"But your stereotypes do not match the reality for a whole lot of people."
It was a Mr Stereotype I was responding to and there are a great many clones of him running around these parts.
That being the case, it's rather odd that the those who "stay away from stereotypes" so seldom speak up to counter the constant stream of negative stereotypes posted about Catholics. Ignoring the posts full of such stereotypes is at the very least tacit agreement with exactly the sort of thing you say you "stay away from".
There is no stereotyping involved in the posting of facts, and I posted facts. One, that the overwhelming majority of people in this country are Protestant, and two that the society we live in has been shaped primarily by that overwhelming majority.
While there are plenty of Catholics who are Catholic in name only and plenty of true faithful Christians among the Protestant majority in this country, neither of those facts changes the third and more important fact. That third fact is that the Protestant doctrine of individual interpretation of Scripture is the wellspring the relativism that has all but destroyed the Christian social order in this country flows from.
Individual interpretation enshrines the individual, not Christ, and has led to the now prevalent idea that there is no absolute truth valid for all people, in all places, at all times. That relativism in and of itself is a denial of Christianity and that denial of Christianity flows directly from an acceptance of fundamental Protestant doctrine. Relativism, in turn, is what has undermined Christianity in this country and given us the society we now have.
There are a lot of Catholics anxious to be Protestant in all but name who echo and implement the Protestant doctrine of personal interpretation in spite of still calling themselves Catholic. Such Cafeteria Catholics are in reality just little clones of Luther staging their own personal revolt against The One True Church. Those little revolts lead to the same destination the Protestant revolt leads to. That destination is a humanist society that worships and enshrines as the final authority in all things not Christ, but The Most High and Holy Self
The real irony here is that it is Aquinas, not Luther, who, at least according to some, opened that Pandoras box:
Philosopher Leonard Peikoff, a Randian Objectivist, and therefore certainly not a Protestant, writes:
Whator whoended the Middle Ages? My answer is: Thomas Aquinas, who introduced Aristotle, and thereby reason, into medieval culture. In the thirteenth century, for the first time in a millennium, Aquinas reasserted in the West the basic pagan approach. Reason, he said in opposition to Augustine, does not rest on faith; it is a self-contained, natural faculty, which works on sense experience. Its essential task is not to clarify revelation, but rather, as Aristotle had said, to gain knowledge of this world. Men, Aquinas declared forthrightly, must use and obey reason; whatever one can prove by reason and logic, he said, is true. Aquinas himself taught that faith is valuable as a supplement to reason. But this did not alter the nature of his revolution. His was the charter of liberty, the moral and philosophical sanction which the West desperately needed. His message to mankind, after the long ordeal of faith, was in effect: It is all right. You dont have to stifle your mind anymore. You can think.
And that is how I also learned the history of the evolution of the enlightenment, though I learned this from a Christian law school professor who was Catholic in sympathies if not formally so, though I do believe Peikoff also oversimplifies things. Aquinas began a noble project, not intended to contaminate Christian thought with pagan constructs, but to recapture the good from Aristotle and consolidate it under the banner of Christendom. But in that process he moved away from the Augustinian relationship between faith and reason and made them out to be near equal companions rather than master and servant. This paved the way for the founding of modern philosophy as an independent exercise of reason, and made fertile ground for the Darwinian scientific revolution in thought, which has far more to do with modern relativism than anything Luther and Calvin cooked up. If anything, their reform views were a serious attempt to reinstate the Augustinian balance, and thus represent the more conservative impulse.
Now I know we can and probably will go on at great length about the whole constellation of issues that separate us, and thats all well and good if it is conducted with some mutual respect, and with a view to building up and not tearing down. But please understand, we who honor Christ, and the words of Christ, are not even going as far as your own Aquinas in terms of liberating our reason, but are merely using the natural reason God gave all men, aided by Gods own Spirit, who is specially promised to all who believe, to subject ourselves to the authority of the God-breathed Scriptures, not ourselves or other men, which is why we share a common confession in so many important particulars with our separated brethren across the Tiber. Its in the Book, for all to see. We should be careful not to disturb the cords that bind us, if at all possible, and especially for reasons that have so little basis in fact.