Define PROTESTANT, please


#1

Are all Christians that are not Catholic by definition Protestant?


#2

[quote=st_felicity]Are all Christians that are not Catholic by definition Protestant?
[/quote]

Not necessarily anymore I don’t think.Let me explain:1Luther protested what was going on in the Church and instead of just calling out the abuse as he saw it he threw the baby out with the bath water and protested the whole of Jesus’ Church as did the origional protestants.They truly were protestants protesting The Church of Jesus.Now we are so far removed from the origional protesters now,the majority are protesting lies and falsehoods about the Church,so what they protest is not the Church,but what they think the Church is from what they were taught for generations.So they protest a fairy tale,and a Catholic Church that only exists in their mind.God Bless


#3

From the New Advent (Catholic Encyclopedia)

newadvent.org/cathen/12495a.htm

“…The meaning of the protest was that the dissentients [sic] did not intend to tolerate Catholicism within their borders. On that account they are called Protestants.”


#4

[quote=st_felicity]Are all Christians that are not Catholic by definition Protestant?
[/quote]

No, not really. For one, I think the Orthodox would take issue with being called Protestant, since they claim to be more original than the Catholic Church does. Nowadays, especially here in the USA, more non-CAtholics/non-Orthodox prefer to call themselves Evangelicals. Within the Evangelical Christian community, there are Charismatics, Fundamentalists, and Main Line.


#5

Protestants are Western Christians separated from the See of Rome because of the religious conflicts of the sixteenth century. There are two smaller categories of Protestants who don’t quite fit this definition: groups who date back to the Middle Ages but clearly identified themselves with Protestantism once the Reformation occurred (the Moravian Brethren and the Waldenses–the former came under heavy influence from Lutheran Pietism and the latter are now known as “Italian Presbyterians”); and Eastern European groups who separated from the Orthodox Church but adopted beliefs and practices stemming from Western Protestantism. For the most part, though, this is a good solid definition. It covers both the original Protestant traditions (Anglicans, Lutherans, Reformed, Anabaptists) and the innumerable later groups who arose out of the original streams of Protestantism.

Note that this is not a theological definition. It does not depend on “protesting” anything (the word “Protestant” actually comes from a political protest in the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire). Nor does it require adherence to any particular “Protestant principles” such as sola fide or sola scriptura. It covers everything from high-church Anglicans who consider themselves Catholic rather than Protestant, to modern groups who claim that they aren’t Protestant because they just follow the Bible. I really think this is the only definition that makes any sense.

In Christ,

Edwin


#6

[quote=Scott_Lafrance] Nowadays, especially here in the USA, more non-CAtholics/non-Orthodox prefer to call themselves Evangelicals. Within the Evangelical Christian community, there are Charismatics, Fundamentalists, and Main Line.
[/quote]

When did this term “Evangelical” take hold and why? Today, it seems to be used in place of Protestant by the media–am I misunderstanding?


#7

[quote=Contarini]Protestants are Western Christians separated from the See of Rome because of the religious conflicts of the sixteenth century. … I really think this is the only definition that makes any sense.

In Christ,

Edwin
[/quote]

I’m sory to be thick–so are you saying “yes” to the original post?

I’m actually asking this question for my mother–a Protestant of the Baptist flavor (but we’re workin’ on that, right Ma?:wink: )

Until I pointed out (several years ago now) that the word “protest” was in the term Protestant–she’d never realized it. So I think Lisa’s on to something with her explanation.

I am now wondering if “Evangelical” isn’t a reaction to that idea that to be "Protest"ant somehow gives credibility to the Catholic claim as the first church. How can you be Protestant without acknowledging the Catholic Church?


