When the point has been reached where professed Protestants call upon Congress and courts to decide religious controversies for them, and to enact laws enforcing their church dogmas, and where they insist upon calling out the troops to enforce upon the people at the point of the bayonet the recognition and observance of religious observances, then it is time, and it is proper, too, to inquire, Is this Protestantism?
At the second Diet of Spires, held in 1529, there was presented the Protest, which originated, and gave to those who made it, the title and name of Protestants. And in summarizing this protest the historian states its principles as follows: --
The principles contained in the celebrated protest of the 19th of April, 1529, constitute the very essence of Protestantism. Now this protest opposes the abuse of man in matters of faith; the first is the intrusion of the civil magistrate; and the second, the arbitrary authority of the church. Instead of these abuses, Protestantism sets the power of conscience above the magistrate, and the authority of the word of God above the visible church. In the first place, it rejects the civil power in divine things, and says, with the prophets and apostles, "We must obey God rather than man." In the presence of the crown of Charles the Fifth, it uplifts the crown of Jesus Christ. -- D'Aubigne, History of the Reformation, book 13, chapter 6.
The Sunday managers [of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair] claim that Sunday is the "Christian Sabbath," that it is the great charter of their religion, that it is indeed the very citadel of their faith. And they claim to be Protestants. Now did they oppose the intrusion of the civil magistrate into this great question of their religion? -- No, indeed. Everybody knows that so far were they from opposing any intrusion of the civil magistrate that they actually and by threat required the civil authority to intrude upon the discussion and decision of the question and the enactment of a law requiring its observance, and also required the courts to intrude themselves into it when the act of Congress was called in question, and further called upon the executive to further intrude the civil authority by force of arms. All this they have done before the eyes of all the people.
Now, as it is the very essence of Protestantism to oppose the intrusion of the civil magistrate in religious things, and as they did not oppose, but required this intrusion, it plainly follows that they are not Protestants, and that their movement and work is not Protestantism. As it is the very essence of Protestantism to oppose the intrusion of the civil magistrate in things religious, and as the people engaged in the Sunday movement, professing to be Protestants, not only did not oppose it, but actually required the whole magisterial power of the United States Government under threats to intrude there, it follows that the people who engaged in this Sunday-law movement are not Protestants at all, and that neither their movement nor their work is Protestantism in any sense.
Secondly, it is the essence of Protestantism to oppose "the arbitrary authority of the church."
Now, for Sunday observance in any way there is no author-ity but the arbitrary authority of the church. The Sunday-law people not only know this, but they openly say it. The American Sabbath Union itself, in one of its own official publications, in answer to a call for a citation to a command of God for Sunday observance, plainly says, "We admit there is no such command." The Woman's Christian Temperance Union, also in one of its own publications, inquiring about the change of day from the seventh to the first, says that "Christ did not command it." There are other such statements also-- too many to cite here. Well, then, as they know that there is no command of God for Sunday observance, and as the church power only is that which requires its observance, this is proof in itself that the only authority for it is the arbitrary authority of the church.
Yet more than this. Even though Christ had commanded it, for the church to require, and force upon men, its observance by law-- this would be nothing else than to assert arbitrary authority of the church; because Christ himself has said, "If any man hear my words and believe not, I judge [condemn] him not." As, therefore, Christ leaves every man free to observe His words or not, for the church to compel any man to do it is to put herself above Christ and do what He does not do. And this in itself is only to assert the arbitrary authority of the church. So that whether there be a command of God for Sunday observance or not, in this matter the result is the same; to do as the professed Protestant churches of the United States have done and are doing, in requiring Sunday observance of all by law, is nothing else than to assert the rightfulness of the arbitrary authority of the church.
But it is the essence of Protestantism to oppose the arbitrary authority of the church. Therefore, as the professed Protestants of the United States have not opposed the arbitrary au-thority of the church in this matter of Sunday observance, it plainly follows that they are not Protestants. And as it is the essence of Protestantism to oppose the arbitrary authority of the church, and as these professed Protestants not only did not oppose it, but actually asserted it and still maintain it, it unmistakably follows they are not Protestants at all, and that neither their movement nor their work is Protestantism in any sense.
