Does Progressivism Grow Out of Protestantism?

By Todd Lewis

There is a general trend in certain circles, such as neoreaction or traditional Catholicism, to blame progressivism and all its ills on the Protestant Reformation. The best example of this is Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn Liberty Or Equality, followed by E. Michael Jones’ Libido Dominandi. The general claim is that after Protestantism decoupled itself from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and adopted Puritanism, it gradually morphed into the Modernism we have today.

In Liberty Or Equality, Leddihn makes the audacious claim that Jan Hus and Martin Luther led to progressivism and Adolf Hitler. In the chapter entitled Liberty Or Equality (Hus, Luther and National Socialism) 209, he seeks to draw a line from Wycliffe and Hus to Luther to Calvin to Hitler, a rather difficult and ultimately unsuccessful task. Leddihn seems to forget that Hitler was an Austrian baptized and confirmed as a Catholic. Leddihn explains the philosophies that proceed from pre-Reformation, Reformation and Enlightenment thought here:

All these philosophies are anti-Catholic, anti-monarchical, anti-traditional; they look solely to the future, want to build a new society, and are ” dawnist.” They are opposed to the freedom of the person and are collectivistic; they divide human beings into specific categories, and they all favour the rise of an omnipotent state. They are materialistic, and claim to be ” progressive.” All of them have their affinities with the French Revolution. The whole bitter struggle among them is desperate and pitiless on account of its fratricidal nature. They do not see in each other strange opponents, but competing heresies with a common origin.[1]

Leddihn, like Jones, blames millennialism on both the Hussites and Anabaptists of Munster.[2] Leddihn makes four claims that he believes indicts Luther as a precursor to Nazism: 1) irrationalism, 2) obedience to the state, 3) bloodthirstiness and 4) anti-Semitism.

Leddihn states:

“One of the most fundamental breaks with Catholic tradition was Luther’s rejection of reason…”[3]

We should therefore not be surprised by the declaration of the Reformer that it is impossible to harmonize faith and reason, that reason is opposed to faith and ought to be killed and interred, that there is nothing as contrary to faith as law and reason, and that those who want to enter Heaven must abandon, conquer, annihilate and destroy all reason.”[4]

“Luther’s savagery apparently knew no limits when he dealt with a fellow Reformer like Thomas Münzer, the egalitarian peasant leader and Anabaptist. In a letter Luther complained that the (Catholic) bishop who made Münzer a captive did not use a torture effective enough to break him down”[5]

“Thus one should not be surprised to find in Luther a dualism of ethics which is frankly Machiavellian.”[6]

“After these recommendations (to harass and destroy the Jews) the Reformer concluded that they would not do much good after all, and that there is no other efficient remedy but to follow the example of England,

France, Spain and Bohemia and to expel the whole lot, after complete expropriation. Thus, short of the gas chambers, we have here the complete programme of the National Socialists.”[7]

The mendacity of all these indictments of Luther is that all of these charges can be found in the Roman Catholic Church. We get the notion of a ‘dual ethic’ and obedience to unjust regimes from Augustine, bloodthirstiness was no foreigner to Catholic history and anti-Semitism was part and parcel of Catholicism.

On service to the state Augustine writes:

“If the Lord of heaven and earth, through whom all things were created, served the unworthy, asked mercy for His furious persecutors, and, as it were, showed Himself as their Physician at His Advent (for physicians also, better both in art and health, serve the sick): how much more ought not a man to disdain, with his whole mind, and his whole good will, with his whole love to serve even a bad master! Behold, a better serves an inferior, but for a season. Understand what I have said of the master and slave, to be true also of powers and kings, of all the exalted stations of this world. For sometimes they are good powers, and fear God; sometimes they fear not God. Julian was an infidel Emperor, an apostate, a wicked man, an idolater; Christian soldiers served an infidel Emperor; when they came to the cause of Christ, they acknowledged Him only who was in heaven. If he called upon them at any time to worship idols, to offer incense; they preferred God to him: but whenever he commanded them to deploy into line, to march against this or that nation, they at once obeyed. They distinguished their everlasting from their temporal master; and yet they were, for the sake of their everlasting Master, submissive to their temporal master.”[8]

Compare this with Luther who said:

“Thus one has to suffer the power of a prince. If he misuses his power one should not turn one’s back on him, nor take revenge, nor punish him actively. One has to be obedient to him solely for the sake of God, because he is in God’s place.”[9]

“Even if the magistrate is wicked and unjust there should be no excuse for rioting or rebellion. For not everybody has the right to punish wickedness; only the secular authorities in the possession of the sword.”[10]

“One ought not to resist outrage but rather suffer it; yet one should not approve of it.”[11]

Are any of these quotes by Luther substantially different from Augustine? Not really. Luther might have more a bellicose personality, but are not the doctrines of the slave suffering at the hands of a tyrant essentially the same? If Leddihn cringes with Luther’s dual ethics and slavery to the state, what does he make of Augustine comparing God the Father to Judas Iscariot?

