Thursday 13 September 2012

We are all Protestants now...


In exploring Eastern Orthodoxy, at some point it struck me that what we consider to be Eastern Orthodoxy in the Modern West is qualitatively different from what Eastern Orthodoxy is supposed to be, and was in earlier centuries: that is, a fully immersive and coherent way of life.

A modern Westerner attending an Eastern Orthodox church once or twice a week and practicing personal devotions between-times just is not at all the same thing as growing-up living under an Orthodox Monarch in a society where Orthodoxy is everywhere you turn.

Something similar applies to Roman Catholicism in the West; although Western Catholicism has not been as integrated a system as sometimes happened in the East, since there always was a secular realm.

And, having noted this, it seems very highly probable that never again will there be the kind of Catholic society that existed in the past.

Which means that Christians are 'all Protestants now' in a sense - all necessarily focused on private devotions as the centre of our Christian life, because there is nothing else for us to be focused-on, hour by hour and day by day.

There just isn't enough of the other stuff of Christian living.

Of course, this is a truly terrible loss of potential, of the highest levels of Holiness; on the other hand it means there is now no strong or Good reason for Christian disunity.



dearieme said...

There are people on Lewis who try to live an entirely Christian life (by their own lights). Unfortunately, it does seem to lead to their trying to wish that same life onto their neighbours even if they are none too keen on it. It's hard to see a way around this unless they were to be given an island of their own with the power to exclude non-agreers. I suppose that might happen at some point in Britain's new Dark Ages.

Bruce Charlton said...

Yes - I know quite a few Lewis exiles when I lived in Glasgow - and there was an annual story about whether the Calednian Macbrayne ferry would be allowed to sail to/ from the island on Sundays.

I am now more sympathetic to the islanders than I was - there are plenty of other places where people who don't like their particular brand of dour Knox-ism can live...

Al. said...

Just because today is 13 Sep: Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave (Easter Homily of St John Chrysostom)