Saturday, 4 September 2010


I've just been to a Baptist service; it was very long and there was an awful lot of talking. But it's funny what preconceptions one has about real Protestants (such as the Baptists); quite a number were demolished this afternoon. I should say straight away that there was a lot that was good: there was a real atmosphere of keenness, and nobody could doubt that their faith was genuine and deep.
Surprise 1: The scriptures played almost no part in the service. There were two very brief (and very familiar) quotations from Hebrews, but these were simply there to act as the springboard for the preacher (who read the passages himself in the context of his sermon).
Surprise 2: I thought that Protestants believed in irresistible grace and despised 'works-righteousness'. But a hymn (sorry, worship song) that constantly repeated 'I choose to follow you' (or something like that) sounded almost Pelagian.
Surprise 3: There was quite a lot of prayer, of the extempore making-up-prayers type that I am no good at. But the Lord's own prayer was clearly found to be deficient, because it didn't feature at all.
I'm not criticizing, merely recording my own surprise. Perhaps there are perfectly good explanations for all this.


pelerin said...

Your comments are most enlightening Father. I am completely ignorant of what Baptists believe or do, except that I think that they go in for full immersion at Baptism.

I happened to be speaking to a Baptist minister today who made me jealous as he told me has been given a ticket for the Ecumenical service at Westminster Abbey! And 50 tickets for his flock too! And he told me that he would also be introduced to the Holy Father himself. I was curious to know whether this ecumenical service would include Hindus, Moslems and Sikhs but he did not know.

The absence of the Lord's Prayer at the service you attended did seem odd and the next time I see this minister I think I shall ask him why this is.

berenike said...

I have a Wee Wee Free friend. They don't say the Lord's Prayer, but pray according to its "template" (b/c reciting it would be ritual, doncherknow).

Also, and also I-laughed-out-loud-and-said-"Nah!" bizarrely, but in line with the above, they sing only the psalms. No other parts of scripture are sung or recited.

(No Scriptural Warrant, she says.)

Maurice said...

If other FAITHS were taking part, it'd be a multi-faith event, Pelerin. Ecumenism takes place between CHRISTIANS.

uisdean said...

What puzzles me is why you might think that this Baptist service was normative for what you term 'real Protestantism'.
The term 'Protestant' is used to encompass Baptists, Lutherans, Reformed, Methodist, even Anglicans, and others.... perhaps you need to encounter more of us. Some of us may be closer to you both liturgically and theologically than you might think.

Pastor in Monte said...

I'm well aware, of course, that you are right. I was being ironical about how this group see themselves. Some whom I have spoken to tend to be a bit dismissive of most other Protestant groups as being unduly corrupted by Catholicism, 'nearer to' us, as you put it. They admire the Brethren in a sort of 'wish I was strong enough to be one of them' sort of way.
The term 'Protestant' also in my mind refers to the most faithful adherence to Calvinist doctrine. Methodists are Arminian, Presbyterians (as URC here) are very liberal, most Anglicans are scarcely Protestant at all (though I have certainly met some exceptions).

Fr John Hunwicke said...

My experience has been that the more Protestant a group is, the less they put the Scriptures upfront; and the greater is their tendency to ensure that any Scripture they do permit is safely cocooned in the minister's exegesis, rather than being allowed to speak for irself, as it is in our Catholic tradition. I recall Gregory Dix's demonstration of how minister-centred Protestant worship is (indeed, you only have to look at the ordering of a traditional Protestant church with its dominant pulpit); and C S Lewis's strictures about churches where lectionaries are found too 'restrictive' and the result is that the congregation repeatedly gets the same twenty or so passages the minister likes.

Anagnostis said...

Somebody or other did a survey of Scriptural content recently, across the major Christian confessions on the average Sunday. Leading the field by a margin of about 30%, IIRC, were...

...the Orthodox. Bumping along the bottom, well below the other liturgical communions, were the "Evangelical" Protestant groups.

I was at a mainstream Scottish Presbyterian service last month, for the first time in several decades - two scripture readings, one metrical Psalm and that was it.

Tracy said...

I have just had a scrap with my neighbor over a Baptist question. I'm Catholic (he dislikes Catholics even though he's married to one) and he's Baptist (unpracticing of course). I made a comment about Baptists being Protestant, and he said they weren't. My husband and I both looked at each other and said, yes, Baptists are Protestants. It ended badly. He later emailed me saying that he learned his church history in high school back in the day and he knows the truth! I cited a few good sources saying that Baptists are Protestants, but he won't hear it. Lord, have Mercy!

Little Black Sambo said...

Another feature of Protestant worship (which Protestants perhaps deny) is that it is totally "priest"-dominated. The less liturgical it is, the more the congregation simply waits to be told what to do. In Catholic-Orthodox worship we all know what to do and get on with it, with no need for a Presenter.

Uisdean said...

Pastor in Valle
I would say that your response and some of the others open up a whole can of worms with regard to an understanding of other churches, which I respectfully believe your blog is not really the place to engage - but, if I may, a few points.

The term 'Protestant' originally referred to Lutherans alone and expanded historically to encompass all those others who broke with the Papacy. In respect of Reformed (Calvinist) doctrine the URC, whilst socially liberal, is still very much in that camp (I speak as a URC minister).

I would respectfully suggest to Fr Hunwicke that the days are past when one would look to Dix as any kind of authority when it comes to post Reformation worship etc. outside the Anglican tradition - I say this having studied liturgy at a Catholic institution as well.

And with "Little Black Sambo" again please do some more research

Convenor said...

Dear Father,

It would be very kind if you could add our blog to your Catholic Links:

God bless you!

Pastor in Monte said...

You have repeatedly asked me to post a link to your blog on mine, and once I did so, given that I warmly approve (indeed, share) your aims.
I found, however, that you did not wish to reciprocate the courtesy by linking to my blog on yours, and so I removed the link.
You will understand my irritation, and my consequent unwillingness to comply with your request.
Now, I think, it is for you to go first.

Pastor in Monte said...

Thank you again for your contribution.
I have blogged in the past about the URC order for Holy Communion which bears a quite remarkable similarity to our Novus Ordo Missæ.
I have to say that such URC people as I have known (which admittedly has not been a great number) have certainly been very liberal theologically, and this, combined with my reading of your Communion service has led me to think that 'Protestant' would not be a label that you were happy with. My mistake, perhaps, was to use too liberally (as it were) my greater familiarity with Anglicanism where the terms Protestant and Catholic are used by some to determine churchmanship that may bear little resemblance to full adherents of either position.
I'm sorry if I've irked you: it wasn't my intention (despite my Catholic traditionalism, I have genuine ecumenical sympathies), but simply to record my surprise at some things I discovered in a Baptist church which I did not expect to find.

uisdean said...

Dear Pastor in Valle,

I apologise if it has come across that I was in any way 'irked', I do enjoy reading your blog coming from the 'high' end of the United Reformed Church!