Is protestantism the religious equivilent of Stockholm syndrome?

I used to be an Anglican, and a protestant one at that. How is it that my mind has been so irrevocably changed? I don’t even know myself. Can the title of this post get any more outrageous? I can think of few ways that it can that can be written here without swearing or uttering the unspeakable. But I’ve been thinking about this for a long time on a pot boil and suddenly my subconscious feels the need to say it to the world.

The reformation was a tragedy, a calamity, a disaster, it saw huge numbers of Christians separated from the corporeal Church, and after this brutal and violent event the victims and their ancestors not only accepted it, but came to like it.

The Anglican Church is perhaps the perfect example. This country was not protestant, it was very happily Catholic right up until the moment Henry the 8th became infatuated with a woman other than his wife, needed an annulment even when he has specifically asked the Church to rule that his first marriage was valid…  Henry also decided to rob the Church blind and destroy the monasteries which were providing a great deal of the country’s social safety net. These were not the acts of a religious reformer, or part of a popular clamour for reform, these were the acts of a tyrannical despot, the Church being the only institution that posed a limit to his totalitarian whims. Has nobody stopped to think that if Spain had managed to successfully invade England, and restored Catholicism, perhaps they’d have been welcomed with open arms by a big portion of the country, just like the French in Mali?

The history of religious oppression spirals down all the way to its lowest ebb, Oliver Cromwell, the puritans and iconoclasts of the English revolution who destroyed a great portion of the remaining beauty to be found in the parish churches of this country.  They were like the Taliban, declaring that all images are idolatry and this culminated in Cromwell committing mass murder in Ireland on a monumental scale and banning Christmas.

So what does this have to do with today? surely this is all water under the bridge? Well over Christmas I was watching Rowan Williams on TV in ‘goodbye to Canterbury’ and when he went down to the crypt of the cathedral he pointed to some painted bits in the early medieval (Catholic) style and said, in no uncertain terms, that people were sick of all this gaudy decoration and wanted to go back to a simpler and plainer style.  The man makes me sick, he so manipulatively couches this gigantic misreading of history in genial tones, and everyone says ‘oooh isn’t he nice’ when he has just spoken a despicable untruth.

The comic book style of art which the puritans so despised was incredibly accessible to the average Joe in the pew helping them to engage with the gospels and identify with the lives of the saints even if they couldn’t read. This was the imposition of an ideology by an intellectual elite (who happened to fill the ranks of Cromwell’s new model army and were thus armed to the teeth) over the simple faith of people who had drawn inspiration from Christian religious art for centuries.

Also the chances that the entirety of Canterbury cathedral’s decor was like that of the crypt are very small indeed, though to an extent we will never know, but you can take a look at surviving portions of Durham Cathedral’s catholic decoration to know what we were robbed of. It was a simple and elegant nature motif in the form of green vines on a pale background. Quite simply Durham would have looked absolutely stunning, as it is the cathedral now resembles a tomb, a tomb with fantastic architecture, but a tomb none the less.

But this destruction of the ‘reformation’ isn’t just limited to smashed stain glass windows, destroyed organs, the stripping of the altars and whitewashing of walls. It has penetrated to the very core of Christian theology so that many beautiful, elegant and above all vibrant elements of Christian tradition are disposed of.

One of the first things to go out of the window of course, was the doctrine of transubstantiation, the most core belief of them all.  The belief that guarantees that the Mass is spiritual, regardless of the level of the congregation’s theological savvy. Its the new covenant of the last supper made tangible and accessible to every Christian in a simple yet supremely powerful way.  This was a doctrine Jesus himself was willing to lose all but twelve of his followers over…

It is the most natural thing in the world to pray for the dead, intrusting them to God’s mercy and boundless love. And it is a core belief that God will purify us of sin in purgatory so that Heaven doesn’t have just two human members. This is a very comforting and common sense doctrine above all there to make heaven accessible to us mere mortals… gone.  And you’d think if there is no purgatory there would be a big emphasis on confession to reconcile yourself to God in this life? no? oh dear…

It is a core Christian belief of the utter uniqueness of Mary’s role in salvation history, how a woman who had dedicated her virginity to God conceived and gave birth to God in human form. There is the old joke about the protestant who gets to heaven and Jesus welcomes him in and asks him if he’s met his mother… Mary has been kidnapped from her rightful pride of place in Christianity and protestants have been robbed of the great comfort of asking for her intercession.  This in a country which used to proudly claim to be our Lady’s dowry…

Protestantism even robs Christians of a tangible corporeal Church on earth, instead forcing its members to settle for an intangible one that somehow all protestants, though endlessly divided, are members of the same church.  God created the Church to shepherd his people on this earth, how do sheep usually do without a tangible shepherd? The Catholic Church provides a stable source of infallible teaching so that wave after wave of heresy breaks upon the rock of Peter.

