Does Protestantism contribute anything to Christianity?


#1

I have a question for anyone to comment on. What does Protestantism add to Christianity, doctrinally? Aside from End Times eschatology (Catholics are generally amillennial).

You see, I’ve been comparing Protestantism and Catholicism, mentally, and I can’t yet find anything added by Protestantism. Only things taken out of Christianity.

I’ll cite the places I can think of, where Protestantism and Catholicism differ.

1) Sola Scriptura. This takes out the papacy as a way for God to reveal his truth. It also takes out infallible tradition. It keeps inerrancy of scripture, but it doesn’t add anything. It only takes away.

2) Baptism. Some Protestants see baptism as only an outward expression of one’s faith. They don’t see it as an act that actually cleanses away sins. Many don’t. For many, it is purely symbolic and without actual spiritual, transformative power. Catholics acknowledge the symbol, but they teach a spiritually transformative event as well. Many Protestants eliminate the doctrine of infant baptism. Protestantism takes out, here, but doesn’t contribute.

3) The Eucharist. Catholics see the Eucharist as involving the Real Presence of Christ, body, blood, soul, spirit and divinity. The entirety of Jesus Christ, the fullness of him. They also see it as symbolic of the Crucifixion and the infusion of God’s life into believers. Protestants take out various parts of it. Some extract the body and blood, leaving only the spirit. Some extract both the physical and the spiritual, leaving only the symbol. Some take out even that and don’t have Communion at all. The treatment of Communion in Protestantism is a great taking away of meaning, but it doesn’t contribute anything.

4) Predestination and Free Will. Calvinists believe only in predestination, extracting out Free Will. Some Protestants believe in Free Will, leaving out Predestination. Catholics hold to both. Some Protestants do too, but this is another case where Protestantism takes out of Christianity without contributing anything.

5) Purgatory. Most Protestants take out the concept of Purgatory, saying people go straight to hell or heaven after they die, and there is nothing in between. Thus we are instantly transformed and sanctification doesn’t need to be completed after death. But this idea merely takes out of Christianity, it doesn’t contribute.

6) Hell. I’ve met Protestants with varying ideas about this. Some believe in people’s annihilation in hell, which cuts hell short, taking away from the Catholic idea of hell. Some are universal reconciliationists, believing essentially in Purgatory but not in hell at all. Others hold to a more traditional Catholic idea of hell. Some spiritualize hell completely, taking away literal fire. Catholicism sees a spiritual side to it, the separation of the soul from the presence of God, but it also sees a physical side to it. Protestantism seems only to take things out, not to contribute anything here.

7) The Communion of Saints. Many Protestants take this idea out completely, saying the saints in heaven aren’t to be communicated with or prayed to at all. Many say they don’t intercede for people on Earth either. This is a taking out.

8) Works and Faith. Most Protestants believe in salvation by faith alone, some saying works spring naturally out of faith, but I don’t know of very many who say that the soul has to choose to accept God, which is works, responding to God’s grace, and thus faith and works operate together. Protestantism extracts, but doesn’t add.

9) The deuterocanonical books of the Bible. This is pretty simple. 7 books of the Bible were removed by Luther. In fact, several NT books were removed to an appendix too, but Lutherans added them back into the Bible a century after Luther was dead. But this removal of the deuterocanonicals is an extraction. Perhaps Mormons could be considered to have added to the Bible, with the Book of Mormon, but the other Protestant denominations do not accept them as being Christian. Protestantism took out, here, and added nothing.


#2

10) Sanctification. There are a number of ideas of sanctification. Some think of it as an instant powerful experience with God that comes later in one’s walk with Christ, after the Born Again experience and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This takes out the idea that one’s sanctification is worked out throughout one’s life. Some Protestants do add something, by saying that we become perfect through sanctification before death, but these are a minority, and Catholics also believe we will one day all be perfect, so this isn’t really add anything. It’s just rushing what Catholics already believe, saying it comes earlier than Catholics do. Most Protestants take out the completion of sanctification in Purgatory, and some take out parts of what it means along the way. The whole “cheap grace” concept extracts sanctification completely. But as far as I can see it, Protestantism either is in accord with Catholicism here, or changes the order of what it says, or removes what it says, but it doesn’t add.

