So I had a chance to catch some of this series on BBC called the ‘Protestant Revolution’ (part 1 I watched – the politics of belief). It got me thinking as I watched it.
“Martin Luther’s challenge to the Pope in the 16th century inspired conservatives and radicals alike, and its history is one of conflict, challenge and rebellion” (from the BBC site)
Protestantism is really a movement of ‘protest’ – which sparked the use of political movements in Luther’s time to our current landscape of politics (ie: moral majority movement). With protest comes the obvious – division – which has been quite the cornerstone of the Christian faith in Protestant movements for 100’s of years.
Luther started something that had Protestant fighting Catholic – but ironically – had Protestant fighting Protestant also – so much so – some of the worst bloodbaths in Germany and Britian history happened in this stage of the game (with challenge to monarchs from various Protestant factions). Protestantism’s free thinking kind of touched off a problem – divisiveness and control.
Fact is, Protestantism is a rebel movement – went against the abuses they saw in Catholicism and each new strand to come out of this developed their own ways of thinking – from Luther to Calvin to Knox. Eventually many strands of Christianity are to become defined by this ‘protest’ idea – namely in the West.
I am aware that within the West there are some 100’s of denominations that have sprouted from movements that find their roots in Protestantism. Why so many splits? Well, simply put – protest is part of the cornerstone of what they are built upon – and this idea permeates the theology and views adopted by new leaders in each generation. Nevermind trying to mend the repairs one see’s with church structure – just split off and start something new where authority is not a question anymore in change.
After seeing this program I realize the problems with the Protestant Revolution – it’s not much different than any other revolution we see (ie: in Russia or Cuba)…it’s just packaged differently. One needs to realize that the Protestant Reformation called into question the leadership of it’s day and set off horrendous battles for power among church and monarch and peasant. Like Che & Fidel taking Cuba back for Cubans – Luther saw it kinda the same way – take Germany back for the Germans.
As nice as some of the things that came out of the Protestant Revolution (ie: bible in our langauages – seperation of church and state) – the horrors it touched off from it’s first movements are far worse. They still reverberate with us today – a type of colonialist attitude towards minorities wherever this movement went (ie: America’s or Africa). One could also say the Protestant Revolution touched off elitism…the ‘them and us mentality…and that is at the cornerstone of Christian theology still.