“Behold the Father delivered up Christ; Judas delivered Him up; does it not seem as if the thing done were of the same sort? Judas is ” traditor,” one that delivered up, [or, a traitor]: is God the Father that? God forbid! Do you say. I do not say it, but the apostle says, He that spared not His own Son, but ” tradidit Eum” delivered Him up for us all. Both the Father delivered Him up, and He delivered up Himself. The same apostle says: “Who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20 If the Father delivered up the Son; and the Son delivered up Himself, what has Judas done? There was a ” traditio” (delivering up) by the Father; there was a ” traditio” by the Son; there was a ” traditio” by Judas: the thing done is the same, but what is it that distinguishes the Father delivering up the Son, the Son delivering up Himself, and Judas the disciple delivering up his Master? This: that the Father and the Son did it in love, but Judas did this in treacherous betrayal. You see that not what the man does is the thing to be considered; but with what mind and will he does it. We find God the Father in the same deed in which we find Judas; the Father we bless, Judas we detest. Why do we bless the Father, and detest Judas? We bless charity, detest iniquity. How great a good was conferred upon mankind by the delivering up of Christ! Had Judas this in his thoughts, that therefore he delivered Him up? God had in His thoughts our salvation by which we were redeemed; Judas had in his thoughts the price for which he sold the Lord. The Son Himself had in His thoughts the price He gave for us, Judas in his the price he received to sell Him.”[12]

Imagine the abuse that such a doctrine could be put to! We see the seeds of torture planted by Augustine:

“5. You are of opinion that no one should be compelled to follow righteousness; and yet you read that the householder said to his servants, “Whomsoever you shall find, compel them to come in.” Luke 14:23 You also read how he who was at first Saul, and afterwards Paul, was compelled, by the great violence with which Christ coerced him, to know and to embrace the truth; for you cannot but think that the light which your eyes enjoy is more precious to men than money or any other possession. This light, lost suddenly by him when he was cast to the ground by the heavenly voice, he did not recover until he became a member of the HolyChurch. You are also of opinion that no coercion is to be used with any man in order to his deliverance from the fatal consequences of error; and yet you see that, in examples which cannot be disputed, this is done by God, who loves us with more real regard for our profit than any other can; and you hear Christ saying, “No man can come to me except the Father draw him,” John 6:44 which is done in the hearts of all those who, through fear of the wrath of God, betake themselves to Him. You know also that sometimes the thief scatters food before the flock that he may lead them astray, and sometimes the shepherd brings wandering sheep back to the flock with his rod.”[13]

“23. Why, therefore, should not the Church use force in compelling her lost sons to return, if the lost sons compelled others to their destruction? Although even men who have not been compelled, but only led astray, are received by their loving mother with more affection if they are recalled to her bosom through the enforcement of terrible but salutary laws, and are the objects of far more deep congratulation than those whom she had never lost. Is it not a part of the care of the shepherd, when any sheep have left the flock, even though not violently forced away, but led astray by tender words and coaxing blandishments, to bring them back to the fold of his master when he has found them, by the fear or even the pain of the whip, if they show symptoms of resistance; especially since, if they multiply with growing abundance among the fugitive slaves and robbers, he has the more right in that the mark of the master is recognized on them, which is not outraged in those whom we receive but do not rebaptize? For the wandering of the sheep is to be corrected in such wise that the mark of the Redeemer should not be destroyed on it.”[14]

“If you suppose that we ought to be moved because so many thousands die in this way, how much more consolation do you think we ought to have because far and incomparably more thousands are freed from the great madness of the Donatists.”[15]

We see this view fully blossomed in Aquinas’s Summa Theologica:

“Article 3. Whether heretics ought to be tolerated?

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Titus 3:10-11): “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: knowing that he, that is such an one, is subverted.”

I answer that: With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.

On the part of the Church, however, there is mercy which looks to the conversion of the wanderer, wherefore she condemns not at once, but “after the first and second admonition,” as the Apostle directs: after that, if he is yet stubborn, the Church no longer hoping for his conversion, looks to the salvation of others, by excommunicating him and separating him from the Church, and furthermore delivers him to the secular tribunal to be exterminated thereby from the world by death. For Jerome commenting on Galatians 5:9, “A little leaven,” says: “Cut off the decayed flesh, expel the mangy sheep from the fold, lest the whole house, the whole paste, the whole body, the whole flock, burn, perish, rot, die. Arius was but one spark in Alexandria, but as that spark was not at once put out, the whole earth was laid waste by its flame.”[16]

Such examples of ‘Christian charity’ are the logical conclusion from Augustine’s Against the Donatists.

Are these sentiments any different than Luther’s view of torture? In fact is Luddihn ignorant of the methods of torture and murder practiced by the Inquisition against Waldensians, Hussites, Lutherans and Anabaptists?  To point out the speck in Luther’s eye and ignore the log in Catholicism’s shows the disingenuousness nature of Leddihn’s work.

Leddihn’s cherry picking of Luther, who I admit was quite unsavory, and colossal ignorance of his own Catholic tradition render his work a sham and almost trollish in nature.