#8

[quote=st_felicity]When did this term “Evangelical” take hold and why? Today, it seems to be used in place of Protestant by the media–am I misunderstanding?
[/quote]

I think they prefer the term evangelical because it focuses on what they see as the priority, to spread the gospel. They don’t see themselves as “protesting” anything. To them, the “Protestant” movement had to do with the old world and politics. Since we are in a new country (relatively speeaking), they use a new moniker for their movement, the Evangelical one. Some of them refer themselves as Restorationist, Revivalist, or even Reformed, but only a hardcore few still consider themselves “Protestant”.


#9

[quote=Scott_Lafrance] only a hardcore few still consider themselves “Protestant”.
[/quote]

So (for the uninformed as I have been) am I being somehow insulting or offensive when I have just called non-Catholic Christians Protestant? What’s a genaric term? Should I be broad and say “non-Catholic Christian” every time? --That, too, seems to be a bit (haughty?).


#10

[quote=st_felicity]So (for the uninformed as I have been) am I being somehow insulting or offensive when I have just called non-Catholic Christians Protestant? What’s a genaric term? Should I be broad and say “non-Catholic Christian” every time? --That, too, seems to be a bit (haughty?).
[/quote]

Maybe overly broad, but much more accurate. I don’t think its haughty, its a simple statement of fact, a Christian who is not a Catholic is a non-Catholic Christian. If you get into Protestant vs Evangelical vs Fundamentalist vs Charismatic you will just confuse yourself. For the first thing, Catholics are Evangelical. It is our mission to spread the Gospel. Second, Catholics have the original Fundamentals. Jesus Christ gave them to us through the Church. Third, Catholics are allowed to express their faith through Charismatic chanels. So, one can be a Fundamentalist, Evangelical, Charismatic Catholic. So these terms don’t really mean anything. The most accurate and charitable term for our separated brothers and sisters is non-Catholic Christian.


#11

[quote=st_felicity]I’m sory to be thick–so are you saying “yes” to the original post?
[/quote]

Sorry for not being clearer. Here are the churches not in communion with Rome which can definitely not be called Protestant:

  1. The Eastern Orthodox Church in communion with Constantinople (the groups we usually call Orthodox).
    1a. Various small schismatic Orthodox groups who are not in communion with Constantinople.

  2. The “Oriental Orthodox” who don’t accept the Christological doctrines of the Council of Chalcedon–Copts, Ethiopians, Armenians, Syrian Orthodox.

  3. The “Church of the East,” which today has only a few hundred thousand members at most, but once extended throughout much of Asia. This church split away in the 5th century because it didn’t accept the condemnation of Nestorius as a heretic.

  4. “Old Catholics” who left the Catholic Church at some point after the Reformation. This includes those who left because they couldn’t accept Vatican I’s declaration of papal infallibility; a church based in the Netherlands that derives from the “Jansenist” movement of the 17-18th century; and a couple different Polish groups who split away mostly for nationalistic reasons. There is also a rather wacky group in the Philippines who split away around the turn of the 20th century. They denied the Trinity for a while but are more orthodox now, and are in communion with Anglicans. I suppose you could say that because of the Anglican influence they are Protestants, but they probably go in this category too.
    4a. Traditionalist Catholics who are in schism because of their rejection of Vatican II are also not Protestants (though orthodox Catholics sometimes like to call them “Protestants” to annoy them!).

  5. Finally, I don’t quite know how to classify the various churches in Africa usually called “African Independent Churches” or “African Indigenous Churches.” I’d tend to say that they are Protestant insofar as they originated out of Protestant churches or (if they are of Catholic origin) have been influenced heavily by Protestant churches. But I don’t know enough about them to know how often that is the case.

Sorry to confuse you. But the subject is complicated and if you don’t find it confusing, something is wrong. The short answer to your question is a resounding “No”!


