Saturday, December 28, 2019

Protestant Integralism

I know I told Bruce Charlton that my next post was going to be on modernisation but I've been struck down with a cold and the brain is a bit mushy.

One of the interesting questions for me is why did countries like Spain, Portugal and Ireland, which could in many way be considered Integralist,  so rapidly secularise following the collapse of the political structures which supported the Church.

One of the brightest guys dealing with the subject is José Casanova, one of the world's top scholars on the sociology of religion. Cassanova's expertise is in the relation between religion, modernity and secularisation. I thought I would post an extended quote from one of his books as he provides a very good explanation with regard to the mechanics at play.  For those of you who can't be bothered reading it the executive summary is as follows:

1) Catholicism made no space for the secular.
2) Any secularising force had to to oppositional to Catholicism and therefore hostile.
3) Calvinism allowed a secular space.
4) Protestantism was able to blur the distinction between the secular and sacred, integrating the two in a way that Catholicism was never able.

As John Witte shows in this book, Luther reassembled the dualism of the Augustinian two kingdoms theory in novel ways that led to relocations of the sacred, the religious and the secular. Most importantly - and this is the key difference with the laicist Southern-Latin pattern - the core dualism between the religious clergy and the secular laity is dissolved by mutual infusion, so that, in Witte's formulation, "Luther's doctrine of the priesthood of all believers at once laicised' the clergy and 'clericised' the laity."[ED] The 'clerical' office of preaching and teaching was secularised, becoming one secular vocation just like any other, while the traditional 'lay' offices now became "forms of divine calling and priestly vocation." 
The 'church' is also radically transformed in the process. A new dualism now emerges between the ecclesiastical institution, which as a visible church is just, part of the saeculum that falls under the law of the earthly kingdom, i. e., the state, and the invisible church of the eschatological communion of the saints. In the process, the 'true religion', the Kingdom of God, of Love and of the Gospel, mutates into a religion of inwardness and migrates to the individual conscience, eventually giving birth to pietist movements on the margins of the ecclesiastical institution, which prepared the ground for the modern cult of the individual and the sacralisation of human rights. Secularisation or soft `deconfessionalisation' in this context means : a) continued adherence to the national church, which remains under the jurisdiction of the national sovereign; b) a drastic decline in religious (ecclesiastical) beliefs (confessional faith) and practices (rituals); c) interiorisation of a modern, individual, spiritual realm which becomes the authentic space of the sacred. There are of course tensions between the three domains of the religious-secular-sacred: a) the democratic national collective (the civil religion); b) the ecclesiastical Lutheran church; and c) the individual inward conscience. But there is no radical chasm or schism between the three.
 The Southern Latin Catholic pattern evinces different dynamics of dissociation and relocation of the social sacred (state and nation), the ecclesiastical institution (the Catholic Church) and the religion of the individual. The process of absolutist confessionalisation is based on a close alliance between throne and altar, but the transnational structure of the Catholic Church and papal supremacy do not allow the kind of integration and fusion of the two one finds in the Nordic Lutheran pattern, even under caesaro-papist Gallicanism[ED]. The secularisation of the state takes place through a radical break with the church that resists disestablishment. The schism here leads to a protracted chasm, indeed to a kind of prolonged civil war within the social sacred between a new republican laicist civil religion and the old national Catholic religion. The Latin-Catholic path of laicization is marked not by integration but by civil-ecclesiastical and laic-clerical antagonism. It maintains rigidly the boundaries between the religious and the secular, but pushes those boundaries into the margins, containing, privatising and marginalising everything religious. When it breaks the monastery walls, it will not be to bring the religious into the secular world, but to laicize them, dissolving and empting their religious content and making religious people (monks and nuns) civil and laic before forcing them into the secular world. Deconfessionalisation of state, nation, and individuals here means assertive anti-Catholic unchurching.
The absolutist principle cuius regio ejus religio was not significantly altered by the shift of sovereignty from the monarch to the nation or people with the fall of the ancient regimes or with increasing massive democratisation process in the 20th century. European societies have remained religiously homogeneous societies, and the only significant change has been that from belief to unbelief. In this sense the process of European secularisation ought to be understood primarily as a process of deconfessionalization of states, nations, and individuals. But here one can also distinguish between the Nordic pattern of soft deconfessionalisation, which can best be characterized as 'belonging without believing', that is, secularisation without unchurching, and the more radical deconfessionalisation of the Catholic South that accompanies laicist unchurching. Denmark presents the paradigmatic case of a European society with one of the lowest rates of religious belief and practice accompanied by one of the highest rates of confessional affiliation in the national church, the Church of Denmark. In this respect, to be Danish, to be Lutheran, and to be secular amounts to one and the same thing. This contrasts with the Southern Catholic pattern (France, Belgium and, increasingly, Spain, but not so much Portugal or Italy) of radical secularization and laicist deconfessionalisation.
The secular is understood here in drastic laicist, anti-clerical, and often anti-religious terms that demand assertive unchurching. Spaniards in post-Francoist Spain who took the resisting Catholic Church to court in order to get their names erased from the church's baptismal registry may serve as a vivid illustration of this assertive deconfessionalisation.

