Traditionalism is also for Protestants

Kristor’s recent announcement that he’s moving to Rome leaves Yours Truly as the only Protestant regular contributor to this website. More generally, there appears to this writer to be a pronounced bias among Christian traditionalists toward Catholicism or (capital-O) Orthodoxy. Presumably this is because Rome and Constantinople emphasize the authority and tradition that are perhaps the defining elements of traditionalism, whereas contemporary Protestantism, as opposed to the faith of the Reformers, not only lacks this emphasis but often tends (unfortunately) toward antinomianism.

But let it be known that this author is not moving to Rome and, more generally, that traditionalism and Protestants need one another.

For (switching temporarily to the first person) I am a Protestant by conviction, not just dislike of Romish practices. I was, in fact, raised in a liturgical (albeit liberal) United Methodist church, with robed ministers and choirs, organ music, stained-glass windows; the whole nine yards. (Or at least eight of them.) I have fond feelings for high-church Western Christian ritual. But I will not join Rome, for she has diluted and sometimes even contradicted the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

But the chief point of this post is not to badmouth Rome and Constantinople. It is to assert the need we Protestants have for traditionalism. Protestantism has an unfortunate tradition of flirting with antinomianism and libertarianism, and not just in the sphere of religion. But this tendency is not authentic Protestantism, and the need of the hour is for men to recognize and submit themselves to the great, overarching, God-ordained order of being, an order that is not only religious, but also political, social, esthetic, and intellectual. And only traditionalism can lead man to recognize this order fully.

While Protestantism rightly emphasizes Christ as fully sufficient for the salvation of the sinner and as the true head of the church, it often tends to neglect the need for authority and tradition. Protestants generally see politics, even in the broad sense of any activity that produces social order, as a corrupt business that will never make men holy and that only distracts from the Christian’s highest calling of bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ. But this view is distorted. Our nation has become disordered under the onslaught of liberalism, and the greatest social need of the hour is to promote a more sane social order. For this reason we also need Protestants to participate in the contemporary traditionalist movement, which calls people to acknowledge their participation—often unconscious—in the corrupt liberal system of the world and aspire to the formation of a more proper social order, one that, inter alia, promotes traditional sex roles, protects our people from mass immigration and other forms of suicidal “tolerance,” and honors Christianity.

Indeed, one of the greatest problems with Protestantism is that it has largely ceased being Protestant. The Reformers did not risk their lives in order that men and women could attend worship services wearing vulgar clothing, or join the latest goofy Christian fad, or remain grossly ignorant of the doctrines their fathers in the faith died to uphold.

No, the Reformers saw themselves as following in the footsteps of the Apostles, the church Fathers, and the rest of the great tradition of (lower case c) catholic Christianity. The Reformation did not seek to erase all Christianity prior to the year 1517 and start over. It asserted the truth of the faith founded by Christ and the Apostles, and it sought to remove the errors that had crept into Christendom over the centuries, by going “back to the source” (ad fonts) of true Christian doctrine, Scripture. Those beliefs and practices that contradicted clear scriptural teaching were opposed by and removed from the Protestant churches.

The Reformation did not seek to free men from authority, only from illegitimate authority. In addition to recognizing the supreme authority of Scripture (yes, God Himself is a higher authority than the Bible, but He does not hold regular office hours), the Reformation also recognized the authority of pastors and bishops, councils and consistories, creeds and confessions, teachers and pastors, kings and princes. And it also recognized the validity of tradition, provided that tradition does not violate the clear teaching of Scripture. True Protestantism affirms the authority and tradition that man needs in order to live well.

The Reformers, our fathers in the Protestant faith, were not revolutionaries. Our Protestant tradition is one of fidelity to Christ and the Apostles, a tradition which, regrettably, sometimes requires us to oppose institutions and practices that are of ancient vintage. But we oppose error because it really is error, not because we are contrarians, libertarians or antinomians.

And we contemporary American Traditionalists find ourselves in a situation similar to that which faced the Reformers: We are calling people back to the true American tradition that has been corrupted by many years of misguided innovation. We are simultaneously loyal to our nation and in opposition to the institutions that currently rule her. Our loyalty is based on our understanding of the truths that American tradition used to acknowledge, as well as a love for our people and its history. In this, we can learn from the Reformers, who loved people enough to call them back to the true Christian tradition.

Judd Wilson of the Founding Americans Political Action Committee has a four-minute video titled “Hope for America comes from our Identity” in which he makes the important point that whereas ideas and institutions can be infiltrated and subverted, a person’s identity is much more resilient. By a person’s identity, Wilson means who he is, who he belongs to, who made him, and what he lives for. The man who has a strong sense of all these will not likely be corrupted into the kind of nihilistic, hedonistic, rootless way of life that characterizes so many Americans nowadays.

So let us affirm our identity, for this gives us strength and stability in troubled times.

Our identity as Protestants is one of fidelity to Christ and the Apostles by reasserting the two fundamental principles of the Reformation: The authority of Scripture—the Word of God—over all human authority, and the non-negotiable Christian message to mankind that all must repent and have true faith in Jesus Christ—and nothing more—in order to be saved from the wrath of God. As a consequence of this second fundamental, our Protestant identity is reinforced by sermons that promote repentance and faith by the accurate expounding of Scripture, for the Bible says that “without faith it is impossible to please him [God]”  (Hebrews 11:6) and “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  (Romans 10:17.)

But this is not the totality of our Protestant heritage and identity.  Protestantism is not just rejecting the Pope, calling people to personal repentance and faith, and ignoring all else.  The Reformers (to say nothing of Christ and the Apostles) would never have endorsed modern “separation of church and state,” or the anarchy let loose by mass immigration, or the official endorsement of feminist rebellion against God-ordained sex roles, or the official institutionalization of the sexual revolution, or any of the other leftist corruptions of our society. They would never have done what so many of our churches now do: tacitly (or openly!) accepting most of the leftist revolution. The liberal churches do it because they agree with the Left, and the conservative churches do it because they think that fighting to preserve a properly-ordered society is not part of their job.  But consider the following quote often attributed to Martin Luther:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Luther was probably thinking of Christian preaching when he penned these words, but they have a wider meaning. The Devil is attacking us at many points, not just Christian doctrine. The accurate proclamation of God’s Word is of first importance. But it will take more than Christian preaching to restore America. All aspects of society will need to be strengthened and restored. All traditionalists, including Protestants, are needed for this effort.

About these ads

61 thoughts on “Traditionalism is also for Protestants

  1. Broadly speaking, converts to Catholicism used to reflect and decide on matters of high principle – i.e. doctrinal credibility of possessing the true sacraments, apostolic succession and papal authority, an uninterrupted tradition of Christian teaching, veneration of the Virgin Mary, validity of Holy Orders, and so on. (Chesterton and Ronald Knox are probably a couple of cases in point.)

    In contrast to the above, my impression is that many Protestants are now finding their road leads to Rome on what are almost pragmatic grounds. The chief consideration in the present-day drift toward Rome isn’t, apparently, a matter of theological principle: the motivation seems to be finding shelter in the Catholic Church from the storm of liberalism that rages throughout what used to be called Christendom.

    Not that Catholic Church itself is immune to infection by modern liberalism; obviously it is not. But many are persuaded that it is has a conservative foundation best fitted to weather the ‘liberal tempest’ (or, mixing metaphors, to resist the ‘infection’), and that it will prevail.

    Another thoughtful and lucid commentary by Alan Roebuck.

    • I think tradition-minded Protestants are seeking Rome because too many “Protestant” churches teach liberalism rather than Christianity. They see the pageantry and tradition of Rome, and assume that the theology is just as traditional, not suspecting that the Roman Catholic Church is every bit as compromised by liberalism as the church they are leaving. Rather than jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, they would be better served by finding a confessional Protestant church. Mr. Roebuck laid out the four basic types of modern Protestant churches, and how confessional churches differ—most notably by teaching Christianity rather than some attenuated feel-good malformation of it—in another post here on the Orthosphere.

      • they see the pageantry and tradition of Rome,

        I think it is a bit unfair to ascribe such shallowness to those who convert to Catholicism. The fact of the matter is that since the Vatican 2 the Church has greatly downplayed the “pageantry & tradition” aspects. I can’t see why anyone in the last 40 years would have converted based on the state of the liturgy to use one example. My main point being there are many Protestants who convert to Catholicism for many very compelling reasons not just facile ones.

      • I did not mean to imply that the only reason that Protestants might leave for Rome is the appeal of Roman pageantry, by which I mean the glory and beauty of a traditional service (at least as I have seen them portrayed in the movies; I intended this in a positive sense). I was thinking of those whose church experience has been the pabulum of worship “music” and Christianity-free social gospel sermons from Pastor Billy (or, worse yet, Pastor Lizzie). Should such a person find himself dissatisfied with such dreck, then it seems natural that he will look afield for satisfaction. Certainly traditional Roman theology (as opposed to Vatican II liberalism), as well as the Roman tradition, have a greater appeal than the liberalism such a person is accustomed to.

