based on creed and finally a society based on clergy.? A. J. Gordon, Ministry of the Spirit, 130 ? ?The Holy Spirit is the real ?Vicar of Christ.? Would any one desire to find the clue to the great apostasy whose dark eclipse now covers two thirds of nominal Christendom, here it is. The rule and authority of the Holy Spirit ignored in the church, the servants of the house assuming mastery and encroaching more and more on the prerogatives of the Head. At last one man sets himself up as the administrator of the church and daringly usurps the name of the Vicar of Christ.? See also R. V. Littiedale, The Petrine Claims.
The secret of Baptist success and progress is in putting truth before unity.
<590317> James 3:17 ? ?the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable.? The substitution of external for internal unity, of which the apostolic succession, so called, is a sign and symbol, is of a piece with the whole sacramental scheme of salvation. Men cannot be brought into the kingdom of heaven nor can they be made good ministers of Jesus Christ by priestly manipulation. The Frankish wholesale conversion of races, the Jesuitical putting of obedience instead of life, the identification of the church with the nation are all false methods of diffusing Christianity. The claims of Rome need irrefutable proof, if they are to be accepted. But they have no warrant in Scripture or in history. Methodist Review: ?As long as the Bible is recognized to be authoritative, the church will face Rome- ward as little as Leo X will visit America to attend a Methodist camp- meeting, or Justin D. Fulton be elected as his successor in the Papal chair.? See Gore, Incarnation, 208, 209.
Fifthly, if Peter did so appoint the bishops of Rome, the evidence or continuous succession since that time is lacking.
On the weakness of the argument for apostolic succession, see remarks with regard to the national church theory, below. Dexter, Congregationalism, 715 ? ?To spiritualize and evangelize Romanism or High Churchism, will be to Congregationalize it.? If all the Roman Catholics who have come to America had remained Roman Catholics, there would be sixteen millions of them whereas there are actually only eight million. If it is said that the remainder has no religion, we reply that they have just as much religion as they had before. American democracy has freed them from the domination of the priest but it has not deprived them of anything but external connection with a corrupt church. It has given them opportunity for the first time to come in contact with the church of the New Testament, and to accept the offer of salvation through simple faith in Jesus Christ.
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