Protestantism in 50 years?


#1

I wasn’t sure whether or not to put this in the Non-Catholic forum or in here, so if need be, please move it:thumbsup:

I was thinking today, what will Protestantism look like in the next 50 years? Will it be going strong or will it decay? From the way the Episcopalians, Lutherans, etc…have moved, will this happen to the rest of them?

Just from my point of view, since my family and the majority of my friends are of various Protestant communities this is my opinion:
I think, at least with the ones that I know, they seem to be moving towards some sort of religious pluralism, also, they don’t seem to know what they are suppose to believe other than Jesus is #1 and the Bible is #1.5.

Any thoughts to add?


#2

I can’t speak for protestants in general, but I see Lutheranism moving in two directions. I see the more confessional Lutherans moving back toward Lutheran orthodoxy. These Lutherans, IMO, are rediscovering what can probably described as the catholicity of the Lutheran reformers, divesting themselves of Reformed influence in belief and practice.

Other Lutherans seem to be moving in a more liberal and (I like your term) pluralistic direction. With them you are seeing female clergy, a modernist approach to homosexuality, and joint altar and pulpit fellowship with a wide variety of other communions, even if their views, for example on the Eucharist, seem quite different than orthodox Lutheran doctrine.

… they don’t seem to know what they are suppose to believe other than Jesus is #1 and the Bible is #1.5.

I don’t think the second part of this describes Lutherans of either type above. Confessional Lutherans, while believing strongly in classic sola scriptura, are strongly
dependent on doctrine, the Book of Conord being the basis of our doctrine. Well catechized Lutherans know what we are supposed to believe.
The liberal wing of Lutheranism, IMO, seems to be drifting away from both scripture and the confessions, allowing modernist thought to influence what they believe.

Now, to be sure, this is my opinion, and other Lutherans may have a different POV, but synodically speaking, the gulf between, for example, the ELCA and LCMS is not closing, but widening. Obviously, Bishop Hansen of the ELCA and President Harrison of the LCMS offer striking examples of the movement of our synods.

Jon


#3

I hope the Episcopal Church is still around so I can get a decent burial.


#4

I wouldn’t bet on it.


#5

I think the inadequacy of the doctrine of Sola Scripture is beginning to be acknowledged on a broader scale and will have its effect as people question the accuracy of their beliefs and the authority behind them.


#6

I think, broadly, that’s wishful thinking. The more recent evangelical types have no basis to believe that their faith is dependent on Tradition as Catholics view it, or even as Lutherans do in terms of confessional documents. This is why it is hard to answer questions that start with a premise of “protestant”. Its why I limited my response to Lutheranism.

Jon


#7

Do you not think that the Anglican community is currently undergoing a fragmentation, with a sizable part returning to Rome, others becoming all out liberals, yet others, esp. Africans, trying to retain teh Canterbury of old?

Following on from JonNC’s post it may well be that Lutherism will match Anglicanism’s path. Maybe even to include - shock & horror - a conciliation with Rome?


#8

Do you see this down the line leading to a type of lutheran ordianriate?

Some of my family are really devout LCMS, my aunts husband is a farmer and when \ever he is not able to make it to the LCMS church he goes to the Catholic Church down the road from the farm (he doesnt take communion). Is this common in other places or is it just them?


#9

You’re right, Jon, it may well be wishful thinking but I think the question is coming more to the forefront because I notice it being brought up often now on Protestant forums-it’s sort of hard to not question the logic of the doctrine after going round and round with the many different interpretations out there.


#10

Dishearteningly, it seems that the “pluralism” we see today is a result of Pietism turned on its head e.g. that mainstream progressive protestant theology is determined by what seems practical (as opposed to the other way around).

In 50 years, I can see two very distinct branches of Protestantism: the orthodox Protestants (reformed Calvinism/Presbyterianism, confessional Lutheranism, reformed Evangelicalism) who have, like the reformers, very rigid and structured theology. And then further development of liberal Protestantism (which is pretty much everybody else, dishearteningly).