The charge of anti-Semitism towards Luther is true, but is also trivial; where did he get his anti-Semitism from? He got such ideas from the Catholic Church itself! I will limit myself to one period, though many more could be chosen: the Crusades. In the Rhineland in 1096 the Jewish community was brutally repressed with Crusaders resorting to murder and confiscation of property. Many of these Rhineland massacres were carried out under the orders of Count Emicho.[17] In the siege of Jerusalem Jews and Muslims were slaughtered indiscriminately[18]. If Leddihn is going to draw a line from Luther’s anti-Semitism to Hitler, then the line needs to go further back. In fact, back to Catholic Rome!

Having shown that most of the accusations made against Luther by Leddihn rebound against him and are in fact already found in the Catholic Church a good millennia before Luther, I shall move on to E. Michael Jones’ additions to this hypothesis.

The main argument that Jones makes can be found in Libido Dominandi and The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and its impact on world history. The central tenant is that Judaism after it rejected logos (Christ) has been captivated by the spirit of destruction, i.e. the devil. Judaism is revolutionary in that it seeks to overthrow logos and order. Protestantism is considered a subset of Judaism or a Judiazing religion. From this conclusion comes the charges that Protestantism 1) forms its practical law from the OT, 2) it endorses usury, and 3) it is chiliastic.

In an interview at CultureWars, Jones states:

“I’m talking about Judaizing also flowed naturally from the Protestant notion of sola scriptura. If the Bible is our only guide, it’s quite natural that the Old Testament will predominate in any question, because there are more books in the Old Testament, and, from a carnal point of view, they are also a lot more interesting. The Old Testament detached from the New Covenant and the Church becomes a gross distortion of what it is meant to be.”[19]

Further elaboration on the Protestant Jewish connection is found on pages 340-41 of The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit.

In Libido Dominandi, Jones quotes McKay (a negro communist turned catholic) as to usury and Protestantism:

“But fifteen hundred years later the money-changers were apotheosized and permitted to rule the world by the Protestants.”[20]

Jones adds:

“Just about everything bad in the modern world seemed to flow from the Protestant Reformation…”[21]

Such claims as extravagant as they may be have just enough truth to seem plausible, but under closer scrutiny such problems can be traced back to Rome.

Lastly, revolutionary chiliasm, according to Jones, is a purely Jewish/Protestant problem that is seen in the Hussites, Munzterites, Lutherans, and Puritans. In this regard he agrees with Leddihn. In The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit, Jones links Chiliasm with the Hussites[22] and Anabaptists[23] and ultimately to Marxism[24]. He states:

“They (the peasants) were told that political movements would lead to heaven on earth. The only institution to consistently tell them otherwise was the Catholic Church: “By carnalizing the emotional energies of the laity, by directing their yearnings firmly toward an after-life in another world, the church did indeed do much to impede the spread of revolutionary chiliasm.” Conversely, to the extent the Church was removed from public life, revolutionary messianic political movements moved in to fill the void. Either way, the antinomies were clear and would remain for centuries to come: the Church which told mean to treasure up their treasure in heaven and her revolutionary simulacrum, which claimed it could achieve all that the Church promised here on earth.”[25]

Having explained the key points of Jones’ critique I will show that Judiazing, usury and chiliastic revolutions were not new to Protestantism, but had their origins in Catholic Rome.

Contrary to Jones’  opinion Judiazing is not a necessary concomitant of Sola Scriptua, but Christendom. Jones, in his condemnation of the Hussites, quotes Petr Chelčický:

“If power were supposed to be administered through Christ’s faith by means of battles and punishments, and try to benefit Christ’s faith thereby, then why would Christ have abolished the Jewish Law and established a different spiritual one? If he had wanted people to cut each other up, to hang, to drown and burn each other, and otherwise pour out human blood for his Law, then that Old Law could also have stood unchanged with the same bloody deeds as before.”[26]

Jones seems to miss the point Chelčický is making. If the Hussites are damned for their violence, then so is Rome! Chelčický in the Net of Faith blames Constantine and Christendom for suppressing the truth of Christ’s gospel as it relates to the civil magistrate and war. Chelčický’s insight is echoed by Dostoyevsky in the Grand Inquistior five hundred years later:

“The great conquerors, Timours and Ghenghis-Khans, whirled like hurricanes over the face of the earth striving to subdue its people, and they too were but the unconscious expression of the same craving for universal unity. Hadst Thou taken the world and Caesar’s purple, Thou wouldst have founded the universal state and have given universal peace. For who can rule men if not he who holds their conscience and their bread in his hands? We have taken the sword of Caesar, and in taking it, of course, have rejected Thee and followed him.”[27]

In essence it is impossible to reconcile empire (Christendom) with the Sermon on the Mount. Since Christ supplies no civil law with which to rule an empire, Moses must be plundered for ideas. A classic text of judiazing is Ambrose’s On the Duties of the Clergy. Throughout Ambrose cites Moses, Joshua, David, Elisha and Judith as examples for Christian warriors (Judiazing anyone?). A few examples include:

