Is There No Protestantism Today?
Introduction: Many divide the religious world into three divisions: Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic. Some have wondered why the division is not: Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, and Christian. (The designation "Protestant" does not imply Christian.)
I. Origin of "Protestant."
1. The origin of the term "Protestant" is interesting. The rule of the Catholic Church was being questioned in the 1500's. Two important dates stand out, 1526 and 1529. The diet at Spires in 1526 gained some religious freedoms for "churches" to obtain a measure of autonomy or self-government. However, in 1529 when the diet again met at Spires, the Roman Catholic party was in the majority. The emperor declared: "By my imperial and absolute authority I abolish the clause in the ordinance of 1526 on which the Lutherans relied when they founded their territorial churches ." Those who declared that they would not abide by the decision of 1529 but that they would continue to recognize the ruling of the diet of 1526, were called "Protestants." (The Church, Falling Away, and Restoration, by J. W. Shepherd, pg. 116, 117.)
II. There is not much protesting today.
1. The message of the bulk of the denominational world today is positivity (stress Isa. 30: 10). Since their concept of positivity does not include but little negativity, they do not protest the doctrinal perversions of Catholicism.
A. Many today have no knowledge of the spiritual and moral atrocities inflicted on many people by Catholicism in their efforts though the centuries to physically force people to become Catholics. Moral scandal continues to characterize the Catholic Priesthood, yet, many do not protest.
B. It appears that a large percentage of professing Christians have become unfamiliar with such teachings as Ephesians 5: 10, 11. Paul requires a knowledge of the truth or that which is "acceptable unto the Lord." The avoidance of fellowshipping all that is contrary to truth or that comprises "works of darkness" is also enjoined. In addition, "but rather reprove them." Herein lies the action of "protesting," if you will.
C. Not a few today are viewing Catholics and "Protestants" as all the same. "They all make up one big church," some are heard saying. Too often, I am afraid this true when it comes to practice.
III. Some specific areas of protestation.
A. There are many need areas of protesting doctrinal perversion (all the following tenets of Catholicism are well established).
1. The doctrine of original sin. Catholics "baptize" babies because it is believed that they have inherited the sin and curse of Adam (see Matt. 18: 2- 4, 19: 14).
2. The Papacy. The idea of one man in charge or ruling over the church is repulsive to the Christian. The church belongs to Jesus and he is the head over the church (Matt. 16: 18, Eph. 1: 22, 23). Elders are appointed to superintend local churches (Acts 14: 26, Heb. 13: 17, I Tim. 3: 1-7, Tit. 1: 5-11). The Papacy seems to be in Paul's mind in terms of the falling away from the true church, Jesus' church (Acts 20: 17, 28-31, 2 Thes. 2: 3-9, cp. I Tim. 4: 1-3).
3. The Catholic Priesthood. According to the New Testament, every Christian is a priest and officiates in his own service to God (I Pet. 2: 9). The notion of a select group of men serving as priests today is unacceptable and must be protested.
4. The doctrine of transubstantiation. Transubstantiation is the Catholic teaching that the fruit of the vine and the unleavened bread used in the Lord's Supper literally become the blood and body of Jesus (see Matt. 26: 26-29, compare Acts 15: 29 and the same type of figurative language in Gal. 4: 24, 25).
5. Salvation by meritorious deeds. The scriptures are plain in denying that man's salvation is acquired by human merit (Eph. 2: 8, 9, Tit. 3: 5; this is not to say, however, than man's obedience to God's requirements of receiving his grace is not necessary and essential to man's salvation, cp. 2 Cor. 6: 1).
IV. The very nature of the gospel requires protestation.
1. Much of the gospel is what man would term negative and demands protestation (Jude 3, Phili. 1: 7, 17, Gal. 2: 14). Alas, protesting is seldom found today, except to protest against those who scripturally protest! In fact, there is but little protesting against abortion, pre-marital sex, drugs, adultery, lying, and homosexuality in general.
2. In too many cases, even the Lord's church has yielded to the cry, "accent the positive and eliminate the negative." Speaking against is not viewed as politically correct (Jere. 4: 22, 5: 31, Isa. 30: 10).
Conclusion: The term "Protestant" has come to mostly mean "non-Catholic" today. In general, the right kind of protestation is good and necessary. Christians, for sure, will protest all that is wrong and will uphold all that is good!