Why Equate Protestantism with "Born Again" Fundamentalism?


I dunno if this has been pointed out before but it seems most of us Catholics equate the whole of Protestantism with the “born-again” fundamentalism. I see threads claiming “protestants think catholics are going to hell”, “protestants are wrong with OSAS”, etc. Many protestant denominations (as far as I know) don’t believe Catholics would go to hell (well, Luther certainly did, but still, I think many modern protestants think catholicism lead to hell). And OSAS certainly is not a belief of most protestants.

My point is I think we Catholics should me more particular in referring to Fundamentalist beliefs than projecting them all to Protestantism as a whole.

Your thoughts?

Thank you! I am not sure how you will be treated since you pointed out the truth, but I still want to tell you thank you! Also, those of us of the Lutheran persuasion don’t think Catholics are hell-bound. I have never met one who uses Luther to try and justify that idea.

I agree, it happens too often that the more extreme fundamentalist beliefs get projected onto Protestantism as a whole. The reasons for this are understandable: fundamentalists are among the loudest, most aggressive and in-your-face of all Protestants, the most likely to be anti-intellectual, and also the most likely to be explicitly anti-Catholic and anti-everything-not-fundamentalist. On a purely personal level, I live in a part of the world where fundamentalists perhaps outnumber all other Christians, and for many years I actually equated Christianity with fundamentalism and it unfortunately kept me away from Christ. It really is a grave error to let one vocal group shout out everyone else, and I for one try to keep in mind that there are many different kinds of Protestants, some of whom hold beliefs which are much closer to Catholicism than fundamentalism.

Two fantastic points. When ANY Christian uses one person or group to pigeon-hole other Christians we spend more time fighting and gating when we should be developing and strengthening our relationship with Christ. And I for one have a real hard time with Protestants who are anti-illectual. It makes me sick when people are afraid of knowledge.

I think what happens is that the all-Catholics-are-going-to-Hell crowd makes the most noise, assaults the Church the most, makes the most bizarre claims, and generally is so aggressive in reminding us of our apostasy that we SAY “Protestants” when what we MEAN is: these Fundamentalist extremists.

Heck: I was one of 'em at one time. But when I became an Episcopalian, I got a much more temperate hold on reality.

Well formed Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists and Congregationalists have much less hysterical views of Catholicism. Some are highly valued members of these boards!

Oh. If you look at the profiles of some of the more vitriolic anti-Catholic posters, you will find that they list their religion as – you guessed it – PROTESTANT

Great post. It is my understanding that the term “Protestant” incorporates many different Christian sects that are in some way unique from one another (the latest number I heard was ~ 33000+). They all vary in their particular beliefs at some level.

In addition to the arguments already stated in this thread, (fundamentalists are the loudest, etc.), I know from apologetics that many times it makes sense to use the term “Protestant” to identify a target audience for the defense of a particular article of the Catholic faith. Typically, as Catholics we want our position to be known to all 33000+ denominations. The biggest problem I have found in this area is that most non-Catholics think that the Catholic faith incorporates beliefs that are sensationalized or otherwise untrue (we pray to statues, we are cannibals, etc.). Archbishop Fulton Sheen had a great quote that I can’t find right now, but it went something like this: “There are millions of people who hate what they think the Catholic church is, but only about a hundred that hate what the Catholic church actually is”. The term “Protestant” is used to direct defenses of the faith and clear up misconceptions for as many people as possible.

That being said, we should always be willing to have open, sincere communication with people of different faiths. If the term “Protestant” is too general and/or inaccurate for the specific discussion we are having, we should be quick to suspend it to allow more meaningful dialoque.

Thank you. This is something I have been saying for years. However, I understand why Catholics tend to do this. Fundamentalists are very noisy and are obsessed with Catholics. It’s tempting to return the obsession. (Furthermore, many people who come to this board do so because they live in areas with few Catholics and lots of fundamentalists. They come here for strength and encouragement, and this shapes the tone of the board.) My solution is to be equally noisy as a non-fundamentalist! Sometimes it works, sometimes it just annoys people. . . .


Just one comment:

“Born Again” Fundamentalism is an ambiguous phrase.

For example, “Born Again” certainly would apply to Billy Graham. Fundamentalist would not (unless a very broad brush is used with the term fundamentalist).

If you research it, the true fundamentalists oppose noted born-again liberals like Billy Graham, James Dobson, Jerry Farwell, Charles Colson…

I’ve got a fuzzy gut feeling that there is a lot more in common between fundamentalist protestants and conservative Catholics that maybe either group would admit.

based on things I’ve heard a few fundamentalts say, they think that the Catholic Church is liberal (horrors!) but otherwise think that the core of it is valid.

i honestly believe there is a convergence between conservative protestants, whether they be cllaed fundamentlist or not, and conservative Catholics. By conservative I mean faithful to the Magisterium, submitted, and liveing the sacramental life in detail.

Speaking only for the U.S. since I have no experience of other countries, I believe that if harcore protestants can be convinced that the liberal cadre of Catholic preists and college perfessers has finally passed on to greener pastures, they will ride the ferry cross the Tiber.


Absolutely liberals.

To the true fundamentalists, Billy Graham and James Dobson are almost as apostate as you papists.:slight_smile:

Oh my!! NOt that bad!!!:wink:

I think there are two different, but important issues.

First, Fundamentalists and Evangelicals are the most visible as far as speaking up. They are also more likely than 'Mainline" to hold and espouse anti-Catholic ideas.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, many Catholics, even on this thread, do not understand the subtile and not so subtile differences between Protestant Denominaitons. I woul venture ot say that only about 60% of the theology is common between them.

