December 5, 2008

"Why I can't be Pente" - Part III

Protestant Ethos: 1. Humanism
The following is a wonderful article about Protestantism. You will definetly find it educatioanl. Please take it as supplementary evidence of my article "Why I can't be Pente" - Part II.

Cher Were Yaseman

The first characteristic of the Protestant Worldview is that it is Humanistic.

Now for conservative Protestants this statement will come as quite a shock, and no doubt they would hotly dispute it -- but the statement is an historic truth as well as an observable fact. Protestantism was birthed out of and became the religious expression of the humanism of the Renaissance, and as Frank Schaeffer has put it: it has been the engine of the Secularization of Western Culture.

Humanism is characterized by its idealization of individual autonomy and it promulgation of secularization. Church authority was rejected in favor of the subjective judgment of the individual. The idea of a Christian nation was replaced with the concept of separation of Church and state -- and for those who would argue that this was a later development, while it is true that Luther and Calvin saw no need for the separation of Church and State (because they were in power) the earliest Anabaptists championed this from the beginning.

What is amazing is how conservative Protestants have viewed humanism and secularization as a foreign invader that is completely at odds with their faith -- when in fact it is the fruit of their own intellectual wombs.

For example, every Western Christmas, you can hear Protestants loudly bemoaning the fact that Christ has been taken out of Christmas and replaced with Santa Claus -- but where did that come from? It was the English Puritans who opposed the idea of a religious calendar, and who opposed Christmas and all other holidays as "pagan" and so sought to replace those holidays with secular observances. It was these Puritans who invented Father Frost, and replaced the idea of going to Church on Christmas to celebrate Christ's birth with the family fun, games, gifts, and food observance that characterizes the common Protestant observance of Christmas. So in their quest to get rid of the "pagan" Christian calendar of feasts, it was in fact the Protestants who developed the truly pagan secular calendar that our culture has come to know and love.

The Protestant tendency toward individualism is also seen manifested in the Charismatic movement and in other pietistic circles in the form of emotionalism and an elevation of emotionalism. In contemporary denominational Protestantism, the worship services is not so much a service to God, but a service that meets the needs of the people. People look for the church that will best serve them, rather than a Church in which they can best serve God. If you take a look at the modern Protestant "Mega Churches" you'll find bowling alleys, swimming pools, Karate classes, singles groups that will help you find a date, youth groups that will entertain your kids -- what more could Madison Avenue have to offer?

The focus on entertainment can be seen in the layout of most modern Evangelical Churches -- they are set up like theaters. You can take you pick of a Church that offers Country Western Worship, Pop, Rock and Roll, or classical if you like. It's as easy as choosing a radio station. How alien this is to the Biblical view of worship in terms of Sacrifice, and service to God. You'll not find any of the Psalms talking about how the writer was entertained at the temple, or a focus on how his needs were met.

One need not look to hard in the Bible to see how foreign the concepts of Secularism, Humanism, and Individualism are to the minds of the Biblical writers.

There was no separation of Church and state in the OT. In fact the kings of Israel and Judah were judged by their defense of the Faith against pagan and heretical religious expressions. Repeatedly we read in the Scriptures, "such and such king did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, he pulled down the high places which the Lord had forbidden..." etc.

The worldview of the Bible is not man centered, but is clearly Theocentric. Individualism would have been a completely foreign concept -- a fact that even Protestant Biblical scholars do not hesitate to concede. In fact they point out that the Israelites had a concept of a corporate personality. Certainly they believed in individual responsibility, but it is clear that the Israelites viewed themselves as parts of their family unit, their clan, their tribe, and their nation -- and they recognized that God dealt with them not only as individuals but as groups.
A. Corporate / Theocentric

Rather than the Humanism and Individualism of Protestantism -- Orthodoxy is Theocentric, and corporate in its focus.

The focus of Orthodox worship is not on the personality of the priest, nor is it focused on meeting the needs of individuals, or on contrived emotional experiences -- the focus is on God. Unlike Protestant churches, in which the church rises or falls on the personality of the minister -- one need not even like the priest personally, and he can still worship in that parish, because we are there to worship God, not to hear a good and stirring sermon. It certainly a nice touch to have a priest with a good personality and who can give a good sermon -- but that is icing on the cake, not the cake itself.

