Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reformation Nostalgia

I was thinking about the point below on what modern Protestant Judaizers might think of their Reformation brethren if they'd read something like On the Jews and Their Lies. This brought another question to mind.

Just what do modern Protestants think of the Reformation anyways? I hear a lot of folks, especially Pentecostals and "non-denominational" folk who claim that the early Church believed exactly as they do. This is why you see a lot of them bandying around the label of "apostolic." I've known Baptists who buy into the Trail of Blood. I'm pretty sure the JWs I've talked to carry similar views.

Do they think of the Reformers the same way? Do our contemporary Protestant brethren think Luther, Calvin, etc. all believed the same thing and that this thing is the same as they believe (whatever group they may belong to)? Given the praises I see heaped in the Reformers' direction, I have to think that there's some ideas like this floating around out there. Of course, this basically means that these modern groups either don't know what the Reformers thought, don't care what they thought, or just care enough to know that whatever it was, it wasn't Catholic, and that's good enough.


Chants a Lot said...

I can comment based on my experience, training, and personal study as a Protestant. I was a member of three different denominations (and regularly attended services at a fourth for a few years) before I was received into the Catholic Church. The answer to this question really depends on which group of protestants you ask. Those in a very free church tradition such as Baptists, Pentecostals, "Apostolics", and "non-denominational" communities, believe, as did the Campbellites, that they are seeking to be "New Testament" Churches, which means that they look only to the New Testament to determine how, for example, to worship and to govern their communities. They ignore any development that occurred after the writing of the Apocalypse. And, of course, they all disagree about what the New Testament teaches on many issues.
Those who stand in the tradition of the more "magisterial" reformation (i.e., Luther and Calvin), and hold to the various 16th-Century confessions and catechisms (and have not jettisoned their orthodoxy in favor of liberalism or political correctness) acknowledge that Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli disagreed on many issues. Unlike the Baptists and others mentioned above, however, they do not use the Bible as a catechism, but they derive from and test against scripture alone their various catechisms and confessions. Calvinists of today believe that their systematic theology is the very system actually contained in the Scriptures and is clear enough to those who are trained in Hebrew and Greek and can, based on their training, exegete the originals. Those who continue to teach these historic protestant confessions believe that the differences in their teachings are to be attributed to the sad fact that Christians are fallen human beings and are just not going to agree on everything, even on some important issues such as Baptism and Communion. Implicit in this belief is the idea that "our" group is correct, and that everyone is just muddleheaded in their interpretation of scripture and in their theology.
Of course, those who have followed the way of liberalism or political correctness would find your question irrelevant.
All of this proves the point, often made in the Catholic blogosphere, that protestantism is inherently divisive and schismatic.

Chants a Lot said...

I forgot to mention that what has historically united all protestants is their espousal of or implicit belief in the "five solas":sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria. These affirmations, both in their original formulations and in their subsequent development, as a summary of what protestants believe, have in the past distinguished protestants from Catholics. This is still true among those who faithfully hold to the historic protestant confessions.

Throwback said...

That's part of my thinking here. The 5 solas ain't what they used to be, especially sola scriptura. The groups coming out with "new revelation" are astonishing. I think everybody and their brother has a "prophet" or a "prophetess" on staff these days.

All this while the classic Reformed churches are dying.