Who Are the Real Roman Prelates?
Those who are in rebellion against the legitimate authority God has afforded to the world church (9T 260), often bring up the reformation and liken themselves to the protesting princes. They also unflatteringly compare the world church authority to the papacy. But do these comparisons stand up to careful investigation?
The book The Great Controversy provides some key characteristics of Rome and key characteristics of the reformers and protesting princes that allow us to examine these charges.
Key Characteristics of Rome:
“Sought to maintain their power, not by appealing to the Scriptures, but by a resort to threats, Rome's unfailing argument” (GC 161).
Question 1: Is there a resort to threats?
Rome follows Satan’s boastful threats in heaven, “Then Satan exultingly pointed to his sympathizers, comprising nearly one half of all the angels, and exclaimed, ‘These are with me! Will you expel these also, and make such a void in heaven?’ He then declared that he was prepared to resist the authority of Christ and to defend his place in heaven by force of might, strength against strength” (SR 18).
Question 2: Is there an absence of appealing to Scripture?
One published spokesman at a recent conference held in England made comments for Atoday. I did not see any appeal to Scripture, yet I did see a resort to threats. So, I ask the question, who is acting like Rome?
Key Characteristics of the Reformers and Protesting Princes
Next, we should examine the reformers and the Lutheran princes. Uniformly (1) They appealed to the Bible (2) They were otherwise submissive to authority and did not use threats.
(1) Appeal to the Bible—“Wycliffe began to write and publish tracts against the friars, not, however, seeking so much to enter into dispute with them as to call the minds of the people to the teachings of the Bible and its Author” (GC 84).
(2) Submission to human authority—“He would have obeyed the summons had not a shock of palsy made it impossible for him to perform the journey” (GC 90).
(1) Appeal to the Bible—“… drew from the Holy Scriptures suitable proofs to sustain his positions” (GC 157). “… prove from the writings of the prophets and apostles that I have erred. As soon as I am convinced of this, I will retract every error, and be the first to lay hold of my books and throw them into the fire" (GC 159). “The emperor, the princes, and even the meanest Christian, should examine and judge my works; but on one condition, that they take the word of God for their standard. Men have nothing to do but to obey it” (GC 186).
(2) Submission to human authority—“I appear before you this day, in conformity with the order given me yesterday” (GC 158). “I place my person and my life in the emperor's hands” (GC 166). “I am ready most earnestly to obey your majesty, in honor or in dishonor, in life or in death, and with no exception save the word of God” (GC 167).
(1) Appeal to the Bible—“There is no sure doctrine but such as is conformable to the word of God.... The Lord forbids the teaching of any other doctrine.... The Holy Scriptures ought to be explained by other and clearer texts; ... this Holy Book is, in all things necessary for the Christian, easy of understanding, and calculated to scatter the darkness. We are resolved, with the grace of God, to maintain the pure and exclusive preaching of His only word, such as it is contained in the biblical books of the Old and New Testaments, without adding anything thereto that may be contrary to it. This word is the only truth; it is the sure rule of all doctrine and of all life, and can never fail or deceive us” (GC 203).
(2) Submission to human authority—“We will obey the emperor in everything that may contribute to maintain peace and the honor of God” (GC 201). “We declare ourselves ready to pay unto him, as well as unto you, gracious lords, all the affection and obedience that are our just and legitimate duty” (GC 203).
By the historical criteria of the inspired account of the reformers and the protesting princes we can ask two further questions.
Question 3: Is there a humble reliance on the Scripture?
The argument put forth by Knight’s presentation is that women’s ordination is not a biblical issue but instead a policy issue.
Question 4: Is there submission to authority when it does not conflict with the Bible?
The reformers and Lutheran princes believed biblical truths and held to these truths.
Those who argue that women’s ordination is not a biblical issue, but a policy issue, cannot claim to be like the reformers and princes who stood for the Bible. Further, if they were emulating the reformers and princes they would submit to the God-given authority of the world church over what they declare to be a “policy” not Bible issue.
After reviewing Knight’s paper and presentation, it is clear that he does not fit the category of “protesting prince”, but instead fits the category of Roman prelate.