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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Posted on: July 8th, 2020 Hösle on Luther’s post-Reformational Germany

The following lines are so interesting that I cannot but quote them in full:

In his great study Die europäischen Revolutionen[1] Eugen Rosenstock–Huessy (1888–1973), one of the last German universal scholars in the humanities and social sciences, spoke of a “princely revolution” in connection with the Reformation. The formation of religiously autonomous small states with their own local universities (whereas the U. of Paris had been a European university) and an officialdom devoted to the sovereign and enjoying great prestige was one of the most important results of the German Reformation. In the seventeenth century, as in the Middle Ages, England got along with only two universities, but this did not in the least hinder its rise to become the economically and politically most advanced nation in Europe, while German had about forty universities, despite its late adoption of the institution. Princes and professors/pastors/officials were the pillars of the new order, and while the princes disappeared in 1918, Germany is still basically, even in its Catholic areas, a professors-and-officials state such as exists nowhere in the world. Although on most questions Lutheranism occupies a middle position between the Catholic Church and the Reformed denominations that freed themselves from medieval ideas much more decisively than Luther did, there is one issue one which Calvinism stands closer to Catholic doctrine than does Lutheranism, namely the right of resistance, to which both Catholicism and Calvinism cling. Luther, by contrast, radically rejects this right, and however much he believes he is authorized by Scripture to reject the right to resist (Romans 13), seen from the outside it is clear that this rejection is the price he had to pay for the protection of the princes. The peculiar combination of freedom of conscience with an insistence on subservience, even to unjust rule, long remained one of the distinguishing marks of Lutheranism in Germany. —Vittorio Hösle, A Short Hist of German Philosopy, 30.


[1] This is a plural noun.

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