Modern Believing

Religious Orthodoxy as Popular Belief: Calling, Diversity and Dynamism in Reformed Protestant Religion in The Netherlands

Modern Believing (2006), 47, (2), 24–43.


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24 8. 9. R E L I G I O U S O R T H O D O X Y AS P O P U L A R BELIEF See 3 . 4 . 9 2 - 3 - t h o u g h t h e a r g u m e n t h e r e is r e l e v a n t only to s a m e - s e x p a r t n e r s w h o w o u l d wish to raise c h i l d r e n t h e m s e l v e s a n d 8 . 4 . 6 3 , w h e r e SI w o r r i e s t h a t if t h e C h u r c h of E n g l a n d blessed s a m e - s e x u n i o n s it w o u l d further u n d e r m i n e its t r a d i t i o n a l a r g u m e n t t h a t t h e State s h o u l d c o n t i n u e to r e g a r d h e t e r o s e x u a l m a r r i a g e as a f o u n d a ­ tion of British society - a w o r r y t h a t is difficult to m o t i v a t e w i t h o u t t h e p r e s u m p t i o n t h a t same-sex partnerships would s o m e h o w h a r m heterosexual marriage. A c c o r d i n g to Mill, 'In t h e g o l d e n r u l e of J e s u s of N a z a r e t h , w e r e a d t h e c o m p l e t e spirit of t h e ethics of utility. T o d o as o n e w o u l d b e d o n e by, a n d to love o n e ' s n e i g h b o u r as oneself, c o n s t i t u t e t h e ideal perfection of utilitarian m o r a l i t y ' (Utilitarianism, ch. 2, p a r a . 18). F o r Mill, t h e c a r d i n a l principle of ' t h e ethics of utility' is, r o u g h l y , t o m a x i m i s e overall h a p p i n e s s , a n d 'By h a p p i n e s s is i n t e n d e d p l e a s u r e , a n d t h e a b s e n c e of p a i n ; b y u n h a p p i n e s s p a i n , a n d t h e p r i v a t i o n of p l e a s u r e ' (ibid., c h . 2, p a r a . 2). Timothy London, (SPCK, W. Bartel was a Lecturer and is the Editor in the Philosophy of Religion at King's of C o m p a r a t i v e T h e o l o g y : E s s a y s for K e i t h College Ward 2003). Religious O r t h o d o x y as Popular Belief: Calling, Diversity a n d D y n a m i s m in Reformed Protestant Religion in T h e Netherlands Tony Watling Introduction R e l i g i o n h a s o f t e n b e e n a s s o c i a t e d w i t h u n i t y a n d o r d e r , i.e., official, o r g a n i s e d r e l i g i o n , i n s t i t u t i o n a l i s e d a n d d o c t r i n a l , as o p p o s e d t o p o p u l a r o r p r i v a t i s e d f o r m s , s o m e t h i n g t h a t is s e e n t o b e in d e c l i n e a s t h e w o r l d b e c o m e s i n d i v i d u a l i s e d a n d i d e n t i t i e s b e c o m e fluid. H o w e v e r , r e l i g i o n m a y be a m o r e complex a n d d y n a m i c p h e n o m e n o n , involving personal negotia­ t i o n o f s o c i a l r i t u a l s a n d s y m b o l s w i t h i n fields o f p o w e r i n p a r t i c u l a r ( a n d shifting) c o n t e x t s . It m a y i n v o l v e a d i a l e c t i c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n official a n d p o p u l a r , p u b l i c a n d private, beliefs. I n this article I a i m t o e x a m i n e this dialectic t h r o u g h a n analysis of R e f o r m e d P r o t e s t a n t religion in t h e N e t h e r ­ lands. I n Protestantism, religious o r t h o d o x y a n d p o p u l a r belief m a y b e virtually indistinguishable/ W h e r e a s Catholicism m a y create a formal stan­ d a r d of o r t h o d o x y e n c o m p a s s i n g , possibly limiting, a p l e t h o r a of p o p u l a r v i e w p o i n t s (favouring stability), P r o t e s t a n t i s m , w i t h a h i s t o r y of schisms, m a y allow different p o p u l a r v i e w p o i n t s to create different c h u r c h e s , e n c o u r 1 2 1

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Watling, Tony