Questions for Medieval Protestants

When I realized the traditional Federal Calvinist position could not be salvaged, I began to look for alternatives that would not take me to Rome or Mother Russia.  Rome could not work because I could not square my mind with all of the perceived contradictions in Roman history and papalism, as ably evidenced by Robert Letham.  (Ultimately, I would begin to move towards Orthodoxy–to start the journey.  Incidentally, the late Jaroslav Pelikan’s bishop told him to wait ten years before he left Lutheranism for Mother Russia).

Federal Calvinists will probably point out–and rightly so–that I came through the Reformed faith reading the fringe elements, and in that cauldron I was cooked. That’s true.  I live(d) in close vicinity to Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church and was able to buy all kinds of historical and theological literature from 30% to 70% off (which reminds me, I need to go there today and buy Bruce’s book on the canon for $10).  Not surprisingly, they also had all the Canon Press materials and Rushdoony books.  I read all of what they had.   The Gnostics at Puritanboard.com were rebuking me and urging me to read “Berkhof” and Calvin instead.   Well, I read through Berkhof’s systematic and through Calvin at least twice. 

One of the books I read was Wilson and Jones’ Angels in the Architecture.  I was stunned by the beauty of the writing.  It made me want to become a Norse warrior and sail the frozen seas (they had a chapter on Beowulf), a dream I still have.  The book advertised itself as “A Protestant Vision for Middle Earth.”  Of course, that’s sheer nonsense since it has nothing in common with “medievalism.” 

Notwithstanding, it set the agenda.  I asked the question, “If such medievalism is so beautiful, why must we hate it theologically?”  Indeed, the owner of the SocietasChristianas blog had me asking similar questions.  If Church History is really God’s story of saving his people, are we justified in positing a break from the Apostles/Nicea until the Reformation?

The Medieval Protestants–I do not really know how to define these guys, even I I was one back in the day–want to posit some form of Protestantism’s continuity between today and the early and medieval church.   To their credit, they actually try.  Most Federal Calvinists say that the Reformation was the recovery of Calvinism, but aside from that assertion, they don’t argue anything.  So, my questions:

How do Medieval Protestants maintain the continuity between today and the practices of the early and Medieval Church? 

As Schaff admits, the early church engaged in liturgical practices–that in many cases would become more explicit in the medieval Church–that are out of bounds with any form of Protestantism.   Therefore, what is your link of continuity?   If you say you are connected–presumably organically, if I may reference Nevin–to the early church, yet you reject practices they considered essential, how are you then connected?

Do you have any friends?

I am not being snarky with that question.   If you are honest, you will realize that your theological worldview–I know that term is useless now, but I can’t think of a better one; I’ll use weltanschang instead–is out of bounds with the leading Calvinism today.  If you think it is in bounds, spend a semester at RTS instead.   On the other hand, the above question already noticed your discrepancies with more historical and traditional forms of Chrisitanity.   So where are you?  Of course, not having any theological or ecclesiological friends isn’t a slam against whether your theology is right or worng, but if this is the fullness of the faith, and there are only a few of you, well…

What is the Apostolic Deposit?

St Jude says the faith was once delivered to all the saints.   This is the heart of the post.   We all agree that the apostolic deposit cannot be lost.  That is where you are strongest, actually (ironically, that part of your blog also got me facing Orthodoxy).   This means that doctrines and practices from the early church should be visible today.   That’s easy to prove, regardless of whether one is Reformed, Orthodox, or Catholic.   Fair enough.  It also means the practices should be visible throughout church history.    Therefore, we should see from A.D. 100 to 1517:

  • A specifically Protestant canon.
  • A rejection of venerating Mary and the Saints.
  • Church rulership by elders defined in such a way to preclude apostolic succession and bishops.
  • Sola fide

Those are just a few.  If we don’t see those, then how do we say that these Protestant distinctives are part of the apostolic deposit?

 

 

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10 comments on “Questions for Medieval Protestants

  1. Vincent says:

    There’s always the Landmark Baptists. Their solution is at least creative.

  2. Matthew N. Petersen says:

    Did you ever consider Lutheranism?

  3. Ansgar Olav says:

    No, because many of the same problems are there: schism, sola scriptura, filioque, the dialectic., etc. True, the liturgy is superior to Presbyterianism, but that’s not enough.

  4. Bobby Grow says:

    Are you going to take “10 years,” or do you think you’re closer than that?

    • Ansgar Olav says:

      Given the literal lack of viable options and complexity of the issues, it will take closer to ten years, I think.

      • Vincent says:

        Christ be with you

      • V says:

        What Vincent said.

        Having been through my own long-range conversion, it is hard enough to do without further complications. (On the other hand, I got to sleep in my church from Holy Friday through Pascha, an experience I would not have otherwise gotten.) The question that remains — and the one that plagued me while I vascillated (not that I am accusing you of such) — is what to do in the interim?

      • Ansgar Olav says:

        I would say something along the lines of what Fr Seraphim Rose said in God’s Revelation to the Human Heart, “These people [Protestants looking beyond Protestantism] will have to find Orthodoxy their own way and God will deal with them as he sees fit.” I really cannot say much more than that, except to point to situations like Jan Huss, who did not have the Filioque in the Creed, rejected Roman claims, and yet for all of his problems, did not hold to Protestantism as we see it today.” Yes, he had problems, but he lived out and worked through these problems to the best that his situation allowed him to.

  5. Joel says:

    weltanschang–kudos on the Heidegger reference (I am assuming he popularized the term for us Americans)

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