The Impending Conflict

TimeWatch Editorial
March 11, 2017

Reverend J. J. Smith D. D published a book entitled “The Impending Conflict between Romanism and Protestantism in the United States.” The book was published in 1871.  Dr. Smith opens up the very first chapter by giving a definition of the terms he will be using. Listen to how he defines Romanism and Protestantism.

“We do not mean by Romanism the membership of the Roman Catholic communion, for many of these are undoubtedly, at heart, in entire sympathy and harmony with our free institutions; But we mean by Romanism the Romish hierarchy, consisting of priests, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals, with the Pope at their head, governing, controlling, and directing the entire membership in all things in the most absolute manner. We mean by Protestantism, not that body of Christian believers who acted with Luther in 1529 in protesting against the tyranny, intolerance, and gross corruptions of the Romish Church, and who also entered their solemn protest against the decree of Charles V and the Diet of Spires; but we mean that system of religious truths and principles embodied in the earnest protest of Christ and his apostles against the intolerance, formalism, hypocrisy and tyranny of the Pharisees.” Reverend J. J. Smith D. D, “The Impending Conflict between Romanism and Protestantism in the United States;”page 14

His definition made an important connection between the Reformation and the Gospel as delivered by Jesus and the Apostles. The clarity of his vision is certainly worth noting. Those who were involved in the reformation sought to re-establish the fundamentals of faith and worship.

“The Reformation was but the re-establishment of primitive Christianity or Protestantism, by vigorously maintaining the great central principles of human equality, individual responsibility, and internal purity. Protestantism is therefore an earnest protest against Roman idolatry, intolerance, despotism, etc. That there is a distinct antagonism between the two great systems of religious faith, as embodied in Protestantism and Romanism, everybody knows, who knows anything about the history of the past or the experience of the present.” Reverend J. J. Smith D. D, “The Impending Conflict between Romanism and Protestantism in the United States;”page 14

It is quite amazing that we have drifted as far away as we have from the fundamentals of truth. The rude awakening that occurred during the early years of the Reformation that ultimately led to the study of the Word of God has again weakened in faith and practice. Rome has again invaded the space set aside for the transformation of the character.

“The Protestant central idea is that “the Bible is the only rule, and the all sufficient rule of faith and practice." The Romanists, on the other hand, hold that the Bible is not the only rule or a sufficient rule; but that the writings of the Fathers, the decretals of the Popes, and the decrees of Councils are necessary to make up the rule for faith and practice. It is owing to this absurd dogma that so much that is found in the Romish Church is not only not in the Bible, but in direct violation of its spirit and its teachings. Hence it is that Rome presents to the world the strange incongruous medley of something of Christianity, a part of Judaism, and more of Paganism.” Reverend J. J. Smith D. D, “The Impending Conflict between Romanism and Protestantism in the United States;”page 14

Remember of course, that Dr. Smith is writing in the year 1871. Were he with us now, he would be amazed at the evolution of our present situation. Not only have we merged the concept of Romanism and Protestantism, but Romanism, or Catholicism has invaded and demolished the concept of a Protest, to the point where the former Protestant has now become the militant aggressor that fights the battle on behalf of the Papacy. Dr. Smith describes in his book, the differences that were clearly defined in the early years.

“Protestantism seeks by the organization of Bible Societies and by all available means to put the Bible in possession of all men; Romanism forbids and prohibits to the extent of its power the circulation of the Scriptures among the people. Protestantism declares Jesus Christ to be the true and only head of the church, as Paul affirms “Christ is the head of the Church;" Romanism says the Pope is the head of the church. Protestantism puts the Bible foremost in her worship; Romanism makes the mass the principal thing. Romanism thunders its excommunications against all who abandon its superstitious rites, and declares there is no salvation outside the pales of her communion, while Protestantism teaches and holds that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe, wherever found. Romanism teaches that the efficacy of religions worship consists in external forms and pompons ceremonies.” Reverend J. J. Smith D. D, “The Impending Conflict between Romanism and Protestantism in the United States;”page 16

That was certainly how it was, but no longer. Protestantism, at first, did make sure that the Bible was shared by as many as possible, but Rome, after she discovered how impossible it would be to restrict the Bible any longer, decided to fill the earth with a flood of translations, pretending to simplify the Word, while at the same time lightening the validity of the message contained therein.

Clearly then, the impending conflict has begun.

Cameron A. Bowen


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