        The reason I say such a person is better off looking for a confessional church is that Protestantism has a theological richness that is ignored by the Christianity Lite-type of church, and that the serious religious seeker can find what he needs in that richness and depth. Confessional services are deeply rooted in the Bible, with responsive readings from Scripture, traditional hymns (often psalms; sometimes exclusively so), readings from both Testaments, and sermons that explore the fullness of the Bible.

  2. Although it would require you to discard a tradition, traditional Protestants might be well advised to ditch the word Protestant. First of all, it gives an exaggerated idea of Protestant unity and a false impression that there is a coherent body of doctrine known as “Protestantism.” I would not expect a man like you, who professes the Reformed tradition, to defend Mormons, Unitarians, or Christian Scientists, but the last three sects are certainly protestant, and arguably Protestant. They simply arose in protest against your Reformed tradition. And this leads to my second point, which is that the word Protestant implies a purely negative doctrine. I’m not denying that Protestant sects have (had?) positive doctrines, only that the name Protestant doesn’t clearly point to any these doctrines, but rather to the long historical process of religious innovation, schism and fragmentation in Western Christianity. Many traditions were born as this process unfolded, each with its distinctive creed and confession, and some of these are traditional. But the essence of Protestantism as a whole is revolt against tradition and authority.

    • …traditional Protestants might be well advised to ditch the word Protestant.

      A more accurate name for our enterprise would be “Christianity,” or perhaps “biblical Christianity,” to denote our reliance on Scripture as the ultimate authority. But mankind is stuck with the traditional word, Protestant

      …the essence of Protestantism as a whole is revolt against tradition and authority.

      That’s not our essence. It is an accidental property, necessitated by the deviation of the sixteenth century Christian establishment from the true teachings of Christ and the Apostles. The essence of Protestantism is fidelity to the true teachings of Christ and the rejection of counterfeits.

      The Reformers did not encourage general rebellion. They had a specific and limited agenda. Yes, mankind has a natural and sinful propensity to rebel against even legitimate authority, but that cannot be blamed on the Reformation.

      • I try to avoid using “Protestant” to mean “a Western Christian who disagrees with the Pope”. One motive is to head off that annoying criticism of traditionalist Catholics that they have become “basically Protestant” by criticizing the Pope, something that would only be true if Protestantism does have a purely negative essence. The other thing is that it seems silly to lump Calvinists together with, like JMSmith put it, Mormons, Unitarians, and Christian Scientists, as if all of these are doctrinally close to each other compared to Catholics and Orthodox.

        I do see the use in having a word for Lutherans, Calvinists, and other sects that arose in the sixteenth century over the same set of concerns on the doctrine of justification. Here there is a real and positive commonality, so we might as well call those people “Protestants”. If I do that, though, I must say that Mormons are not Protestant, although they are Christian.

      • None that I’m aware of. “Pietistic” is probably the best single descriptor, although it is too broad a generalization to be a good descriptor.

      • Alan@ I remember once telling an Episcopalian priest that I was Catholic and being rather taken aback by his angry retort that he was Catholic too. But I now make a point of specifying Roman Catholic when speaking to people who are jealous of the term. With this in mind, I must say that you cannot help yourself to titles like “Christianity” or “biblical Christian” since we non-Protestants also lay a claim on those titles. I think the most honest way to describe the traditions that were formed as a result of the Reformation is with the names of their founders: Lutheranism and Calvinism. We all understand that being a Calvinist means believing that Calvin’s interpretation of scripture “is fidelity to the true teaching of Christ,” but when engaging in ecumenical dialogue with “counterfeits” it might be better if you just called it Christianity as taught by Calvin, or Calvinism.

        Josh@ In the nineteenth century U.S., Protestants decided themselves into two, and sometimes three, divisions. The group that Alan wants us to call Protestants called themselves Trinitarians, Orthodox, or Evangelical. The other main group was called Liberal Protestants and it included Unitarians, groups that supplemented scripture with spiritual inspiration, and groups that denied the need for regeneration. The third division took in sects that were neither Liberal nor orthodox, such as Mormons, Christian Scientists, etc.

        BruceB@ I like the term Evangelical. It was used historically and indicates positive doctrine. Unfortunately, it seems to be taking on an increasingly narrow meaning and to be acquiring some unfortunate connotations.

    • I think, properly speaking, “Protestant” refers to Lutherans. Protestants were those who protested the outcome of the Diet of Worms.

