I can't help but think of all the intelligent men, more experienced in Church history than any of us here, who lived and died as Protestants - men like Bruce Metzger, Henry Chadwick, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Francis Schaeffer, etc.. If it was good enough for them, why not me?
Do you know what everyone on the board knows? If not then how can you assume that the ones you named know more about Church history than everyone here? You do know that their are college professors as well as others here who either don't post as much or not at all, but they are here. I chatted with a couple through e-mail. Also, as a former protestant, I already know of alot of various protestant church history scholars from different protestant churches. Everything from the churches of christ, to Baptist, Anabaptist, to Methodist, to Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican, Congregationalist to even Assembly of God. And so I already know about a number of them. I knew about a good chunk of them even way back in my protestant years.
And so there is nothing wrong in reading good secondary and Tertiary protestant sources when it comes to church history, but nothing beats reading the primary sources for yourselves. I personally do both! It's a hobby of mine since 1997/1998.
There's a large non-denominational church right down the road from me.
There is no such thing as non-denominational. Why not read history books about the various kinds of Protestantism?
I've noticed what you said about "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church". Do you know what the bishops of 381 A.D. believed about that? They believed it meant all those who were in communion with them at the time. That is what it originally meant. The nonsense of a lower "c" catholic is nothing more than a modern protestant concept that they read back into the text.
What I've noticed over the years is that it's best to read multiple protestant sources when it comes to church history for you won't get the full scope nor the full depth of everything if you just rely on one. But what I would like you to do is read the pre-nicene fathers, nicen fathers, and post nicene fathers for yourself, along with the protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox church historians.
Then compare them when it comes to the issues of:
1.) The Trinity, especially in regards to the role of the Father. Pay attention to the details and see who is more faithful to the original interpretation
2.) Christology, pay attention to the details, and see which group is more faithful to the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Ecumenical councils and the theology behind those councils.
3.) The Church (Apostolic Succession included.....for you will see that when you read some of the fathers and witnesses), pay close attention to the details and see which group/groups is more faithful to the interpretations of the first 1,000 years.
4.) The Eucharist and Water Baptism, pay close attention to the details and see which groups are the closest to the interpretations of the first 1,000 years.
5.) Free Will, pay very close attention to the details and see which group is more faithful when it comes to this issue.
Do this and then you will understand why most protestant groups will be automatically crossed out when it comes to the issue of what is
the Historic Christian Faith. What it always was and what it always will continue to be!