What Evangelical Religion is not

According to J. C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool 1880–1900

the exaltation of the ministerial office to an unscriptural place and extravagant dignity… is likely to ruin the Church

I go on to say that Evangelical Religion does not under value the Christian ministry. It is not true to say that we do. We regard it as an honourable office instituted by Christ Himself, and of general necessity for carrying on the work of the Gospel. We look on ministers as preachers of God’s Word, God’s ambassadors, God’s messengers, God’s servants, God’s shepherds, God’s stewards, God’s overseers, and labourers in God’s vineyard.

But we steadily refuse to admit that Christian ministers are in any sense sacrificing priests, mediators between God and man, lords of men’s consciences, or private confessors. We refuse it, not only because we cannot see it in the Bible, but also because we have read the lessons of Church history. We find that Sacerdotalism, or priestcraft, has frequently been the curse of Christianity, and the ruin of true religion. And we say boldly that the exaltation of the ministerial office to an unscriptural place and extravagant dignity in the Church of England in the present day, is likely to alienate the affections of the laity, to ruin the Church, and to be the source of every kind of error and superstition.

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