(José Casanova:Secular and sacred? The Scandinavian case of religion in human rights, law and public sphere)


Anonymous said...

Here in America we have Protestantism without a state church, with certain movements within Protestantism heavily aligned with one of the two major political parties and in many respects crucial to political activism and mobilization (Mainline and Black=Democrat, Evangelical = GOP). People left Evangelicalism in reaction to Bush in the same way people left Catholicism in reaction to Franco. Jerry Falwell Jr. may be the closest thing to an Evangelical Primate of the United States, due to the influence of Liberty U., and he's openly aligned with Trump.

Plus there's two major groups that like to call themselves "Protestant" but claim to be based on continuing public revelation and more closely resemble highly centralized and highly decentralized gnostic cults with a very tentative connection to historical Christianity (Mormons and Pentecostals, respectively).

Spain and Denmark are entirely different ballgames. The closest things to Danes in America are the big chunk American Catholics, who don't believe or practice but still identify for whatever reason.

Anonymous said...

Ergo, in the American situation, secularism still demands agressive "unchurching" of whatever institutional forms conservative Protestantism takes above the congregation level. You can have a independent Baptist congregation with a fire and brimstone preacher, but don't you dare start a major university or try to influence the national political process! American secularists have the same hostility towards our low-church protestants that Spanish communists had towards the Catholic clergy and religious.

Chent said...

I was born in Spain in 1970. Franco dies in 1975. I saw the secularization process in my family, my town and Spanish media for decades. It seemed different than you guys are explaining.
Now I am traveling and cannot write long texts with the cell phone but I plan to give my point of view some days from now.

Bruce Charlton said...

Interesting stuff. Although, as Chent says, I don't think this model captures it really - not as the main thing.

The Protestant 'solution' was, as you say, more of a graceful degradation than a genuine compatibility with modernity. The same, applies with Mormonism which resisted somewhat longer than Protestantism, but is now beginning to decline in indices such as fertility, and Western conversions are in decline.

(These are good indices IMO - average fertility among the native Western population and conversions among Westerners (not just denomination swapping) - because these are the two ways that churches are sustained and grow. The only Christian churches which are growing now for sure, are those with high fertility and retention, and these are the isolated denominations like Amish and Hutterites.)

The main thing is a very deep change in the way Western Man thinks and is aware - and this, I think drives the surface changes. It is because we have changed in our consciousness that nowehere has ever succeeded in reversing the direction of this development.

That does not at all mean that what actually happened was inevitable nor that it was the best - very far from it. In fact I believe that things could hardly have worked out worse - because I regard the modern West as by far the most truly evil society ever - the only one where multiple value value inversions are the norm.

In sum, change was inevitable, but it was channeled into evil. The challenge is to change in the necessary ways while becoming stronger Christians.

Hoyos said...

