Skip to comments.The Catholicization of the Protestant Church
Posted on 06/12/2009 5:58:20 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
In just a few days Im going to be walking in the footsteps of Martin Luther. Ill explore the halls of the church in Zurich. Ill be in Geneva when the Protestant world celebrates the 500th anniversary of Calvins death. And, Im afraid the Reformers would hardly recognize the Protestant church they struggled to birth.
In fact, I think Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin might think most Protestant churches are really just inconsistent Catholic churches. Five hundred years after these men and others risked their life to bring reform to the church and the Bible to the people, weve not only forgotten the lessons learned, weve surrendered the gains gotten.
Consider just a few of the ways in which the modern Protestant church resembles the Catholic Church of the 16th century:
Our pastors act like priests. Oh, its not that theyve usurped the priesthood of all believers. Weve given it to them wholesale. If we have a biblical question, we dont struggle to find the answer. We twitter the pastor. Hes the spiritual expert. If we need prayer, we dont call the deacons. We hold out for the pastor because we think theres some magic left in his words. Last, and certainly the worst, the public exposure of the raucous sexual sins of so many pastors would surely remind Luther of what he saw in Rome during his infamous visit to the so-called Holy City.
Our people have given up the Bible. Sure, we all have plenty. Some of us have handfuls of Bibles at home in every translation imaginable. We have Luther and others of that generation to thank for that great blessing. Yet, most of us dont actually read our Bibles. Statistics suggest that only a woefully small segment of the evangelical world reads the Bible with any regularity at all. Instead, we let the experts tell us what it says (see above). And to think, Wycliffe and others were willing to die so we could ignore the Bible in our own language.
Our churches are full of people who are not Christians. In the days of the Reformation, the Catholic Church was full of nominal Catholics, those who rarely darkened the church doors but who assumed their salvation was secure because of that loose association. Protestants today have confused church membership with salvation as well.
Compare your church rolls with active attendance and see how many members never come to church. Now go share the Gospel with them and see how many say, Im okay. Im a member of such and such church. Membership, not active faith, has become the basis of their assurance. That sounds an awful lot like what Luther confronted.
A group of Catholic and evangelical scholars and leaders got together to seek common ground between the two movements in the 1990s. Surprisingly, they found what they believed were points of commonality and issued a lengthy statement detailing their finds. The document, referred to as Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), was lambasted by evangelicals and Catholics alike. In the end, their desire for rapprochement was met with antipathy and suspicion.
Ironically, ECT failed, Im afraid, because they looked at the written theology of the church rather than its practiced theology. We say we believe one thing but all too often our actions belie another set of beliefs. If you look closely, youll find that many Protestants are far more Catholic than theyre willing to admit.
I(n 1680 my French Huguenot ancestors baked their Bible into a loaf of bread in order to smuggle it out of Francer as they fled for their lives ...
First to England...
Where they ate the loaf and read the Bible...
And then to America...where they founded a Huguenot/Christian town...
They wouldnt recognize England, the US, or their town today...
Thank goodness the Bible is still the same...
Now if we would reverence the Words within the same as they did...
And worship the God who wrote the Words the same as they did...
Truth is instinctive. It is Lucifer who breeds the lie.
Luther believed that as long as you had faith in the power of your baptism, you could do pretty much what you liked.
Calvin believed that people were predestined to be damned or saved.
If Protestants have shrugged off those two incubuses, it only shows their good sense.
Help me out here. Didn't Luther believe this also?
(This is a question.)
Nor would they recognize or revile the Catholic Church they would encounter today. I am pretty much sure that, if alive today, Luther would have remained a Catholic priest.
The question is, would he have been a CINO?
This article is unintentionally very damning towards Protestantism as a concept:
“And, Im afraid the Reformers would hardly recognize the Protestant church they struggled to birth.”
Hey, thanks for admitting that your sects were founded by men and not God.
“Five hundred years [later]... weve surrendered the gains gotten.”
No, you’re still holding on to our property. You didn’t gain much else.
