What’s a Protestant Worldview?

November 20, 2014 at 5:13 am 3 comments

I read Galina Krasskova’s latest post on Polytheist.com about Resacralizing Our World. As with anything she writes, there’s a lot to take in and think about. I don’t always agree with her, but she does challenge us to think critically about our beliefs and practices. This is probably one of the reasons people have such a strong reaction to her views! Danger! Heathen woman with opinions! Anyhow- this was not really the main topic of her post, but it came up, and I’ve seen her and others discuss it before, the idea than American culture has a dominant Protestant worldview, which frequently gets in the way of spiritual development for polytheists. So I asked her- how does this different from a Catholic worldview?

Do Pagans from Catholic backgrounds have different spiritual approaches than those from Protestant, Jewish or secular backgrounds? I’ve known Pagans who came from the same religious upbringing to develop very different paths, in terms of cultural focus, theology, type of practice etc.

I guess growing up, I just saw Catholicism as being another type of Christianity (which I guess is very Protestant of me- it was “a church” not “The Church”) I grew up in a time when the idea of a Catholic President was once controversial was rather inconceivable, and Jewish people, while not always truly understood, were definitely white*.  I was baffled by Catholic feminists and pro-GLBT activist that dutifully kept going to mass. They couldn’t do anything to reform it after all- they could keep writing letters to bishops, patiently waiting and praying for their minds to change, but unlike the Methodist church, they couldn’t vote to send delegates to national conference to make decisions about stuff. Why didn’t they just join the Episcopalians? Indeed some of them do. But it wouldn’t be “The Church”, now would it?

Protestantism also includes a hugely diverse range of sects and denominations. I believe the Protestant worldview she is discussing is a more hard-nosed Biblical sort. The theology of continuous revelation that we find in Unitarian Universalism, our congregationalist cousins, the United Church of Christ (God is Still Speaking) and the Society of Friends is very different. To have a meaningful discussion, we really need to specify *which* Protestant worldview. I plugged it into Google, and mostly have found discussion of “sola scriptura” a la Martin Luther.

Perhaps the best person to ask would be a Catholic, or a former Catholic?

Here’s an Orthodox Christian view contrasted with Protestantism (now Orthodox, that’s even more unfamilar!)

*though Jewish people can be of any ethnic background, I’m referring to pale-skinned Jews who *weren’t* considered “white” in earlier generations.

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Entry filed under: Christianity, Psychology, Theology. Tags: , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ganglerisgrove  |  November 20, 2014 at 10:02 am

    You may find the book “Love the Sin” by Pellegrini and Jacobsen and “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” by Max Weber helpful in exploring this question.

    While there are many differences, and many things inherent in Protestantism the one that I think most important is that I’ve found that Catholicism is far more open to mystery and experience of the Divine unmediated by text . Also, the trappings of ritual and mystery are not met with immediate suspicion….Protestantism focuses much more on what is almost a reification of the written word….in Heathenry at least, this has translated into a strong, and I think excessive, adherence to lore.

    Oh, another useful book “The STripping of the Altars” by Duffy.

    It’s late and i’m rambling, but I wanted to suggest these books. There are many other differences, and I explore them in some of my work (because Heathenry is largely drawn from Protestant converts and also American culture is deeply Protestant Christian in its overtones) but the aforementioned is the one I find particularly relevant right now.

    Reply
  • 2. caelesti  |  November 21, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Thank you for your suggestions- Max Weber has often been cited in my studies of sociology but I’ve never gotten around to reading him. I get what you’re saying- in fact I’ve come to understand Catholicism (& Judaism) a lot more as a polytheist than I did as a Protestant, oddly enough! Low church style Protestantism is very focused on connecting with God thru the Word and not much else while Catholics have many spiritual practices that engage the senses (and for much of their history most of them didn’t study the Bible!) While I am pretty intellectual in nature, I also like sensory stimulation in worship- it connects with the body, and we are human. My upbringing was pretty secular- we went to church on Sunday but my parents got a “deer in the headlights” look if I ask them religious questions. Hence why I ended up doing my own research 😉 Still the idea of spiritual practice as an everyday thing integrated into ones life has been very difficult for me to get started on.

    Reply
  • 3. gregorystackpole  |  January 25, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Duffy is great. Highly recommended. Weber, too.

    The sacred/secular spit in Latin Christendom was different from the iconographic approach of Greek Christendom — there was a sacred domain, around the altar, with the priest; then there was the secular, around the king, and beyond the Church walls. Sacraments and sacramentals could bridge the gap (blessed water, blessed bread, holy oils, relics acquired somehow, &c.); prayers would be said to hallow the day at appointed hours; &c. There were bridges. The Frankish reaction to the Byzantine 7th Ecumenical Council, largely the result of a bad translation of that Council’s proceedings, mocked it; but the Byzantine commonwealth had a hard time making a sacred/secular split. Iconography is one example –but a key example– of how and why: the world radiates with divinity, in a cascade. Peter Brown deals with this in his _Rise of Western Christendom_. I’m writing more and more on this topic at Into the Clarities, and shall get to the Reformation eventually; I hope you find some of it helpful.

    The recovery of wonder is usually what people mean by re-enchantment, but disenchantment means something much stronger.

    Reply

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