Monday, April 9, 2012

The terrible legacy of liberal Protestantism...

Protestant Christianity takes the blame for many people's doubts about who they are. This is the conclusion of a new dissertation, which examines the existential consequences of the Protestant tradition. That is the headline for an interesting article you can find here.  Let me quote a few lines...

For centuries, Lutheran Protestant Christianity in Northern Europe and the US taught our ancestors that there was nothing they could do to make God think better of them. Neither good deeds nor giving money to the church was seen as having importance in the eyes of God.  "For Protestants, life can be good just as it is. Life does not have to be lived in any particular ’religious’ way in order to have a good relationship with God," says Dalsgaard.

Protestants are free from obligations to God. They don't have to live according to strict rules. Instead they have been charged with a rather nebulous task.  "Protestants are commanded to live an ordinary life together with other people. It is a tough task because Protestants are not told specifically how to do this," says Dalsgaard.

As interesting as the conclusions are, let me make one caveat.  He is writing from the perspective of a Lutheran culture which has long since disassociated itself from Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.  This is not an orthodox Lutheran influence which has resulted in such confusion but a very liberal Lutheran identity in which a scientific world view, cutting edge social movements, sexual freedom, and a host of other causes have been embraced within the Lutheran presence in Scandinavia.  There are orthodox groups within these countries but their presence and influence is still small.  The Lutheranism which is described in this article is a secular oriented Lutheranism aptly demonstrated by the abysmal church attendance figures for the region and the fact that some Lutheran lands have insisted that church membership be accorded those who refuse baptism.

That said, the article well demonstrates the vacuous nature of liberal Christianity in general -- no matter where you find it.  Far from clarifying anything, the distance between Scripture and Confession on one side and liberal social belief on the other has left the Church without much of an  identity whatsoever and a people free to muddle themselves through the great mysteries and questions of life.  In the end it is no wonder that the generic liberal Protestant answer is to live and let live, to do what is right in your own eyes, and that the highest cause is self and the highest goal for self is pleasure.  Sure, it is done in moderation -- God forbid extremism in any form!  But a Christless, crossless Christianity leaves little choice but an ordinary life, as well lived as it can be, as long as it does not offend anyone.


4 comments:

Denton of F-V said...

Thanks Pastor. Very insightful and helpful to me.

HappyFox said...

""Protestants are commanded to live an ordinary life together with other people. It is a tough task because Protestants are not told specifically how to do this," says Dalsgaard."

He should read the Small Catechism. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Jesus said to disciples of every century, "Deny yourself, take up your
cross, and follow me." This is what
the 12 apostles did, and everyone
suffered death for proclaiming Christ
except John. The cost of their belief
in Christ was martyrdom. 21st century
Christians in America have suffered
little for their faith in Christ.

Jose Gonzales said...

Apparently you don't know what "Liberal Protestantism" is. Classical Liberal Protestantism is about the idea that the whole point of Christianity is to live a good moral life and love everyone and such and not really about salvation from original sin and all that hullabaloo that Fundamentalist Protestantism is about.

So this statement: "
For centuries, Lutheran Protestant Christianity in Northern Europe and the US taught our ancestors that there was nothing they could do to make God think better of them."
is more applicable to Fundamentalist Protestantism.