“Our pastors act like priests.”
Your pastors were always just actors anyway. It’s not like they were sent by God or something!
“If we have a biblical question, we dont struggle to find the answer. We twitter the pastor. Hes the spiritual expert.”
What? You mean you’ve discovered that hierarchy and specialization were part of God’s plan and happen naturally anyway?
“Last, and certainly the worst, the public exposure of the raucous sexual sins of so many pastors would surely remind Luther of what he saw in Rome during his infamous visit to the so-called Holy City.”
Would they remind Luther of his own sins?
“Our people have given up the Bible.”
Your people never had it. Even Martin Luther knew that:
“We are compelled to concede to the papists that they have the Word of God, that we received it from them, and that without them we should have no knowledge of it at all.”
Martin Luther, Commentary on St. John...
“And to think, Wycliffe and others were willing to die so we could ignore the Bible in our own language.”
Wycliffe was willing to die for a vernacular Bible? Says who? He died of a stroke at his country parish essentially in internal exile. He didn’t die nor did he ever really risk death for anything. This is damning to Protestants just because it shows they have no idea what they’re talking about.
“Our churches are full of people who are not Christians.”
When was that ever different for sects?
“Compare your church rolls with active attendance and see how many members never come to church. Now go share the Gospel with them and see how many say, Im okay. Im a member of such and such church.”
Strange, my experience with Protestants is very different. I always get, “I believe in Jesus. That’s all that matters. I can do what I want. I don’t have to go to church. I’m saved.”
“If you look closely, youll find that many Protestants are far more Catholic than theyre willing to admit.”
No, if you look closely, you’ll discover that those Protestants are just being MORE Protestant. They’re doing what they want to do. That’s what Protestantism has always been about: a false belief in total freedom, a self-directed and subjective view of salvation based on feelings, etc.
Preach it brother!
I recall that Luther subscribed to the Augustinian version, not very different from official Roman Catholic dogma.
Calvin believed in something called "Double Predestination". Bound up with that is the concept of irresistible grace.
A contrary protestant theology stressing free will, Armenianism, started in the early 16th Century.
Today, Baptists and even many Presbyterians tend to be more Armenian rather than Calvinist.
There are passages in the Bible that can be used to support either position. That's one reason that some authority is necessary to understand scripture (Acts 8:30-31) despite the thesis of this article that anyone can just pick up a Bible and become a Christian.
Back to predestination, perhaps one of the many Calvinists who post on these threads can enlighten us as to the concepts of the TULIP.
I find it interesting that reformed theology is enjoying such growth.
Calvin appears to be cool today!
Excellent post,dear brother. Right on target!
“We have Luther and others of that generation to thank for that great blessing. Yet, most of us dont actually read our Bibles. Statistics suggest that only a woefully small segment of the evangelical world reads the Bible with any regularity at all.”
This is the part that will affect us all. We now have a society that no longer has a biblical world view. Rampant immorality, ignorance, no discernment, following corrupt spiritual vacuums like Obama, etc. Dark days ahead.
The best thing that could happen is for Protestants to become Catholics or at least to become more Catholic, and for Catholics to become less Protestant in their outlook and understanding of the faith.
A friend of mine, a former Lutheran minister who is now a Catholic and may be ordained as a priest in the not-too-distant future, makes the same point all the time. He constantly urges his fellow Catholics to strip away Protestant tendencies from their lives. He wants only the truth, the Catholic truth and nothing but the traditional Catholic truth. It’s humbling and inspiring to hear this come from a man who I know loves God with his whole heart and who also was a Protestant just a few years ago. God works miracles indeed!
“This is the part that will affect us all. We now have a society that no longer has a biblical world view.”
