Protestants and Catholics: monkeying with history

Carl Trueman, a Protestant scholar of medievalism, in conversation with a Catholic priest, was surprised that “his theological education had never required him to read Luther.” Yes, it is abysmal the mutual ignorance that most Protestants and Catholics have of one another’s history – indeed, of history.

“The theological and ecclesiastical
upheavals of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, says Trueman, shaped as they undoubtedly were
by wider factors such as economic, cultural,
and political changes, are central to what
both Catholicism and Protestantism became.
Catholicism is not simply Protestantism
with different doctrines; while We share a
common grounding in Nicea and Chalcedon,
the two faiths have differing views of au-
thority, of the sacraments, of the nature and
function of faith, and of the nature of the
church. In an era that oscillates between ne-
glecting history and simply regarding history
as something negative or oppressive, it is
easy to lose sight of the significance of these
differences and reduce them to Swift’s Lilliputian
struggles over which end of a boiled
egg should be removed at the breakfast
table; or to misunderstand the differences
completely, and, as with the gentle priest
who chaired my seminar in Trento, see them
as purely matters of seditious individual am-
bition and the abuse of religious power.
Only a careful, articulate education in the
history of Catholicism will help Protestants
truly to understand it and, where necessary,
argue against it; and the same holds true for
Catholics. We cannot even agree to differ
with any integrity if we have not taken the
time to learn each other’s history.”

(Carl Trueman, “Fools Rush In where Monkeys Fear to tread.”

There’s monkey and monkish. The truth lies somewhere in between.