I saw this quote from Charles Hodge on another blog, and thought it merited some comment.
Dr. John Henry Newman says, that if Protestants insist on making the Church of Rome Antichrist, they thereby make over all Roman Catholics, past and present, “to utter and hopeless perdition.” This does not follow. The Church of Rome is to be viewed under different aspects; as the papacy, an external organized hierarchy, with the pope, with all his arrogant claims, at its head; and also as a body of men professing certain religious doctrines. Much may be said of it in the one aspect, which is not true of it in the other. Much may be said of Russia as an empire that cannot be said of all Russians. At one time the first Napoleon was regarded by many as Antichrist; that did not involve the belief that all Frenchmen who acknowledged him as emperor, or all soldiers who followed him as their leader, were the sons of perdition. That many Roman Catholics, past and present, are true Christians, is a palpable fact. It is a fact which no man can deny without committing a great sin. It is a sin against Christ not to acknowledge as true Christians those who bear his image, and whom He recognizes as his brethren. It is a sin also against ourselves. We are not born of God unless we love the children of God. If we hate and denounce those whom Christ loves as members of his own body, what are we? It is best to be found on the side of Christ, let what will happen. It is perfectly consistent, then, for a man to denounce the papacy as the man of sin, and yet rejoice in believing, and in openly acknowledging, that there are, and ever have been, many Romanists who are the true children of God.:”(From Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology)”:
Contrast this balanced statement with the way men such as Luther, Calvin, Hodge, Warfield, Machen, Bahnsen, etc. are often quoted by Protestant apologists. How often are instances of bombastic rhetoric against Rome cited, while passages like the above are simply passed over? More to the point, why are passages like the above simply passed over in favor of the others? Passages like the above provide much needed, sober-minded context for traditional anti-Roman polemics. When those traditional polemics are cited without any context, the result is not honest reporting of Reformation concerns but instead an atrocious spooftexting of them.