The numbered structural format of this book is modeled after the classic work by the French mathematician, physicist, and Catholic apologist Blaise Pascal, "Pensees" (“thoughts” – 1662). My intention is to critique various aspects of Protestantism, in the manner of “sayings” (272 total) – a literary technique used to great effect by our Lord Jesus Christ, St. Francis of Assisi, Confucius, Martin Luther, and Socrates, among many others. The generalizations used in this method are not meant to imply that there are no”exceptions to the rule.” They are simply broad observations of Protestant ideas and tendencies.
My intention is not to insult or to excite needless quarreling. This material is not meant to be an attack on the merit and personal character of present-day Protestants, but rather a very straightforward and critical examination of various aspects of Protestant theology and the formal principles of Protestantism, as well as some of its negative tendencies in practice.
I wish to emphasize that I have much respect for many, many Protestants, and the great deal of truth and noble, praiseworthy goals and aspects of their beliefs. This is a loving (if vigorous) “in-house” critique from a brother in the Lord, not a “hit piece” by an “enemy.” I was, after all, a Protestant for the first thirty-two years of my life, and I fondly remember that time.
Deep feelings of partisanship and allegiance are, of course, present in all seriously committed Christians. I only ask the Protestant reader to accept my good faith and to believe that I bear no ill will towards non-Catholics in general. I simply – as a Catholic – disagree with some things. I hope that I can be received as an honestly critical “friend” and fellow Christian, albeit across a rather large and unfortunate chasm.
True ecumenism, to which I am passionately committed, does not “paper over” profound disagreements in a delirious, “warm fuzzy” atmosphere of self-deluded bliss. Rather, the profundity of authentic ecumenism is fellowship despite major differences, in a special and delightful environment of mutual respect. I maintain a deep love and respect for my “separated” Christian brethren. And I offer these reflections in that spirit.