The True Protestant – Part 2

TimeWatch Editorial
March 05, 2017

A careful study of Daniel chapter 2 and 7 reveals the historical timeline of the church. As you are already aware, the church of Ephesus, the true and victorious Church is contained in the period 31 A.D to 100 A.D. Then that church is followed by the church of Smyrna, while the church was under serious attack, is contained in the period 100 A. D to 313 A.D. Following Smyrna is the church of Pergamos, 313 A.D to 538 A.D. during which time apostasy developed and invaded the church. Notice how Wylie describes this period.

“From the fourth century the corruptions of the Christian Church continued to make marked and rapid progress. The Bible began to be hidden from the people. And in proportion as the light, which is the surest guarantee of liberty, was withdrawn, the clergy usurped authority over the members of the Church. The canons of councils were put in the room of the one infallible Rule of Faith; and thus the first stone was laid in the foundations of "Babylon, that great city, that made all nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." J. A. Wylie, "The History of Protestantism, Vol 1"page 7

Notice Wylie describes the fourth century as the period when “the clergy usurped authority over the members of the Church.” The thing is that whenever we think of this period of time, we immediately apply it only to the beginnings of the Papacy. This application is of course correct. But notice, the Papacy came out of an attitude that developed because “the clergy usurped authority over the members of the Church.” One of the elements of Protestantism then is the fact that, apart from the theological challenge manifested to the Papacy, it was accompanied by the challenge to the authority of the clergy. Notice how Wylie continues the thought.

“The ministers of Christ began to affect titles of dignity, and to extend their authority and jurisdiction to temporal matters, forgetful that an office bestowed by God, and serviceable to the highest interests of society, can never fail of respect when filled by men of exemplary character, sincerely devoted to the discharge of its duties. The beginning of this matter seemed innocent enough. To obviate pleas before the secular tribunals, ministers were frequently asked to arbitrate in disputes between members of the Church. Constantine made a law confirming all such decisions in the consistories of the clergy, and shutting out the review of their sentences by the civil judges.” J. A. Wylie, "The History of Protestantism, Vol 1"page 7

Notice what Wylie is saying here. He is describing a situation in which the clergy, not only usurps authority over the members of the church, in religious matters, but, on the authority approved by the Emperor Constantine, also grasped authority over civil matters in the society. What is tremendously intriguing is the fact that this shift of authority happened rather gradually at first. Listen to this.

“The beginning of this matter seemed innocent enough. To obviate pleas before the secular tribunals, ministers were frequently asked to arbitrate in disputes between members of the Church, and Constantine made a law confirming all such decisions in the consistories of the clergy, and shutting out the review of their sentences by the civil judges.” J. A. Wylie, "The History of Protestantism, Vol 1"page 7

That above paragraph sounds a lot like what the Evangelicals would love to see happen today. In an article published April 9, 2015 on the POLITICSUSA Website, with regard to the desire of the Religious Right to turn the nation into a theocracy, the following can be found.

“Because things are not moving the way the religious right and Republicans believe a theocracy should be governed, evangelical hero Ted Cruz wants the U.S. Congress to eliminate the power of the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, by passing a law banning them from hearing or ruling on marriage equality cases. Apparently, because too many federal courts have followed the Constitution and not the Christian bible on the question of same-sex marriage, it is likely that Cruz wants Congress to give that authority to the evangelical right to decide.” R Muse, “ Ted Cruz Wants To Strip the Supreme Court’s Authority On Marriage Equality” PoliticsUsa Website, April 9, 2015

Not just Ted Cruz would love to see this, and not just as it applies to marriage equality. Their desire is to reconstruct and control the entire of the moral and religious world, leaving only the most obviously secular issues to the civil courts. The pattern that we see forming around us today therefore had its beginning a long time ago. Wylie continues to describe how it all began.

Proceeding in this fatal path, the next step was to form the external structure of the Church upon the model of the civil government. Four vice-kings or prefects governed the Roman Empire under Constantine, and why, it was asked, should not a similar arrangement be introduced into the Church? Accordingly the Christian world was divided into four great dioceses; over each diocese was set a patriarch, who governed the whole clergy of his domain, and thus arose four great thrones or princedoms in the House of God. Where there had been a brotherhood, there was now a hierarchy; and from the lofty chair of the Patriarch, a gradation of rank, and a subordination of authority and office, ran down to the lowly state and contracted sphere of the Presbyter.  It was splendor of rank, rather than the fame of learning and the luster of virtue, that henceforward conferred distinction on the ministers of the Church.” J. A. Wylie, "The History of Protestantism, Vol 1"page 7


Notice, then the establishment of a structure; A structure which took the place of the real reason for existing. Wylie of course says it best.

Such an arrangement was not fitted to nourish spirituality of mind, or humility of disposition, or peacefulness of temper. The enmity and violence of the persecutor, the clergy had no longer cause to dread; but the spirit of faction which now took possession of the dignitaries of the Church awakened vehement disputes and fierce contentions, which disparaged the authority and sullied the glory of the sacred office. The emperor himself was witness to these unseemly spectacles. "I entreat you," we find him pathetically saying to the fathers of the Council of Nice, "beloved ministers of God, and servants of our Savior Jesus Christ, take away the cause of our dissension and disagreement, establish peace among yourselves." J. A. Wylie, "The History of Protestantism, Vol 1"page 7

If Constantine could see the conflict that this structure of control produced, should not we? why should or for that matter would we return to such a time as this? During this era, The beauty of the gospel was diluted and perverted. Let us therefore be watchful.

Cameron A. Bowen

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