In Proposition 77, George Peters states:
“The doctrine of the Kingdom, as held by the early church, was finally almost exterminated under the teaching and power of the Papacy.”
I am not the most astute student of church history. With that said, it can rightly be submitted that a reason for the Reformation was to address in part the proposition Peters is making. Many biblical doctrines such as the doctrine of the Kingdom were under attack. Control of all taught doctrine under the watchful eye of the Papacy resulted in determining that whatever was taught was in keeping with the purposes of the church organization, regardless of whether it aligned properly with Scripture.
The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 77 is the following:
“Theology, under the constant surveillance of a church jealous of its delegated kingly authority, in its more systematic arrangements, was entirely controlled so as to favor the substituted Kingdom. We find, therefore, in all such works, running down through the scholastic age to the Reformation, a set apologetic defense of the Romish notions of the Kingdom. Starting with the idea – often taken for granted as a settled premise or inferred by far-fetched inferences – that the Romish Church is the predicted Kingdom of the Messiah, everything is made to bend to that theory. The utterances of later Fathers, the decrees of Councils, and the self-interested statements of Popes and Prelates, are appealed to with unbounded confidence, just as if, in so fundamental a matter, the fallible utterances of man were equal, if not superior, to Scripture itself; – and as many of these thus quoted had been canonized by the church they favored, their saintship corroborated, in the eyes of many, the claims and doctrines endorsed. To oppose such a swollen stream, guarded by thousands upon thousands of devoted adherents, was simply to risk reputation and life.”
The Roman Catholic Church rightly is within the bulls-eye if you will in this particular observation. I do wonder at times if evangelicalism in all its various denominations and theological traditions does not at times take a similar approach. While there is no Papal oversight within evangelicalism controlling doctrine, there are denominational pet peeves so to speak, various decrees and traditions that at times can be elevated to the place of Scripture. Moreover, the teachings of church leaders through the years can rise to a place of undue prominence where their statements and writings are referenced first rather than looking at what God has revealed in His Word. Many times I fear the same issues we rail against the Catholic Church for promoting are issues we can also be tempted to resort to and in many occasions we have resorted to such an approach. Great care must be taken to always remain faithful to God’s Word. The writings of man and decrees and traditions are often helpful, but they are not holy writ and should never be viewed as such, especially when it comes to a vital doctrine such as the Kingdom of God.