The Church is not the sum total of individuals who are Christians, it is a community. Christ came to build His Church, not to establish a school of thought, or to save individuals apart from a community. This does not negate individual responsibility -- the Orthodox Church firmly believes that you can go to hell all by yourself, if you want to, without any help from anyone else -- but if you want to be saved, the Scripture is clear... you need the Church.

An Orthodox Christian is also held accountable by the Church. Christ spoke of Church discipline, and said that if someone would not "hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen and a publican" (Matt 18:17).

Christ also gave the Apostle the power to forgive sins in John 20:23 when He said: Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven unto them, and whose sins you retain, they are retained. It is amazing how Protestants, who say that they take the Bible literally, blow this verse off -- and when pressed, will flatly deny the plain meaning of this verse.

But far from being the horrible thing that Protestants think confession is -- it is both Biblical, and a great gift. Because we must humble ourselves, we gain victory over pride, and because we are held accountable we are given a powerful tool to help us advance in the Christian life.

One of the biggest criticisms Protestant make of confession is they claim that we can go out and sin all we want, and then have it all forgiven at confession -- that therefore confession is a license to sin. Obviously no one who has ever gone to confession would think this -- because although we should be shamed just by the fact that God knows we have sinned, in fact in our flesh we are more shamed when other men know our sins. When you go to confession to the same priest week after week -- we have added to our fear of God (which is something that we must develop) a witness who will call us to task for it. When temptation comes, the fact that we know we will be shamed to confess this sin next weekend is adds further strength to our resistance.

1 comment:

Gerald Coleman said...

Greetings Deje Selam, Let me first began by saying that I have great respect and admiration for the Orthodox Church. With that being said I would like to respond to some of the things you have written in your blog entitled "Why I can't be Pente" - Part III.

You wrote "The first characteristic of the Protestant Worldview is that it is Humanistic". This statement is a overgeneralization don't you think? To assert that is to not view the Reformation in it's historical context. The Reformation was happening in various parts of the Western Church, not Just in Germany with Luther. There were many who believed the Church was in need of reform. With that being said Luther never sought to disconnect himself from the Roman Church, but the Bishop of Rome had him excommunicated for speaking the truth. At this time the majority of the people in the Western Church were not familiar with the Eastern Church.

Then you state that "Church authority was rejected in favor of the subjective judgement of the individual." Not entirely true, if you read Luther and Calvin, you will see that they were vary much informed and aware of the writings of the Early Church Fathers, and they believed that we should not follow our own interpretation of the Faith. To be sure there are plenty of protestants who do look at the faith subjectively, but there are others who do not as well.

You then wrote "The idea of Christian Nation was replaced with the concept of separation of Church and State". I do not hold this to be true either, because the majority of protestants in the USA do not believe in Church and State as interpreted by the secularist. Also there are many who do not believe that the USA was even a Christian Nation, there are many who believe that the Western Worldview hijacked the Christian Faith for it's own selfish ambition.

You seem to lump all Protestants in the same boat, and that is simply not a good practice. Not all Protestants hold to the doctrine of the English Puritans.

You then say that, "The Protestant tendency toward individualism" tends toward emotionalism. That is not true of all protestants as well. Many Protestants do use a form of an ancient liturgy, and do look at worship as being for God and not for our own wishes.

I agree with you on most Mega Churches are very much seeker friendly, but not all protestants are.

You also seem to assume that all protestants are anti-Orthodox. Orthodoxy is fairly new to Protestants. Most Protestants think it's Roman Catholic. Protestants are starting rethink what it means to be the Church. You would also be suprised to know how much Charismatics and Pentecostals Churches have in common with Orthodox Christians. Many are discovering the Orthodox Church, but what they see often discourages them.

They often see many Orthodox christians who do not know what they believe. I am witness to this fact. I have visited many Orthodox Churches and have experienced first hand racial prejudice because I was not a part of their ethnic group.

I certainly believe that many protestants will be joining the Orthodox Church, but the Orthodox Church needs to get ready to receive them with open arms.


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