Trueman and Protestant Amnesia

Carl Trueman has the rare ability to elegant in what he writes, firm in what he believes, and generous to his opponents (though, not necessarily to their arguments). I believe this is because he’s a Brit and follows in the steps of Chesterton before him (minus the Catholicism). Anyways, he has written a response to Bryan Cross of Called to Communion articulating something that has been on my mind since I listened to a lecture by Fr. Richard Neuhaus: why am I not a Roman Catholic. The question is a serious one that many Evangelical’s don’t take seriously enough. From a purely historical perspective, Protestants are the ones who broke off. This Fr. Neuhaus articulated aptly: If a Protestant (in his case, it was Lutheranism) doesn’t wake up every morning and ask himself why he isn’t a Catholic, he doesn’t know what it means to be a Protestant. Trueman’s article basically fleshes this out without following Neuhaus into the Roman Catholic Church. Whether you agree with him or not, I still think the article is worth reading.


3 thoughts on “Trueman and Protestant Amnesia

  1. Further comments: I dislike that he throws out the term “orthodox” in light banter. “orthodox Catholics” and “orthodox Protestants”? Yet no mention of the ecclessial body that actually goes by that name? On the positive side, I am appreciative that he understands the need for “Evangelicals” to be considerate of their theological inheritance and not try to re-invent the church every Sunday. Or, for that matter, have some vague notion that the Church really only came into fruition about five hundred years ago. That being said,and he does acknowledge this somewhat at the final paragraph, his criticism of Roman Catholicism (which, admittedly, applies equally to the Orthodox Catholics) is of non-essential characteristics. How on earth do we keep the sluggards out of the Church? It is no criticism of the truth of the doctrines that there are cradle Catholics who are only so in name. Converts do tend to be far more knowledgeble of the faith than the cradle-ers, but this is to be expected. Creasters (Christmas-Easter goers) are hardly the measure of the faith. Need we point to the thousands, perhaps millions, of Protestants who behave and live in the exact same way (and further, without the possible check on their “personal theological thinking” and moral life that the Papacy and the church Hierarchy affords). I will say this much for Rome: they have us all beat when it comes to organisation and and having a system for dealing with slack laity. But, give them a break; there are more than a billion of them after all. I’d like to see the Evangelicals, either together or some single group of them, reach that number of adherents and not have a few dead weights giving them a bad name.

    Incidentally, I was discussing Orthodoxy (not the book, good book by the way) with an evangelical the other day and he presented a similar complaint. Other than knowing practically nothing about the Orthodox, his only experience was with several cradle Greeks who were only nominally and culturally Orthodox. My reply was, so what? Tu quo que!

    • His concern to reference Roman Catholic’s more than Orthodox stems from his response being directed to a Roman Catholic (Bryan Cross of While I have not read Bryan’s article, I assume his article focused more on Roman Catholic issues, which would be why Dr. Trueman kept that focus in his response. As for his critique of RC, I gather from his statement, “Yet, while appreciating Bryan’s comments, I wonder if the grass is really any greener on the other side. His criticism is essentially one of Protestant culture, not theology, so I offer a response in kind,” that his critique was similar in nature to Bryan’s. It’s kind of a “right-back-at-ya” argument. Or, as they say in these parts, “So’s your old man!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s