National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Sad State of Liberal Protestantism

The former presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Bishop Herbert Chilstrom, has published a remarkable essay in which he criticizes St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt for advocating for an amendment that "imposes" the Church's views on all the citizens of Minnesota. See my previous post about the ridiculousness of this charge - all legislation imposes views on people, that is what legislation does, and I am willing to bet any amount of money that Bishop Chilstrom thinks the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a good thing.

But, what I found really fascinating was the way Chilstrom contrasts his Church's way of addressing problems, with lots of votes and debate, with the way the Catholic Church addresses issues. Amongst other remarkable claims, he writes of his church, "Dissent is fostered and welcomed." Hmmmmm. If you want clearer evidence of the ways liberal Protestantism has become, in Cardinal Francis George's phrase, "chaplain to the status quo," I can't think of any. We live in a culture that lionizes dissent and champions those who engage in it. They are cultural heroes, the lone man raging against the machine, David against Goliath, etc. The culture pays not an iota of attention to those whose human heroism expresses itself in obedience to any authority except its own. But, to hear a Christian pastor, who is no doubt familiar with the various biblical variations on the theme "That all may be one," to hear such a one champion dissent, not just disagreement or debate mind you, but dissent, I am dumbfounded. I do not know the bishop. He may be a good man and a holy man. But, his thinking is bizarre and I doubt even Luther would have much use for it.


Order a gift subscription to NCR, and we'll throw in a little something extra for you. Learn more


NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

November 20-December 3, 2015


Some articles are only available in the print newspaper and Kindle edition.