Roots of the Splintering of the Kingdom of Israel
The proper context is now laid for why Solomon had the kingdom rent away. Jeroboam’s origins become important, mostly detailed in 1 Kings 11–12 and 2 Chronicles 10. Solomon and Judah’s corruption are manifest to all, and consequently God raises up adversaries to the one who had been visited by God, given tremendous wisdom, power, and wealth, and had been promised peace and safety so long as he obeyed the commands of God.
Jeroboam, a high placed official in Solomon’s government (1 Kings 11:28 describes him as “over all the forced labor of the House of Joseph,” which was the preeminent tribe of the northern tribes), is met by Ahijah the Shilonite, a prophet, and told that God is going to tear the kingdom from Solomon and give Jeroboam ten of the tribes (ten is significant, since it would be expected that if Judah was the only one left to Rehoboam, eleven would be given to Jeroboam). The reason the prophet gives is because the Kingdom of Judah had forsaken God and worshiped Ashtoreth, goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom god of the Ammonites. Jeroboam is told that one tribe would remain in David’s camp.
Next, Jeroboam is given orders: He will be allowed to rule if he heeds the commands of God and walks in his ways as David did, and he would have his own house as was built for David. The prophet indicates that this will be the tool of afflicting the offspring of David for a time. Jeroboam is never told that anything he has done has merited this, or that he is to lead a new religious movement, or to set up any new religious institutions. All which follows in that area is of his own doing.
Solomon is no fool and determines that Jeroboam is a threat early on – Jeroboam apparently made it clear that Solomon’s choice to rebuild “The Millo” is repugnant to him, so Solomon attempts to kill him. Jeroboam flees to Egypt and is there until Solomon dies.
Jeroboam was originally recognized as skilled and intelligent by Solomon and made foreman of the workers of “the house of Joseph.” He apparently resented the use of workers to rebuild the Millo and the city of David. Jeroboam uses the abuse of the laborers and their burdens to start his kingdom, as those burdens were not lightened at the request of the people.
Jeroboam’s actions were a conscious divorce from the authority of the Throne of David, the seat of Moses, and the Priesthood in Jerusalem. Nowhere in the scriptures was the authority of those institutions questioned or removed – very significantly, Ahijah the Shilonite the prophet’s words do not invalidate David’s throne or the priesthood. Jeroboam decided of his own volition to set up a competing, parallel religious system based on Israel’s own interpretation of their lineage up to David. This was partially evidenced by Samaritans only accepting the five books of Moses at the time of Jesus; not the stories of the kings (which are Judah–centric) or the prophets (largely Judah–centric). Luther, too, questioned the Biblical Canon significantly and set up his own Lutheran Mass. The various dynasties that followed Jeroboam did things their own way, as well – unlike Judah which kept to the Davidic line, the Northern Kingdom never quite figured out succession, and power transfer was always bloody and disjointed.
In the Catholic Canon, the book of Tobit records instances after the Assyrian diaspora of those outside Judah respecting the importance of the Temple. Given that, along with Hezekiah’s Passover which included some of the northern tribes, it’s likely that many people in Northern Israel still respected the Temple’s religious importance above the scattered high places of Israel where regional, synergistic forms of worship would have been combined with Mosaic principles and legal codes, as Protestant worship is frequently very regionally and culturally dependent.
Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk from the backwaters of Germany who became one of the most famous figures in Christendom. Although his parents desired he go into law, Luther had an intense spiritual experience that spurred him to go into the priesthood and eventually the rigorous Augustinian order. He serves for some time as a priest, and in 1511 makes a pilgrimage to Rome as a part of Augustinian duties. In his own words (although the first thing one discovers in read about Luther is that much is disputed about Luther), he never recovers from the disappointment and loathing he felt in seeing the irreverence for Christ and his liturgy, the decadent lifestyle of the inhabitants, and the rank superstitions he witnessed there. His assessment of Rome at the time is corroborated elsewhere.
