The Arrogance of Protestantism

Disclaimer: My Christian background is that of a protestant tradition, furthermore, I am a Pentecostal Christian, which means I believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a separate and subsequent experience from conversion and that tongues is the initial compulsory sign of Holy Spirit baptism. So I am by no means straying away from the tradition which my Christian faith grew up in. 

I recently read this post on "Shared Savior, Split Tradition" and this article resonated in me. The gist of this article is on how we should see other Christian traditions which are distinctly different from ours. The clearest divide in the Christian traditions is perhaps that between the sacramental ones and the non-sacramental ones. This refers to traditions which are more sacramental in nature and hence utilise more physical sacraments for their worship compared to those which do not. One clearest example that I can think of is how the Roman Catholic church conducts its worship compared to a standard Pentecostal or Charismatic church (Pentecostal churches tend to be different from Charismatic churches despite the apparent similarities in practices and distinctions). The latter tends to depend less on physical objects and liturgy as the conduit for worship whilst one will see a lot of those in the former one. 

The historical background in this divide stems from the Reformation. For more information on this, I would suggest picking up a book on church history and read it. After Martin Luther kickstarted the whole process of Reformation which resulted in the formation of the Protestant churches and fast forward into modern days, we are beginning to see Protestant arrogance in how we label other sacramental churches, especially the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox Church. This is prevalent especially among the lay people in the churches who can pose a question such as "what is the difference between a Christian and a Catholic" or somewhere along that line. I have also heard comments amounting to "Catholics are not saved" etc. The underlying assumption is that we, as Protestants, are the only ones who can be saved because of our 'sola fide' belief.

I wonder if that kind of view is adqeuate, or even able to explain our surrounding, or even help us to relate to people from other denominations. This is really not excluded to the schism between the sacramental churches and the non-sacramental churches though. One can easily imagine someone in a BP church commenting that a Pentecostal Christian is satanic. The division between these denominations, within the larger Protestant churches, is certainly not doing the kingdom of God good and it causes all of us to be self-centred towards the doctrines that our churches believe. The interesting thing is that I have never seen any pastors or scholars who are well-read enough taking on the same positions as these lay Christians.

That being said, I am not saying that we should strive towards a universal church. But I am really talking about managing the different doctrinal differences to advance the Kingdom of God, whether we agree with one another regarding the sacraments or venerations or pneumatology or not. From my own experience, I can continue to hold on to the doctrines distinct to my church and yet continue to work with other Christians from other denominations. If we are too arrogant to hold that our doctrines render us saved, then it makes us no different from the Pharisees or from what we perceive the other parties to be. We essentially start to worship our doctrines rather than God.


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