11) The Gifts of the Spirit. Some Protestants say there have never been any Gifts of the Spirit, and they find natural explanations for miracles, or discard them completely. Other Protestants say that the Gifts of the Spirit are no longer available to Christians, that they ceased to be available very early in Church history. This clearly takes away from Catholic theology, which acknowledges that God’s supernatural gifts still are in operation, but it doesn’t add anything. Still more Protestants believe that one day, new supernatural gifts will be unleashed amongst believers by God, but this doesn’t add anything for the here and now. It is an addition for the future, and Protestantism does add lots and lots of eschatology to Christianity, but it doesn’t add anything in the here and now. Those that do create change in the here and now seem to take away from the doctrine of spiritual gifts, not add.

12) Mary, Mother of God. Protestantism generally keeps the virgin birth, but they reject Mary’s continued virginity, her Immaculate Conception, and her Assumption.

13) Organized Religion. More and more, conservative Protestants are moving away from organized religion in order to form small groups, house churches. Catholics have small group fellowships, but they don’t throw out the organization and institution. It doesn’t have to be an either/or. Protestants that keep clergy often don’t have a pope. Their church structures diminish central authority.

14) Marriage among the clergy. The vow of celibacy among clergy is extracted, in the Protestant denominations.

15) Church ritual. Lots of denominations wipe out the rituals and symbols in Catholicism. Some don’t, particularly the larger and older denominations, but most seem to. They don’t add much, though, to replace it.

I guess that those are the big ones I can think of at this time. There are several smaller things I thought of, such as a number of Protestants not believing in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Other Protestants believe he actually did sin at various times in his life. Some reject the Trinity. Some reject the various days of the year where church events are celebrated. There are lots of “rejections,” lots of taking away that I can see all over the place. Most of their doctrines involve some kind of stripping away from Catholicism, though, either blowing up one doctrine at the expense of another, thus keeping some truth while dropping other parts, or they’ll wipe out doctrines or aspects of Catholicism completely, but aside from eschatology, I don’t see that Protestantism added anything. It doesn’t seem to have contributed to ancient Christianity, but rather to have only stripped it down.


#3

Yes, the truth


#4

I sure can’t tell from your post.

If you have a case to be made then bring it on, but cheap one liners like that prove to be another example of the OP’s case made against the rest of Protestantism…they add nothing to the discussion.

Truth? What truth? Sola Scriptura? Not found in the very Bible it appeals to for authority!

The rest of the myriad Protestant and modern post reformation step children’s teaching devolving from it? Not a bit since as he rightly points out they strip away and deny Biblical doctrines even as they are based upon that initial fundamental error of SS.

I agree with the OP.


#5

I think it is a little unfair to say that Protestantism has added nothing to Christianity. I agree they removed a lot of the Traditions from it’s Catholic roots, but as a Catholic, we should rejoice in those that do become Christian in the protestant faith.

One soul added to heaven is worth more than all the gold on Earth.

Our prayer as Catholic should simply be that they continue their journey and see the fullness of the truth they have accepted.

Allis…

With respect… saying that protestants have added truth is far from accurate, even from a protestant point of view.

I could easily ask which version of protestantism. For any issue, no matter how small, there are at least 2 positions, usually opposites, found somewhere within Protestantism as a whole.

Take Baptism… some protestants think it is effectual for salvation…
Some think water baptism is a mark of the beast…

Thats just one issue. pick any other ‘protestant’ belief and you will find there are many varieties, often at odds with each other, with in protestantism as a whole.

So, with respect, please do not throw out blanket statements that are false when applying even the smallest amount of logic, and accepted as false even among protestants.

In Christ


#6

Openning post sounds a bit like a flame to me.

The basic idea of the Reformers was to submit to the authority of God as far as accepting that what he chose to reveal was sufficient. If you said they “contributed” nothing past what was taught in scripture they would be dancing for joy.

JJ


#7

While I am not a Calvinist, I think that this misrepresents the Calvinist view. Real Calvinists do believe that God predestines people. However they do retain their freewill. Even before regeneration men have freewill to choose God but their will is subject to their nature. An example would be if you place a pile of grass and a pile of fresh meat in front of an hungry tiger, it will always choose the meat. After regeneration instead of a tiger you have a cow who will always choose the grass.

Even then the exercise of man’s freewill is necessary since God works through other than directly. So man’s freewill becomes a second cause.