As just about everyone in the western world knows, it was Luther who set off the spark that would set Europe on fire in religious terms. It is important to note, however, that Luther was not excommunicated and branded a heretic because of all his teachings – the primary issue at stake, which is why Luther’s theses and writings created such a stir, is because he directly targeted the authority of Rome and of Bishops – he was a schismatic. His writings on faith were nuanced in ways at variance with Catholic teaching, but those alone would not have caused the same stir without the rest of the 41 specifically iterated authority-related issues which Exsurge Domine lays out as the errors of Luther and his followers. What Luther really challenged was the authority of Rome, and that is why the response was so harsh.
The political environment of Europe at the time begged the question: could Rome impose orthodoxy from afar, or would local authorities determine religious adherence in their areas? In the past, Rome had been able to do so (for the most part, with instances such as the Hussites as the rare exceptions). However, the undergirding of that compliance had been steadily deteriorating as the Roman Church at the highest levels failed to execute badly needed reforms, and those who did recognize that need were ignored. Under the political circumstances of the day, Rome proved unable to garner this compliance in their halfhearted responses to Luther once his message had reached a certain critical momentum. It is worth a caveat that there is also much evidence of sincere, deep Catholic piety and devout regional priests and religious authorities in many regions. “Catholicism,” or the faith of those loyal to the Pope, was not wholly corrupt then or now.
Martin Luther succeeded where others failed for a few reasons. One, the advent of print media combined with Luther’s prolific brochure–writing made Luther’s appeal to the common person heard far and wide. This is one of the things that separates Luther’s movement from the Hussite rebellion many years prior.
Two, the corruption of the church hierarchy was established in the consciousness of the people by various public scandals. These scandals weren’t handled or resolved appropriately and added to the bad PR building up against the church. So, Luther was building on a perception that was already within the minds of many Christians.
Three, the church’s response to Luther was relatively weak, slow, and mostly only in Latin. After Luther broke through the dam, the flood of regional Protestant movements came forth and never stopped. Luther creates an entirely new mass, disparages the papacy as the “seat of Antichrist”, and establishes his Lutheran Church under the patronage of secular rulers. Luther had stumbled onto a battlefield where he could perpetually defeat an enemy who couldn’t truly answer his barbs and insults. His secular protectors allowed him free reign to publish far and wide, lobbing mortars deep into enemy territory with a virtually infinite supply of ammunition.
Lutheran penetration across Europe is, however, relatively limited. It was the next iteration of Protestant movements that really took over after his initial success. Zwingli, another Protestant leader, has some varying viewpoints and leads what can be loosely called a Lutheran variant in Switzerland. John Calvin arises and has one of the most rigorously systematic and intellectual approaches to Protestantism that would ever exist. Luther’s success, directly or indirectly, is the predecessor to tens and hundreds of variants of antipapal, regional Christianities. It is not unfair, given the statements of the Anglican Cranmer, Calvin, Luther himself and many others, that a significant majority of the Protestant movements up to the 1700/1800s considered the seat of the Pope, if not the Pope himself, as the Antichrist as part of their raison d’être. For essentially every reformer, a radically reactionary approach to the Papacy and an appeal to the early church and the basic elements of the scriptures was central to justifying their organizations and authority. In other words, a core component of the identity of each Protestant movement was a rejection of the Papacy.
Rehoboam’s Blunder and Jeroboam’s New Ecclesiology
After Solomon’s death, Israel splits into the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel (composed of ten tribes) because of Rehoboam’s refusal to lighten the burdens of the workers. Initially, those workers were not Israelites, but Israel had workers added to the building crews of Solomon, and they were probably not part of Solomon’s family or only minimally composed of the tribe of Judah. This is representative of the elitism and entitlement that had grown in his regime and carried on through Rehoboam and among Rehoboam’s inner circle; it was his fellow spoiled young men who grew up in elite privilege who counseled him to respond in such a way to the whole of Israel.