In the interest of being pedantic, Mormons so not consider themselves Protestants, they are obviously heavily influenced by protestants but their official position is that the Church disappeared somewhere around Constantine and was restored with Joseph Smith. They honor people like Martin Luther, but they believe he was not in possession of all the facts as it were. They do not consider themselves protestants doctrinally or historically.

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Anon

Ergo, in the American situation, secularism still demands agressive "unchurching" of whatever institutional forms conservative Protestantism takes above the congregation level.

It does but the dynamics at play are different.Casanova recognises that there are multiple different types of secularisms, some of which are hostile to religion and others which are benign. The militant secularism of the U.S. is a product of different forces than those in Ireland or Spain. Broadly speaking, the U.S. secularism is different to French or Spanish variants since it seems specifically anti-Christian as opposed to anti-religious. French Laicitie for example is "officially" as hard on Muslim expressions of the faith as it is on Christian, it is truly secular.

US secularism is specifically anti-Christian and very tolerant of everything else but it. The dynamics are different to that in Europe.

In my opinion, the problem with the U.S. state is that because the protestant laity could infuse the secular spaces with a " white protestant Christian" flavour, it produced a defacto Christian state without explicitly declaring one. This isn't a problem until large numbers or people who don't share this identity reach a critical mass and start wanting to mold the secular space into their own image. This White Christian Protestant identity chafes against those groups who don't share this vision--and who were bought in increasing numbers following WW2-- and therefore we see the wars against Christmas, displays of the Cross or other forms of Christian iconography or specific morals in the public space.. Thus we see people like Strauss trying to write out Christianity from the history of the U.S. and Europe, pushing the "Athens/Jerusalem" trope with no mention of Geneva-- or even Rome. If you're Jewish, Black or Confucian Asian, you share nothing with the white American identity and when you've got the ability to assert power or influence your going to want to put your values into the secular space.

In Europe it was God or nothing, in the U.S. its the Christian God vs every other one. Here's a thought experiment: Would the secularists complain if Kwanzaa was made a national holiday or Hanukkah.

The other problem is the collapse and corruption of mainline Protestantism in the U.S. but Protestantism has always prone to the temporal fashions. Troeltsch recognised that Protestantism could morph into an anti-civilisational force and this is what some of the mainline denominations have become.

The Social Pathologist said...


I'm quite interested on your take. Interesting, though, that Casanova is a Spaniard and a laxish Catholic so I'd be interested in seeing how your take differs from his.


Thanks for you comments.

The Protestant 'solution' was, as you say, more of a graceful degradation than a genuine compatibility with modernity.

I think that there are two components at play here:

1) Some denominations of Protestantism were able to embrace modernity and shape it along Protestant lines.

2) But all demoninations of Protestantism are capable of decline due to the instability of Protestant doctrine and the primacy of individual conscience (even if poorly formed)

For a long time mainline Protestantism seemed to enjoy God's grace but it seems "at least superifically" to have lost it at the moment.

The main thing is a very deep change in the way Western Man thinks and is aware - and this, I think drives the surface changes.

Agree, but my main point in these posts is show how "sound" Protestantism was a able to shape a Christian compatible modernity in a way that Catholicism couldn't. The reason that this is important is because--short of an apocalyptic collapse--modernity is here to stay and therefore Christianity/Catholicism has to learn to deal with it.

The challenge is to change in the necessary ways while becoming stronger Christians.


MK said...

why did countries like Spain, Portugal and Ireland, which could in many way be considered Integralist, so rapidly secularise following the collapse of the political structures which supported the Church.

People x-thread IQ with religion. The prime issue: Spain/Portugal/Ireland have about 1/2 a SD IQ lower than the surrounding Anglo/Saxons. That's the whole story. Religion has a minor role. In fact, a primary reason the lower IQ cultures go for RC is because it provides unity against the superior groups. For a good example of this playing out in the US, see

It's the same mistake everyone makes with the English/Irish wars - it's not religion at all, it's race and IQ. Same deal in America - the "bible belt" is merely Celts who have lower IQ. Religion is a sideshow. Of course, one can't say any of this in public.