      • That’s a common view among Lutherans. But there needs to be a general term for non-Catholic, non-Orthodox, non-heretical, western Christians, and “Protestant” is the traditional designation.

      • I think what unites Protestants is mostly the “sola fide” belief so maybe the term “Evangelical” is preferable to the term Protestant.” Evangelical” isn’t synonymous with sola fide but it’s pretty close. I tend to use “Evangelical” – most serious Christians that I encounter in real life are reformed Baptists so that’s usually who I’m thinking about when I say Evangelical.

      • > I think, properly speaking, “Protestant” refers to Lutherans. Protestants were those
        > who protested the outcome of the Diet of Worms.

        There is no need to discuss endlessly how to use a term, when it is already widely established how to use it: just read an encyclopedia, for example in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestantism

        It is pretty clear in the article that “Protestant” includes lutherans, anglicans and calvinists and all churches descending from them. There one can also read that adding mormons to the mix is controversial.

        Inventing our own definition will only cause confusion.

    • Mormons, Unitarians, and Christian Scientists are lower case p, protestant? They seem more like cults to me. I guess you may have a point; when I discovered the likes of SSPX, I did think to myself, “how protestant.”

      • We (Mormons) don’t consider ourselves Protestants and in most contexts its usually more misleading than not to refer to Mormons as Protestants.

  3. Anyone who is interested in viewing a traditional protestant critique of western civilization, culture, theology and contemporary trends can watch the ten episodes of “How Should We Then Live” by Francis Schaeffer on youtube. To J.M. Smith I would say that protestant is probably not the best term for non Catholic western Christians but it is a convenient box for referencing a disparate group. It should be remembered that “bible believing” congregations either explicitly or implicitly affirm the three ecumenical creeds.

  4. I guess we could call Protestantism, “Germanic Christianity.” It only seems to be dominant where the German-speaking peoples live (granted a few exceptions like the Finns & Estonians). Is this an accident of geography or something inherent in the Germanic speaking peoples?

    • I was wondering something very similar recently. Germany has always been a thorn in the Catholic Church’s side and today is no exception; the German bishops are almost uniformly awful and have been for a while. Is there something uniquely wicked in their national character?

      • I don’t know but I was thinking Germanic in the more general sense i.e. English, Dutch and Scandinavians too. I wonder if it’s a cultural (or who knows – maybe genetic ?!) tendency towards freedom/independence/individuality.

      • “I don’t know but I was thinking Germanic in the more general sense i.e. English, Dutch and Scandinavians too. I wonder if it’s a cultural (or who knows – maybe genetic ?!) tendency towards freedom/independence/individuality.”

        I’ve been observing people from those ethno-cultures for a while now and I do think there is a tendency toward radicalized individuality in them and that’s why there is not now, nor has there ever been, a very strong family culture in the USA – because the majority of United States citizens until perhaps recently, have been descendents of anti-family ethnicities, or people genetically opposed to family, even against their own conscious will. Their biology calls. So try they might, they just can’t quite “get it” when it comes to family values.

        Historically not only were they “just not that into” their own families, wherever they went in the world, they sought to break up the traditional cultures and family structures of the natives.

      • OSO@ You are partly right. Northern Europeans have historically had weak extended families, which may be one reason this was the first place on earth where true tribalism disappeared. On the other hand the nuclear family in Northern Europe was strong, at least historically. Monogamy was the rule at an early date and parental (and more especially paternal) investment in children was high. Of course many Northern European peoples (whether in the homeland or in the diaspora) today have devolved into atomic individualism. I think the great age of Northern European achievement, from around 1200 to around 1900, represented a sweet spot between the rigidity of tribalism and the anarchy of atomism. In that period Northern Europeans were sufficiently individualized to be able to form novel social institutions, without these being undermined by persistent loyalty to their tribe, but not so individualized (atomized) that they were incapable of loyalty, even to their spouses or children.

      • The Sagas and Anglo-Saxon literature clearly show a society with vast extended families that were quite loyal. So, I would say that the individualism and even the rise of the nuclear family were later affairs. Although I always found it interesting that ancient Germanic paganism differed from Roman paganism in that it was more fatalistic, had less use of images, and its priesthood was made up of village headmen and family patriarchs, unlike the elaborate colleges of the Mediterranean civilizations. Which all seem to correspond to differences between protestantism, at least the low church variety, and Catholicism. As for the Germans being uniquely wicked, I think they should be forgiven since they have repeatedly saved the world from the horrid blight that was founded when the thug Romulus and his thieving cohorts raped the Sabine women. Perhaps that is where Rome first acquired her historic penchant for stealing, or at least accumulating vast stores of wealth for her leader’s personal use, and rape, or at least molestation. Just kidding of course, but I am starting to find irksome how everyone on the right seems dedicated to blaming some ridiculously specific group for societies ills. It is either the Northern Europeans, Puritans, Blacks, Jews, or some other group. It is perfectly obvious who is to blame for society’s ills. It was a man and a woman and we all know what their names were. In addition of course to each and every one of us, who are also to blame.

