"Protestantism is based on the allegation that the Catholic Church became corrupt shortly after 312 AD. Thats when the emperor Constantine converted and made Christianity the state religion. It is alleged that pagan converts came into the Church bringing with them many of their pagan beliefs and practices. According to Protestant historians the pagan practices that were brought into the Church became the distinctive doctrines of Catholicism. Thus the Catholic Church was born and true Christianity was lost until the Reformation. But history tells us a different story."
I don't know that this paragraph is accurate. I think it might be more genuine to say that Protestants believe(d) that the Catholic Church was corrupted over time, leading to the Reformation. The 1200 years between Constantine and Luther is a period of many movements, changes, tendancies and events in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church at the time of Luther was not something that today's Catholics would be happy with either. There were real, actual, serious problems, and they didn't appear overnight with Constantine. The Reformation didn't just happen because some people went loco 500 years ago. The Counter-Reformation was apparently a non-event to this author.
As is all to common, this author sets up a Protestant straw-man, and proceeds to pound it. Not to say that Protestants don't do the same thing when making the contra-argument.
Agreed! Even today, the Catholic Church has traveresed some rocky roads yet, throughout it all, the doctrines of the Catholic Church have remained faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Her leaders may not be perfect (no one is without sin except Christ) but her doctrines are.
Protestantism is such a big umbrella...lots of shades of diversity involved, and lots of subgroups, and lots of different degrees of assumption about the history of the church.
I was raised in a church that alternately believed the church went bad with the death of the apostles, and that the church went bad with the Council of Nicea. And somehow believed this simultaneously.
And then there's the groups that believe the "true" church went underground, secretly meeting and baptising and teaching the truth and all those groups that were declared (usually) gnostic heresies are just members of the true church getting into trouble...or they think the Waldensens weren't a group that was formed in the middle ages, but the secret church that goes back to the apostolic age.
It would make an interesting study to see the development, shape and spreading of all the various viewpoints like this...tells a lot about people's points of views about the world as much as which teachers they've come in contact with.