as it always existed because true believers did, even as believers in the household of Herod could, but not without much difficulty in the visible church in which such expressed essentiual saving faith, along with tares. In addition, the candlestick of Rv. 2+3 never refers to a universal church, but to individual churches ceasing to be valid churches in God's eyes, though like apostate believers, a form of such can remain.
To be a valid church, one at least needs to preach the gospel which convicts souls of sin, righteousnesses and judgment, bring then to realize their damned and destitute condition as souls desperately in need of salvation, being unable to save themselves, and thus cast all their faith in the mercy of God in Christ, in the risen Lord Jesus, the Divine Son of God, to save them on His account, by His sinless shed blood.
For it is by believing this gospel that one is baptized by the Spirit into the one body of Christ. (1Cor. 12:13) This requires moral cognizance, as the requirement of baptism itself attests, (Acts 2:38; 8:36,37) and is contrary to teaching that baptism itself effects regeneration, and that one is formally justified one by his own actual holiness, which he must usually attain to again thru postmortem torments (and atone for sin).
One can however, be in error on some things and yet be saved. Before Trent Catholic beliefs were far less uniform, and souls less indoctrinated, and thus it was far more likely that true believers existed within the visible churches, and that some preachers effectually conveyed the gospel of grace.
As Pelikan found ,
"Recent research on the Reformation entitles us to sharpen it and say that the Reformation began because the reformers were too catholic in the midst of a church that had forgotten its catholicity.. ."
The reformers were catholic because they were spokesmen for an evangelical tradition in medieval catholicism, what Luther called "the succession of the faithful." ...
...To prepare books like the Magdeburg Centuries they combed the libraries and came up with a remarkable catalogue of protesting catholics and evangelical catholics, all to lend support to the insistence that the Protestant position was, in the best sense, a catholic position.
Additional support for this insistence comes from the attitude of the reformers toward the creeds and dogmas of the ancient catholic church. The reformers retained and cherished the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of the two natures in Christ which had developed in the first five centuries of the church .
If we keep in mind how variegated medieval catholicism was, the legitimacy of the reformers' claim to catholicity becomes clear. Jaroslav Pelikan [Lutheran, later Orthodox] , The Riddle of Roman Catholicism (New York: Abingdon Press, 1959, p. 46),the Reformers looks to history is that Jaroslav Pelikan, The Riddle of Roman Catholicism (New York: Abingdon Press, 1959, pp. 46,47)
Yet in centuries leading up to the Reformation then the corruptions of Rome increased, as did her recalcitrance in response to reproof, and thus the Reformation was a judgment upon it, and for the salvation of souls. If you insist there must be a one manifest visible universal church as the candlestick, rather than like scattered Israel, then you must tell me where that was manifest when,
"Some years before the rise of the Lutheran and Calvinistic heresy [according to the heretic Rome], according to the testimony of those who were then alive, there was almost an entire abandonment of equity in ecclesiastical judgments; in morals, no discipline; in sacred literature, no erudition; in divine things, no reverence; religion was almost extinct. (Concio XXVIII. Opp. Vi. 296- Colon 1617, in A History of the Articles of Religion, by Charles Hardwick, Cp. 1, p. 10,)
Ratzinger: "For nearly half a century, the Church was split into two or three obediences that excommunicated one another, so that every Catholic lived under excommunication by one pope or another, and, in the last analysis, no one could say with certainty which of the contenders had right on his side. The Church no longer offered certainty of salvation; she had become questionable in her whole objective form--the true Church, the true pledge of salvation, had to be sought outside the institution.
"It is against this background of a profoundly shaken ecclesial consciousness that we are to understand that Luther, in the conflict between his search for salvation and the tradition of the Church, ultimately came to experience the Church, not as the guarantor, but as the adversary of salvation. (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for the Church of Rome, Principles of Catholic Theology, (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1989) p.196); http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2012/06/13/whos-in-charge-here-the-illusion s-of-church-infallibility/).
Catholic historian Paul Johnson additionally described the existing social situation among the clergy at the time of the Reformation:
Probably as many as half the men in orders had wives and families. Behind all the New Learning and the theological debates, clerical celibacy was, in its own way, the biggest single issue at the Reformation. It was a great social problem and, other factors being equal, it tended to tip the balance in favour of reform. As a rule, the only hope for a child of a priest was to go into the Church himself, thus unwillingly or with no great enthusiasm, taking vows which he might subsequently regret: the evil tended to perpetuate itself. (History of Christianity, pgs 269-270)
One of your comments indicated this has not yet occurred and that church is still reforming and emerging.
That was in regard to the church becoming what Paul set forth as a goal in the 1st century.
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:13)
Thus the only way that the church is perfect now is the same way a believer is, that being by imputed righteousness.
Too tired for more tonight.