On Leithart’s End of Protestantism article

This got him in trouble in the Reformed world, and its twin article got the Anchorites mad.    I do not come to praise Leithart but to bury him…but I think a lot of people are misreading what he is saying.

Like a Protestant, a Reformational catholic rejects papal claims, refuses to venerate the Host, and doesn’t pray to Mary or the saints; he insists that salvation is a sheer gift of God received by faith and confesses that all tradition must be judged by Scripture, the Spirit’s voice in the conversation that is the Church.

Everyone (Protestants) should agree to this.

Though it agrees with the original Protestant protest, Reformational catholicism is defined as much by the things it shares with Roman Catholicism as by its differences. Its existence is not bound up with finding flaws in Roman Catholicism. While he’s at it, the Reformational catholic might as well claim the upper-case “C.” Why should the Roman see have a monopoly on capitalization?

If all he is saying is we shouldn’t make our identity one of negating Roman Catholicism, then he is right–otherwise we are just Hegelians.

A Protestant believes (old-fashioned) Roman Catholic claims about its changeless stability. A Reformational Catholic knows that the Roman Catholicism has changed and is changing.

This is a very perceptive point I have noticed when reading knee-jerk Reformed apologetics.   It is not surprising that the Romanist and Anchorite has a field day.

A Protestant views the Church as an instrument for individual salvation. A Reformational Catholic believes salvation is inherently social.

There is a truth to this, but I am wary of letting it go at that.  What do you mean by “inherently social?”  There is a way this phrase can work.

A Reformational Catholic gratefully receives the history of the entire Church as his history, and, along with the Reformers, he honors Augustine and Gregory the Great and the Cappadocians, Alcuin and Rabanus Maurus, Thomas and Bonaventure, Dominic and Francis and Dante, Ignatius and Teresa of Avila,

This is horrible.  At least towards the end.  Ignatius started the Jesuits.  Jesuits take a vow to destroy Protestant nations by any means necessary.  The Scottish Parliament hanged Jesuits because it saw them as an existential threat.

Protestants are suspicious of a public, “Constantinian” church. While acknowledging the temptations of power, a Reformational Catholic views public witness as an expression of the Church’s mission to the nations.

There are problems with facile appeals to (or criticisms of) Constantianism, but I have no real problem with that statement.

A Protestant mocks patristic and medieval biblical interpretation and finds safety in grammatical-historical exegesis. A Reformational Catholic revels in the riches, even while he puzzles over the oddities, of Augustine and Origen, Bernard and Bede. He knows there are unplumbed depths in Scripture, never dreamt of by Luther and Calvin.

I’m sorry, but a lot of the exegesis simply strains credulity.   Read Maximus on Jonah for example.

Reformational Catholicism’s piety is communal and sacramental, and its worship follows historic liturgical patterns. A Protestant wears a jacket and tie, or a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, to lead worship; a Reformational Catholic is vested in cassock and stole. To a Protestant, a sacrament is an aid to memory. A Reformational Catholic believes that Jesus baptizes and gives himself as food to the faithful, and doesn’t avoid speaking of “Eucharist” or “Mass” just because Roman Catholics use those words.

I won’t say “Mass.”  I wonder if anyone caught the veiled slam against Mark Driscoll.   I’d like for him to explain what he means by “historic liturgical forms,” but I have no real problem with this.  As long as he isn’t introducing strange fire and binding consciences, what he proposes is superior to the lowest-common denominator American liturgies.

Protestantism has had a good run. It remade Europe and made America. It inspired global missions, soup kitchens, church plants, and colleges in the four corners of the earth. But the world and the Church have changed, and Protestantism isn’t what the Church, including Protestants themselves, needs today. It’s time to turn the protest against Protestantism and to envision a new way of being heirs of the Reformation, a new way that happens to conform to the original Catholic vision of the Reformers.

Technically, this  is true.  The problem is that when his people start filling in the details, we have huge problems like the FV.


One comment on “On Leithart’s End of Protestantism article

  1. […] is my own response to his article. I've noticed that both Doug Kelly and Carl Trueman have at some point advocated the term […]

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