    • > I guess we could call Protestantism, “Germanic Christianity.”

      No way. Well, actually now that you say it, it does make sense from a historical point of view …. it looks too much to be a coincidence that all historically protestant countries speak germanic languages, but:

      1> I think that one should not ignore that those same countries also have another thing in common: they have no borders with other religions. At 15xx Portugal and Spain had just finished reconquista. Italy always had sea battles with the arabs and turks. Poland had border with orthodox countries and Hungary with the Ottoman Empire. The germanic countries were the only ones completely surrounded by catholic countries. I think that places with high ethnic tension are less likely to produce divisionism. People at the time would have wanted to keep united as catholics, against the islamists or against the orthodox, for example.

      2> Don’t forget that the first reform was the Hussites in Bohemia, a slavic country … not to mention the reformation in Hungary (uralic) and France (which had many religious wars) and to a smaller degree Poland.

      3> Nowadays with the globalization of protestantism using the term that you propose makes absolutely zero sense.

      • It is no coincidence that the Reformation divided Northern Europe and Britain from the Roman Catholic South. What happened there was exactly the same thing that happened when Greek speaking Christianity and Latin speaking Christianity went their separate ways five centuries previously, and when European Christianity separated from Levantine Christianity roughly the same span of time before that. In the first century, all of this part of the world was under the rule of the Roman Empire. When the political unity collapsed, Christianity divided in accordance with the major cultural divisions.

  5. I too have noticed this bias towards Catholicism in this Traditionalist Conservative part of the blogosphere and often wondered what its source is. Is it merely a founder effect because James Kalb is a Catholic? Is it because Catholicism is more friendly to atheism and a secular / political orientation due to the concept of natural law being close to Catholic doctrine in certain ways and more forgiveness of those who don’t know Christ out of ignorance rather than willful rejection? If Protestantism has a built in rejection of political activism and being too “worldly” that would explain the lack of Protestants in a mostly politically focused endeavor like Traditionalist Conservatism.

    When I think of the Protestant / Catholic divide I tend to think of Protestantism as being much stronger from the point of view of religious revival or rebuilding the culture through rebuilding Christianity. As far as new growing churches teaching a patriarchal or complementarian message regarding gender relations the Protestants, particularly the Calvinists, are much further advanced than the Catholics. I’m thinking this is because of more religious entrepreneurism among Protestants, that there is a greater freedom among Protestants to start their own church and do things their own way and thereby capitalize on the growing desire among people to live in a community that supports and teaches traditional gender roles. If Catholics have to obey the church hierarchy and the church hierarchy is anti-traditional then it will be harder for contrarian teachings like patriarchy and complementarianism to grow within Catholicism.

    So maybe Protestant traditionalism is stronger religiously and Catholic traditionalism is stronger politically?

    I’d like to hear people’s thoughts on this.

    • Is it merely a founder effect because James Kalb is a Catholic?

      As I recall, Mr. Kalb was some sort of Protestant when he founded View From the Right. I know that he was when we corresponded back in the nineties. He passed VFR on to Lawrence Auster, and started Turnabout, right about the same time he crossed the Tiber — again IIRC.

      • I’m pretty sure Kalb was Lutheran. I don’t think he had a stop-over in Anglo-Catholicism before become RC (TLM), but I’ll ask him at the next NYC meetup. Auster was (rather disaffected) Anglo-Catholic most of his Christian life until the very end.

      • I can remember Kalb writing about a really bad experience with a particular Episcopal minister which is why I assume he was Anglican. Also, so many high church Anglicans end up swimming the Tiber. I guess it doesn’t really matter. He’s a papist now,.

    • If you are a Protestant, your impression that traditionalist conservatism is swarming with Catholics may be partly due to the fact that you notice a man’s Catholicism, but not his Protestantism. Another thing is that it is hard to be a traditionalist Catholic without being rather opinionated and thick-skinned. One must be able to survive under fairly steady hostility from secularists, Protestants (not all), and liberal Catholics.

      I wouldn’t put much faith in “entrepreneurialism” as a safeguard of tradition. An entrepreneurial clergyman follows his flock, and if he follows it into patriarchy today, he will follow it into feminism tomorrow. “Desire among people” is a very fickle thing.

      • > Another thing is that it is hard to be a traditionalist Catholic without being rather
        > opinionated and thick-skinned. One must be able to survive under fairly steady
        > hostility from secularists, Protestants (not all), and liberal Catholics.

        lol! Very true. As a protestant I am saddened by the flak between protestantism and catholicism … most of it of protestants attacking catholicism.

        Anyway, don’t think that protestants take that much less flak. I just saw a family member put a facebook post which ridicules brazilian protestants for being against gay marriage. And to try to attack this ridicule is nearly impossible, because I’ll be basically alone. Even most protestants will say that I should just shut up and “give the other cheek”. The liberal flak is so big that it completely eclipses our ridiculous Christian-Christian fighting.

        And it saddens me that we don’t really have any kind of answer against the liberal propaganda, and we are pretty much doomed to be defeated by a disgusting a vile enemy which basically does nothing more than repeat lies to exaustion, manipulate, offend and ridicule us through their greatest weapon: the liberal media.

      • As a protestant I am saddened by the flak between protestantism and catholicism … most of it of protestants attacking catholicism.

        Here on the Orthosphere, I mostly see Catholics demeaning and attacking Protestantism, especially Calvinism. I understand that Calvinism, by its very nature, claims that most Catholic teachings and practices are flat-out heretical, and that this position is taken, quite naturally, by Catholics as an affront. I just wish I didn’t have to keep seeing that ant-Calvinist reaction, and that I didn’t have to keep refuting the misinterpretations of Calvinism I see here.

        you notice a man’s Catholicism, but not his Protestantism

        It wasn’t until I started reading traditionalist websites in general, and the Orthosphere in particular, that I started to notice Catholicism at all. As a result of this, while my respect for the past achievements of the Catholic Church has increased, my respect for many individual Catholics has decreased, sad to say.

    • > I too have noticed this bias towards Catholicism in this Traditionalist Conservative
      > part of the blogosphere and often wondered what its source is.

      There are probably many reasons, I can name some:

      1> Many protestants are libertarians. I am yet to meet a libertarian catholic however, funny…
      2> Protestantism is highly fractured and therefore cannot build a mass of people big enough for a political movement
      3> Liberalism and leftism has contaminated a much higher % of protestant churches than catholic ones I think. Not that catholics are immune, leftist catholics are a large group.

      Anyway, it is funny that in the USA the conservative south is protestant and many liberal areas are catholic …

      Catholicism has some political success in some countries, I know Poland as an example, but I also know for sure that conservative Catholicism is an irrelevant force in many other places like Brazil, Portugal.

      > If Protestantism has a built in rejection of political activism and being too “worldly”

      Well, I wouldn’t say that if you look at the agenda of leftism protestantist organizations like the world council of churches which fought South African apartheit. When the political cause is leftist, be sure that leftist christians will use their pseudo-churches for political activism for this cause.

      > When I think of the Protestant / Catholic divide I tend to think of Protestantism as being
      > much stronger from the point of view of religious revival or rebuilding the culture through
      > rebuilding Christianity. As far as new growing churches teaching a patriarchal or
      > complementarian message regarding gender relations the Protestants, particularly the
      > Calvinists, are much further advanced than the Catholics. I’m thinking this is because of
      > more religious entrepreneurism among Protestants, that there is a greater freedom among
      > Protestants to start their own church and do things their own way and thereby capitalize on
      > the growing desire among people to live in a community that supports and teaches
      > traditional gender roles.

      I agree here.

      > So maybe Protestant traditionalism is stronger religiously and Catholic traditionalism
      > is stronger politically?

      Indeed, that is a possibility. But it was not always the case, calvinists were closely attached to the government in Switzerland and Scotland in the days of reformation.

      • “I am yet to meet a libertarian catholic however, funny”

        Many of the group that used to be called “paleolibertarians” are libertarian Roman Catholics. Lew Rockwell is the obvious example.

      • Thomas Woods is a prominent Catholic libertarian. Thomas Fleming and Chronicles have made some very strong criticisms of the Catholic libertarians.

    • I think the Natural Law tradition within Catholicism melds better with the agnostic worldviews of many on the Paleo Right—a pattern now largely repeated within Neo-reaction. I think it also has to do with Catholicism being an outsider faith within the Anglosphere for these… well getting on 5 centuries, and thus never being really at home (despite its late Vatican II protestations) in pluralist states.

