Why I Am a Protestant

Peter Krey

    Let me begin with the words of St. Paul, Gal. 2,3-5: "But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised; and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage; to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you." The thought that stands out in this text is the fact that St. Paul PROTESTS against certain religious practices of his day and refuses to submit to them. In that sense St. Paul was a Protestant. Most Americans call themselves Protestants. Why am I Protestant? Let me tell you briefly. But first let me trace the meaning and origin of the word "Protestant."

 The noun "Protestant" does not occur in the Bible, but the verb "protest" occurs several times, as for instance in Jer. 11,7, where God says: "I earnestly PROTESTED unto your fathers in the day when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt even to this day, rising up early and protesting saying: Obey my voice." Here God raises his voice in protest of the disobedience of Israel. St. Paul also uses the word "protest" in his first letter to the Corinthians in order to assert his disagreement with some of them on the resurrection of the dead. 1 Cor. 15,31.

    In the Bible, then, the word "protest" is used to voice disapproval of that which is contrary to the teachings of Holy Scripture.

 In that sense the word was also used originally in modern times. The word "Protestant" as we now the word today first came into use in 1529 when the German Diet, or congress, met in Speyer, a city in southern Germany. At that congress of the German rulers and ecclesiastics the Roman Catholic majority sought to lord it over the Evangelicals or Lutherans who were in the minority. The Lutheran princes vigorously protested. For that reason they were called PROTESTANTS. This is the origin of the name "Protestant" which today is applied to all church groups who are opposed to the teachings and practices of the Roman Church.

 We are Protestants, then, because we cannot accept the authority and the teachings of the Roman church.

 A true Protestant, mindful of the words of Jesus: "They that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matt. 26,52), does not use force to bring or keep dissenters in line. A Protestant is tolerant. He dictates to no one. A true Protestant forces no one to accept what he believes and persecutes no one for differing with him in faith and morals. A Protestant yields the right to every one to worship God according to the dictates of his own -conscience. As a Protestant I ask the same rights and privileges for others that I demand for myself, because I see in this principle of tolerance the only way to a peaceful, orderly, and progressive social order among men. An autocratic and totalitarian order in religion can lead only to oppression, trouble, misery, and bloodshed, as the history of nations abundantly testify. A church that claims to have the duty and authority from God to suppress and exterminate those who disagree with her teachings -and way of life is destructive to all peaceful human relationship. When one man or a group of men, be they priests or otherwise, tell me that I must do as they do, think as they think, believe as they believe, and worship as they worship or be damned or liquidated, I protest. In this sense I am a Protestant.

 A true Protestant is democratic according to the words of  Christ: "Be not ye called Rabbi, for one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren." Matt. 23,8. To a Protestant there is only one spiritual order and way of life, that of a believing Christian. All believers in Christ are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood; "ye are all one in Christ Jesus," Gal. 3,28,1. Peter 2,9.Elders, bishops, pastors, priests, are not lords over God's heritage, but servants of Christ and examples to the flock. When certain people, therefore, because of their self-chosen way of life claim a higher spirituality and a closer relationship with God than the ordinary everyday Christian, or when one certain individual in Christendom claims in the name of Christ that he has absolute and infallible authority over all Christians in matters of faith and morals: I assert my freedom in Christ from all human authority and protest. In this sense I am a     Protestant.

 The Protestant worship of God is not an effort to appease God but a worship of praise according to the word of the psalmist, "Who so offereth praise glorifieth me." Ps. 50,23. A Protestant goes to church to thank God for His many mercies to all men and for His marvelous grace to sinners, to praise Him for His wonderful wisdom, power, and glory, and to receive from His Word the gifts of His grace and the assurance of His blessing. That is true worship. But for a creature to come before his Maker to bargain with Him on the basis of good works is not to worship and adore the ineffable Majesty, but to reduce the Most High to the role of a rogue and a peddler. Here again I solemnly protest.

 A true Protestant believes that the forgiveness of sin is the free gift of God based solely and entirely on the sacrifices which the  Son of God, our lord Jesus, made -for all men on Calvary once and   forever according to the Word of Scripture:"in Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace" Eph. 1,7 and again we read, Heb. 10,14 "By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." Accordingly, I cannot accept the proposition that a religious function preformed by me or others can wipe out my guilt in the sight of God. The claim that part of the punishment of sin can be remitted for cold cash, or that a human priest can atone for my guilt before the infinite God by preforming a pompous ceremony in my presence, is preposterous. And I protest with all my heart.

 Protestants believe in the separate function of church and state. The church has no power and authority from God beyond the power of the Word. Her commission is to preach the Gospel to every creature and to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The state has the power and function from God to punish the evildoers and to protect the righteous, to have jurisdiction over the temporal affairs of men and to promote the public welfare. For the state to assume the functions of the church or for the church to dictate to the state is to invite disaster to both. The church and the state may very well function side by side as they do in these United States of America. For the church to claim power and authority from God over all governments, to do and to undo civil rights, to dispense and to withdraw political power, -is for the church to assume the role of a super-state. I cannot concede to the church any political power or authority over the state, for Christ has said; "My kingdom is not of this world." Therefore I am a Protestant.

 Protestants believe the Bible which says; "O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come." Ps. 65,2.

 Reason and conscience concur with Holy Scripture that there is only One who can hear and answer prayer. Certainly only the Omniscient One can hear -and only the Almighty can answer prayers. To pray to any other being is foolish and futile. Saints are but men and women who have lived and died like other men and of whom the Bible says as it says of all the dead: "But the dead know not anything. . . neither have they anymore a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun." Eccl. 9,5.6. To pray to saints and to dear mother Mary is an empty gesture and a pious delusion, yea plain idolatry, for it is written: "Thou shalt worship the lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve." The Therefore I protest against this practice of praying to saints in the church.

 These are some of the reasons why I am a Protestant.

 Faith of our fathers! living still
 In spite of dungeon, fire and sword
 O how our hearts beat high with joy
 When'er we hear that glorious word!
 Faith of our fathers! Holy faith!
 We will be true to thee till death!
 Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
 Were still in heart and conscience free;
 How sweet would be their children's fate,
 If they, like them, could die for thee!
 Faith of our fathers! Holy faith!
 We will be true to thee till death.

Peter Krey, Christian News, May 30, 1966