And that non-biblical world view developed out of the Protestant Revolution. It isn’t an accident that the Protestant Revolution came about in the 16th century and in just four centuries wherever that Protestant ethos went in the new nation states, government, commerce, philosophy, education, culture, etc. liberalism and modernism came in its wake destroying Christian culture and a biblical worldview. Pope Pius X knew this is what happened already over a century ago. He wrote:
“These reasons suffice to show superabundantly by how many roads Modernism leads to atheism and to the annihilation of all religion. The error of Protestantism made the first step on this path; that of Modernism makes the second; atheism makes the next.” section 39; PASCENDI DOMINICI GREGIS: ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE MODERNISTS
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS X, SEPTEMBER 8, 1907
Crossing the Tiber is two-way traffic.
I personally know Protestant pastors and elders who were once active and committed Catholics. These men are firmly committed to the truth as well and each felt that the Catholic Church perverted Biblical truth. I'm certain that their testimony would be just as strong and sincere as your former-Lutheran friend.
I think you misunderstood me. I did not mean to make this a Catholic v. Protestant argument. Countries where Catholicism is strong fair no better. Look at the northeastern United States where the RCC is more influential than say the deep south. People are more liberal and the leaders elected in no way reflect the teachings of their Church. The problem cuts across denominational lines.
BTW- I love that quote from Jerome. If Christ was the Word in the flesh then ignorance of Christ is ignorance of scripture indeed. Ties in nicely with our conversation.
“I personally know Protestant pastors and elders who were once active and committed Catholics.... I’m certain that their testimony would be just as strong and sincere as your former-Lutheran friend.”
Not at all. There can only be ONE truth. Those who invented Protestantism were not sent by God. They were founders of sects more than 1400 after Christ founded the Church and sent out the Apostles. The founders of sects do not represent or teach the truth. It’s just that simple.
“I think you misunderstood me.”
No, I don’t think I did. Honestly.
“I did not mean to make this a Catholic v. Protestant argument. Countries where Catholicism is strong fair no better.”
You’re missing the point. Protestant ethos is everywhere you find “modern” society. Protestantism ultimately produced what we call “Modernism” for instance. Wherever you find people - be they Protestants or Catholics or other Christians - you will find they have been tainted by Modernism. (That includes you, me, everybody). Protestant influence - through Modernism and Liberalism - is worldwide, completely pervasive among Christians.
“Look at the northeastern United States where the RCC is more influential than say the deep south.”
You’re just proving my point. In the South, the Church is not influential in society, but its Catholics are more authentically Catholic. I would rather be a Catholic in North Carolina than Boston. The Church is booming in the South and people are more generally and genuinely committed to the faith there. In the North East the faith is suffering, the Church is suffering and it all goes back to the pervasiveness of latter day Modernism that came out of the congrgationalist backed, liberal Protestant and Ivy League atheist culture complex. The South happily skipped all of that. Remember, the Church is made upof people. Yes, it’s guided by God so it still reaches some people no matter what the obstacles. But, when the culture become pervasively “post-Christian”, not so much anti-Christian but post Christian, then millions can be lead by the culture more demonstrably than by the Church. People supplant the Church and its teachings with Obama, television, class envy, drugs, sex, materialism, Buddhism, whatever! And that’s what has happened. And that is what Protestants have aimed for: supplanting the Catholic Church. It’s just that it happened in a way they did not expect or intend. Rather than bringing done the Catholic Church in a “righteous” movement, they created tens of thousands of sects. Rather than having proclaimed the truth which they had believed was hidden, they have emptied the very idea of truth of any import and relativism runs rampant. Unintended consequences.
“People are more liberal and the leaders elected in no way reflect the teachings of their Church. The problem cuts across denominational lines.”
The EFFECTS of Protestantism, Modernism and Liberalism, do cut across all lines. That’s exactly why I pointed out the quote from Pius X. Catholics have known about this for a very long time. Protestants still haven’t figured it out. Those who do figure it out generally become Catholics.
“BTW- I love that quote from Jerome. If Christ was the Word in the flesh then ignorance of Christ is ignorance of scripture indeed. Ties in nicely with our conversation.”
I’ve always liked the quote too.
Thank goodness the Bible is still the same...
Must be a little toasty. ;-)