This proves that to oppose the Sunday movement in all its parts, to oppose Sunday laws in any and all their phases, to oppose and deny the right of congresses, or courts, or executives, to touch the question of Sunday observance, or any other religious question, in any way, and to reject entirely the authority of any such action when it is asserted-- this and this only is Protestantism. Even admitting that Sunday is the Sabbath, those who observe it can be Protestants only by opposing all intrusion of the magistrate into the question, by opposing all attempt of the church to require its recognition or observance by law, and by asserting their own individual right to observe it as they choose, without any dictation or interference from anybody. This alone is Protestantism.
This is the living, present, absolute truth. There is no discount on it at all. "Protestantism sets the power of conscience above a magistrate," even though the magistrate calls himself a Christian and a Protestant, and proposes to enforce the "Christian Sabbath." "Protestantism sets the authority of the Word of God above the visible church," even though the church calls itself Protestant. Protestantism "rejects the civil power in divine things, and says, with the prophets and apostles, "We must obey God rather than man," and that too, as God commands it, and not as man commands it, nor as man says that God commands it. Protestantism opposes and rejects every human intrusion, whether of the magistrate or the ecclesiastic, between the soul and Jesus Christ, and everlastingly maintains the divine right of the individual to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience, exercised at his own free choice.
This is Protestantism; and genuine Protestantism, as related to this question, is the constant, unwavering, uncompromising, opposition to every form of Sunday legislation, or any other religious legislation, and to all interference or control of eccles-iastics in the affairs of government. Protestants are needed today to protest against this apostate Protestantism which is now carrying things with so high a hand. [Emphases supplied.]
I want you to see what the Roman Catholic idea of justification by faith is, because I have had to meet it among professed Seventh-day Adventists the past four years.... These very things...that are in this Catholic book, as to what justification by faith is, and how to obtain it, are just such expressions as professed Seventh-day Adventists have made to me as to what justification by faith is.
I want to know how you and I carry a message to this world, warning them against the worship of the beast, when we hold in our very profession the doctrines of the beast. Can it be done? [Congregation: "NO."]...There is a great deal more in this Catholic work that I will not take time to read now. It goes on to define what faith is. Now think carefully, because I have met people all the way along who think that this very thing is faith which this Catholic book calls faith. I read page 368: The word "faith," in the Scripture, sometimes means confidence in God's omnipotence and goodness, that He can and is willing to cure or benefit us by some miraculous interposition. Mostly it refers to revealed truths, and signifies belief in them as such...These texts, all of which refer to saving faith, prove beyond a doubt that not trust in Christ for personal salvation, but the faith of the creed, the faith in revealed truth. Now, what is faith according to that?-- "The Faith of the Creed." They simply draw up a statement of stuff that they call the doctrine of God, and then you believe that and do your best, and that passes for justification by faith. Whether the creed is drawn up in actual writing, or whether it is somebody's idea that they want to pass off by a vote in a General Conference, it makes no difference in principle, the creed is there, and subscription to it is just that kind of faith. And there are people here who remember a time, four years ago; and a place-- Minneapolis-- when three direct efforts were made to get just such a thing as that fastened upon the third angel's message, by a vote in a General Conference. What somebody believed-- set that up as the landmarks, and then vote to stand by the landmarks, whether you know what the landmarks are or not; and then go ahead and agree to keep the commandments of God, and a lot of other things that you are going to do, and that was to be passed off as justification by faith.
Were we not told at that time that the angel of God said, "Do not take that step; you do not know what is in that."...The papacy was in it. That was what the LORD was trying to tell us, and get us to understand...It was like it has been in every other church that has come out from the papacy; they would run a little while by faith in God, and then fix up some man's idea of doctrine, and vote to stand by that, and vote that [to be] the doctrine of the church, and then that is "the faith of the creed," and then follow it up with their own doing....
Oh that we may have the mind of Christ and not the carnal mind! Oh that we may have the mind of Christ.... Oh that we may receive the LORD's idea of righteousness by faith, and not Satan's. (1893 General Conference Bulletin, #12, A. T. Jones; cited in Liberty Review, January, 1989.)