MK said...

Btw, one way to verify religion plays a minor role here: look to personal behavior. Why are all the so-called "religious" more willing to divorce, have abortions, and so on, than their non-religious counterparts?

Clearly, it's not region that calls the tune here. Religion choice is actually more an effect than a cause, w/IQ challenged cultures preferring the clarity of RC authority, whilst higher-IQ cultures know they can get away without it.

The Social Pathologist said...


I think I've written about this before, but Keith Stanovich is one of the leading researchers into the relationship between IQ and Rationality. Executive summary: There is at best a weak correlation.

Where's the data linking religous with greater divorce and abortions? Certainly, the first I've heard of it.

Anonymous said...

Monotheistic creationist-religion is an exclusively exoteric institutional power entity, fabricated on a separative interpretation of the conditionally arising universe, and intent upon controlling and managing all of humankind.

The "sacred power" that monotheistic creationist-religion claims it brings, or would extend into the entire human world, is, it says, the Creator-God of the universe - whereas, in fact, the power that such religion actually exercises, or would everywhere exercise if unimpeded, is that of the humanly governed political, social, economic, cultural, exoteric institutionalization of the totality of humankind.

The institutionalizing power that monotheistic creationist-religion exercises, or would everywhere exercise if allowed to function at will and unimpeded, is of an inherently intolerant nature - because it is self-possessed by a reductionist and tribalistic, and exclusively exoteric mentality, that cannot accept any non-"orthodox", extra-tribal or extra-institutional, non-monotheistic, or, otherwise, esoteric exceptions to its self appointed rule.

In the case of the "catholic" church such and exercise of power and control over all of humankind is of course explicit in its bogus claim to be the only source of truth in the world. And in its equally bogus claim to have a "great commission" to convert "all nations"

MK said...

Where's the data linking religious with greater divorce and abortions? Certainly, the first I've heard of it.

Man, we get this data piped to us all day long by the US liberal media. Red state types are "hypocritical", while the liberal Blue states have less divorce and abortion. Hell, why is ABC, it's all IQ driven. But you don't need data to see this: of course smarter people avoid divorce and abortions like the plague plus know how to anticipate and avoid them, duh. We know this from the Marshmallow Test alone.

There is at best a weak correlation.

Who cares about "rationality"? All one should care about is objective measures and results: income and abortions and divorces and crime. The Bell Curve made short work of any skeptics; the data is overwhelming. The Steve Sailer article I linked is a great real-world example completely unexpected, but it's easy to see in Northern Ireland vs Ireland as well, or Germany vs Greece. It's all just IQ; the culture and religion merely morph to match brain capability via the 150 rule. Some cultures can organize, others not, and it's mostly IQ. Why Japan and Germany have nothing in common religion-history wise, but a lot in common on the world stage. Look at Japan's divorce rate vs Christian countries.

Anonymous said...

@MK: Cultures don't "go for" a particular religion, or irreligion, for genetic reasons. Speaking broadly, different cultures went Protestant or RC for political reasons. France, Calvin's homeland, would have become Calvinist, if not for the Catholics winning their Wars of the Religion. I'm not enough of an expert to explain the military and political reasons for why the Catholics won, but I'm its not that the French have a slightly lower IQ than the Scots and Dutch. The dumbest Europeans outside of Sicily and the Balkans are the Scandinavians. They were Lutheran and now are atheist, so I'm not sure what you make of this.

As for the colonial cultures, they adopted the religion of their colonizers.

Perhaps in societies were (1) religious pluralism is legally protected and (2) changing religion is both common and can be done easily at little consequence, do people self-sort into different religions, or irreligion, based on genetic factors like IQ. But this wasn't even the case in the US until about 50 years ago (we always had pluralism but "church-hopping" was rare and often very controversial, even between Protestant sects, let alone Protestant to Catholic and vice versa).

Most smart people were of course plenty religious 250 years ago.