In response to Jeroboam’s secession, Rehoboam musters the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to fight the other ten tribes (which is broken up by another prophet in 1 Kings 12). Benjamin appears to be a wildcard (ten tribes to Jeroboam, 1 tribe to David, 1 tribe leftover and unmentioned which was probably Benjamin), and was not mentioned in the prophet’s discourse with Jeroboam. This probably meant that Rehoboam ruled those geographic areas, but Benjamin was somewhat independent. This independence squares up the parallels of Church history with Israel’s history; the Eastern Orthodox tradition strongly resembles what occurs with the tribe of Benjamin throughout Israel’s history (Saul was the first king of Israel and is a type of the Eastern Roman Empire starting with Constantine) and roughly matches the timeline, given the Davidic Era of the Church (discussed later) is roughly from 800 to 1200. Eastern Orthodox churches have much more in common doctrinally and sacramentally with Catholics than they do with Protestants, although the Orthodox also reject Papal supremacy.
Returning to Rehoboam, his troops turn away from going to war with Israel for a short time. Jeroboam consults with his leaders and builds two golden calves; one in Dan, and one in Bethel. The reason he did this is because he knew the people would have to fulfill obligations to God in Jerusalem at the temple (in Judah), and he believed this would cause him to lose his throne:
[1Ki 12:26–28] 26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David. 27 If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” 28 So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
Likewise, Luther knows he must create a new religious and institutional structure if his movement is to survive. He separates himself from the 1500–year concept of the mass and replaces it with his own. He abandons his vow of chastity and marries a former nun, promoting married pastors within his new church.
Jeroboam also appoints his own priesthood out of the people who weren’t Levites (1 Kings 12:31) and invents a feast day (1 Kings 12:32) to replace the feast days the people had known by declaring one on the fifteenth day of the eighth month (a month after the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem). Jeroboam sets up an altar in Bethel and goes to make sacrifices there on his invented feast day, with him officiating in a pseudo high priest role.
The earth–shaking impact of fully cutting ties with Jerusalem is felt by increased vulnerability; Israel and Judah now become reliant on political intrigue for their survival, with few exceptions. Judah quickly appeals to foreign nations to assist them in their wars against Israel, and Judah and Israel occasionally ally against others. This creates a mixing of religious practices and intermarriage, such as Joram son of Jehoshaphat marrying Ahab’s daughter (Ahab being a famously corrupt king of Israel). Though Joram’s father was righteous king Jehoshaphat, Joram was corrupt and “walked in the way of the kings of Israel.”
Both kingdoms are exposed to the cultural and religious influence around them and therefore become vulnerable to foreign political hegemony in their disunity. Jeroboam cuts the roots of Israel with Judah and the line of David and only retains a semblance of the religion of his fathers, and seems to attempt to return Israel to a corrupted version of their religious practices that predated David:
[1Ki 12:27–28] 27 If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” 28 So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
In other words, Jeroboam attempts to re–do the events following the Exodus to establish his own ruling legitimacy, complete with golden calves. Jeroboam fails to create a dynasty however, and his son is completely overthrown within a few years and his entire house killed off. A new, dynamic ruler who rules for a long period of time whose first successor fails to continue his legacy for very long is a pattern that repeats three times (Jeroboam I, Nadab; Baasha, Elah; Menahem, Pekahiah) in Israel’s history. David’s lineage sustained Judah’s connection to its roots in the promised land, Jerusalem, and the Temple, but Jeroboam had opened a door that would not truly close for the rest of the Northern Kingdom’s existence. Protestantism has reproduced much in the same way Israel’s dynasties operated; by fits and starts with a very quick organizational lifecycle.
Power and politics became the way the throne was acquired in the North without the natural legitimacy of David’s lineage, as in Judah. Jeroboam led the ten tribes of the Kingdom of Israel into uncharted territory by cutting those roots and attempting to set his own. In the final analysis, Jeroboam’s leadership was a disaster for Israel. Protestantism has never solved the problem of “succession” or how to transfer authority, because the first principle of Protestantism was the atomization of the individual against any religious authority by personal conscience. Creating authority within a larger movement that was founded on rejecting authority proves quite difficult. There is no deep–rooted way for Protestants to transfer authority and therefore maintain the legitimacy of any of their various movements over time, so it fails in being a unifying force to a civilization, at least for any length of time.
