Pastor Jordan Cooper, a good historical theologian in the Lutheran tradition, responds here to an article by the classical Reformed scholar Peter Leithart entitled, “The End of Protestantism.” One of the reasons I have occasionally identified myself as an “Anglo-Lutheran Evangelical Catholic” (who is currently a confessional Lutheran) is for the very reasons detailed by both Cooper and Leithart, namely, that Protestantism at its worst is simply a reactionary negative theology, and goes about things with the attitude, “the catholics (always an implied dirty word) do it, so we should avoid it like the plague.” It is as if the church disappeared for over 1,000 years, and that while Luther gets some credit, “he didn’t go far enough.”
What gets thrown out instead is the faith and practices, some of which date back to the apostolic era, of the church catholic that everyone both east and west is supposedly a part of. In the words of Cooper, “Luther’s Reformation kept the traditional Roman Mass with some necessary changes, while Zwingli rejected the traditional Roman service. While Calvin certainly held to a liturgical form of worship, the insistence on the regulative principle of worship essentially cut off the Reformed from continuity of worship with the patristic and medieval church.” I sensed this sort of “cutting off” in my youth, and this started somewhat oddly, with a love for the music of Mozart and Haydn and reading the liturgical texts they set to music. Is it wrong to say/sing “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy?” I would hope not. Is it wrong to say, “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us?” In the words of Paul, “God forbid!” (KJV). Yet there are some in the large blanket of “evangelical Protestantism” that say exactly that, all in the name of “not being catholic.” I encourage all of you who may not be comfortable with the continuity of the classic Christian faith to read both articles:
Thoughts and Comments welcome of course!