#12

[quote=st_felicity]Until I pointed out (several years ago now) that the word “protest” was in the term Protestant–she’d never realized it. So I think Lisa’s on to something with her explanation.
[/quote]

The idea that “Protestant” means “protesting Catholic doctrine” makes sense but is false, at least in terms of the original meaning. The term “Protestant” was originally a political term. Germany in the 16th century was made up of various territories ruled by “princes” and also of autonomous city-states. Representatives from these territories met in a legislative assembly called a “Diet” where they made decisions for the whole “Holy Roman Empire” (which embraced Germany and northern Italy). The emperor, Charles V, condemned Luther in 1521 at the Diet of Worms and basically made him an outlaw. But the emperor didn’t have a whole lot of direct power–he could only act with the cooperation of the princes. Luther’s prince was particularly powerful and refused to hand him over. Finally, in 1529, the Diet of Speyer voted to confirm the Edict of Worms and to condemn Luther and all his followers. But by this time many princes and city-states had adopted Luther’s ideas. These political leaders made a formal legal statement called a “protest” (the term is still used in a similar sense in legal terminology today) stating that this was a mistaken and illegal decision and they were not going to abide by it. That is where the term “Protestant” comes from. It wasn’t about protesting doctrine at all.

Furthermore, “protest” originally had a positive as well as a negative sense. It meant to make a strong declaration on behalf of someone or something. People still speak of “protesting one’s innocence” or something like that.

Finally, the term “evangelical” is actually older than the term “Protestant.” It is what Protestants originally called themselves. “Protestant” was as I said a political label applied to them after 1529. Eventually Protestants came to accept it, but Lutherans in particular always preferred to be called “Evangelicals” (and to this day the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S. is called the “Evangelical Lutheran Church in America”). In its more common modern English-speaking sense, “Evangelical” developed in the 18th century as a label to distinguish some Protestants (those who were involved in the revivalist movements of that time and emphasized an inner “heart religion” and an experience of coversion) over against others (who had a more rationalistic approach to the Christian faith).

Even though “Protestant” does not in fact mean “someone who rejects Catholic doctrine,” the word does help to remind us of our historical origins, and of the fact that our history is bound up with Catholicism. That’s why I resist the attempt of many Protestants to deny the term and claim that they are “just Christians.” This is a silly, pernicious attempt to deny their own history and try to ignore the deep connections between Protestantism and the Catholic tradition.

In Christ,

Edwin


#13

[quote=Scott_Lafrance]I think they prefer the term evangelical because it focuses on what they see as the priority, to spread the gospel. They don’t see themselves as “protesting” anything. To them, the “Protestant” movement had to do with the old world and politics. Since we are in a new country (relatively speeaking), they use a new moniker for their movement, the Evangelical one. Some of them refer themselves as Restorationist, Revivalist, or even Reformed, but only a hardcore few still consider themselves “Protestant”.
[/quote]

That’s an outrageous exaggeration. Most Lutherans, almost all Methodists (my wife had a seminary professor who claimed that Methodists were more Catholic than Protestant), and all Reformed (not just a “hardcore few”) consider themselves Protestants, as do many Anglicans. The more “free church” groups such as the Baptists and nondenominational groups may or may not consider themselves Protestants, but even among them probably more do than do not. Pentecostals often reject the label, but again I think many would accept it.

It’s important to fight for the historic meaning of the word “Protestant.” Let Protestants get away with calling themselves something else, and you allow them to slip one step further into historical amnesia. Denial of the word “Protestant” is a denial of our own history. And that’s deadly.

I gladly call myself a Protestant even though theologically I reject many of the supposed Protestant distinctives. Protestantism is about a historic tradition of Christianity stemming from the Reformation, and people need to be reminded that that is where they came from.

“Non-Catholic Christian” is not an accurate term at all, because it embraces Orthodox as well as Protestants. This makes no sense whatever.