“139. How great a thing justice is can be gathered from the fact that there is no place, nor person, nor time, with which it has nothing to do. It must even be preserved in all dealings with enemies. For instance, if the day or the spot for a battle has been agreed upon with them, it would be considered an act against justice to occupy the spot beforehand, or to anticipate the time. For there is some difference whether one is overcome in some battle by a severe engagement, or by superior skill, or by a mere chance. But a deeper vengeance is taken on fiercer foes, and on those that are false as well as on those who have done greater wrongs, as was the case with the Midianites. Numbers xxxi For they had made many of the Jewish people to sin through their women; for which reason the anger of the Lord was poured out upon the people of our fathers. Thus it came about that Moses when victorious allowed none of them to live. On the other hand, Joshua did not attack the Gibeonites, who had tried the people of our fathers with guile rather than with war, but punished them by laying on them a law of bondage. Joshua ix Elisha again would not allow the king of Israel to slay the Syrians when he wished to do so. He had brought them into the city, when they were besieging him, after he had struck them with instantaneous blindness, so that they could not see where they were going. For he said: “You shall not smite those whom you have not taken captive with your spear and with your sword. Set before them bread and water, that they may eat and drink and return and go to their own home.” Incited by their kind treatment they should show forth to the world the kindness they had received. “Thus” (we read) “there came no more the bands of Syria into the land of Israel.””[28]

“33. He had bound the people to himself freely in doing his duty; first, when he during the division among the people preferred to live like an exile at Hebron rather than to reign at Jerusalem; next, when he showed that he loved valour even in an enemy. He had also thought that justice should be shown to those who had borne arms against himself the same as to his own men. Again, he admired Abner, the bravest champion of the opposing side, while he was their leader and was yet waging war. Nor did he despise him when suing for peace, but honoured him by a banquet. When killed by treachery, he mourned and wept for him. He followed him and honoured his obsequies, and evinced his good faith in desiring vengeance for the murder; for he handed on that duty to his son in the charge that he gave him, being anxious rather that the death of an innocent man should not be left unavenged, than that any one should mourn for his own.”[29]

“87. How much nobler was this than that which the Greeks once did! For when two nations strove one with the other to gain glory and supreme power, and one of them had the opportunity to burn the ships of the other secretly, they thought it a shameful thing to do so, and preferred to gain a less advantage honourably than a greater one in shameful wise. They, indeed, could not act thus without disgrace to themselves, and entrap by this plot those who had banded together for the sake of ending the Persian war. Though they could deny it in word, yet they could never but blush at the thought of it. Elisha, however, wished to save, not destroy, those who were deceived indeed, though not by some foul act, and had been struck blind by the power of the Lord. For it was seemly to spare an enemy, and to grant his life to an adversary when indeed he could have taken it, had he not spared it.”[30]

What are obviously absent are any New Testament examples. Christ and his apostles supply no example of a “Christian” civil government, since as Chelčický points out and The Sermon on the Mount indicates, that Christ in overturning the Law of Moses overturned violence as a form of retribution. Much more could be said on these matters, but that would be outside the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, that Judazing originates with Roman Christendom.

As to Usury Michael Hoffman, a more honest Catholic, states:

“The papal usurers apply rabbinic-style loopholes to sneak their usury past the eyes of gullible Catholics who have a psychological need to believe that the Renaissance and post-Renaissance Church of Rome did not overthrow the dogma of the TrueChurch. Vix Pervenit consists of 98% anti-usury rhetoric and 2% loopholes by which usury could continue to operate. Note that in Vix Pervenit Benedict XIV declined to apply the general prohibition to the specific usury contracts which gave rise for the need for his encyclical in the first place.”[31]

“The Catholic Code of Canon Law of 1983 actually requires clerics in charge of church funds to obtain interest on money, and a usury bank, the IOR (Istituto per le Opere di Religione), has operated for decades in Vatican City, under papal auspices.”[32]

Situation ethics began to rule the Church of Rome five centuries ago, not 50 years ago. Until Catholics learn this historical fact they will not be able to overcome the enemies of God and will continue to be misdirected into impotent activism based on half truths. My book on usury is intended to spark the beginning of a process of historical investigation of the authentic root of the diabolical financial arcana that gave rise to situation ethics within the papacy. It is tragic that at five minutes to midnight on the clock of destiny,  prominent Catholics continue to seek to interdict an investigation of the trail of the Money Power’s usurpation of the papacy, by expecting us to submit to their childish belief in the credibility of Vatican doubletalk.”[33]

We have in Pascal’s Provincial Letters Chapter VIII that the Scholastics were using casuistry and loop holes to get around usury:

“”O sir!” I exclaimed, “what potent words these must be! Doubtless they must possess some latent virtue to chase away the demon of usury which I know nothing of, for, in my poor judgement, I always thought that that vice consisted in recovering more money that what was lent.”

