Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cautions against Romanism and how to put the priesthood in its proper place

While the late Bishop J.C. Ryle of Liverpool (died 1900) and I may not see exactly eye to eye on the Lord’s Supper, on most matters we are in very real agreement. Virtually all the following is worthy of consideration for all BibleCatholics. We have much to thank Ryle and others in the old Anglican Church and especially those of the so-called “low church” like Ryle, who are indeed a near dead breed in the days of the ecumenical Roman takeover. Here are some important thoughts Ryle had against Romanism and cautions to keep the priesthood in proper perspective.  

2. For another thing, I charge you to beware of Anglo-Romanism, and do all you can to resist it.

Resist it in little things. Resist strange dresses, sacrificial garments, the eastward position in consecrating the bread and wine, idolatrous reverence of the consecrated elements, processions, banners, incense, candles on the communion table, turning to the East, crosses and crucifixes in the chancels, and extravagant Church decorations.

Resist it in great things. Oppose with might and main the attempt to re-introduce the Mass and Auricular Confession in our parishes. Send your boy to no school where auricular confession is ever tolerated. Allow no clergymen to draw your wife and daughter to private confession. Oppose sternly, but firmly, the attempt to change the Lord’s Supper at your parish churches, into the Romish sacrifice of the mass. Draw back from the communion in such churches, and go elsewhere. The laity have a great deal of power in this matter, even without going to law. They should tell the clergy their minds. They cannot do without the laity any more than officers in a regiment can do without privates. Let the English laity all over England rise in their might, and say, “We will not have the mass and auricular confession.”

Resist it for Christ’s sake. His Priestly and Mediatorial offices are being injured and dishonoured. They are offices He has never deputed to any order of ordained men.

Resist it for the clergy’s sake. The worst and cruellest thing that can be done is to lift us out of our proper places, and make us lords over your consciences, and mediators between yourselves and God.

Resist it for the laity’s sake. The most degrading position in which laymen could be put, is that of being cringing slaves at the foot of a brother sinner.

Resist it, not least, for your children’s sake. Do what in you lies to provide that, when you are dead and gone, they shall not be left to the tender mercies of Popery. As ever you would meet your boys and girls in heaven, take care that the Church of England in your day is maintained a Protestant Church, and preserves her Articles and the principles of the Reformation wholly uninjured and undefiled.  --From "What do we owe the reformation" by J.C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool



(3) I go on to say that Evangelical Religion does not under value the Christian ministry. It is not true to say that we do. We regard it as an honourable office instituted by Christ Himself, and of general necessity for carrying on the work of the Gospel. We look on ministers as preachers of God’s Word, God’s ambassadors, God’s messengers, God’s servants, God’s shepherds, God’s stewards, God’s overseers, and labourers in God’s vineyard.

But we steadily refuse to admit that Christian ministers are in any sense sacrificing priests, mediators between God and man, lords of men’s consciences, or private confessors. We refuse it, not only because we cannot see it in the Bible, but also because we have read the lessons of Church history. We find that Sacerdotalism, or priestcraft, has frequently been the curse of Christianity, and the ruin of true religion. And we say boldly that the exaltation of the ministerial office to an unscriptural place and extravagant dignity in the Church of England in the present day, is likely to alienate the affections of the laity, to ruin the Church, and to be the source of every kind of error and superstition.

(4) I go on to say that Evangelical Religion does not undervalue the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It is not true to say that we do. We honour them as holy ordinances appointed by Christ Himself, and as blessed means of grace, which in all who use them rightly, worthily, and with faith, “have a wholesome effect or operation.”

But we steadily refuse to admit that Christ’s Sacraments convey grace ex opere operato, and that in every case where they are administered, good must of necessity be done. We refuse to admit that they are the grand media between Christ and the soul,—above faith, above preaching, and above prayer. We protest against the idea that in baptism the use of water, in the name of the Trinity, is invariably and necessarily accompanied by regeneration. We protest against the practice of encouraging any one to come to the Lord’s Table unless he repents truly of sin, has a lively faith in Christ, and is in charity with all men. We protest against the theory that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrifice, as a theory alike contrary to the Bible, Articles, and Prayer-book. And above all, we protest against the notion of any corporal presence of Christ’s flesh and blood in the Lord’s Supper, under the forms of bread and wine, as an “idolatry to be abhorred of all faithful Christians.”

(It's this last line that I disagree with since Luther himself plainly proved that Protestants can still very much believe in Christ's own promise that we recieve his body and blood at the supper he established. We can believe that without idolatry. It is the Roman Catholic practice of praying before the bread that is placed in a monstrance--special decorative holder-- that is idolatry to us, since neither Christ or his apostles taught such a thing. I believe Bishop Ryle goes too far in protesting the corporal presence of Christ since it certainly appears from scriptures to be something that Christ himself taught us, and according to Luther, something that was also quite Protestant.)

From “Evangelical Religion” by J.C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool