Posted on: January 4th, 2024 Against Mainline Protestantism

For at least a quarter of a century, the phrase “mainline Protestantism” has given given me the heebyjeebies.

When I hear that phrase, I come close to throwing up in my mouth a little bit.

The last thing in the world I want is to be a minister in a “mainline Protestant denomination.” The very existence of “denominations” is from the pit of Hell.

I want more than anything to be a minister, a priest, a presbyter, in the Catholic tradition.

Now, I love the Reformers. Well, I don’t always love them … but I do insist that they have a role. They bear witness to something important, even if the Reformation was a necessary evil, a mixed bag, full of destructive and demonic impulses and instincts which, after the fact, have polluted western culture and can never be healed or remedied.

Calvin’s idea of our mystical union with Christ and his pneumatic Eucharistic theology are needed and are both biblical and beautiful. Luther’s Christian existentialist psychology reminds us that without Christ—and Christ alone—we are truly fucked, and is, properly understood, balm to the weary and afflicted soul.

And the Anglican Reformers, especially Cranmer & Hooker! They are the gold standard of Christian theology and spirituality, even if they are largely, even mainly, “Reformational.”

So, I’m down with being a certain kind of alternative Protestant. OK, yes.

The best term for this is the term “Anglican.”

But mainline Protestant? No thanks.

If you were to ask me: “Matt, you have to choose between being a ‘white evangelical’ and a ‘mainline Protestant,'” I’d run away in horror.

In short, I’m not a mainline Protestant. I refuse to be that.

I’m a Catholic Christian, a Reformed Catholic.

I’m Anglican, baby.

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Filed under: liturgical theology, political theology, Radical Orthodoxy, theology / ecclesiology | Comments Off on Against Mainline Protestantism

Posted on: July 31st, 2013 My Take on (American) Evangelicalism

Thanks to my friend Tish for posting this, I assume at least partly in response to this. And also one should see this, with which I heartily agree.

Of course “evangelicalism” is a slippery term b/c it is both a sociological descriptor and a theological tradition.

Question: where does Catholic Christianity figure in all this?

Reason I ask: I walked away from evangelicalism (at least in my own mind!) not so much b/c it was so militantly opposed to progressive culture (in terms of science, poverty, & liberal politics … the things cited in the title of Tish’s blog post), as Tish’s interlocutors (eg, Rachel Evans) seem to be saying and against which Tish seems to be protesting, but precisely for the opposite reason.

I see evangelicalism as being part and parcel with secular culture: individualistic, private, trend-obsessed, market based. (Example: show me a church planter’s vision statement [the mere fact that evangelicals use “vision statements” speaks volumes] that does not tacitly try to position itself in terms of the contemporary religious “market” in America.)

Which of course is why many, many of those who decry evangelicalism are themselves … evangelicals. It is now trendy in evangelical circles to be progressively anti-evangelical. (Witness the “emergent church” … as I throw up in my mouth a teency bit.)

Evangelicalism, as best I can discern, is not sacramental; it is not sacred; it is not other worldly; it is not mystical; it is not transcendent; it is not rooted in history (by and large). I say this as an ex-evangelical (said in the most wounded tone of voice I can muster, imagining myself to have gone through a painful “de-conversion” experience.)

I’ve been convinced for about a decade now that evangelicalism is actually the reverse face (the “kissing cousin” or the “other side of the coin”) of our distinctively American secular culture.

 

 

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