“You know little about it indeed,” he replied. “Usury, according to our fathers, consists in little more than the intention of taking the interest as usurious. Escobar, accordingly, shows you how you may avoid usury by a simple shift of the intention. ‘It would be downright usury,’ says he ‘to take interest from the borrower, if we should exact it as due in point of justice; but if only exacted as due in point of gratitude, it is not usury. Again, it is not lawful to have directly the intention of profiting by the money lent; but to claim it through the medium of the benevolence of the borrower- media benevolentia- is not usury.’ These are subtle methods; but, to my mind, the best of them all (for we have a great choice of them) is that of the Mohatra bargain.””[34]

We see in Gerard N. Casey’s article The Major Contributions of the Scholastics to Economics that the Scholastics were beginning to find reasons to ignore the prohibitions on usury:

“Of course, it does not take much reflection to see that the Aristotelian doctrine that a lender loses nothing in making a loan will not bear scrutiny and, indeed, the Scholastics came to recognize certain exceptions to the universal prohibition of usury. Within the context of a loan proper, the Scholastics considered, and in many cases accepted, so-called extrinsic titles not inherent in the loan as such, which could justify a monetary return — poena detentiori, damnum emergens, and lucrum cessans.”[35]

““As the utility theory of value in the pricing of goods became more clearly expressed, so the opportunity arose to apply it to the price of money in a social context in which banking was ever-more prevalent and needed. There was a tendency to subsume both goods and money under a unitary theory of value. Cajetan defended the practice of banking as both useful and honorable. Moreover, he recognized the applicability of time preference to money — money absent is always worth less than money present — and entertained the idea that the price of money might be determined, as any other good, by the laws of supply and demand. St. Bernardino, too, recognized that “present goods are more valuable than future goods, a principle that, centuries later, was invoked by Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk (1851–1914) as the economic justification of interest.”Sometimes, interest charges were concealed in the discounting of exchange rates. Foreign-exchange operations were another fruitful way in which the prohibition on usury could be evaded.”[36]

What Hoffman, Pascal and Casey show is that in the intellectual life of the Church and Renaissance church practice, usury was already dying out at best and dead letter at worst.

Lastly we turn to Jones’ charge of Chiliasm. He charges that the Chiliasm of the Hussites, Anabaptists and Calvinists evolved into the secular Chiliasm of Communism and Liberalism. If we grant him the truth of this argument, does Rome emerge unscathed? Certainly not! It was Christendom itself that was founded on a Chiliastic premise.

Eusebius in his Oration in Praise of Constantine states:

“7. And surely this must appear a wondrous fact to those who will examine the question in the love of truth, and desire not to cavil at these blessings. The falsehood of demon superstition was convicted: the inveterate strife and mutual hatred of the nations was removed: at the same time One God, and the knowledge of that God, were proclaimed to all: one universal empire prevailed; and the whole human race, subdued by the controlling power of peace and concord, received one another as brethren, and responded to the feelings of their common nature. Hence, as children of one God and Father, and owning true religion as their common mother, they saluted and welcomed each other with words of peace. Thus the whole world appeared like one well-ordered and united family: each one might journey unhindered as far as and wherever he pleased: men might securely travel from West to East, and from East to West, as to their own native country: in short, the ancient oracles and predictions of the prophets were fulfilled, more numerous than we can at present cite, and those especially which speak as follows concerning the saving Word. “He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.” And again, “In his days shall righteousness spring up; and abundance of peace.” “And they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into sickles: and nation shall not take up sword against nation, neither shall they learn to war any more.”[37]

And in The Life of Constantine:

“Chapter 15. How Constantine entertained the Bishops on the Occasion of His Vicennalia.

About this time he completed the twentieth year of his reign. On this occasion public festivals were celebrated by the people of the provinces generally, but the emperor himself invited and feasted with those ministers of God whom he had reconciled, and thus offered as it were through them a suitable sacrifice to God. Not one of the bishops was wanting at the imperial banquet, the circumstances of which were splendid beyond description. Detachments of the bodyguard and other troops surrounded the entrance of the palace with drawn swords, and through the midst of these the men of God proceeded without fear into the innermost of the imperial apartments, in which some were the emperor’s own companions at table, while others reclined on couches arranged on either side. One might have thought that a picture of Christ’s kingdom was thus shadowed forth, and a dream rather than reality.”[38]

See Eusebius Oration of Constantine[39] and Oration in Praise of Constantine[40]and The Life of Constantine[41] for a full dose of his Chiliasm.

Orosius ties the Roman Empire to Christian eschatology based on the fact that Christ was born a Roman Citizen:

After the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, had come to earth and had been enrolled in Caesar’s census as a Roman citizen, the gates of war were kept closed twelve years, as I have said, in the happy serenity of peace. In the meantime Caesar Augustus sent his grandson Gaius to govern the provinces of Egypt and Syria. As Gaius was passing by the borders of Palestine, on his way from Egypt, he disdained, as Suetonius Tranquillus tells us, to worship at Jerusalem in the Temple of God, which was at that time venerated and much frequented. When he told Augustus about his conduct, the latter had the poor judgment to praise it as wise. Then so dreadful a famine visited the Romans in the forty-eighth year of Caesar’s rule that Caesar ordered the gladiatorial bands, all foreigners, and also great numbers of slaves to be expelled from the City. Physicians and teachers were excepted. Thus, when the princeps sinned against the Holy One of God and the people were seized by famine, the greatness of the offense was shown by the nature of the punishment. Let me next quote the words of Cornelius Tacitus: “Janus was opened in the old age of Augustus and remained so until the rule of Vespasian, while new tribes were sought at the ends of the earth, often with gain and sometimes with loss.” So much for Cornelius, After the capture and overthrow of Jerusalem, as the prophets had foretold, and after the total destruction of the Jewish nation, Titus, who had been appointed by the decree of God to avenge the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, celebrated with his father Vespasian his victory by a triumph and closed the Temple of Janus. Now, although the Temple of Janus was opened in the last days of Caesar, nevertheless there were no alarms of war for long periods thereafter, even though the army was ready for battle. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself also had these facts in mind in the Gospels; for, when the whole world in those days was enjoying great quiet and all nations were united under the shelter of peace, He was asked by His disciples about the end of the coming times and replied in part as follows:

And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be pestilences, famines, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”[42]

Augustine in The Correction of the Donatists states:

“Chapter 5.—19.  But as to the argument of those men who are unwilling that their impious deeds should be checked by the enactment of righteous laws, when they say that the apostles never sought such measures from the kings of the earth, they do not consider the different character of that age, and that everything comes in its own season.  For what emperor had as yet believed in Christ, so as to serve Him in the cause of piety by enacting laws against impiety, when as yet the declaration of the prophet was only in the course of its fulfillment, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and their rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed;” and there was as yet no sign of that which is spoken a little later in the same psalm:  “Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” How then are kings to serve the Lord with fear, except by preventing and chastising with religious severity all those acts which are done in opposition to the commandments of the Lord?  For a man serves God in one way in that he is man, in another way in that he is also king.  In that he is man, he serves Him by living faithfully; but in that he is also king, he serves Him by enforcing with suitable rigor such laws as ordain what is righteous, and punish what is the reverse.  Even as Hezekiah served Him, by destroying the groves and the temples of the idols, and the high places which had been built in violation of the commandments of God; or even as Josiah served Him, by doing the same things in his turn; or as the king of the Ninevites served Him, by compelling all the men of his city to make satisfaction to the Lord; or as Darius served Him, by giving the idol into the power of Daniel to be broken, and by casting his enemies into the den of lions; or as Nebuchadnezzar served Him, of whom I have spoken before, by issuing a terrible law to prevent any of his subjects from blaspheming God.  In this way, therefore, kings can serve the Lord, even in so far as they are kings, when they do in His service what they could not do were they not kings.

20.  Seeing, then, that the kings of the earth were not yet serving the Lord in the time of the apostles, but were still imagining vain things against the Lord and against His Anointed, that all might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, it must be granted that at that time acts of impiety could not possibly be prevented by the laws, but were rather performed under their sanction.  For the order of events was then so rolling on, that even the Jews were killing those who preached Christ, thinking that they did God service in so doing, just as Christ had foretold, and the heathen were raging against the Christians, and the patience of the martyrs was overcoming them all.  But so soon as the fulfillment began of what is written in a later psalm, “All kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him,” what sober-minded man could say to the kings, “Let not any thought trouble you within your kingdom as to who restrains or attacks the Church of your Lord; deem it not a matter in which you should be concerned, which of your subjects may choose to be religious or sacrilegious,” seeing that you cannot say to them, “Deem it no concern of yours which of your subjects may choose 641to be chaste, or which unchaste?”  For why, when free-will is given by God to man, should adulteries be punished by the laws, and sacrilege allowed?  Is it a lighter matter that a soul should not keep faith with God, than that a woman should be faithless to her husband?  Or if those faults which are committed not in contempt but in ignorance of religious truth are to be visited with lighter punishment, are they therefore to be neglected altogether?”[43]

We see that Eusebius in his use of Isaiah 2:2-4 and Augustine in his use of Psalm 2:1-11 and Psalm 72:11 blaspheme in claiming the Roman Empire under Constantine was the fulfillment of the David promises of peace made about Christ and his Reign. Did Constantine’s rule look like the rule of Christ? In short where did the Hussites, Anabaptists and Calvinists get their Chiliasm? From Rome!

As we have seen with Leddihn and Jones that everything they find wrong with Protestantism was already present within the Roman Catholic Church itself. Is Romanism itself the cause of modernism? A case could be and is made by the Eastern Orthodox Christians. We see in Kallistos Ware’s Orthodox Church:

“’All Protestants are Crypto-Papists.’ wrote the Russian theologian Alexis Khomiakov to an English friend in the year 1846. ‘…To use the concise language of algebra, all the West knows but one datum a; whether it be preceded by the positive sign +, as with the Romanists, or with the negative –, as with the Protestants, the a remains the same. Now a passage to Orthodoxy seems indeed like an apostasy from the past, from its science, creed, and life. It is rushing into a new and unknown world…. Orthodox see history in another perspective. Consider, for example, the Orthodox attitude towards western religious disputes. In the west it is usual to think of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism as opposite extremes; but to an Orthodox they appear as two sides of the same coin. Khomiakov calls the Pope ‘the first Protestant,’ ‘the father of German rationalism’; and by the same token he would doubtless have considered the Christian Scientist an eccentric Roman Catholic. ‘How are we to arrest the pernicious effects of Protestantism?] he was asked by the High Church Anglican when visiting Oxford in 1847; to which he replied: “First Shake off your Roman Catholicism.’ In the eyes of the Russian theologian, the two things went hand in hand; both alike share the same assumptions, for Protestantism was hatched from the egg which Rome laid.”[44]