The upside is that the more orthodox Protestant communities would provide a sharp contrast to the rationalist and excessively progressive semi-religious communities. It is my hope that this would provide some traction for dialogue between the orthodox Protestant communities, and we could see some veni Creator Spiritus .


#11

I’m also under the impression, and I could be wrong, but I think that the more devout protestants will eventually become Catholic. Our RCIA catechist says that the number of protestants coming into the Church (at least in our parish) increases a little every year. We had about 40 this year i think? with the majority of people being protestants and a smaller number (3-5) who were coming back to the Church. And this is only one parish in my town, there is another large parish and a smaller university parish. So like the title of the book, I do think that the tide is turning towards Catholicism.

As with the person who posted above about the Anglicans, I think that the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide, especially in the Global South are far more conservative and evangelical that Europe and NA. However, even in the US, the ACNA is still very much divided on the issue of women’s ordination, as are some other provinces in the currently fractured communion. IMHO, even consirvative anglicans will do what protestants do best, they will break away and start a new body. Also, evangelical anglicanism resembles very little to “true” anglicans, their worship is more non-denom and sometimes pentacostal with very little liturgy, and very few retain even the BCP or the 39 articles.


#12

#13

=Anthony V;9518131]Dishearteningly, it seems that the “pluralism” we see today is a result of Pietism turned on its head e.g. that mainstream progressive protestant theology is determined by what seems practical (as opposed to the other way around).

Thanks. I neglected to mention what I think is the injury that pietism did to Lutheranism. This is why the return to Lutheran orthodoxy is a slow process.

In 50 years, I can see two very distinct branches of Protestantism: the orthodox Protestants (reformed Calvinism/Presbyterianism, confessional Lutheranism, reformed Evangelicalism) who have, like the reformers, very rigid and structured theology. And then further development of liberal Protestantism (which is pretty much everybody else, dishearteningly).

There is also the evangleical Christian movement, that is morally conservative, which distances them from liberal mainline communions, but less doctrinaire, which distances them from confessional Lutheranism, and I meant venture to add anglo-Catholics. And we haven’t even mentioned Pentecostal types, who I think the Pope was referring to in his remarks to the German Lutherans a sort while back.

The upside is that the more orthodox Protestant communities would provide a sharp contrast to the rationalist and excessively progressive semi-religious communities. It is my hope that this would provide some traction for dialogue between the orthodox Protestant communities, and we could see some veni Creator Spiritus .

Its possible.

Jon


#14

Protestantism will need to be re-defined in 50 years.

This is because many denominations will submit to secular demands and be supporters of social concerns that are against their sola scriptura belief. These are denominations that have already supported SS marriage & abortion. A new definition for these denominations will be needed. To call these invalid Christian denominations - Protestant - is not historically accurate. Maybe Protestors of Protestants?

Other denominations will hold out against secular demand. These will deserve to be called Protestant.

Christian persecution will be more intense in 50 years. This may produce Christian unity.

Thoughts?

James


#15

Now the persecution angle is interesting. we’re already seeing that today, with LCMS President Harrison “all-in” in defending the Catholic Church in front of Congress, and Lutheran seminary professors marching to the Catholic Cathedral in Fort Wayne in solidarity, both on the HHS mandate. Clearly, some type of closer relationship that can overshadow our differences may result from these kinds of attacks on religious liberty in genreal, and Christianity in particular.

Jon


#16

The mainline Protestant sects have been in decline. In the recent past, as this happened there was a rise in evangelical, non-denominational groups. They were very influential for some time, but are also now declining in numbers.

We see that there were doctrinal disputes from the earliest times. The divided parties established and maintained their positions. Jesus said His Church would be a sign of contradiction in the world. Time goes by, century after century of salvation history unfolds and His Church is always the beacon set on a hill for the world to see.

