Via an email exchange with a Lutheran blogger (I haven't asked if its ok to quote him, so I won't link his blog), he made the rather startling comment that he does not consider Lutheranism to be Protestant. Rather, he considered it be a "kind of Catholic." I heard a similar point on a Lutheran radio show while the host was *reviewing a taped testimony of a Lutheran convert to Orthodoxy. He took issue with the convert lumping Lutherans in with Protestants and later described Lutherans as "evangelical catholics" and "a confessing movement within the church catholic". He explained those statements like this: "we hold to the 3 ecumenical creeds, to the confessions, to the fathers, to everything that has been taught since the very beginning - that's catholic. The centrality of Christ's atoning sacrifice - that's evangelical."
Which, of course, makes me wonder - what makes a Protestant Protestant? How is that really defined? There is obviously the element of protesting-against or dissenting-from that is necessarily a part of the definition. But that doesn't fully encapsulate the movement, either, because there are a great many Protestant bodies that are positively for something and not just against the Catholic church. Is Protestantism defined more as a set of beliefs in and of themselves? Or is it more accurately defined in relation to (or opposition to) some other Christian entity? The latter clearly seems to have been much more accurate during the early years of the Reformation, although it must be granted that the Reformers did not just see themselves acting against the abuses of the Catholic Church, but as searchers after the original faith (their success is arguable, obviously). But now that many groups seem either to not care much about Catholicism one way or the other, and other groups are actively engaging the Church for areas of commonality with an eye to potential unity, the latter definition doesn't seem to apply.
Its an interesting claim, and one I will have to think much more about.
*If you're interested, it was the June 6th program during the 2nd hour. He addresses the convert's story at about 38:00, and speaks more about Lutheranism as catholic around 51:00+.