Growing up in a “Protestant-ish” faith (charismatic, word-of-faith, evangelicalism), and having never been exposed to the Orthodox Church, I am now beginning to see some of the contradictions that I lived so long with. The following is a short list:
(Note: this reflection is not made from a general Protestant view, but rather from my particular experience in charismatic, word-of-faith, evangelicalism)
1.) We Protestants love to shout from the rooftops, “Return to traditional family values, return to traditional marriages,” etc, yet we’ve been the ones who have said for the last 500 years that tradition is bad, particularly religious tradition.
2.) We smirk at those “legalistic” folk who repeat written prayers during worship, yet we have no problem repeating written songs during worship. Indeed, we have no problem with our entire salvation revolving around a pad “sinner’s prayer” repeated after a minister.
3.) We mock those who have icons in their church believing that they are worshiping dumb idols made of wood, yet we take two sticks, make a cross, and place it at the highest pinnacle of churches and adore it just the same.
4.) We hold the Scripture above the liturgy, as if they are opposed to each other. Yet, the liturgy preceded the canonization of the New Testament. Never mind that one of the tests that the early church imposed on the various books that were to be considered for canonization was whether or not they contradicted the liturgy passed down by the Apostles.
5.) Some Evangelicals love to point out the problems associated with Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism’s intermarriage of church and state, yet we are never more proud then when we make the false claim that America is a “Christian nation,” and engage in sometimes radical political activism in the name of Christ (you know, because Christ was a huge political activist).
6.) We mock the priests who walk around in robes, yet we praise pastors who drive BMW’s and flash their glistening, diamond studded, Rolex watches behind the spotlight of the pulpit.
7.) We shun the Church clergy (bishops, priests, etc.) because they claim apostolic authority (and have funny collars), yet would not dare disagree with our ordained pastors, because they…um…well, because they told us not too.
8.) We believe in a myth called “Sola Scriptura”; that Scripture alone, without tradition, is the way to know God. That is, Sola Scriptura according to either the Augustian-Calvin tradition, the Luther-Melanchthon tradition, the Seymour-Roberts-Hagin tradition, etc.
9.) We deny Mary and the Saints any room in our church services, yet we proudly proclaim that we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses”. I guess that so long as the “witnesses” are an abstract bunch, if we’re not being specific as to exactly who they are, all is well.
10.) We look down our noses at the Orthodox for giving the highest priority to the Creeds of the Church in matters of dogma, yet we have untold number of factions within Protestantism over the very issues that the ancient Church debated and settled in the Creeds. The Creeds were formulated to protect the Church from heresy and division. The churches I grew up in could not care less about the Creeds and its no wonder that most of them now are wandering, isolated factions – sheep without a shepherd.