Divided Christians may engage one another in dialogue and dispute of doctrinal matters thinking that the side that presents the most convincing position will win over the opposition and in this way unity will be reestablished. I am not sure that this has ever happened.

The Nestorian heresy popped up in the early days. At the time it had a big impact on believers and the Church. The same is true of all heresies. They all had their day. There are still people in the world who hold Nestorian positions. They are almost unfindable. They are not relevant in the Church or world today. They are certainly not the beacon set on the hill. History has passed them by.

Most heresies are like this. They initially make a big noise and either fade away like the manichees, cathars, gnostics, pelagians, etc., or simply shrink to almost nothing and become irrelevant. Where are they today? They did not reunite through rapproachment and resolution of differences. They shrivelled and died like branches cut off from the vine.

Another phenomenon that happens with many heresies is they mutate. There may still be some pure Calvinists, or Lutherans, but they probably are minorities among those who bear the standards of the brands. They are irrelevant in Christianity today and minorities even among their own denominations. Maybe insignificant is a better word.

We see a few Protestant voices calling for a reembracing of the ideas of the founders of their respective religions, or even trying to identify with tradtional Catholicsm and claiming to be Catholic, their once hated nemesis, as they shrink and shrivel.

Despite their continuing insistance on the rightness of their founder's principles and claims of catholicity as they shrink before their own eyes, they persist in defending their doctrines, clinging to the liferafts, hoping that the world will wake up to realize they are right. They still insist on the truth of their founder's principles and think that if people would only realize it their denominations would be revived. No one is listening. They are fading away.

Nestorianism or Manicheism did not go away suddenly. The Manichees were strong during the time of Augustin and Aquinas was still refuting them.

Protestantism's decline was inevitable as it divided itself again and again, multiplying mutations and versions of itself, continually redefining itself. It is a disintegration.

I don't know where Protestantism will be in fifty years, but it is becoming more and more irrelevant in salvation history. Its day is past. That may not be true if you live in the Bible belt or a region where Protestantism is still a dominant force, but in the world in general it is clearly not the beacon on the hill.

We know that the Church established by Jesus was here at the beginning and she will be here til lthe end. We know what she looked like in the beginning and will just have to wait and see if she is called Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist at the end. While that sounds preposterous to me, others disagree.


#17

I believe that the Holy Spirit is on the cusp of causing a great light to shine in the True Church. I believe that deeper mysteries contained in Scripture are about to be brought to light. I believe that those whose hearts are opened to these truths by the Holy Spirit will come home to the Catholic Church; those whose hearts are hard will find it increasingly difficult to deny these truths, and even greater division will result.


#18

This thread so far has ignored the subject of another thread on the forum: “the rise of the Pentecostals.”

Worldwide, Pentecostalism is growing very fast. I don’t know where it’s going to go, longterm, but it may outstrip Catholicism in some parts of the world, at least for a while. Some would even say that Pentecostalism should be treated separately from Protestantism, both because of differences (the privileging of experience which is a bit different than traditional “sola scriptura”) and sheer size/importance.

I think that both mainline and “orthodox” version of Protestantism are going to still be there in 50 years, but they’re going to be pretty small “niche churches.” But I expect there to be a large, diverse, chaotic spectrum of nondenominational/Pentecostal churches around the world.

Edwin


#19

#20

Actually I did mention them in post #13, but you are right. And as I said, they were the target of Pope Benedict’s warning to the Lutherans in Germany a while back.

“Faced with a new form of Christianity, which is spreading with overpowering missionary dynamism, sometimes in frightening ways, the mainstream Christian denominations often seem at a loss,” the pope said on the second day of his third trip to his homeland as pontiff. “This is a form of Christianity with little institutional depth, little rationality and even less dogmatic content, and with little stability. This worldwide phenomenon poses a question to us all: what is this new form of Christianity saying to us, for better and for worse?”

blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2011/09/23/pope-warns-lutherans-of-new-christian-challengers-to-mainline-churches/

Jon


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