Are today’s Protestants really Protestant? Are they really “separated brethren”? Consider: in the 1500s the community of protest was somewhat liquid, and anyone adhering to the new ways of sola scriptura and the right of kings to govern the church was in living memory of adhering to the Pope. Their beliefs generally reflected this proximity: Luther famously “still” believed, for example, in the importance of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Gradually, the beliefs of “Protestants” have changed quite a lot, and it’s not clear that they are really protesting anything anymore. They are just comfortable in their respective, highly variegated beliefs. Also, they don’t regard themselves as separated brethren: instead, they believe in something called the primitive church, which they naively believe they have returned to (each in their own respective and diverse ways); they believe that the Catholic Church is an accretion of erroneous beliefs that diverge from the true faith. If two brothers have a dispute, after years of ignoring each other they would still subjectively acknowledge the objective fact of having the same parents. But Protestants don’t subjectively acknowledge that they are separated from the Catholic faith. They genuinely consider their faith to be correct and to go back to the time of Our Lord. Indeed they consider their faith to be a correction in Christianity. As such, the term “Protestant” may have become an artificial category. The different ecclesial groupings should be known by their chosen names–the doctrine of Name Alone, perhaps.
Protestants, then, aren’t really protesting anything anymore: they are happy with the shifting sands of their fragile houses in their earthquake-prone neighborhood. And, they aren’t really separated brethren, as they have got so far afield, and do not subjectively recognize a common heritage except perhaps in the most abstract terms, the details of which they emphatically dispute. I think today’s real protestants are the “Catholic” theologians, bishops, and others, who are constantly trying to subvert tradition and weaken the acceptance and understanding of dogmas and moral truths among the faithful, and who otherwise behave as wolves among sheep. If we don’t watch out, we may get more earthquakes ourselves. (1)