      I doubt it has anything to do with founder bias. Unless by founder bias you mean Throne and Altar conservatism, which is naturally quite Catholic and quite ancient.

    • So maybe Protestant traditionalism is stronger religiously and Catholic traditionalism is stronger politically?

      I seriously doubt this. And it has nothing to do with doctrinal content. I think Traditionalism is the default human psychology. It is preserved by genes, and by culture well-conditioned to those genes. It is only upset by the presence of unnatural ideologies.

  6. Is it possible to maintain tradition without a formal priesthood? I have my doubts. Even though Protestantism started with Luther, the real meat of the Protestant tradition came from John Calvin. It is no accident that this was undermined by someone who never completed divinity school, namely Charles Finney.

    Judaism has similar split between Rabbinic Judaism (like Catholicism) and Karaite Judaism (like Protestantism). While my sympathies are with the Karaites, I believe they lost out because they lacked a priesthood. The rabbis are a clear priesthood for Rabbinic Judaism.

    • I think it depends upon what kind of tradition you are talking about. Almost all Protestant denominations have formal clergy. The Protestant denomination to which I belong, the Anglican Church of Canada, has priests and bishops. These are essential to preserving liturgical and sacramental tradition. When it comes to theological and moral doctrine, however, they have often been the innovators. The Brethren groups that have no clergy have no liturgical tradition worth speaking of but they also have little in the way of liberal theological and moral innovation.

      The comparison you make with Judaism is interesting. Did the rabbis not begin as an order of lay leaders back when the Levitical priesthood was still around and functioning in the Temple in Jerusalem? Are they now considered official replacements for the Levitical priesthood?

      • From what little I know about the Anglican Church, it seems like a compromise between Protestantism and Catholicism. The idea of a priesthood of all believers seems common in most of Protestantism and conflicts with the idea of a formal clergy.

        Of the Brethren groups, I was interested in the Anabaptists who have a lot of appealing ideas. I knew about the Amish and traditional Mennonites, but in researching them I found that they also include some very liberal groups. So the Anabaptists have really splintered precisely because they lack a priesthood to keep things together. The only ones that manage to keep tradition are those that isolate themselves from the world. This is in contrast to Hasidic Judaism which can face the world and resist thanks to a strong rabbinic “priesthood”.

        I have spent some time trying to find the origin of Rabbinic Judaism, but it isn’t easy. Rabbinic Jews want to hide this history because they want to claim to go back to the beginning of Judaism. As best as I can tell, the split that led to Rabbinic Judaism started after the Maccabees and became a serious movement around the time of Hillel, basically during the first century BC. Though it isn’t said explicitly, for all practical purposes the rabbis now function as replacements for the Levitical priesthood in Rabbinic Judaism. The Karaites rebelled against this, just as the Protestants rebelled against the Catholic Church.

    • “Even though Protestantism started with Luther” — would you like to refine that comment? (1) It seems to ignore reformers such as Hus and Wyclif. (2) More seriously, it seems to assume that Luther came up with novelties. But — particularly when you read Martin Chemnitz — it seems more accurate to say that Luther emphasized elements of existing tradition that were being overwhelmed or denied by other elements (e.g. denial to the laity of the Eucharist in both kinds, the doctrine of purgatory, etc.) — a clarification and a cleansing of what was, not a bringing forth of something ex novo.

      Martin Chemnitz treats the subject of tradition in the first volume of his Examination of the Council of Trent. It features extensive passages from the Church Fathers. I found it helpful.

      • Hussites took control of the whole of Bohemia and Wyclif had many formal followers called the Lollards that had their own congregations and pamphlets. Furthermore the Waldensians were dominant in certain regions although whether they count as protestant is debatable. So protestantism had corporeal manifestations at least since the 1300′s, long before Luther.

  7. Greetings to all,
    Well I am a Christian with sympathies for all who call upon the name of Christ in true faith and seek to obey his commands contained in the Gospels and the rest of the NT delivered through the Apostles and servants of His word undiluted by any other traditions. Any other tradition being unnecessary for salvation The gospels are the most authoritative traditions and so any traditions which come after are of less and questionable importance and pedigree. This is the case because Christ is the author of our salvation and is sufficient for our salvation. All others are but stewards of what He delivered and we have no other source but the scriptures. I doubt any Christian can argue effectively otherwise. Everything must be built faithfully upon Him and everything is subject to scrutiny which came after Him since as believers we are exhorted to exercise discernment and our senses to the distinguishing of the will of God, it is not the prerogative of priests to rule over anyone’s faith. That is not a matter of politics or philosophy but of scripture which is the authoritative tradition for all, including the Church Fathers who came after as evidenced in their writings. they all looked to scripture first and primarily as the rule of faith. It is only when scripture as the most authoritative traditions were thought to be insufficient or silent or unclear that any other tradition was considered but no tradition can violate or negate Scripture. Scripture was also scripture’s constant reference. That is my position.
    I have just recently discovered this site and find it very interesting but I don’t know how well I will fit in here. Yet I will give it a try.