On the other hand, authority had a cruel form of merit in Israel, whether it be a person’s charisma, intellect, scholarship, or organizational skill. However, like the other nations, it favored the cleverest and most politically adept, and therefore selected the most vicious and crafty to rise to the top. Judah did not do much better and was frequently manipulated and controlled by Israel (as in Ahab’s influence over Jehoshaphat) and was nearly conquered by it.
It is important to distinguish the portions of Jeroboam’s revolt which were apparently guided by God as a punishment to the offspring of David:
[1Ki 11:29–31, 35, 37–39] 29 And at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had dressed himself in a new garment, and the two of them were alone in the open country. 30 Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes … 35 But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand and will give it to you, ten tribes. … 37 And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. 38 And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. 39 And I will afflict the offspring of David because of this, but not forever.'”
The two most important components here are 1) the fact that Jeroboam’s reign was conditional on how he mirrored David’s adherence to the commands of God; and 2) there was a time parameter set upon this arrangement of “affliction of David’s offspring.”
Jeroboam was told directly that God was causing this split to punish sins committed by Solomon and his regime (mentioning Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Milcom is too explicit to be targeting anyone else) and God indicated nothing about replacing or superseding Judah or the house of David. Those entities retained their legitimacy. God had only stripped unified political rulership from the house of Judah and Jerusalem, not spiritual legitimacy. Jeroboam’s innovations to defy that legitimacy were from then on known as “the sins of Jeroboam” which echo through the narratives of the book of Kings and of Chronicles, aborting his dynasty and plaguing Israel (and to some degree, Judah) until Israel – not Judah and Benjamin – was scattered like chaff into the winds of the Assyrian Diaspora.
Jeroboam and Luther
Why did Jeroboam rebel? The scripture states it succinctly, but the full meaning is difficult to ascertain:
[1Ki 11:27] 27 And this was the reason why he lifted up his hand against the king. Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the breach of the city of David his father.
We are not given a tremendous amount of detail and the precise identity of “the Millo” is the subject of much academic speculation. However, it is fascinating that the stated point of contention between Jeroboam and Solomon was a construction project at the religious capital of Israel. Many of Martin Luther’s theses were about indulgences and their use in funding building projects. Luther argued in one of his 95 theses:
“Why does not the pope build St. Peter’s Minster [cathedral] with his own money — since his riches are now more ample than those of Crassus — rather than with the money of poor Christians?” (Theses 86)
Luther is a massive figure, as virtually every Christian denomination other than Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy sprung from some variant or other of his initial movement. He is very controversial, with many sides presenting piles of information supporting their judgment of him. Luther wrote such a high volume of information and his views changed enough over time that all this should be kept in perspective in any analysis of Luther, as well as his various audiences and contexts. Some important things are implied or stated explicitly in Luther’s actions and words:
- He did not intend initially to build a new church, but did desire to himself be the magisterium of the church in terms of having teaching authority over the average person, and only deigning “conscience” on religious matters to recognized entities, not the layperson;
- Although he did vaguely preach against the symbiotic relationship and wealth accumulation of clergy/secular authorities, he ended up subordinating his church to secular authorities as a matter of necessity;
- Although he didn’t call the Pope himself the antichrist (Luther was deferential to him early on), he later considered the seat of the Papacy itself to be the antichrist and evil;
- Luther desired a loosening of religious obligation on what he considered needless burdens imposed from afar, when all that was needed was “faith”; and
- Luther advocated sola scriptura (which properly understood does not fully ignore tradition or history), but he also appropriated to himself the right to mull changes to the canon to accommodate his own theology and in ways modern Protestants and many of his own followers rejected.
