The Nature of True Protestantism

The Protestant Reformation was a movement of God whereby godly men earnestly contended for the central truths of the Christian faith against a corrupt gospel and its advocates. The name Protestant originates with German princes who met in 1529 protesting measures contrary to the Word of God. Their motto was “The Word of God abideth forever.” These Protestants believed that the church always has the duty “to protest against sin, error, corruption, tyranny, and every kind of iniquity” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 7:692). They asserted that:

There is no sure preaching or doctrine but that which abides by the Word of God. According to God’s command no other doctrine should be preached. Each text of the holy and divine Scriptures should be elucidated and explained by other texts. This Holy Book is in all things necessary for the Christian; it shines clearly in its own light, and is found to enlighten the darkness. We are determined by God’s grace and aid to abide by God’s Word alone, the holy gospel contained in the biblical books of the Old and New Testaments. This Word alone should be preached, and nothing that is contrary to it. It is the only truth. It is the sure rule of all Christian doctrine and conduct. It can never fail or deceive us (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, p. 889).

One Reformer, John Calvin, said “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”

Scripture details that Christ’s church must expose and oppose false teachers and their teaching because such corrupt believers’ minds (2 Cor 11:3–4). Those who oppose the true gospel do not please God and their efforts harm mankind by preventing the spread of the gospel and thus the salvation of sinners (1 Thess 2:15–16). In addition, they cause disputes rather than godly edification (1 Tim 1:4) and are given to disputing, arguing, envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, and useless wranglings (1 Tim 6:4–5). Their teaching increases ungodliness (2 Tim 2:16), spreads like a cancer (2 Tim 2:17), and overthrows others’ faith (2 Tim 2:18). They are insubordinate, idle talkers, and deceivers (Titus 1:10; 2 John 7) who teach for dishonest gain (Titus 1:11), being of this world and having the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:3, 5).

Scripture says that biblical protesting involves marking and avoiding (Rom 16:17–18), identifying false teachers as Satan’s servants (2 Cor 11:13–15), rendering Scriptural condemnation (Gal 1:18–19), demonstrating how they are enemies of Christ (Phil 3:17–21), shunning them (2 Tim 2:16), and rebuking them sharply (Titus 1:13). Furthermore, Christian churches, ministries, and individuals must not yoke up but come out and be separate from them (2 Cor 6:14, 17; 2 John 11) and have no fellowship with them (Eph 5:11).

Our aim in protesting error must be first and foremost to glorify God by obeying His commands to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) and “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph 5:11). By doing so we protect the church from error (Acts 20:28–30; Rom 16:17–18; 1 Cor 5), preserve the purity of the Christian faith (Jude 3–4), and seek the salvation of souls (1 Thess 2:15–16). Biblical protesting warns of false teachers’ fate so believers will avoid following them to that end (2 Cor 11:13–15; Gal 1:8–9; Phil 3:19). Biblical protesting is essential to persevering in Christ and the true faith (Col 2:8, 16–19).

We, the members and delegates of the Ohio Bible Fellowship, meeting in our fall conference October 20–21, 2017 at Eastside Community Bible Church, in Milford Ohio, wholeheartedly believe in and are committed to the proclamation and defense of the Christian faith. Our love for Christ and his gospel moves us to deplore how much of professed Protestantism has departed into apostasy, away from the faith once delivered to the saints. We lament that too many Christians, churches, and ministries disobey Scripture’s command to contend for the faith. Recognizing that Christ himself hates false teaching, we, his church, must hate it as well (Rev 2:14–16). We therefore commit ourselves to faithful gospel ministry that involves proclaiming the true gospel and earnestly contending for the faith, praying the Lord will help us to glorify him by obeying his commands and thereby accomplish his purposes.