Peter Leithart’s The End of Protestantism: Pursuing Unity in a Fragmented Church (TBP, Brazos Press, 2016) is a passionate call to fully realize the prayer for unity Jesus prayed which is recorded in John 17.
Beginning with an almost breathless narrative in chapter one, “An Interim Ecclesiology” Leithart describes what he calls a fractured church, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox, “sacramentally and liturgically divided” that must come back together. Using a musical score theme, The End of Protestantism, is divided into four sections, which Leithart calls movements: Church United, Church Divided, Divided Church Dissolving, United Church Reborn.
Leithart hits hard at the Protestant reformation and denominationalism throughout the book and argues that both must come to an end because it goes against Jesus’ prayer for unity which the author believes must and can be a reality. And his suggestion is a “Reformational Catholic” congregation.
The End of Protestantism is also an interesting and insightful look at American Christianity. One thing that Leithart believes is that because of the denominationalism of American Christianity, the dynamics that has led to the decline in European Christianity is not in play here because European Christianity was tied into the nation-state whereas there is a free-market mentality here in the US. I agree with Leithart on this point.
The End of Protestantism is an intense book that took me a while to get into a rhythm of reading and understanding. But once I did, I found there to be a passionate love of the Church and a desire for it to be all that God has intended it to be. This book would be a great book for upper level undergrad as well as seminary and graduate level class in a variety of disciplines such as ministry, church history, and the like. But a careful reading of it is necessary because in this reviewers opinion, the book begins mid-stream.
I gave this book a four-star rating on Goodreads.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.