In Christ,

Edwin


#14

[quote=Contarini]The idea that “Protestant” means “protesting Catholic doctrine” makes sense but is false, at least in terms of the original meaning.
[/quote]

From: New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
newadvent.org/cathen/12495a.htm
Entry: EVANGELICAL CHURCH

**The sixteenth-century Reformers accused the Catholic Church of having adulterated the primitive purity of the Gospel by the admixture of un-Scriptural doctrines and practices; consequently they designated themselves as “Evangelicals”, or followers of the pure Evangel, in contradistinction to the un-evangelical followers of Roman traditions and institutions. **

Entry: PROTESTANTISM

***The Diet of the Holy Roman Empire, assembled at Speyer in April, 1529, resolved that, according to a decree promulgated at the Diet of Worms (1524), communities in which the new religion was so far established that it could not without great trouble be altered should be free to maintain it, but until the meeting of the council they should introduce no further innovations in religion, and should not forbid the ***Mass***, or hinder Catholics from assisting thereat. ***Against this decree, and especially against the last article, the adherents of the new Evangel — the Elector Frederick of Saxony, the Landgrave of Hesse, the Margrave Albert of Brandenburg, the Dukes of Lüneburg, the Prince of Anhalt, together with the deputies of fourteen of the free and imperial cities — entered a solemn protest as unjust and impious. The meaning of the protest was that the dissentients did not intend to tolerate Catholicism within their borders. On that account they were called Protestants.

How is that not a “protest” against Catholicism?


#15

What I am about to write is not from some kind of Google Search, it is from direct observation.

1.Back in the 40s to 70s there were no “Evangelicals”. I never heard of them until about 1990. Before they were called Kingdom of God, Assembly of God or “Holy Rollers”.
2. After some of them established T.V. Shows they took thee more politically correct term, Evangelical.


#16

[quote=st_felicity]From: New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
newadvent.org/cathen/12495a.htm
Entry: EVANGELICAL CHURCH

The sixteenth-century Reformers accused the Catholic Church of having adulterated the primitive purity of the Gospel by the admixture of un-Scriptural doctrines and practices; consequently they designated themselves as “Evangelicals”, or followers of the pure Evangel, in contradistinction to the un-evangelical followers of Roman traditions and institutions.

Entry: PROTESTANTISM

***The Diet of the Holy Roman Empire, assembled at Speyer in April, 1529, resolved that, according to a decree promulgated at the Diet of Worms (1524), communities in which the new religion was so far established that it could not without great trouble be altered should be free to maintain it, but until the meeting of the council they should introduce no further innovations in religion, and should not forbid the ***Mass***, or hinder Catholics from assisting thereat. ***Against this decree, and especially against the last article, the adherents of the new Evangel — the Elector Frederick of Saxony, the Landgrave of Hesse, the Margrave Albert of Brandenburg, the Dukes of Lüneburg, the Prince of Anhalt, together with the deputies of fourteen of the free and imperial cities — entered a solemn protest as unjust and impious. The meaning of the protest was that the dissentients did not intend to tolerate Catholicism within their borders. On that account they were called Protestants.

How is that not a “protest” against Catholicism?
[/quote]

I’m going to check the facts on the Diet of Speyer when I’m next in an academic library (which will be Friday). The CE may be right that the 1529 Diet was simply forbidding the further extension of Protestantism, reinstating the 1524 rather than 1521 Edict of Worms (I’ve never kept all these Diets of the 1520s straight). However, even in that case, my point stands–the “protest” was against an Imperial ban on territories adopting Protestant ideas and practices. I did not say that it wasn’t a protest against Catholicism, I said that it wasn’t a protest against Catholic theology per se. The Protestant princes and city-states were protesting being ordered around by the Diet of the Empire with regard to what they regarded as a matter of conscience.

However, if you want to assign a meaning to the term that Protestants don’t recognize (except the ignorant ones you can fool into accepting your propaganda), then that’s your problem. The only loss will be your inability to communicate respectfully or effectively with your “separated brethren.”

In Christ,

Edwin


#17

[quote=Exporter]What I am about to write is not from some kind of Google Search, it is from direct observation.