Go without this authoritative teaching source for even a little while and you end up in dire theological territory… and who are the victims of this? the average Joe in the pew of course who are given contradictory, confusing and downright misleading doctrines by woolly headed leaders so desperate to avoid further splitting their communion they will give two diametrically opposed answers to the same question to different people on the same day… remind you of anyone? *cough* Rowan *cough*.

So then, protestants; a hostage of history? How do you stop a hostage from falling in love with its captor?


4 thoughts on “Is protestantism the religious equivilent of Stockholm syndrome?

  1. Why, then, did St Paul and the other apostles establish many different churches (lower case ‘c’) in different areas but never once admonish them about their lack of devotion to a human Pope or to Mary? You would think, with everything else that was going wrong in, say, the Corinthian church that he might have mentioned it as one of the areas they needed to work on. Rather he even referred to HIMSELF as a ‘wretched man’ (Romans 7:24) and acknowledges only Jesus as capable of saving him from the ‘body of death’. He does NOT then go on to say, “and you can also pray to his mum if you feel that a direct line to the Throne of God isn’t your cup of tea”.

    I confess, reading what you have to say on here generally makes me worried that you are not truly saved. Nothing you write brings glory to God or shows love for Christ; you seem concerned only with propagating your own worldly opinion about ‘Catholicism vs Protestantism’. Both of these ‘isms’ will be destroyed along with the rest of the earth and its works (2 Peter 3:10) when the Lord returns, and you will be left with only your faith to save you from His judgment. If you have erred in putting your faith in ‘the Catholic Church’ before the person and deity of Christ, He will not be merciful to you…He will not give up His glory for any other idol! (Isaiah 42.8)

    Please don’t think I say this in anger, or to cause you upset. I say it because you claim to be a Christian and as such you are accountable to God’s Word in every area of your life. I will be praying for the Holy Spirit to convict you in this and for you to come to true fellowship with God. Praise the Lord!

  2. St Paul actually referred to them as, for example, the church in Corinth… There is one church, the Christians in Corinth are the church in Corinth.

    The Bible is a great gift from God, given through the Church, but at no point does it say in the Bible that the Church which compiled its canon should be limited to only what is in its pages. To do so would be equivalent to saying there is nothing about playing music in a car in the driving test exam, therefore nobody should play music in a car. It is such an absurdity.

    The people who compiled the Bible probably never thought for a second that people would need reminding of Marian devotion because it was so widespread in the early church, same with the priesthood. Indeed there is even a school of thought that the words of blessing Jesus gives over the bread and wine are omitted in St Johns Gospel precisely because they were the words of consecration at the Mass and to bandy them about would be careless. So that’s an example of something being omitted precisely because of its extreme importance, just as in the old testament the tetragrammatron is omitted in favour of the word Lord.

    The Catholic Church, just like the Virgin Mary, always points towards Christ. Jesus is of course the fountain of all salvation. Your disdain for the words protestantism and Catholicism is pure post modernism so I don’t really know how to respond to that, coupled with a strange form of fundamentalism too… I put my faith in the Church because it is the body of Christ (very biblical) to trust and follow the Church’s teaching is to follow Christ.

    And there is plenty of Biblical backing for Petrine authority (eg the Pope), even Martin Luther could not deny that. The confession of Peter is in all three synoptic gospels for everyone to read. And Jesus’ reply is thus; “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    So there is this thing called Church, and the devil will not prevail against it, and St Peter is given the office of keeper of the keys. That means, in the feudal context Jesus was speaking in, that Peter can speak with the authority of the King during the King’s absence. Not only could Peter do this, but that such a leadership is an office, in other words it does not die with the man, but is passed on.

    Oh and yes it is offensive to say someone who is Christian isn’t a Christian by the way, I would never dream of saying you weren’t a Christian. Anyone who is baptised is Christian, and some people who aren’t baptised are counted as having baptism of desire.

    Perhaps my post is a little shocking with disdain for protestantism. But Protestantism is a heresy, just like Arianism, Pelagianism, or Gnosticism. It is a diminished form of Christianity, this is why what I wrote was intended to give glory to God, however clumsy and flawed it may be. Because all Christians deserve Christianity in all its fullness, not a reduced, half baked form with so many beautiful and life giving truths lopped off, discarded and despised.

