There is an article in the ‘Belfast Telegraph’ of June 11th, entitled:
“I am uncomfortable with the terms Catholic and Protestant… I see myself as a Christian: What I Believe with UTV’s Paul Clark”
The television news presenter thus declares that he rejects the terms ‘Protestant’ and also ‘Catholic’.
I would agree with his rejection of ‘Catholic’ for it carries no meaning in theological terms. Now ‘Roman Catholic’ does carry significance. It describes those who adhere to that form of religion which has the Pope of Rome as its head.
It is commonly referred to by most, even those who claim to be true Christians, as ‘Catholic’! That is to miscall it.
The word ‘Catholic’ simply means ‘Universal’. Romanists like to use the term and have all to use it of their religion for they would claim to belong to the ‘one, true and universal church.’
For that reason no one who loves the truth of God should ever refer to Romanism as the ‘Catholic Church’!
The term ‘Protestant’ on the other hand has a biblical basis. The name emerged in the 16th century and was applied by Romanists to Martin Luther and his followers. The name arose from the declaration, the protestatio of Martin Luther and his supporters, dissenting from the decision of the Diet of Spires (1529), which reaffirmed the edict of the Diet of Worms against the Reformation. All Protestants reject the authority of the papacy, both religious and political, and find authority in the text of the Bible, made available to all in vernacular translation.
While the term thus appeared in church history some 500 years ago, it is descriptive of the attitude and actions of the people of God since the fall of man into sin.
For Paul Clarke to reject the term ‘Protestant’ is very wrong. His rejection of this honoured title springs from either his ignorance of the Bible and spiritual matters or is an evidence that his profession of faith in Christ is empty.
Every TRUE Christian will be a PROTESTANT!
I. THE BIBLE INDICATES THAT THE LORD IS A PROTESTANT!
“Then the LORD said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them. For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day [that] I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, [even] unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice.” Jeremiah 11:6-7.
The Lord is recorded throughout the Holy Scriptures as ‘protesting’ against man’s sin and rebellion against Him. The word translated ‘protested’ and ‘protesting’ is elsewhere translated some 45 times under such terms as ‘testify, witness, admonish, etc.’ (Deuteronomy 30:19, 1 Kings 21:10, 2 Kings 17:13, Psalm 42:19).
II. SINCE A TRUE CHRISTIAN IS BORN AGAIN OF GOD’S SPIRIT AND BEARS HIS LIKENESS, THERE WILL BE FOUND IN SUCH A SPIRIT OF ‘PROTEST’.
The true Christian must not, cannot live silently in the presence of sin! As with God, as is seen in the words of Jeremiah 11:6-7, there will be an earnest crying out against the wickedness of society and that daily, ‘rising early’ to so protest.
This what it is to be a true ‘Protestant’!
It is said of God: “For thou [art] not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity,” Psalm 5:4.
“The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth,” Psalm 11:5.
“[Thou art] of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity,” Habakkuk 1:13.
These are but samples of the very clear declaration of the Lord’s disposition against sin and His instinctive opposition to it.
We, if we are true Christians, are partakers of His disposition. “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not,” 1 John 5:18. The words ‘sinneth not’ simply means ‘does not habitually continue in sin’. That is evidence of the abiding animosity toward sin that has been imparted to the believer at regeneration. Peter is even more plain in his statement of this truth. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust,” 2 Peter 1:3-4.
We are ‘partakers of the divine nature’. That is, we have had imparted to us by virtue of being born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, the same ‘make-up, temperament’ as God toward sin.
Of course we do not share to the same perfect measure this opposition to sin as does the Lord. We still have the remnants of the old nature but predominantly within each true child of God there is a ‘hatred’ for sin. “The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate,” Proverbs 8:13.
III. THE VOICE OF THE TRUE CHILD OF GOD WILL BE CHIEFLY HEARD PROTESTING AGAINST THE PREDOMINANT SINS OF THE DAY.
In the 16th century, it was this tendency which brought the term ‘Protestant’ into being! Martin Luther chiefly preached and protested against the dreadful errors of Romanism and thus earned the title of a ‘Protestant’. Now he preached against many other sins but chiefly he quite rightly concentrated upon the ‘plague’ of Romanism.
In our day, we have seen the NHS concentrate its resources upon combatting ‘Covid-19’. In like fashion, the Lord would have His people raise their voice chiefly against the sin of their day. That means today we must combat ‘Romanism, Ecumenism, the chief means of promoting the errors of Rome today, and the follies of those like Paul Clarke, who would have us believe that there is a form of ‘Christianity’ which does not protest.
Against that deceit, we protest earnestly! Indeed, we would use old Luther’s words to declare our position. “Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
12th June 2021.