I believe in consistency — hermeneutics should be consistent, interpretations of passages should incorporate what has gone before, and your bar of acceptable proof should be even across all areas of your life. Protestantism just isn’t consistent. And my previous post laid the groundwork for why I don’t think Protestantism is very consistent with regard to Sacred Tradition. In this post, I’m going to discuss the concept of high church, how Protestantism lacks it, and why it is biblical.
High church means the church should be unified, visible, and authoritative. The Bible is clear that we should hold to a high church concept. Think about Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17:11: “Holy Father, protect by the power of your name those you have given me, so that they may be one, even as we are one.” We are to be single entity.
After giving his followers a blueprint for living with the Beatitudes, Jesus instructed us not to hide that. The church must be different than the world. We preserve Jesus’ teachings as salt does, and teach the world how to live as Jesus taught us — we are light to the world (Mt 5:13-16). We are a single, visible entity.
The church should also be there to interpret Scripture’s teachings for us. Peter tells us that no teaching comes in a vacuum (2 Pet 1:20). In Acts, Phillip is shown to interpret Scripture for a man; indeed, the man recognizes that he needs someone to interpret Scriptures for him (8:29-30)! It is a visible and powerful church, therefore, that should help us understand the teachings. We are a single, visible, and authoritative entity.
The Problem with Being Protestant
Combining the lack of centralized teaching and the invisibility of the church, you can easily see the problem of Protestantism. If Susie doesn’t like what the United Methodist Church is saying, then she can go to a Baptist church. If she doesn’t like the pastor’s next sermon, then she can move on to the Episcopal church down the block. Ultimately, if Susie doesn’t like any of the Protestant denominations, then she’s free to start her own. The only benchmark for truth is every individual Protestant’s own personal interpretation of Scripture, and that isn’t the church that Christ promised us in Scripture, the rock (Mt 16:18) that will hold against the storm (Mt 7:24-27) and the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). For Protestants, everyone makes their own truth.
When I had gotten this far in my faith journey, it was extremely tempting to rejoin the Catholic Church. That would require some humility; after all, I would have to submit to some dogma that I don’t like. But, that is what the high church concept is all about. I expect my beliefs to be challenged, and I expect God to change me in order to conform to the image of his Son (Rom 8:29-30).
Is Submission to Authority Mind Control?
I couldn’t believe submission meant to check my mental faculties at the door. There’s a difference, after all, between submission and cultic mind control. The Bible tells us to test everything and hold on to what is good (1 The 5:21).
For example, the Bible says that my wife is to submit to me as spiritual head of household, as if to Christ. Now, if I tell her the sky is green, does she then have to submit to me as her husband, even though she can evidently see that is not the case? According to Paul, no. Testing my statement, it isn’t good and she therefore isn’t under an obligation to submit.
So, if the teacher isn’t “rightly dividing the word of truth,” I should think we aren’t under any obligation to submit (2 Tim 2:15). That put me in a stalemate, which I needed to find a way to resolve. I could no longer be a Protestant, but could I be a Roman Catholic again?
In the next post, I will explain why history made me think that the Roman Catholic Church is the true church Jesus founded in Matthew 16. Then, I will examine doctrine I refused to submit to, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, and explain why I’m now willing to submit.