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IS PROTESTANTISM A PROTEST?
The tendency toward a union between Roman Catholics and Protestants becomes daily more apparent. It is not long since Bishop Potter, of the Episcopal Church, instituted a „Holy Order,” after the manner and covenant of the Romish priesthood. It is not long since the Council of the same denomination held in Detroit, heard approvingly an essay advocating the „Auricular Confession,” by one of their members, and now comes the Rev. Dr. Kellog, a professor in the Presbyterian Seminary of Allegheny, as an advocate of a sort of PURGATORY.
All this must be very comforting to their Mother, the Church of Rome. That she appreciates it, is evidenced by the following remark clipped from the Catholic:
„We entertain no other feeling but that of pity for the man who rehashes the worn-out calumnies of Protestant bigotry and hate, at a time that Protestants and Catholics are being brought closer together, and to a clearer understanding of the religious issues that keep them separated.”
For some years, we have endeavored to point out that Protestant sects are the daughters of Rome referred to in Rev. 17:5. That Papacy is not only called a harlot (system), but also the MOTHER of harlots and abominations. Little did we expect that so soon we would hear Protestant ministers boast of this relationship, as in the quotation below from the Rev. Mr. Donehoo [Presbyterian] of this city:
„Wince as you will, you must admit that this (the Catholic Church) is the Mother Church. She possesses an unbroken history extending back to the times of the Apostles. For every fragment of religious truth which we prize we are indebted to her as the depository. If she has no claims to being the true Church, then are we bastards and not sons.”
Very true: the „fragment of truth” and the great mass of error, nearly all came to the daughters through their mother. From her they got the fashion of sprinkling babies and calling it the fulfillment of what the Bible calls baptizing believers. From the mother they got their idea of an eternal hell of woe.
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She taught them how to twist the words sheol and hades from their plain and obvious meaning to the support of that blasphemous doctrine—eternal torment. From her they learned to confess what it is impossible for them to understand, much less believe—the doctrine of Trinity—three persons in one and one person in three. From her, they received the heathen doctrine of human immortality, which not only contradicts the Bible doctrine of death (extinction) as the punishment of sin, and nullifies the offer of immortality to the saints who seek for it (Rom. 2:7), but becomes the basis of their theory of everlasting torture, claiming that because of (immortal) nature man cannot perish, they endeavor thus to make eternal torment seem reasonable. Yes, from their mother they got all that is bad, not excepting the putting of the standards and decrees of their sects instead of the Bible.
One thing only remains as a real ground of protest between the daughters and their mother, and that is the foundation principle of the Gospel of Christ. It was this foundation principle that Luther preached and which was the beginning of the much needed Reformation movement, viz., Justification by faith, and not by works. Beyond this first principle the Reformation made little progress.
A realization that Christ Jesus paid the ransom once for all, and that our interest in it must be laid hold of by faith in his finished redemption, is the great first principle which the Church of Rome does not recognize: she is noted in Scripture as the one which took away the „continual sacrifice.” She substituted the „sacrifice of the Mass” for the everlasting or continual sacrifice of Calvary.* Thus she made void the ransom. Her daughters have held fast to the doctrine of justification by faith through acceptance of Jesus’ ransom until now, though the philosophy of it was never very clearly seen by them. Now, this one ground of PROTEST and difference between mother and daughter is being looked upon doubtfully by many, and will shortly be abandoned by the mass of Protestants, as it is already abandoned by some of their more bold and outspoken leaders. Through various subtle sophistries of the Adversary this truth is being gradually undermined, the way being already well prepared by long established and deep-rooted errors, which obscure the force and beauty of the ransom as presented in Scripture. When this is gone, Protestantism is gone, for there will then no longer be any ground for protest against the „Mother” Church. If Jesus be not the ransom price, why pray in his name more than in the name of „Mary” or the „saints”? The result, too, would soon be to substitute works for faith in Christ’s atoning work.
*The sacrifice of the „Mass” is not generally understood. It is really a repetition of the sacrifice of Christ, or purports to be such. See „Tabernacle” pamphlet, page 78.
Rev. Mr. Donehoo continues:
„It (the Catholic Church) holds up Christ as the Saviour of mankind. It is engaged in Christ’s work—feeding the hungry, sheltering the orphan, reclaiming the fallen, providing hospitals for the sick and suffering, asylums for the poor and aged, and reaching a class whom the most zealous Protestant can never influence. Talk about missionaries to labor amongst Romanists! I would as soon think of sending missionaries amongst Methodists and Episcopalians and United Presbyterians and Lutherans for the purpose of converting them into Presbyterians.”
Good works, benevolence, kindness, charity are in perfect accord with the principles of Christianity. We should do good unto all as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith. But we protest against such things being considered either the ground for acceptance with God, or the proof of possessing the Spirit of Christ.
These are moral and benevolent deeds only, and should be recognized and praised as such, and not be counted for more. Many infidels and atheists are kind and benevolent as well. While we praise their good deeds, we must not confound them with Christianity. The necessary foundation for an altar upon which any works must be laid, to be acceptable to God, is, Jesus the ransom.
The Apostles do not enumerate hospitals and asylums among the „fruits of the Spirit.” Neither Jesus nor Paul nor Peter gave their time or attention to founding such institution, nor did they teach others so to do. There is a still more important work to do in preaching the glad tidings—in clothing the naked with the robe of Christ’s righteousness, in healing the sick and lame and blinded with the whole truth, and in feeding the hungry with the „true bread.”
Let us attend to this work; there are many who, for various reasons, will attend to the other—in fact the world recognizes the necessity for such institutions as asylums, hospitals, etc., and they are liberally provided for by the State.
Indeed, it can scarcely be questioned that the underlying motive which in many cases prompts and maintains these „charities” is sectarian pride and selfishness. All recognize the influence of such institutions upon the worldly. All can see the opportunities thus afforded for the spread of sectarian influence, and some can see that, instead of being a tax upon resources, such institutions are frequently sources of revenue when State appropriations and private bequests, etc., are taken into account.
The important work of the present is the perfecting of the BODY of Christ. The members of that body, wherever they may be, should be sought out, helped, strengthened, prepared for union with their Head—a preparation which requires the light now shining for its accomplishment. To this let us give all our energy and talent; for this let us sacrifice as Jesus and the Apostles did, realizing that what we have not the time and opportunity of doing for the world now, shall more than be compensated for in the blessed work of the Millennial Age, now dawning.
— April, 1885 —