why I remain a Protestant (but above all, a Christian)

The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have in my view much to offer, and carry on the practice of the faith as it has beep practiced for centuries. Of course there have been splinter groups along the way, but by and large until the Reformation, to be a Christian was to be a part of one of these of the Great Tradition, or another similar to them.

The Protestant Reformation was the attempt to reform the church, namely the Roman Catholic Church. I’m not sure historically if Luther and others really thought the Church would be influenced by their sense of what needed to be done and their work, but I don’t think at least initially that Luther had any intention whatsoever of starting a new church. Those of the Radical Reformation did in that they didn’t want to reform the Roman church, but start all over again, or perhaps more accurately be formed as church according to the teaching of the New Testament, with traditions considered in light of that.

What is discouraging to me in our Protestant and evangelical circles is all the divisions and how there seems to be little consensus in regard to the many things which I think unnecessarily divide us such as mode of baptism, even whether baptism is administered to infants or only believers, whether or not a church holds to what is called “eternal security” or “perseverance of the saints,” etc., etc. On matters like that I’d like to say let freedom ring, while at the same time kind of wishing for the day again where we would submit to the tradition of the church, or what the church in the main has believed and practiced over the centuries beginning at least as early as the second century, not far from the time of the apostles.

What ends up being the crux of the matter in the entire consideration is authority: whether scripture gives the church authority to make the calls especially concerning the gospel (which is the point of it all and while including it, is much bigger than simply how one is saved) or whether the weight is placed on scripture, the church itself including everyone as part of the church making its appeal on the basis of that.

I find the Anglican Communion of churches, which I’ve appreciated for some time through my use (albeit limited) of the Book of Common Prayer to be a church which draws deeply from the Great Tradition within the Protestant framework or position. From what the New Testament tells us, what the church says matters, in fact the church has both authority and with that responsibility. But the authority that the church has is derived from the authority of scripture so that it is scripture to which we must appeal to in the end. That means we don’t simply dismiss what the church has said but that we continue and ideally so as church to weigh all of that in the light of scripture itself, God’s written word.

Above all I remain with all others who name the name of our Lord, hopefully a true follower of Jesus. But to put the right emphasis on church, I might say I want to remain above all, simply a Christian. So that it is secondary which communion I am a part of, that we are all of the one church: the one body and one Spirit, just as we were called to one hope when we were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4). We are together and one in and through our Lord and the good news/gospel in him. As we continue on in the faith once entrusted to us, God’s holy people (Jude).

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5 comments on “why I remain a Protestant (but above all, a Christian)

  1. theoldone300 says:

    I think if you go to the early church they have a different view than you do,. Some examples:

    Ignatius of Antioch
    Follow your bishop, every one of you, as obediently as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Obey your clergy too as you would the apostles; give your deacons the same reverence that you would to a command of God. Make sure that no step affecting the Church is ever taken by anyone without the bishop’s sanction. The sole Eucharist you should consider valid is one that is celebrated by the bishop himself, or by some person authorized by him. Where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be; just as, wherever Jesus Christ is present, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).

    In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him (Letter to the Trallians 3:1-2 [A. D. 110]).

    The Martyrdom of Polycarp
    When finally he concluded his prayer, after remembering all who had at any time come his way – small folk and great folk, distinguished and undistinguished, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world – the time for departure came. So they placed him on an ass, and brought him into the city on a great Sabbath (The Martyrdom of Polycarp 8 [A.D. 110]).

    Irenaeus
    The Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said (Against Heresies 1:10 [A.D. 189]).

    Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account we are bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the things pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there should arise a dispute relative to some important question among us. Should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary [in that case] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the churches? (ibid. 3:4).

  2. theoldone300 says:

    I think you actually do agree in part with these quotes—I just copied them and the word Catholic was capitalized in them which was not necessary.

  3. theoldone300 says:

    I also thought this was an interesting comment:

    Saint Vincent De Lerins (writing in the 5th century):

    “”Here, it may be, someone will ask: ‘Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and is in itself abundantly sufficient, what need is there to join to it the interpretation of the Church?’
    The answer is that because of the profundity itself of Scripture, all men do not place the same interpretation upon it. The statements of the same writer are explained by different men in different ways, so much so that it seems almost possible to extract from it as many opinions as there are men.
    Novatian expounds in one way, Sabellius in another, Donatus in another, Arius, Eunomius and Macedonius in another, Photinus, Apollinaris and Priscillian in another, Jovinian, Pelagius and Caelestius in another, and latterly Nestorius in another.
    Therefore, because of the intricacies of error, which is so multiform, there is great need for the laying down of a rule for the exposition of Prophets and Apostles in accordance with the standard of the interpretation of the Catholic Church. “

  4. Thanks, theoldone 300. I believe the church’s authority is from God in Jesus and by the Spirit grounded in scripture. I think the view we need to come to is more grounded in the church, but always appealing to scripture as God’s word written, the truth which brings us to God’s final Word, Jesus. I find it unacceptable to have traditions not taught in scripture given equal autority to scripture, such as Mary’s assumption bodily to heaven.

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