Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Is Protestantism?

In the consideration of a theme of this character and importance, a correct understanding of the terms employed is essential. Particularly is this the case with the word “Protestant,” the true meaning of which, through long years of disuse and abuse, has been largely forgotten.
It is very generally believed today that the word “Protestant” implies a narrow, bigoted, and
negative attitude. Such a conception, however, is the very opposite of the true meaning of the term.
There is in it no suggestion of mere negation. Analyzed, it consists of pro (for, or in favor of), and testari (to bearwitness). A true Protestant, therefore, is a witness for the truth; he bears testimony in favor of his cause.That which is simply negation of error is not true Protestantism.
The true Protestant will bear primarily a positive message. His attitude will be that of his Master
who said: “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” John 12:47. His words will be the savor of life unto life, not of death unto death. His attitude at all times will be that of Jesus Christ, “Who beforePontius Pilate witnessed a good confession.” 1 Timothy 6:13. In this sense Protestantism at its birth in the sixteenth century was far more than a mere negation of popery. It was the “bursting into life of latent truths of Scripture” that rent the Papacy by reason of the explosive power of life itself.


It is well to remember that Christ was the divine Protestant. Throughout His earthly life He
protested in favor of truth, and that, indeed, in behalf of all people. He was for everyone, against no one.It may be suggested by some, and rightly so, that many of the statements of Christ were of a negative character. Truly, but His negatives were but intended to give weight to the positives asserted. “You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Matthew 5:43,44. His implied negation of the old time hatreds was expressed but to emphasize the glorious positive of Christian love. To the church leaders of His day Christ seemed to be a bringer-in of novelties, an over turner of he doctrines and customs established by traditions and ecclesiastical authority. To them His work was a negation of all the accredited church customs of the time. Quite naturally they opposed Him; but the attitude of those church leaders was due to an entire misunderstanding of the work and teaching of Christ.

He was not these merely to negative the errors of His time; He was not there to introduce novelties in place of the old truths of God; He stood for the eternal foundations. When they taunted Him with the question, “Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?” He replied: “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? You have made void the Word of God because of your tradition.” Matthew 15:2-6, RV.
Jesus witnessed for the Word and the commandments of God. Hoary with age as were the
traditions of the elders, they were the novelties which had covered over and set aside the truth. Christ took a definite stand agains these traditions, and an equally definite and positive stand for the truth of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.

The life of Christ is the pattern for every Protestant. As our Lord Himself fearlessly opposed
everything that was contrary to the commandments of God, regardless of the age of the error or the number of those who believed it, so must the true follower of Christ protest against error today. And it must bedone in the spirit of Christ.
The Protestantism of Christ was against error, against sin, but against no man. It was for everyone, against no one. Likewise today, with the tenderness of Him who came to seek and to save the lost, is the exposure of error to be made.
From the example of Christ we are to copy His wonderful, positive Protestantism. Every negative of Christ prepared the way for the assertion of a tremendous positive.
His negations swept away the ill-built structures of men and laid bare the foundation rock of righteousness and truth. That also is the task and the duty of every true Protestant today.
He must believe the Word of God as Christ believed it. He must keep the commandments of God
as Christ kept them. In other words, he must be a consistent believer and teacher of the foundation truths of God, his life being in harmony with his beliefs.
How much, then, is involved in this Protestantism! Clearly it is no light thing to be a true
Protestant. In a word, it means being a 100-per-cent Christian-a sincere student of the Bible, a practiser of its teachings, a lover of men, a hater of sin, a friend of God, and an obedient servant of Jesus Christ. Only by taking such a position as this, only by living such a life as this, can anyone be a true and consistent Protestant, standing on unassailable ground. The man who thinks he can be a Protestant and yetreject the Bible or some portion of it, is making a profound mistake. Likewise also the man who seeks to be a Protestant and yet is out of touch with God, is in grave danger. And from these considerations it becomes apparent that true Protestantism cannot only be anti-Catholic. If it is to be consistent Protestantism, witnessing in favor of the truth and standing against error wherever it may be found, it must also be anti-modernist, anti-evolutionist and against every evil that issapping the life of the Christian churches of today. At the same time it must be in favor of every good thing-prayer, Bible study, and all that is meant by Christian service. That is the Protestantism that is so sorely needed.
More than ever such Protestantism, with all its blessed outgrowths of righteousness and spiritual
freedom, is in danger today. Sin in a thousand forms is pressing in upon the professed servants of Jesus Christ, undermining faith, and scattering confidence in the Word of God. Materialism, money-making,pleasure-seeking, and the still subtler snares of Spiritism and Catholicism are separating men from God and breaking that contact which alone can make them strong, faithful, and stalwart witnesses for His truth.

If ever there was a time when true British Protestants needed divine help it is now; and it is for those who perceive the trend of events to pray for grace to enable them to witness a good confession. More than ever men and women are needed today who will stand like Daniel for the truth of God, and courageously contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.
Without question the hour has come for such a witness for the truth to be given to the world. This is the moment of supreme opportunity for those who still believe the simple, old-fashioned, everlasting gospel. Religions are in the melting pot. Creeds hoary with age are being scorched by the blazing light of modern knowledge. Tens of thousands are spiritually adrift, seeking truth but knowing not what to believe. Furthermore, a new generation is rising, separated from the moral habits and restrictions of the Victorian era as far as the east is from the west, and yet, with all the noble aspirations of youth, seeking some guiding star whereon to hitch the wagon of its out bursting life. All the future depends upon the lead that is given it today.

Speaking to the theological students at Cliffe Hall, Mr. Lloyd George said: “The one thing
England needs is not material things which we are bound to fight for. No; what England needs is a spiritual awakening. It is needed now more than ever. I believe there are signs that it is coming.”
Not long ago the following appeared in the editorial columns of the Daily Express:
“The people are conscious of a spiritual hunger which worldly things do not satisfy. They feel a
spiritual pang which is not alleviated by material anodynes. . . . There is something in them that asks for more than culture and learning. Deep below the surface of education there is a desire for spiritual peace and rest and faith. . . . All classes are alike in their half-conscious craving for the sustenance of the inner life.
“It may be that we are on the eve of a great awakening of the religious spirit. It may be that
after a period of spiritual aridity we are entering upon an era of new faith and new hope. It may be that the people as a whole are on the verge of a great rediscovery of the eternal verities. There is a certain stirring in the depths. There is a certain troubling of the dark waters. Even a secular newspaper may be permitted to bear witness to happenings that augur well for the moral health and spiritual energy of asorely, tried people,”
All over the land, despite the prevailing materialism, there is unusual inquiry concerning the
things of the soul. It is indeed the troubling of the waters. The Spirit of God is being poured upon all flesh.
Not for many years has there been so great an interest in matters of religion.
At such a time as this, what is more needed than a restatement of the principles of Protestantism, a lifting up anew of the gospel of Christ in its purity, simplicity, and power? After all, this is what the people need more than anything else. Indeed it is what they are waiting, hoping, groping for. It is the only religion that will bring them enduring satisfaction, and could they but know it they would seek nothing else.
Such a revival of true godliness as this, is, moreover, the only way that an effective bulwark can
be formed against the inrushing evils of the age-the only way to prevent our beloved country from falling back on the one hand into paganism, and on the other into the darkness of medieval superstition.
God help the professed Protestants that yet remain in the land to witness a good confession!

source:Protestantism Imperiled
Arthur S. Maxwell
the whole document can be found here:http://www.remnant-prophecy.com/topic-Library/RCC-History/ProtestantismImperiled-Maxwell.pdf


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