Today, with the Culture Wars the emphasis is on continuity with the Middle Ages and the whole of Christendom. But even a generation ago this was not the case. Some claimed the proto-Protestant groups because of their anti-Catholicism. Some exploited them for nationalistic purposes and created narratives concerning the true faith being present in this or that land...a sort of 'God has always been with us' badge. Those that use them in this way show a lack of understanding, a failure to grasp what these groups were actually about. The Hussites of course would be something of an exception. There are always exceptions. This is the nature of history and exposes the problems of those who wish to use it for their own ends. Both the Taborites and Utraquists were nationalistic. And yet other Hussites weren't and the groups which formed after the dissolution of the Taborites were not. As always it's complicated.
30 November 2013
When did groups like the Waldensians emerge? Conventional histories point to Peter Waldo in the late 12th century but older historians and the Waldensians themselves always argued this was not the case. Waldo was not greatly appreciated by the Lombard group and they certainly did not view him as their founder. There's confusion over whether or not there were more than one 'Peter' and some have argued he was not Peter Waldo but 'Peter the Waldensian'. In France they were known as the Vaudois, and Waldo is a corruption of this term in a local Italian or German patois.
It must be remembered that strictly speaking before the Enlightenment Protestantism on a social level was quite Liberal and Progressive. It was rejecting the conservative norms. It wasn't looking back, it was looking ahead. Only after the Enlightenment shift was underway and decimating the church and society did Protestants start to look back with longing.
The Bible itself provides us with an example of a meta-narrative. There's an overarching storyline from Genesis to Revelation regarding the Person of God Himself and the story of a fallen creation. It's a story of alienation and redemption and from beginning to end it's the story of Jesus Christ.
While Higher Critics and other Biblical sceptics chafe at the suggestion that sixty-six books composed over a period of 1500 years could somehow supernaturally be bound together in a common theme, Christians recognize this as reality. It is indeed miraculous and the fact that God has spoken to us and we have His Words is a profound and essential truth theologically liberal 'Christians' and other unbelievers fail to grasp. And thus, they entirely miss the narrative of Scripture and cannot comprehend its message or themes.