1.Back in the 40s to 70s there were no “Evangelicals”. I never heard of them until about 1990. Before they were called Kingdom of God, Assembly of God or “Holy Rollers”.
[/quote]

How can you state a universal negative based on observation? That means that you observed every corner of this country (or maybe even the world) and didn’t see any Evangelicals anywhere?

Well I am an evangelical, the son and grandson and great-grandson of evangelicals, and my wife is a scholar of the history of evangelicalism, besides being the daughter and grand-daughter and great-granddaughter of evangelicals–and I can tell you that there have been evangelicals long before 1990! The way the story is usually told, there was an evangelical Protestant consensus in the 19th century, which broke up into “fundamentalist” and “modernist” factions at the turn of the 20th century. The fundamentalists lost and retreated into their own enclaves for decades. In the 1940s and 1950s many fundamentalists adopted a more moderate approach and started reclaiming the title “evangelical” as distinct from “fundamentalist.” So if you want to, you can claim that modern evangelicalism is decades rather than centuries old, but even in that case it dates back to the 50s at least.

If you don’t believe me, check old copies of the magazine Christianity Today. It has been in existence for about 50 years and has always claimed to represent a group of people called “evangelicals.” Similarly, Billy Graham has been active for about that long, and he has always claimed to be an evangelical (though in his early years he would not have disclaimed the title “fundamentalist” as he would now).

The Assemblies of God and the so-called “Holy Rollers” (not necessarily the same group–“Holy Rollers” is a vague pejorative term used of Pentecostals in some parts of the country) are subsets of evangelicals. But I assure you that all evangelicals are not Pentecostals by any means. There are evangelical Calvinists, evangelical Wesleyans/Methodists, evangelical Baptists (indeed most Baptists are evangelicals), and evangelicals of about a dozen different other stripes.

If you really want to understand evangelicalism, read some of George Marsden’s books, such as Fundamentalism and the American Culture or the aptly named Understanding Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism. You can sometimes find them in a good public library.

In Christ,

Edwin


#18

Edwin–Who is the one not communicating respectfully here? I simply quoted some information from a resource that gave a slightly different take on the history you referenced and I’m accused of “propaganda” and *“disrespectful” *communication! I think you are jumping to the defense a bit too fast. I am asking this question in all sincerity because I DO want to understand how non-Catholic (and Orthodox et al.) define themselves and why–and if you don’t believe that *“then that’s your problem.” *

However, even in that case, my point stands–the “protest” was against an Imperial ban on territories adopting Protestant ideas and practices. I did not say that it wasn’t a protest against Catholicism, I said that it wasn’t a protest against Catholic theology per se.

Back to the question…

Your response above seems to be a pretty fine distinction. The Evangels were formed due to disagreement with Catholic theology…the Evangels spread their message to the point where they apparently were limiting Catholic practice…the Holy Roman Empire allowed the new religion to continue, but did not allow it to forbid Catholic practice…AND BECAUSE OF THAT–not allowing territories to forbid Catholicism (which would only be done due to theological disagreement) the Evangels “protested.” A very fine distinction indeed!

The Protestant princes and city-states were protesting being ordered around by the Diet of the Empire with regard to what they regarded as a matter of conscience.

Being able to forbid a religion is a matter of conscience?


#19

[quote=Contarini]How can you state a universal negative based on observation? That means that you observed every corner of this country (or maybe even the world) and didn’t see any Evangelicals anywhere?
[/quote]

I think Exporter made it clear he was simply speaking from his own experience and that he offered no authority other than his own opinion–Did he say his opinion was the universal and infallible explanation of where the term “Evangelical” came from?

Is it easier for you to scare people off with your “jump down their throat” attitude than have a civil discussion?

Can we please start over, or try again–I think perhaps I am being a bit defensive now…:o


#20

I am an evangelical as well. I am part of the **First Evangelical Church of the Nazarene, **started in 33 AD. Kephas, also known as Simon bar Jonah, was our first pastor.


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