The environment Jeroboam arrived at was of a relatively complacent or corrupt (though still legitimate) priesthood which enjoyed the wealth of the nation under Solomon’s hegemony. It is likely Solomon was the unquestioned, dominant ruler who had total authority of the nation and the prosperity that abounded reinforced that status. Reading between the lines, the creation of a slave underclass that executed his construction projects likely bubbled with dissent underneath, coupled with the many other ways he violated kingly laws and norms. Jeroboam would have had an infinite number of arguments to pose to important leaders among the rest of the tribes about how corrupt Jerusalem and Judah were, and that a new order needed to be established based on true worship, not the perceived greed and self–serving elite in Jerusalem. Surely, Jeroboam might have argued, what Israel needed was a return to an earlier iteration of ruling authority in Israel, before David’s son had ruined things. God explicitly indicated that part of the chastisement to the throne of David was the loss of dominion over the other tribes.
Solomon went as far as to build idols to other gods on a mountain near Jerusalem specifically for his wives – those faithful Israelites who knew the commandments must have been aghast at such an abomination. Likewise, in Luther’s day, the immense riches and political power and stories of corruption at the hands of elite churchmen, clergy, and powerful political figures within Rome inspired the perception of a distant elite, and sordid tales of scandal from Rome reinforced the notion.
It is important to clarify that modern scholarship is more moderate than the two common extremes of perception in the state of the Roman Church and faith at the time of Luther. The notion that the Catholic church of the time was relentlessly, wholly decadent is an extreme view no longer widely accepted. Many churchmen for hundreds of years knew it needed reform and Rome was in bad shape. However, devotion and piety were high given evidence of the frequency of pilgrimages, devotions, and examples of cities banding together to pay for very good priests/preachers. Not in all places, of course – there was a general German distrust of Italian influence, and overt sexual immorality and secular political influence in the highest levels of church authority shaded the perceptions of many and depleted Rome’s moral authority.
Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch’s central premise in The Reformation is that the two primary binding forces in Europe prior to the Reformation were Papal Supremacy and the Mass. Denial of the Mass and of social communion was the primary consequence of a leader being excommunicated, and this was a powerful technique used in political wrangling. The central component of Israel prior to the Jeroboam revolt was the centrality of the Temple/Tabernacle priestly functions, such as the three yearly festivals which all Israelite males were supposed to attend, and the power of the king – initially Saul, then David, then Solomon.
It can be argued, as it can in the case of Jeroboam’s revolt (a labor agreement and the authority of the Throne of David over Israel), that the Reformation was more of a specific squabble (the issue of indulgences and their purpose and spiritual vs temporal significance, as well as the authority of the Throne of Peter versus regional rulers), which exploded into the rest of Europe because Europe was largely primed for such a movement. Secular rulers were looking for a way to undermine the Papacy’s power and secure more of their own; they were only too happy to look for an alternative when one arose.
There were plenty of corruptions in the church and needed reforms, but Luther took stances that were rather radical (some which many modern Protestants reject) and put himself in the position of being the magisterium (in other words, the source of authentic and authoritative teaching). Luther would only accept argument based on scripture and considered what he believed true unless he consented that someone else had proven him wrong. This is a rejection of the significance of history, tradition, and hierarchical structure or any kind of religious authority when logically worked out, and the following 500 years of European civilization bear out what happened when the unifying factor of the continent was jettisoned.
However, he frequently insulted in the most ruthless terms those reformers who took the same approach with him and opted to their consciences to oppose him. Luther considered himself as having hierarchical authority but rejected the notion of others having the same. Luther faced the problem of having torn down authority structures yet needing to legitimize his own authority. He had broken the software of European consciousness permanently. Alec Ryrie writes in “Protestants”:
“…How was this reformation actually to be implemented? By the time Luther himself finally abandoned his monk’s guise, sealed his departure from the vowed life by marrying a former nun, and promulgated a German order for the mass, he was scrambling to catch up with a splintering, restless, hydra–headed movement that offered 100 different local reformations in the name of the same gospel.”
Likewise, Jeroboam’s movement spawned many regional variations of the original high place he created. This leads to a tendency to syncretism with surrounding nations in Jeroboam’s kingdom since cultural influences would inevitably infect religious matters, and Israel devolved so far into Ahab and Jezebel’s worship of Baal that Israel never fully recovered, despite the miraculous efforts of Elijah and Elisha.