    To put it bluntly protestantism is a form of censorship on Christianity, that which are arbitrarily considered essential doctrines are to be observed and the rest are to be despised. It is like Emperor Joseph II in the film Amadeus, telling Mozart there are too many notes in his music. Its like turning up to an opulent feast and demanding you be served Tesco value rice. It is my duty and great joy to point you towards all the delicacies of the faith that are being offered to all Christians in the Catholic Church, but protestants are on hunger strike.

  3. I did not say that you are categorically not a Christian. I said that what you say makes me question whether you are or not. If you are offended by that, then either the answer to the question is no, you aren’t saved, or you are too proud to take a rebuke from a sister in Christ and to examine yourself in light of it. While only Christ truly knows your heart, you do not come off as even remotely Christlike and this should be a cause of concern to you. It should matter far more than grinding an axe about worldly issues.

    Water baptism DOES NOT MAKE ANYONE A TRUE CHRISTIAN. It is an outward sign of obedience which DEMONSTRATES that you are saved. Faith in Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit is what saves; without that you merely belong to a religion. Your contentious attitude, and need to prove yourself right at all costs, are sinful and make it look as though He does not live in you. Please understand that I say this not to hurt your feelings, but because I care about the ultimate fate of your soul and about the quality of your witness for Christ. However, this will be the last time I try to reach you in this way.

    Here is some Scripture which I thought might be helpful to you:

    Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18

    Better is open rebuke than hidden love. – Proverbs 27:5

    Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. – Galatians 6:1

    Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. – John 3:5

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

    Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. – John 3:36

    Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

    All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. – 2 Timothy 3:16

    And my favourite way to show goodwill to a brother:

    “‘“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
    the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
    the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.

    – Numbers 6:24-26

    • The idea that being offended by being called unchristian is grounds for being unchristian is ridiculous. Proof that you are just as comfortable in offending others as I am, so its a severe case of pot kettle black isn’t it.

      Well firstly, the idea that you are ‘saved’ in this life is presumptuous, you are only saved if you are in heaven or purgatory (which means you are heavenward bound). Hopefully we are in the process of being saved by God is probably more appropriate.

      Secondly by your reasoning baptism should be dispensed with as a pointless affectation, so should marriage. They are after all, in your worldview, merely putting on a show and should be dispensed with along with the Mass and confession.

      In Catholicism these things are sacraments, they are not only external signs of grace but internal workings of Gods plan for our salvation. It is Gods grace that gives us faith, not the other way around. Jesus tells Peter his confession of faith has been revealed to him by God, it is a miraculous divine intervention. Our faith itself is a gift from God and God chooses to work his grace through the sacraments of the Church.

      I am yet to be Christlike in many things, I am quite the sinner in a myriad of ways, you might find that all Christians are like this… What I’m trying to do here is expose the historical wounds in Christianity due to the ‘reformation’ and that may be painful. Jesus himself often pointed to inconvenient truths within Judaism as it was practiced in his day and Jesus at times was very contentious. To prove a point about religion and faith he called a woman a dog, a woman who was only asking for her daughter to be exorcised, Jesus was far more contentious than I have been here.

      Instead maybe I should be nice all the time, and agree with people even when I think they are wrong, pat people on the back, and say nice things? Surely dedication to the truth is more valuable witness. The burning desire to see good religion which nurtures faith spread to all of humankind. I would not need to argue the Church’s cause if protestants didn’t have intellectual barriers and prejudices against Catholicism. I would go to Mass content with pew after pew filled as we’d have all Christians worshiping God together, which would be an amazing witness to God.

      Is religion is a dirty word in your world view? is it ‘worldly’ is it only an outward appearance? Is this why you despise the Church God founded on earth? Do you understand how shocking that is coming from a Christian?

      Jesus didn’t come to abolish religion he came to fulfill religion. I do not need to prove myself right, nothing I can come up with by myself is good. Any part of my faith which is good I get from the Church, as it has been handed down by the apostles without which there would be no Christianity. I only sit here arguing with all and sundry because of a joy I’ve found in this Catholic faith, that I want to share with everyone, I’m sure I’d have a much easier life if I didn’t bother arguing with mischievous prots like yourself 😛

      Like Saint Paul, the only thing I can boast about is Christ Jesus. I put forward the proposition that maybe my faith in Church teaching is far more humble than being a protestant and thinking up their own religion as they go along.

      Finally, the Church (and Catholicism is the faith it holds) is not a worldly thing, the Church has only survived because it has been sustained by God, otherwise the first persecution or bad bishop to come along and it would have crumbled and would have done so long long ago.

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