Ware is pointing out that ‘rationalism’ is the common thread between Catholicism, Protestantism and Modernism. This view is common amongst the Orthodox. Another modern Orthodox person who believes this is the late Francis Schaeffer’s son Frank. In many interviews, Frank Schaeffer offers a similar narrative to Khomiakov’s.

If we are playing the blame game why not reject Christianity in toto. Since according to Anarcho-Capitalists, Christianity is a form of proto-Communism and Communism evolved out of it, or like White Nationalists who blame Christianity for all of modern liberalism and communism?

My central claim is not that Leddihn or Jones are incorrect in placing blame on the Protestants, but that they are incorrect for placing all the blame on the Protestants and ignoring their large  share of the burden for modernism as well. I believe Khomiakov is only partially correct as well. As the orthodox philosopher David Bentley Hart puts it in his article on First Things entitled No Enduring City:

“Certainly, reflective intellectual historians have often enough noted the ironic continuity between the early modern rise of principled unbelief and the special “apocalyptic vocation” of Western culture; and the observations of Ernst Bloch and many others on the “inevitable” atheistic terminus of the Christian message are, while not correct, at least ­comprehensible: for modern Western atheism is chiefly a Christian heresy, and could not have arisen in a non-Christian setting.”[45]

Christianity itself has the seeds with which Satan can create a doppelganger (Modernism, Liberalism etc.). In conclusion I will end with the words of Ivan Illich:

“[My] work is an attempt to accept with great sadness the fact that Western culture, [Christopher] Dawson … says that the Church is Europe and Europe is the Church, and I say yes! Corruptio optimi quae est pessima. [The corruption of the best is the worst.]Through the attempt to insure, to guarantee, to regulate Revelation, the best becomes the worst…”[46]

[1] Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality, (THE CAXTON PRINTERS, LTD. 1952), 211

[2] Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn,Leftism, From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse (Arlington House Publishers 1974) 56-57 and Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality, (THE CAXTON PRINTERS, LTD. 1952), 213, E. Michael Jones The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and its Impact on World History, (Fidelity Press; 1 edition (September 2008)), 257-326

[3] Leddihn Liberty Or Equality pg 221

[4] Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality, (THE CAXTON PRINTERS, LTD. 1952), 221-222

[5] Cit. ibid pg 225

[6] Cit. ibid pg 227

[7] Cit. ibid pg 229

[8] Augustine, “Exposition on Psalm 125:7”, accessed December 2013, Read all of section 7.

[9] Cit. ibid pg 223

[10] Cit. ibid pg 223

[11] Cit. ibid pg 223

[12] Augustine, “Homily 7 on the First Epistle of John,” accessed December 2013,

[13] Augustine, “Letter 93,” accessed December 2013,

[14] Augustine, “Letter 185,” accessed December 2013,

[15] Contra Gaudentium.7.29

[17]Jewish Encyclopedia “CRUSADES, THE:,” accessed December 2013,

[18] Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s.v. “Crusades,” accessed January 6, 2014,

[19] “An Interview with Dr. E. Michael Jones on The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit,” accessed December 2013,

[20] E.Michael Jones, Libido Dominandi, St. Augustines Press; 1 edition (April 15, 2005), 292

[21] ibid pg. 292

[22] , E. Michael Jones The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and its Impact on World History, (Fidelity Press; 1 edition (September 2008)), 175, 185

[23] ibid pg 295, 324-25

[24] ibid 175-76

[25] ibid pg 324

[26] ibid pg 172

[27] “THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV By Fyodor Mikailovich Dostoevsky Translated by Constance Garnett Chapter 5,” accessed December 2013,

[28] On Duties 1.29.139

[29] ibid 2.7.33

[30] ibid 3.14.87

[31] “E. Michael Jones terms Hoffman’s thesis about the Church and usury an “illusion,” accessed December 2013,

[32] ibid

[33] ibid

[34] Pascal Provincial Letters Chapter VIII

[35] “The Major Contributions of the Scholastics to Economics,” accessed 2013,

[36] ibid

[37] Oration in Praise of Constantine 16.7

[38] Life of Constantine Book III: Chapter 15

[42] Orosius A History Against the Pagans Book 7:3

[43] The Correction of the Donatists Chapter 5 – 19-20

[44] Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church: New Edition, Penguin Books; Second Edition, Revised edition (June 1, 1993), 1-2

[45] “How Christianity Destroyed Christendom,” accessed December 2013,

[46] Ivan Illich, The Rivers North of the Future and the Testament of Ivan Illich, (House of Anansi Press (March 10, 2005)), pg xv

12 thoughts on “Does Progressivism Grow Out of Protestantism?”

