An Explanation of Protestants


#1

Over my time here at CAF , I have seen many people ask the equivalent of “What is a Protestant” and many others who talk about the 5 solas of the reformation, OSAS and other things in such a way that it shows they don’t really know what it means, Other than a surface reading of the titles of such things or some random google search for some random person’s definition. I also noticed them talking about these things without understanding of the two types of Protestants. This thread is my attempt to clarify some of this to Catholics. There are some places where I use more Catholic terms than Protestant ones (like dogma) because It is easier to explain this way even though Protestants don’t generally use these terms themselves.
Please understand, I’m not trying to make a claim about unity here, but instead refute the idea that we are SO diverse that you cannot ever really understand what we believe.

What is a Protestant?
All Protestants are Christians. Protestants are not as varied as one may think. All Protestants have certain doctrines in common. These are the doctrines that make us “Christian”, Groups that are Christian-Like but do not adhere to this list should not be considered Protestants at all.
*
Christian Doctrine list
*(Taken from religiousTolerance.org Though I don’t always agree with them, this list is well put together)
[LIST]
*]The Trinity,
*]The deity of Jesus,
*]Jesus’ bodily resurrection,
*]Jesus’ atonement,
*]Personal salvation by grace,
*]The inerrancy of the Bible
*]God’s inspiration of the Bible’s authors,
*]The virgin birth, and
*]The anticipated second coming of Jesus.[/LIST]
The above are then the doctrines of the Protestant church. Other beliefs are dogma in that they are not required for one to be a Christian Protestant. It is true that some denominations like to argue over weather certain dogmas are actually doctrines but this list is the agreed on points.

Non-Denominationalism
A non-denominational church would adhere to only the Christian Doctrine list… diversity seen between them is a product of what I like to call “Rule by Majority.” By that I mean that their basic doctrines are “Christian” but if 90% of their congregation is Calvinist rather than Arminian (as one example) the teachings from the pulpit will have leanings towards Calvinism and vice versa. This is why some non-Denominational churches will seem more Baptist or more something else. Their central idea is that churches should be Christian first and not have a focus on the various dogmas that people seem to attach separate names to. In my personal experience, Non-denominational churches are considerably less likely to be anti-Catholic because they have a better understanding of Christian unity than many other protestant denominations.

The other Denominations:
(I have never encountered a Christian Protestant denomination that does not fit the following. IF there is one, I’d be happy to find out who they are and what they believe.)

Protestant Denominations are mostly divisions in the beliefs about Calvinism and Arminianism. Those who do not adhere to either are instead 4 point Calvinists or 2 Point Arminians or some other mixture. So, the best way to understand any Protestant denomination is to first understand the 10 points… 5 for Calvinism and 5 for Arminianism. If these 32 divisions seem like a ton to Catholics, compare it to the differences between Thomists and Molinists in Catholicism, both are allowable beliefs.
**
Other Diversity in Denominations**
Past the basic 10 points there are some other beliefs that differ, like style of Worship music, Beliefs about which of the spiritual gifts of God are most important and when children should be Baptized. In Protestantism taken as a whole group these are considered secondary issues. I’m not saying they are unimportant, but that they are not considered when determining the "Christian Protestant " Label.

So now I’ve covered the label of ‘Christian’ and all the various Denominations and non-denominations. Next we should look at the Protestant part.

(part 1 of 3)


#2

*The 5 Solas of the Reformation

*Sola
Sola means ‘Alone’. Solas here though is plural and there is a number 5 before it… so it cannot possibly mean “Completely Alone without anything else.” All the arguments that Sola Scrpture means you cannot even consider anything but scripture if you believe it or that you cannot do good works if you believe in Sola Fide are missing this point. Seen in context, none of the five solas should be taken to the extreme of the word alone, because they are each accompanied already by four other things. Any of them taken separately will be way off base because they are not meant to be separated.

So if alone didn’t mean “by itself” in the 5 solas, what did it mean? It meant, “to the exclusion of (a specific thing or things).” There wasn’t a list of them as ‘5 slogans of the reformation’ but they were mentioned in various writings early enough and often enough to become ‘catchy’. Many of those writings were by Luther. The concepts are:
[LIST]
*]The written Scripture, to the exclusion of Tradition and Magisterial edict.
*]God saves the sinners, to the exclusion of any participation from the sinners.
*]One is Saved by faith, to the exclusion of their works helping them become saved.
*]Christ is our Mediator, to the exclusion of any other mediators.
*]All glory is due to God alone, to the exclusion of the option to highly honor anyone or anything (including Mary and other Saints)[/LIST]Many people have defined the 5 solas more precisely than the original ideas behind them, those definitions vary quite a bit.

As you may have noticed the original definitions of the 5 solas were actually the declarations that the Catholic Church is wrong. Thus we see why these people were called Protestants though they saw themselves as Reformers.

Calvin and Luther had very similar theology, though they differed on some things that kept their followers divided, like predestination and the relationship between Church and State. Calvin once referred to Luther as “that illustrious apostle of Christ, through whose labors the purity of the gospel has been restored to this age.” As Benjamin Warfield said “Luther led the assault on the trenches: Calvin consolidated the gains.”

Protestant became the term used to describe not just the reformers but also to describe all Christian non-Catholics. This causes much confusion because there came another group.