Not if they believe they will be expected to “worship” Mary or give up OSAS or be asked to accept papal infallibility. There’s a very wide gap between faithful Catholics and hard core Fundamentalists. Both may vote along similar lines and be convinced believers in their separate faiths, but that is where the similarities end.

As to the OP’s topic in particular, I agree with him/her. I never state that all Protestants are anti-Catholics when I post or start a thread. I have been a member of two quite disparate faith communities: Episcopalian and Assemblies of God before entering the Catholic Church so I know first hand how differently Protestant communities differ from one another in their beliefs with regards to the Catholic Church.

I will say, however, that there are anti-Catholic elements in all Protestant denominations that range from quite subtle to virulently nasty. I have never met a Protestant who wouldn’t say something derogatory about Catholicism no matter how “liberal” their views on religion (and yes, Catholics say derogatory things about Protestant denominations, too–I’m just stating an “inconvenient truth” here related to the topic at hand). And this fact is what makes some Catholics quite defensive when discussing their faith with any Protestant.

Oh yes! I forgot that. I have heard fundamentalists excoriate both Graham & Dobson. And you can forget about Colson altogether! He’s unequally yoked with a Papist.

You are confusing “fundamentalist” and “conservative.” They aren’t the same thing. Fundamentalist can mean a lot of things, but it generally denotes a certain anti-intellectualism and an adherence to a basically Baptist version of Christianity. Of course there are lots of conservative Protestants for whom your remarks may be true.

However, I see Catholicism as embracing a far broader spectrum than conservative Protestant denominations do. I don’t think that what conservative Protestants view as “liberalism” in the Catholic Church is just generational. Pope Benedict is more liberal in many ways than most conservative Protestants. Of course Pope Benedict is also old. It may be that younger Catholic leaders will be more conservative than he. But I certainly hope not! (I am a bit to the left of Pope Benedict, but not too far.)

Here are some of the things I’m talking about: inclusivism (the view that non-Christians can be saved without explicitly becoming Christians in this life), the basic acceptance of modern Biblical criticism (conservatively interpreted), a willingness to accept the theory of biological evolution, and an acceptance of full equality for women except where the sacramental symbolism of Holy Orders is involved. For many conservative Protestants, all of these things are deeply objectionable. But I don’t expect the Catholic Church to reject any of them. (I am not claiming that these things–except possibly inclusivism–are binding on Catholics, but that they are the dominant opinions among the Catholic hierarchy and in the Vatican, and that this is not likely to change. Certainly I do not expect the Catholic Church to condemn any of these things in the future.)


Just one comment that I have been thinking about.

You should view us (and I count myself amongst them) born-again types as a continuum in relationship to Catholicism.

On one end I will call the Jack Chick side.

On the other end is the Billy Graham / Charles Colson side.

Most of us (generically) are probably in the middle somewhere.

However, most of us probably have not thought about Catholicism that much and whatever we do know is third-hand and partly misinformation. However, since we really don’t know that much nor have thought that about Catholicism, we can change our minds and at least move to the Billy Graham end of this continuum. This is doable on your part with the right approach.

Some of y’all are quite good at this. Others of y’all really should not be in this forum, however, because all that you do is reinforce negative stereotypes that we may have concerning you.

I know one:(

Im a born again christian who sticks to the fundamentals of biblical princples like Billy Graham and I love James Dobson(His books have helped me a great deal–especially the one “Bringing up boys”:eek: --it helped me understand my hubby too:p :wink: )

I think the catholics here probably see those rogue christians who are more legalistic in their thought and are nasty about it.:frowning: Like I said I know one:(

While people certainly are influenced by others’ behavior, the truth transcends any one person or group of persons’ behavior. That is why the Church simply lays out what it teaches in its documents. It is up to individual Catholics to take the message with us into our homes, workplace, schools, etc.

And in particular some are called to apologetics, which is a noble undertaking, but which can be marred by people doing it badly or becoming abusive when challenged or through miscommunication (Catholic worldview/culture being rather different from Evangelical worldview/culture) or just because the medium we are using can be confusing. :shrug:

Apologetics is something that has to be done prayerfully and with good intent or it falls flat or worse, does real damage, as you said. What can I say except we’re fallen human beings who make mistakes? But most of us here really want to be helpful even when we can’t seem to explain ourselves very well or give into our worst instincts (not that we should). :blush:

No, the spectrum is much broader than that. One side is Jack Chick, the other is, let’s say, Jim Wallis. (I’m not even sure he’s as far to the left as Chick is to the “right,” but he’ll do. I’d put Bob Jones rather than Chick as Wallis’s opposite number, but that’s a fine point.) Graham and Colson would be in the middle. There are many evangelicals well to their left. (Of course, you may not consider them real evangelicals!) I would be about half way between Colson and Wallis (they had an online debate a few years ago and I agreed with each of them partly, though perhaps more with Wallis). So you and I would be at the 25 and 75 point (roughly) of a scale from 0 to 100!



I was talking about their positions with respect to Catholicism, not with respect to politics / social issues. Wallis might be more to the left of Colson / Graham politically, socially, and theologically, but I doubt whether his position in respect to Catholicism is that much different than Colson / Graham (of course maybe it is and I will learn something). If anything, I would think that the Orthodox Catholics here would relate to Colson and Graham more than Wallis on the basis of pro-life.

Of course spectrums the basis of politics, social issues, and theology would have different end points (and it would be an interesting debate on what these endpoints are).

I am not familiar with any online debate between Colson and Wallis, but to the extent they disagreed, I am almost certain I would have sided with Colson.:slight_smile:

On second thought, I too would put Bob Jones on the other end of the spectrum as opposed to Jack Chick (who I don’t consider as representative of anything). I actually visited a friend at Bob Jones many years ago. Wierd place.

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