According to John Newton, popery “has a very extensive sense”. Newton believe that anyone that desired to confine another person to “follow his sentiments, whether to doctrine or order, is so far a papist”. He then described a consistent thus:
Whoever encourages me to read the Scriptures, and to pray for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and then will let me follow the life of the Lord gives me, without being angry with me because I cannot or will not see with his eyes, nor wear his shoes, is a consistent Protestant.
One of the reasons that I love John Newton so much is because of his gracious spirit and desire to see unity within the body. He constantly strove to encourage believers of all stripes to “love one another, bear with one another, to avoid dispute; and if they must strive, to let their strife and emulation be who shall most express the life of the Son of God in their temper and conduct”.
If we really believe the gospel and the unity that Christ has bought for us then we have no other option than to pursue the type of unity and mindset that Newton models and exhorts us towards. Consistent Protestantism means that we believe in the priesthood of all believers and we believe that the Spirit guides others just as much as us. It means that we humbly acknowledge that the Christ is Lord over their lives and not us or any other “vicar of Christ”.