Thoughts on the Fate of Protestantism

A hypothesis: Religion goes to the Megachurch to die. The Megachurch will continue to grow and flourish for the next generation or so, but then it will be abandoned. As the Megachurch is a Protestant church whose main talent seems to be the decimation of of Confessional Churches (Catholic and Protestant), the abandonment of Megachurch will constitute at least the end of Protestantism. Catholicism is too historically unpredicatable to predict.

Reason: Religion consists in things that bind us. The soul of the Megachuch is this: lack of anything that binds. Outbreaks of emotion are encouraged, even set up as ideals. Community ties are rendered impossible through becoming a faceless man in a crowd. The atmosphere is entertaining and liesurely, and nothing is less binding than liesure. No morality, whether progressive or traditional, is mentioned. The distinctive doctrines of Protestantism are essentially forgotten, or have softened into platitudes. So too the old antinomy to Catholicism. All beliefs concerning the Trinity or the Incarnation would immediately fall under the slighest popular attack.

Reason for the decine: Hatred of man. Christianity is incompatible with a hatred of human existence: God became man, God even is a man. Modern culture believes strongly that human existence only derives goodness from something else: and so we poison ourselves into infertility, we choose to neuter ourselves like dogs, we let anyone abandon his offspring for absolutely no reason, and it is unthinkable to suggest otherwise.

This situation has, of course, existed before: if Polycarp or Iranaeus or Justin Marytr or Agatha or any of the Apostles were to take stock of our situation, they would think that it was comparitively good: remember that the world of the early Church was one where baby girls were usually abandoned in the woods to be picked up and raised as prostitutes, where people watched other men kill each other for sport, where homosexuality was the rule for married men, and where divorce was an unquestioned right for both sexes. But I see nothing in the megachurch that can stop this sort of thing. The megachurch seems to be more a participation in this sort of thing.

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2 Comments

  1. Led Zep said,

    July 31, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    I concede the plausibility. But you say that Catholicism is too historically unpredictable to predict. I agree, but why is this so? Perhaps because Christ is too historically unpredictable (or too loving, too divine) to predict? And if that’s the reason, then even a megachurch, so long as it’s still two or three (or twenty or thirty thousand) gathered in Christ’s name, participates in this unpredictability. All the more so for Protestantism uberhaupt. I suppose you didn’t mean to deny any of this. As I said, I concede the plausibility.

  2. shulamite8810 said,

    July 31, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    I don’t concede the reason. That comment about Catholicism requires that one hold that the Catholic Church is numerically the same entity that existed at the time of the Apostles. If one holds this, they must hold the historical fact that Catholicism has survived every rebellion against it, while it is also a fact that only a miniscule proportion of those who rebelled against it still survive, and many look rather sickly today. A

    Christ can do as he wills, but this is a theological consideration. . I wrote this post believing that the answer to it is sociological, that if one wanted to get a decent idea about the phenomenon they would do surveys and observe people and do studies, etc.


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