As Latter-day Saints, we often see the world in the terms given to us by Protestants. That isn’t surprising because they are those with whom we’ve had the most interaction as well as those from among whom most of us have been converted. I’m a prime example; before I joined the Church I thought about studying to become a Protestant minister. But the Protestant view of the world isn’t the only one and it isn’t necessarily the best. We often adopt that understanding of the Reformation without reflection, not only because Protestantism is, for us, a major intellectual inheritance, but also because we recognize the important role that the Reformation played in preparing the world for the Restoration.
For those reasons and also because, in the U.S., we are in general culturally and politically more like Protestants than we are like Catholics, and especially because if we take criticism from other religions it is more often Protestants than Catholics, when we think theologically we are more prone to do so in Protestant terms and when we do interfaith work, we are more prone to engage Protestants than others. (The Church’s aid work through Catholic charities is an important exception, but one that doesn’t have much influence on broader LDS culture.)
Of course, there is also among us an affinity for things Jewish and for Jewish ideas. Few of my neighbors think it odd that one of the members of the ward lights a Menorah during Hanukkah. LDS scholars who lecture on ancient Israel or modern, or who give rabbinic explanations of biblical passages and ideas, draw large crowds. One sees nothing like that affinity for things Baptist (and it would probably draw suspicion). Nevertheless, I think it is accurate to say that we are culturally and intellectually tied to Protestantism more than any other religion.
So it is interesting that in the last day or two a number of those making comments on T&S threads have expressed their feelings for Catholic and High Church Anglican thinkers. My intellectual sympathies are with them, though we read different authors. I find Catholic and Anglo-Catholic thinkers like Catherine Pickstock, John Milbank, Paul Moyaert, Jean-Luc Marion, Michel Henry, Jean-Louis Chrétien, Didier Franck, and Jean Greisch, to name a representative group, to be more helpful to me as I think about my religion than are most Protestant thinkers. Of course there are others—Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Paul Ricoeur, all Protestants; and Marlène Zarader, whose religion I don’t know. But by and large my philosophical thinking about religion has been influenced by Catholics rather than Protestants.
Why do you think so many at T&S are drawn to Catholic thinkers? What are your favorite insights from thinkers in other religious traditions, Catholic or otherwise, Christian or not?