Sorry, but no. The Reformation was not just “both tragic and salutary”. It was just tragic. This is one “sola” I’ll abide by. Let’s go through those baffling theses.
“The first Protestants split from the Latin church that had, of course, already been in schism with the Orthodox church for almost five hundred years. In light of this reality, all Christian must be considered schismatics; no Christian church is immune from this accusation, including Catholics and the Orthodox”
This is part of a long hand-wringing list of justifications that seem to justify the schism of the Reformation on the basis of the Catholic-Orthodox schism…somehow. I guess I missed the “two wrongs make a right” part of the Sermont on the Mount.
No Christian is immune from being accused by someone of being a schismatic. Orthodox can accuse me (a Catholic) of being schismatic, for sure. But it says nothing about whether the accusation is actually true.
It is convenient though. It’s easy to say, well, everyone’s a little schismatic, so what difference does it make. It dispenses one from having to ascertain not just whether the communions’ conflicting claims conflict, but whether they are true. How is that not the equivalent of the village atheist who confidently asserts that because there are so many competing religions, none of them can be true?
“Therefore [Protestant churches] do not confront one another with the impossible choice between two mothers [the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches], both of whom have important, compelling, and yet contradictory claims of being the church. Protestantism protects from this double bind even as it protests this double bind, and this protest should not cease until the original schismatics are reconciled. Then it might be time to declare the Reformation over”
Pardon me, but why is this choice “impossible”? I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s line, asked if he “believed” in infant baptism; he replied “Believe in it? Why, I’ve seen it done.” The choice is quite possible, and people make it every day; every day people go from Catholic to Protestant, Protestant to Catholic, Orthodox to Catholic, Catholic to Orthodox, etc. They weigh competing truth claims and reach a decision. But fearful it is to fall in the hands of the Living God. Better to throw up your hands and pretend to yourself that something people do every day is impossible.
Fundamentally, I don’t see what the big deal is about the Catholic-Orthodox schism. It wasn’t the first and it wasn’t the last schism. There was the Monophysite controversy. And before that Arianism, and for a while in the West, even after Nicaea, the Arian Church was bigger than the Catholic Church. But I guess one couldn’t be asked to choose between them, because the choice between whether Jesus is divine or a creature is just “impossible”. I mean, they both had “important, compelling and contradictory” claims of being the church! And therefore (somehow) because those claims are contradictory they are “impossible” to resolve. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
“To become Catholic I would have to contract my ecclesial world”
Oh, poor you. Ah, the priceless Peter Leithart. Well, maybe. So what? Again, we have a statement of the fact that stopping becoming a Protestant would be inconvenient, not that it would be wrong. I mean, try these on for size: “To become a non-universalist, I would have to contract my eschatological world”; “To follow You I would have to give my wealth to the poor” (oops).
In a sense, this is all reassuring. It keeps nagging at y’all, doesn’t it? You realize that some great catastrophe has been made, although you can’t quite yet realize the full magnitude of it, and so you need to come up with excuse after excuse to assuage the guilt, excuses that, I’m sure, like all excuses, don’t even convince you.