By Michael D. Peabody

Protes­tantism has indeed fallen on hard times as many Amer­i­can church­go­ers have grown tired of the­ol­ogy and moral stan­dards that are as wishy-washy as pop cul­ture and look for churches that empha­size a clear moral stan­dard and upright liv­ing. And it is true that no church has pro­duced as mono­lithic a struc­ture along these lines as the Roman Catholic Church. Catholic lead­ers long ago learned that the best way to address moral issues is to state a moral stan­dard and stick with it regard­less of whether peo­ple agree with it or live by it. Protes­tants con­tinue to swim around in Laodicean tap water and are in dan­ger of cir­cling the drain as they are afraid to espouse stan­dards even within their own congregations.

While Protes­tant churches tend to see them­selves as democ­ra­cies, there is no such thing in Catholic thought. In the Catholic Church there is God, the saints, the Church hier­ar­chy which han­dles the spir­i­tual wel­fare, then the Gov­ern­ment which serves the civic func­tions of life, then you. In Protes­tantism, there is God and then there is you.  In Protes­tant thought, you could assem­ble with other peo­ple and make a church, or not.

As an Amer­i­can, you could ben­e­fit from unprece­dented indi­vid­ual civil and reli­gious free­dom brought about by two keep­ing the sphere of church dis­tinct from the sphere of state. What hap­pened between you and God was your busi­ness, and the state didn’t get involved in what your church taught and your church was not allowed to set the agenda for the state. It was this com­bi­na­tion of the Protes­tant ethic and the repub­li­can form of gov­ern­ment that made Amer­ica a free coun­try and set the stan­dard for true free­dom of reli­gion. This real­ity was pre­served through the rule, not of politi­cians or prelates, but of law, specif­i­cally the United States Con­sti­tu­tion and its Bill of Rights which kept gov­ern­ment from being involved in affairs of the church and vice versa. This envi­ron­ment gave reli­gion, faith, prop­erty rights, and entre­pre­neur­ship the room to thrive. The only times of chal­lenge were when peo­ple tried to use force to rob other peo­ple of their God-given free­dom and inher­ent human worth.

While Chris­tian­ity in Europe has strug­gled with dying national churches, and where birthright deter­mined the like­li­hood of indi­vid­ual suc­cess, the Amer­i­can form of gov­ern­ment has proved a bless­ing to gen­er­a­tions of America.

If Protes­tantism is, as San­to­rum sug­gests, on life sup­port, then it des­per­ately needs revival as a belief sys­tem that rec­og­nizes the value of the unfil­tered grace of God. Protes­tantism, indeed Chris­tian­ity in gen­eral, is here to tell the world that there is some­thing more than what we see around us and to point to tran­scen­dent truths. If the Amer­i­can church wants to really reach its Divine poten­tial, it needs to ele­vate human­ity, not by con­firm­ing itself to the sec­u­lar soci­ety or forc­ing sec­u­lar soci­ety con­form to its reli­gion, but by point­ing the world to a bet­ter alternative.

If the faith com­mu­nity can truly embrace this call­ing, and it is a call­ing, not a prod­ding, it will achieve the trans­for­ma­tion that it seeks to achieve in the hearts of Amer­i­cans and peo­ple around the world.




  1. Johnny Ramirez says:

    Michael, can you please cor­rect or explain your sen­tence that seems to sug­gest that Anglican’s aren’t protes­tant?  I know that it was hardly cen­tral to this arti­cle but it’s what stuck out at me.  I mean, I don’t take San­to­rum or any­thing he says seri­ously.  You how­ever I do take seriously!

  2. bbuttler says:

    I espe­cially liked the state­ment regard­ing how we need to believe in God and not sim­ply believe in belief.  Its akin to those who are in love with love.

  3. RB2 says:

    The Protes­tant main­line denom­i­na­tional churches have already suc­cumbed to  Sec­u­lar Human­ism and belief in big gov­ern­ment, the nanny state. When govt. coer­cion or worse hits the Catholic Church and the smaller evan­gel­i­cal and fun­da­men­tal­ist churches with full force, the smaller churches(not Catholic) , the indi­vid­ual pastors/preachers/reverends will have to make a deci­sion to either have smaller con­gre­ga­tions and risk not pay­ing bills and clos­ing or adjust­ing their mes­sage and adjust­ing their preach­ing to new cowed wider audi­ence, to the new standard…capitulation! This will hap­pen as most of these smaller con­gre­ga­tions are not part of a group where the weaker con­gre­ga­tions are being sup­ported finan­cially by the group.
    Protes­tanism in the main will fold.

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