EDIT: For the record, I don’t completely agree with them, especially some of their characterizations of things.
Recently, I’ve been reading Carl Becker and Herbert Butterfield for my historiography class. The two of them write so clearly and beautifully, expressing some things about history that I’ve been kicking around in my head for the past few years…maybe I should just shut up and start quoting them:
“If Protestants and Catholics of the sixteenth century could return to look at the twentieth century, they would equally deplore this strange mad modern world, and much as they fought one another there is little doubt that they would be united in opposition to us; and Luther would confess that he had been wrong and wicked if it was by his doing that this liberty, this anarchy had been let loose, while his enemies would be quick to say that this decline of religion was bound to be the result of a schism such as his.”
“The Reformation in its original character as a reassertion of religious authority and a regeneration of the religious society was in some sense an actual protest against that comprehensive movement which was changing the face of the world; but that being the subject of rapid historical change from the very start it came itself under the influence of that movement, and was turned into the ally of some of the very tendencies which it had been born to resist.”
—Herbert Butterfield, “Whig History”
The thought hit me a couple years ago: Martin Luther would’ve been the staunchest defender of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, if he was alive today. And he would have a good deal to say about American Protestantism, and it would be roasting. I’d bet good money he would be speaking on EWTN. Of course the man was passionate, and would, in the heat of the moment, probably say all sorts of things that he would have to apologize to the press for…