During the Dark Ages faithful Christians were persecuted by the Roman Catholic State-Church, frequently by the infamous inquisition, for refusing to recite the Apostles Creed. It needs to be stated that I, also, would not wish to recite this document, as it stands and unamended, because;-
Our spiritual forefathers avoided this expression through the centuries and we, who follow in same path, avoid it today. It is significant that, from about the fifth century onwards, some Baptists and Brethren, by whatever epithet they were known, were prepared to recite the Creed except for that unacceptable phrase, 'I believe in The Holy Catholic Church'. However, because the phrase could not be disassociated from the creed many, or even most, of these brethren avoided using the creed.
One thing we can be fairly sure of, the phrase "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church" was not in the early editions of the Apostles Creed. What we can't be absolutely certain about is when it was inserted, or by whom; but we certainly do know why, that is for sure.
Emperor Theodosius had instructed;- "--- all peoples over whom our rule extends shall live in that religion which was revealed to St. Peter ---. We give orders that all these are to adopt the name 'Catholic Christians'; the rest we shall let pass as fools and they will have to bear the reproach of being called heretics. They must first come under the wrath of God and then also under ours." (Codex Theososianus XVI, 1;2) From then on all true believers, known by various names to their Roman Catholic tormentors, would be proclaimed 'heretics' and persecuted. These 'heretics' refused to use the term 'Catholic Christian' or 'Catholic Church', which the Roman Church-State, their oppressor, imposed and claimed was the only means of salvation. Rome still maintains that pretence.
Because Theodosius played an important role in promoting the 'State-Church' some commentators, when describing State-Christianity, prefer the term Theodosianism to Constantinianism, after Constantine who personalised the idea. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, was also involved in this dispute, because he stated;- "The issue between us and the Donatists is about the question where this body is to be located, i.e. what and where is the Church." Augustine then set about having the 'Donatists' persecuted by the Military Arm of the State. Which is why the 'State-Church' idea is also known as Augustianism. This is why Bishop Augustine is viewed with suspicion, by some non-conformists, as distinct from 'state-church protestants', who support the state-church principle.
According to Diarmaid MacCulloch, 'The Tudor Church Militant', Cranmer's dearest wish was to gather a general assembly of reformers to "draw up a unifying doctrinal statement for the reformed universal church." It was this universal-state-churchism that enabled the Church of England to persecute, sometimes to death, both papists and nonconformists.
The term 'Catholic' was taken up by Protestants who wanted to retain the National State-Church, but in a changed, re-formed, format. This is a 'Sacral', Constantinian, Theodosian, or Augustinian, Church. However, let us face the real truth, no matter by how much, or how often, it is disguised the name 'Catholic Christian', or 'Catholic Church', has the mark of the beast on its very forehead.
In Sept., AD2000, a Roman Catholic Cardinal decreed that Protestant Churches, including the CofE, must not be referred to as 'Sister Churches'. That is the basic, inherited, instinct of the 'Holy Catholic Church' which also regards us, i.e. those known as Baptists or Brethren, as 'heretics'; but they have always done this from Augustine, Constantine and Theodosius right up the present era.
The phrase 'Holy Catholic Church' cannot be reconciled with Biblical teaching and, consequently, I would much rather avoid it than have to explain it away. As did my medieval, spiritual, forebears.
The word Church would be better to be translated Congregation, as in the Geneva Bible of 1557, Assembly, or Gathering. In the Bible this term, Congregation, is used for a gathered company of Elect, Ransomed, Believers. (See Dr. John Gill, Body of Divinity, Bk.2, Ch.1) It is normally used for a local company but it can be used generically, also for the Assembly in Prospect, as the Eternal Bride of Christ. The word can't be used for a religious organisation and certainly not for a material building.
The word 'Church' is an Englished version of the Saxon/Germanic Kirk, Kirkja, Kirsche, etc. which is a transliteration of Kuriakos. The word 'Church', in English, was introduced for political reasons and has become a technical term, which actually obscures the real meaning of Ecclesia, Assembly, Congregation, or Gathering. as properly rendered in the 1557 Geneva Translation of Holy Scripture.
Therefore the term I is not correctly descriptive of anything except the, false, Roman Catholic Religious Institution, and it's offspring. This is why true believers refused to recite this creed during the Dark Ages and the Medieval Period and why I would avoid the term today.
Professor Adolph Harnack states, "In the twelve centuries that went before the Reformation it has never lacked for attempts to get away from the State-Church Priest's Church and to re-institute the apostolic congregational structurization." That is, congregations of true believers stood apart from 'The Holy Catholic Church', in which they didn't believe.
Please note. It is not my intention to claim, as some of my 'reformed' brethren, that there are no believers within the Church of Rome, only that the system was begun, and has continued, in error. "Thou hast a few names, even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments." So, who am I to claim that a denomination, any denomination, of Christendom does not have any true believers; those who are elect, ransomed redeemed, blood bought saints, arrayed in garments of purest white?