    • Welcome, and I hope you stay. I certainly don’t fit in here at all but they seem to tolerate me; I’ve only had a few comments deleted so far!

      • That’s funny. I consider myself a recovering nihilist struggling with constant temptations to kill everything with highly lethal doses of irony, or whatever weapons of opportunity.

  8. It is a shame that more Protestants are not aware of their traditions. My Father once met a Lutheran minister who had not heard of the Bondage of the Will. Even those who are aware of the history of the Reformation are ignorant of Hus, Wycliffe, Bradwardine, Aelfric, Ratramnus, and Gottschalck. Protestant theology has quite an ancient pedigree itself. It is equally a shame that more protestant republicans don’t read Robert Filmer and Hadrian a Saravia.

  9. In my own circles — adherents to the Lutheran Confessions — there seems to be a greater degree of interest in catholic tradition on the part of the relatively younger as opposed to retirement-age pastors. A huge recovery of writing by Martin Chemnitz is one element in this phenomenon. Chemnitz is the author of four large volumes responding to the Council of Trent and a tome, The Two Natures in Christ, that has been used at an Eastern Orthodox theological academy. He belonged to the generation after Luther. For those who like blogs, I’d say check that of Pr. William Weedon.

  10. Kristor’s recent announcement that he’s moving to Rome leaves Yours Truly as the only Protestant regular contributor to this website. More generally, there appears to this writer to be a pronounced bias among Christian traditionalists toward Catholicism or (capital-O) Orthodoxy.

    It’s great that you’ve posted this, Alan, because I’ve been thinking exactly the same thing recently. In truth, I do have misgivings about cooperating with Papism, and I’ve been dismayed by the Orthoshift towards Papistry, but for the nonce I choose to grapple with those misgivings rather than succumb to them.

    I’ve been reading God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible, a first-rate book that I recommend highly. It’s not only an account of the actual translation, it also offers a thorough yet very readable explanation of what the disputes and differences were between various sects of the Christian church in Britain at the time. I found it enjoyable not least because of how familiar to our own discussions many of the issues sounded. For instance, here is an excerpt from a passage describing King James’s aversion to Presbyterianism:

    This was the crux. James’s experience of angry and threatening Presbyterians in Scotland, who endlessly and loudly promoted the theory that kings were subject to God’s and so to the church’s judgement, was never going to return to that. It was too challenging and uncomfortable.

    In other words, there was vigorous debate about the proper relationship between church and non-church authority, and about the proper role of monarchy – debate which shaped the creation of the KJV (but you’ll have to read the book for the rest of that story). And some of us imagined that these were new discussions!

  11. And we contemporary American Traditionalists find ourselves in a situation similar to that which faced the Reformers: We are calling people back to the true American tradition that has been corrupted by many years of misguided innovation. We are simultaneously loyal to our nation and in opposition to the institutions that currently rule her. Our loyalty is based on our understanding of the truths that American tradition used to acknowledge, as well as a love for our people and its history. In this, we can learn from the Reformers, who loved people enough to call them back to the true Christian tradition.

    Well you speak for yourself but certainly not for all here. I find the Orthosphere’s take on liberalism especially America’s own original homegrown liberalism to be refreshing and much needed as the mainstream American right essentially is a fusion of Protestantism and Anglo-liberalism.

  12. As a Protestant and a traditionalist, I greaty appreciate this piece.

    The Catholic and Orthodox churches are following the mainline Protestant churches, and traditionalists in the former are soon to feel just as alienated as they currently do in the latter. Even SSPX recently expelled Bishop Williamson. Hopefully it will soon become apparent to all traditional Christians that any church that is tolerated by the current system to any degree will inevitably become a tool of the enemy.

  13. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2013/12/04 | Free Northerner

  14. Pingback: DO YOU THINK MIGHT MAKE RIGHT? — PART 6 | Citizen Tom

  15. Pingback: Traditionalism Is Also For Protestants | Will S.' Miscellany

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s