As Jeroboam had to completely alter religious practices and authority structures, Luther had to reformulate the Catholic Mass, rules for church leadership, and determine the general structure by which his new movement would persist to prevent people from returning to Catholicism.
Immediately following Luther and even during his lifetime, Protestantism became many splinter groups that all claimed the authority to determine the order or worship and answer questions of belief. Many devoted men who were very effective in spreading the gospel came through these denominations, so this isn’t meant to disparage Protestantism, but to recognize its history and regional character. Some of these factions held to historically Christian, time–tested concepts regarding the nature of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the essential elements of salvation in terms of belief in Jesus’ authentic identity and accepting his atoning work, with obvious exception to the Catholic contention that one must be a Catholic to be saved. The Mosaic Law also outlined many reasons a person might be “cut off from among his people,” implying a loss of covenant, including those who did not properly observe the Passover, the Day of Atonement, or those who did work on the Sabbath.
Jeroboam’s religious changes did not allow for continuance of the same religious worldview. By their very adherence to their denomination, Protestants reject the authority of the Pope. Likewise, by accepting the authority of the King of Israel and whichever regional priest they appointed, Israelites necessarily rejected the authority of the Son of David, the Levitical priesthood in Jerusalem, and any of Judah’s prophets perceived as affiliated with either. There are writings (such as the book of Tobias) that imply some Israelites still went to Jerusalem at times for worship and may still have honored the throne of David and the Jerusalem priesthood.
Jeroboam eventually expels Levites from his Kingdom entirely, who were supposed to be permitted to live in “cities of refuge” as teachers of the law and as judges:
[2Ch 11:5, 12–16] 5 Rehoboam lived in Jerusalem, and he built cities for defense in Judah. … 12 And he put shields and spears in all the cities and made them very strong. So he held Judah and Benjamin. 13 And the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel presented themselves to him from all places where they lived. 14 For the Levites left their common lands and their holdings and came to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons cast them out from serving as priests of the LORD, 15 and he appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goat idols and for the calves that he had made. 16 And those who had set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came after them from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the LORD, the God of their fathers.
Expelling the Levites and replacing them was not only a direct violation of pre-Davidic Law, but a destruction of much of the judicial infrastructure designed to keep the people of Israel compliant with the Law:
[Num 35:1-3, 6-8] 1 The LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, 2 “Command the people of Israel to give to the Levites some of the inheritance of their possession as cities for them to dwell in. And you shall give to the Levites pasturelands around the cities. 3 The cities shall be theirs to dwell in, and their pasturelands shall be for their cattle and for their livestock and for all their beasts. … 6 “The cities that you give to the Levites shall be the six cities of refuge, where you shall permit the manslayer to flee, and in addition to them you shall give forty-two cities. 7 All the cities that you give to the Levites shall be forty-eight, with their pasturelands. 8 And as for the cities that you shall give from the possession of the people of Israel, from the larger tribes you shall take many, and from the smaller tribes you shall take few; each, in proportion to the inheritance that it inherits, shall give of its cities to the Levites.”
Jeroboam’s upheaval of religious institutions among the ten tribes ensured a mostly permanent split (save a few specific acts, such as Hezekiah’s Passover in 2 Chronicles 30) and set the stage for what would happen to his kingdom in time. Jeroboam’s institutional heritage hit its ceiling very quickly; his successor was killed immediately after Jeroboam’s death and another family assumed the throne thereafter. The Northern Kingdom never quite figured out authority, succession, or how to create a new tradition after having cut itself off from the Throne of David and its divine legitimacy. Protestants have never been able to find source of institutional unity, and even the term Protestant is a descriptive category referring to a general type of Christianity, not a real entity with adherents or faithful. Roman Catholicism is a specific entity, whereas countless Protestant denominations have been scattered into the wind or apostatized into the modernist, Babylonian blob of religions offering no substance.