I have not really thought of myself as a Protestant for some time even though that is the assumption in America is that if you are not Roman Catholic, you must be Protestant.The reasons are myriad but a great summary can be found in Carl Trueman's recent interview with Table Talk, Understanding The Times, a look at what ails evangelicalism.
Carl has a knack for saying something I disagree with but in a delightfully written way. He comes from a school of thought that I understand and recognize but now seems so alien that it is almost bizarre.He does always write well and I found this statement to be fascinating.
TT: What do you mean when you say that evangelicals need good, solid reasons for not being Roman Catholic?
CT: Rome has chronological
priority over any Protestant denomination. Thus, Protestantism was and
is a movement of protest. We are by definition protesting against
something: the claims of the papacy, the burying of the gospel under
garbage, the denial of assurance to ordinary Christian believers. We
must never forget these things. We should respect our Roman Catholic
friends; we should rejoice in the great doctrine we hold in common; but
we must not minimize that which divides us from each other.
As for me, I reject both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism as institutions while trying my best to love my brothers and sisters in both camps. I do nor recognize the legitimacy of Rome in any way, shape or form and therefore I do not see any reason to protest against her. My foundation is not in Rome nor in Geneva with Calvin or Wittenberg with Luther or even in Zürich with the start of the Radical Reformation. The foundation of the church goes back to the Gospels, Acts and the Espitles and it is there that we must always and continually return. We certainly have much to learn from those who have gone before, the church fathers, the theologians, the reformers and the Anabaptists but that is not where we should focus our attention. I worry that we spend too much time worrying about what Calvin wrote or what this papal encyclical says and not enough on what God has to say.
Protestantism never has and never can leave Rome entirely. If we are seeking to follow Jesus we need to go back to the beginning, back to Him. The more we identify with man-made institutions, the more we get entangled in them and the harder it becomes to see the way of the cross.