Blog Template Theology of the Body: Ecumenical Acumen Excursus: Does Protestantism = The Rise of Secularity?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ecumenical Acumen Excursus: Does Protestantism = The Rise of Secularity?

(It's an honest question, revisited)

In the USA, celebrated Boston University sociologist Peter Berger has suggested a possible connection between secularization and Protestant Christianity (and he is being descriptive, not offering an evaluation as to which religious persuasion is superior). In sum, from Berger's The Sacred Canopy:

"If compared with the fullness of the Catholic universe, Protestantism appears to be a radical truncation, a reduction to "essentials." Protestantism requires an immense shrinkage in the scope of the sacred as compared to Catholicism. Sacraments are reduced to a minimum, divested of their magical qualities. The miracle of the Mass disappears. In general, miracles are given little or no credence. The vast network of saintly intercession disappears altogether. In short, Protestantism rid itself as much as possible of mystery, miracle and magic and created a "disenchantment of the world." The Protestant believer no longer lives in a world penetrated by sacred beings and forces. Reality, for the Protestant, is polarized between a radically transcendent divinity and a radically "fallen" humanity which is made entirely devoid of the sacred. Between God and man lies an altogether "natural" universe. The umbilical cord between heaven and the earth is cut. Humanity's relationship to the sacred is reduced to one exceedingly narrow channel: God's word. All that remains is the cutting of this one narrow channel of mediation to open the floodgates of secularization, to create a world in which "God is dead." A sky empty of angels becomes open to the absolute conclusions of the astronomer and the astronaut."

Various sociologists have agreed that Protestantism, at the very least, is an historically decisive factor in the process of secularization, regardless of the importance of other factors as well.

... what do you think?