The End of Protestantism – A Response
At the behest of a dear friend and brother – Fr. Kenneth Tanner – I read an article by Peter J. Leithart titled “The End of Protestantism.” What follows is my response to a thread begun by Fr. Kenneth on Facebook (the place where all intellectual discourse should occur…).
We are all children of the reformation, including our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church, which responded and adapted to post-Reformation social and theological constructs). Our faith traditions require the Reformation as a point of origin. The Church as a social and cultural institution experiences the same process, dynamics, and changes as any other cultural institution because it’s populated by people. I agree with the author and understand the need for caricature in his very well written article to make his point, but caricature doesn’t facilitate unity or explain the real reasons the divide is in fact far deeper than the article would suggest. I completely agree that “salvation is inherently social;” however, I believed this growing up in the Presbyterian Church. We believed that salvation was a both and, i.e. we individually and communally experience salvation in Christ. Were we flawed Presbyterians? While the moniker is highly problematic I count myself a reformational [anglo] catholic.
Currently it appears to be en vogue to long for or hope for the death of Protestantism as though it’s some sort of beast that needs to be put down. I’ve noticed several of the “hipsters” (for lack of a better adjective) strongly identifying as anti-protestant or post-Protestant while still attending a church (small “c”) that is very much a child of the Reformation. It’s hip to be pseudo-catholic or pseudo-orthodox, but it’s not hip to actually follow the path to the Orthodox Church or the Roman Catholic Church…because it’s still about individuality. Whenever I talk with someone who professes a deep love of the Pope and the teachings of his church and ask why they’re not actually a member of the Roman Catholic Church (or as many of my RC brothers and sisters refer to it, “the Church”) they have a reason that is sometimes theological and sometimes presented as historical, e.g. “I don’t believe that we should submit to the Magisterium” or “I don’t believe that the Papacy is actually valid.” Whatever the reason, essentially you are still protesting – you are Protestant. Let’s stop being disingenuous about our Protestant and individualistic affectations when it comes to theology and praxis. Admit that you’re Protestant…stop idealizing your a-historical view if the ancient church as “the Church” and follow Christ. Love Jesus. Love him with every fiber of your being (if you’ve truly been encountered by the Resurrected Christ and been filled with the Holy Spirit this shouldn’t be a challenge). Stop pretending that your not Protestant. If we really want to get back to or ancient roots my mostly Northern European ancestors (Germanic & Scandinavian) would be martyring us right now. That’s my heritage. I’m am ethnically pagan and should be hacking you to bits, but IN CHRIST I AM ADOPTED INTO THE FAMILY OF GOD. We are all children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords whether or not we burn incense, wear drapes, quote the Heidelburg Confession…whatever. We are loved by God in Christ!
I would have kept going but my soapbox collapsed…it must have been Protestant. Man…I got a splinter. It’s keep quoting the Scofield Study Bible. Not a fan of splinters…