  1. The chain that leads from Luther to Hitler wasn’t what he wrote or said, it’s what his doctrine actually produced: Religious democracy where every believer made up their own mind about the nature of god and thus introduced Pharisee-ism into Christianity. Protestants then played out of control holier than thou games with brief pauses after say a 1/3 of Germany was murdered or all the Catholics in England were driven out for the next 500 years. Progressive continue playing these games even after they kill God.

    I remember reading about Luther returning home after one trial or another and discovering that his followers had desecrated his home city in an orgy of holier than thou bullshit ideas. They tried to force socialism and social equality, they destroyed the relics and paintings in the church, they fought and murdered Catholics and raped catholic women. Luther was very upset this behavior and condemned the people for it. But the man was too blind to see that his abolishment of religious hierarchy led to directly to this out of control behavior among his followers. The man fundamentally didn’t understand the consequences of destroying hierarchical structures.

    1. “I remember reading about Luther returning home after one trial or another and discovering that his followers had desecrated his home city in an orgy of holier than thou bullshit ideas. ”

      Kind of like when the Catholics did the same thing to pagan temples. I guess its the Catholic chickens coming home to roost.

      “they fought and murdered Catholics and raped catholic women.”

      Catholic’s did that to everybody else as well. Is that news?

      “But the man was too blind to see that his abolishment of religious hierarchy led to directly to this out of control behavior among his followers. The man fundamentally didn’t understand the consequences of destroying hierarchical structures.”

      News flash Luther did not abolish religious hierarchy and the Lutheran Kingdoms of Prussia/Germany, Denmark and Sweden were very resilient towards modernity, at least until after 1918 when all the great monarchies either fell or capitulated.

  2. My central claim is not that Leddihn or Jones are incorrect in placing blame on the Protestants, but that they are incorrect for placing all the blame on the Protestants and ignoring their large share of the burden for modernism as well.
    As a traditionalist Catholic, I share some of the same frustrations with the neo-reactionary take as well, though on the other hand I do question the extent to which Protestantism can be anti-liberal. The problem with neo-reaction (and I think you touched on it) is that is still too much imbued with a certain type of libertarianism, namely Anarcho-Capitalism.
    Von Leddihn seems to be a confused thinker from my stand point. Bourgeois liberals typical oscillate between extremes in times of political upheaval depending upon their own class’s goals. So in the 18th century American and French revolutions bourgeois liberals identified themselves with the common man against the nobility, Church and monarch. On the other hand, as seen in the American post-war Right, bourgeois liberals have allied themselves with Church and aristocracy against the threat of a proletarian revolution. Von Leddihn seems to be a product of the latter effort. This is all to say that I find his sense of Catholicism highly suspect. The Catholic Church never has never been particularly fond of economic liberalism. This doesn’t change just because Von Leddihn is of noble birth. And yet we see many neo-reactionaries flying the papal flag next to the anarcho-capitalist flag. Such figures do not follow their own Church’s tradition.
    My problem I guess is that there a good and then there are bad reasons to argue the Protestant connection with liberalism. As you said this seems to be the obvious implication of neo-reactionary argument which is that it undermines any kind of Christianity:
    If we are playing the blame game why not reject Christianity in toto. Since according to Anarcho-Capitalists, Christianity is a form of proto-Communism and Communism evolved out of it, or like White Nationalists who blame Christianity for all of modern liberalism and communism?
    On the other hand there a lot of Protestants proudly claim the Enlightenment and classical liberalism as the product of their culture. It seems that virtually all of the major Enlightenment thinkers lived and worked in the Protestant milieu, and that Protestant countries were the first to secularize. The Enlightenment took hold in the Protestant North with not as much resistance as there was in the East and Catholic South. Indeed the worldwide success of liberalism, can largely be chalked up to the success of the Protestant powers of Northern Europe. I agree that certain intellectual currents that would later sprout into modernity were first laid in late-medieval Europe. E Michael Jones also states as well. Jones argues that the Reformation was a punishment from God, for the Church’s failure to quell the Renaissance culture of Northern Italy (usury being a chief sin). But while capitalism and Renaissance culture may have been found in seminal form in Catholic Italy it was in the Protestant countries where such culture was able to flower and achieve predominance.
    Catholics starting with Joseph De Maistre through to Christopher Dawson down to Alasdair MacIntyre and Brad S. Gregory have leveled a pretty compelling case regarding the connection between Protestantism and liberalism and I have not seen a compelling refutation of their thesis yet. So again I think any movement that wants to critique liberal-modernism is going to run into this problem but there are good arguments and then there are bad ones.

  3. ”Christianity itself has the seeds with which Satan can create a doppelganger (Modernism, Liberalism etc.)”

    Why would God design Christianity in this way knowing that Satan can create a doppelganger from it?

    1. It not so much that God put something in their that was more amenable to Satan’s work, but that no matter how good something is Satan seems to be able to corrupt it, think of Arda and Morgoth in the First Age.

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