*(Part 2 of 3)
*


#3

The Remonstrants

This is where Jacobus Arminius(and later John Wesley) Comes into the picture. Arminius taught that:[LIST]
*]Humans are naturally unable to make any effort towards salvation
*]Salvation is possible by grace alone
*]Works of human effort cannot cause or contribute to salvation
*]God’s election is conditional on faith in Jesus
*]Jesus’ atonement was for all people
*]God allows his grace to be resisted by those unwilling to believe
*]Salvation can be lost, as continued salvation is conditional upon continued faith[/LIST]Arminius’ followers didn’t call themselves Arminians they called themselves Remonstrants. The Remonstrants compiled Arminus’ teachings into 5 points they called “Five articles of Remonstrance.”:

The Dutch Calvinists managed to remove all the Arminian magistrates from office and then called to order the Synod of Dort. The Synod of Dort answered the Remonstrants 5 points with 5 points of their own that summed up the Calvinist viewpoint. Those points are now Commonly known as TULIP.*

Todays Protestant church*

So now we have two opposing viewpoints about the nature of God and Man and Salvation that are logical and both camps could list off scriptures to back up their points.

The Remonstrants were not of the same beliefs of the Reformers. Most Arminian protestants(Remonstrants) of todays world(and most non-5-point Calvinists, with exception of 1 or 2 denominations) are not taught the 5 solas at church, we also usually don’t even know we are Arminian(or a mixture of the two). we are simply taught the tenants of it rather than the the History behind it. We run across these things only in personal study and often see only one random persons definition of the solas. This means that many will say “Of course I believe in Sola Scriptura!” while they are simply thinking of the inerrancy of the Bible and other similar mistakes. That only further confuses the people they are speaking to. Knowing this happens should help both sides in conversations.

As for the Calvinists (Reformers), many more of them are taught TULIP, the 5 solas and about the Synd of Dort. The Cambridge Declaration is their newest attempt to more thoroughly define these things. That link is also a very good source of other reformed information.
(part 3 of 3)


#4

Syle, thank you for taking the time to post this. It is three posts long and a bit to absorb. So, I am about to go back through it.

Many people, myself included, come from Protestant backgrounds. I honor my protestant background and am happy to have known many good protestant Christians.

I do think that some Protestants make the mistake of thinking that their particular viewpoint is the one held by most, if not all Protestants. I don’t know where this strange blindness comes from or why it is even necessary to hold onto.

All you have to do is have a Baptist explain why your Lutheran sister is not a real Christian(as happened to me) to understand that beliefs from denominations can differ greatly.:frowning:


#5

That’s ok, I took several days to think about it and write it up, I know it’s a lot of info there. :slight_smile:

Mainly it’s stuff I saw over and over here on the forum. I didn’t mean to say nobody knew this stuff. Just that so many posts don’t seem to ‘get it.’


#6

So, anyone who does not agree with your view is not Protestant? This means that those of us from denominational backgrounds that disagree with your particular theology viewpoints can be disregarded. That certainly can make the debate more simple.:wink: :slight_smile:

hristian Doctrine list

(Taken from religiousTolerance.org Though I don’t always agree with them, this list is well put together)
[LIST]
*]The Trinity,
*]The deity of Jesus,
*]Jesus’ bodily resurrection,
*]Jesus’ atonement,
*]Personal salvation by grace,
*]The inerrancy of the Bible
*]God’s inspiration of the Bible’s authors,
*]The virgin birth, and
*]The anticipated second coming of Jesus.[/LIST]The above are then the doctrines of the Protestant church.

This list is why Roman Catholics consider Protestants Christians. Your list should say what Christians have in common, not simply Protestants.:slight_smile:

Other beliefs are dogma in that they are not required for one to be a Christian Protestant. It is true that some denominations like to argue over weather certain dogmas are actually doctrines but this list is the agreed on points.

I’ve been told by some Protestants that one must accept their particular view of once saved, always saved to be Christian. These Protestants often don’t consider other nonCatholic Christians Christian. You are very lucky that you haven’t come across someone yet that doubts your salvation. But this isn’t just a Roman Catholic/Protestant problem.


#7

Sounds kind of like how the Catholics excommunicate anyone who disagrees so they can keep saying they are unified, doesn’t it?? :wink: The fact is that this is the widely accepted definition. There are a couple of groups who claim to be Christian who don’t believe in the basics of Christianity. but How would you come to such a definition of Christianity, if not by majority?

This list is why Roman Catholics consider Protestants Christians. Your list should say what Christians have in common, not simply Protestants.:slight_smile:

I did title that section “Christian Doctrine list” :smiley: I thought that was a pretty clear title.

I’ve been told by some Protestants that one must accept their particular view of once saved, always saved to be Christian. These Protestants often don’t consider other nonCatholic Christians Christian. You are very lucky that you haven’t come across someone yet that doubts your salvation. But this isn’t just a Roman Catholic/Protestant problem.

No I have met some who doubt my salvation… I get called a Peligean(sp? I always end up typing pelican LOL) too, but the point was more to show that we aren’t as different as we seem, not to try and say there aren’t people out there who say all kinds of things. After all I once knew a Catholic Priest who said some decidedly uncatholic things… I do try not to accept his word on them though.


#8

When you made the very misinformed snarky remark about excommunication, which from what you wrote tells me you dont know much about it really, you lost me.

I dont see how you can expect Catholics to listen to you when you interject jabs that dont even need to be there.


#9

I humbly apologize. I was mostly kidding and didn’t intend to be snarky. It is true though that if anyone does have something that is not in unity with the church the answer is “Well they aren’t Catholic!” It does make debate more simple for Catholics. It wasn’t meant as a jab just an observation. You are correct though that it’s not how excommunication works and I should have been nicer.


#10

No problem.:slight_smile:


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