March 15 Standard Bearer preview article

This editorial is written by Prof. Barry Gritters and will be published in the March 15, 2019 issue of the Standard Bearer.

 Click to read pdf as printed in the March 15, 2019 issue.

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How could any Protestant go ‘home’ to Rome?

One year ago, I reported that many Protestants are ready to “cross the Tiber” into Roman Catholicism. The expression “crossing the Tiber” refers to fording the river that runs alongside Rome, symbolic of the barrier between Rome and Protestants. With grief, I had to report that even leaders in our mother church are talking about making the crossing.1 Some church leaders are sending not-so-subtle messages to members: It is permissible, and probably time, to unite with the Catholic Church. One Calvin Seminary faculty member wrote that Protestants and Catholics are “pilgrims on the same journey, serving one Lord with one faith” who “will come nearer to their goal if they walk together than if they walk separately.” If I had not read his words with my own eyes, I would have been disbelieving of such a report.

The campaign to bring Protestants (‘Evangelicals’) into Rome gained momentum from a 1995 project called ECT—Evangelicals and Catholics Together. ECT is an ad hoc committee that in 1995 published a major document, signed by influential Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders, expressing agreement in fundamental areas of doctrine and voicing commitment not to proselytize one another’s members. Since 1995, ECT has published at least nine more statements of unity in faith. Protestantism’s friendliness with Rome, however, has far deeper roots (down to the early 1900s) and a much wider reach than ECT (extending broadly into Protestantism).

In the year since I wrote that editorial, no other alarms have been raised about this movement. The silence in church magazines of conservative Protestantism is grievous. The original pushback in a few good books has seemed to end. A smattering of Internet articles speak out against it, but even these are not from the sources we would hope—Reformed and Presbyterian churches.2

Members of denominations whose leaders support this move to Rome ought to be up in arms. In churches that are silent, Christians ought to ask their leaders why no warnings are issued. Readers who have relatives and friends in denominations that lean toward Rome should equip them with good information, so they can take the action God requires of them: protest the leanings or leave those churches, for the salvation of their generations. Those inclined to join such a denomination where the children are not inoculated against false doctrine may be warned.

This is their warning, given in love for their souls: To go to Rome is to lose the gospel. There is no good news in Rome. In order to join Rome, those churches that call themselves Protestant must abandon the truth for which our fathers died and on account of which they left Rome. By definition, Protestants protest. Their protest was against Rome. By courting Rome, these Protestants abandon Protestantism.

How could it happen that churches so radically different historically could consider each other of the same faith and on the same journey?

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Training Elders in History

Some elders may have sensed that an important aspect of elders’ qualifications has not been mentioned—that is, intimate knowledge of the people. While knowledge of scripture, church government, and counseling are essential, they will not make a man a good elder if he does not also know the flock. The good shepherd knows his sheep.

A good elder will be like a good doctor. Before he treats his patient, a doctor will get an “H&P”—a history and physical. He will assess my present condition via a thorough physical examination and learn my history by asking me to fill out an extensive questionnaire. The history will be valuable for his treatment of me. Is there heart disease in my family, or glaucoma? Did any of my relatives have cancer? More important than my family’s history is my own—my childhood diseases, past surgeries or injuries. Is there a history of substance abuse or depression? Even my social history may be helpful—am I married, single, or divorced. And every doctor must know my present condition—allergies, medications, tobacco use, etc.—before he is ready to treat me most beneficially. Not knowing these things may expose him to making serious errors of judgment in my treatment.

—Read "Training Elders in History" by Prof. Gritters in the upcoming February 15 issue of the Standard Bearer.

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Gathering at the river

“Crossing the Tiber” is an old expression describing what a Protestant does when he leaves the Reformation faith for the Roman Catholic fold. The Tiber River ran alongside old Rome; to get to Rome, one crossed it. Thus, “crossing the Tiber” refers to entering the Roman Catholic enclave. Today, descendants of our Reformed fathers gather on the banks of the Tiber River, preparing to cross.
 
Such a strong movement toward Rome is astounding, but should not be surprising. The simple reason so many are able to anticipate “crossing the Tiber” is that the doctrine in many Protestant, even Reformed and Presbyterian, churches has so warped and deformed that it is more like Roman Catholic dogma than Reformation truth (deformation in liturgy and ethics is close behind). Combine this doctrinal deformation with the doctrinal illiteracy of the common member—sound catechism instruction of the youth has long disappeared in most denominations—and the heavy traffic on the roads to Rome is not at all surprising.
 
—Read more in the upcoming editorial by Prof. Gritters entitled Gathering at the river in the upcoming March 1, 2018 issue of the Standard Bearer.

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Perversion, Praise, and Promises: Sneak Peak at the Next Issue of the Standard Bearer

Looking forward to receiving the September 1 issue of the Standard Bearer? Here's a taste of what's to come in the next issue of our Reformed magazine:

Editorial | The Persistent Sanctioning of Sexual Sins by Reformed Churches

"Our stand on sexual intimacy and marital faithfulness has direct bearing on our view of the church's relationship to Christ, and of his relationship to us."

O Come Let Us Worship | Praising the Lord in the Congregation:The Element of Singing

 

 

 

“The worship service is a dialog between God and his people. God our friend-sovereign speaks in his word, and we his friend-servants respond in singing and prayer. “ 

 

Special Article | Christ Reveals the Name of God

 

 

 

"John calls Christ the 'eternal life.' Not only does Christ proclaim eternal life. Not only does he work eternal life. No, he is himself eternal life.”

 

Read these articles and more in the upcoming September 1 issue of the Standard Bearer. Not a subscriber? Purchase an eSubscription or a hardcopy subscription today!

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Save the Date!

RFPA Annual Meeting

September 27, 2012  |  Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church  |  7:30 p.m.

Save the date for the RFPA Annual Meeting! This year's keynote address will be given by book author and co-editor of the Standard Bearer Prof. Barry Gritters, professor of practical theology and New Testament studies at the Protestant Reformed Seminary. Gritters will present

Church Membership in a Postmodern Era

in connection with a conference on postmodernism given by Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church this past winter and in connection with two of our recent publications by David J. Engelsma: Bound to Join and A Defense of the Church Institute.

Stick around after the speech to hear more about the work of the RFPA and enjoy refreshments and fellowship with our Association members, authors, and fellow readers!

Join us at Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church on September 27 at 7:30 p.m.! Bring your family and friends!

Listen to the meeting via live stream! Click on the "Listen Live" button on the upper right-hand side of the Hudsonville PRC homepage.

At the start of the meeting click on the "Listen Live" button in the upper right-hand side of the Hudsonville PRC homepage

Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church
5101 Beechtree Ave
Hudsonville MI 49426

 


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