With respect to what Protestantism has added to Christianity, it may be correct to say that it has not added a lot. From a Protestant point of view I would say that it removed things that were wrong or unnecessary and shifted the emphasis in some other things.


#8

If you say so JJ,
I suspect that the OP is just verbalizing some of his thoughts so far in his personal journey of faith though.

As for “The basic idea of the Reformers was to submit to the authority of God as far as accepting that what he chose to reveal was sufficient.” this is something that I contend that they failed to do. I like the way James Akins sums it all up in this article.


#9

Fundamentalists have added banning alcohol, smoking, gambling, dancing, etc.

Some pentecostals have added that you have to have spoken in tongues to be saved


#10

Well, with the advent of Vatican II and in lieu of some corrections to catholic practices, i would ask protestants,

“why are you still protesting?”

But that is neither here nor there, they are still our brothers and sisters in Christ…(if they’ve been baptized of water and spirit that is)

The Holy Spirit will bring us all together eventually. The way I see it, protestant and anglican synods will continue to disagree with each other on key doctrine, and will continue to be places where “everyone can be happy”. Take anglicanism for example, there are lots of unhappy people there.

The RCC has kept true to it’s teachings and won’t take chaff from no one on teachings of morality and faith. Eventually, the Spirit will unite us.

-revelatiosn


#11

I want to hone in with more precision on what I meant in my thread title.

I know that Protestantism has added a very, very great deal in that vast numbers of people have come to deep, personal relationships with Jesus Christ as Protestants. It has brought many people to God. They have retained much of Christianity, even as they discarded many parts of Catholicism. So Protestantism has been a great blessing for the world, even as it, in my view, has also been a negative influence to the extent that it deviates from Catholic doctrine.

When I wrote the threat title, I was really thinking about doctrines. Doctrinally, has Protestantism added much? That is what I meant to ask. I was really, really unclear, and it sounded indeed as though I was just flaming Protestants. So I apologize for that.

If there is any moderator observing what’s going on in this thread, I really wouldn’t mind if you edited the threat title to say, “Has Protestantism added any doctrines to Christianity?”

[quote=Jolly Joe]Openning post sounds a bit like a flame to me.

[/quote]

I apologize very much for the fact that my opening post sounded that way. I should have written, “Does Protestantism contribute any doctrines to Christianity?” That would have made my meaning much plainer, I think.

[quote=Jolly Joe]The basic idea of the Reformers was to submit to the authority of God as far as accepting that what he chose to reveal was sufficient. If you said they “contributed” nothing past what was taught in scripture they would be dancing for joy.

JJ
[/quote]

Okay. That’s a perfectly valid position, IMO :). One can easily say that Catholicism had added lots and lots of things to the simple message of God, and God used Protestantism to strip away what was bad, while not revealing any new doctrines Catholics didn’t already know (excepting eschatology). One can easily argue that the role of Protestantism is the stripping away of doctrines and traditions that aren’t right, rather than the revealing of new things that are right. And that is a perfectly valid position. I don’t agree with it, but it is perfectly valid.

I’m just wondering, really, if Protestantism added any doctrines that Catholics didn’t have. I’m not trying to argue that it’s bad if they didn’t.

[quote=SyCarl]While I am not a Calvinist, I think that this misrepresents the Calvinist view. Real Calvinists do believe that God predestines people. However they do retain their freewill. Even before regeneration men have freewill to choose God but their will is subject to their nature. An example would be if you place a pile of grass and a pile of fresh meat in front of an hungry tiger, it will always choose the meat. After regeneration instead of a tiger you have a cow who will always choose the grass.

Even then the exercise of man’s freewill is necessary since God works through other than directly. So man’s freewill becomes a second cause.
[/quote]

Just speaking as a former Calvinist, and as the son of one, we really didn’t believe in Free Will at all. We believed in the freedom for each person to act according to his or her nature, according to who he or she is, but the nature of each person is predetermined and predestined by God, so there isn’t any real Free Will there.

[quote=JMBNH]Fundamentalists have added banning alcohol, smoking, gambling, dancing, etc.
[/quote]

Well . . . those are bans, right? So isn’t that taking away from what people might otherwise have, rather than adding more? There are loads of restrictions, but unbeliefs in the validity of something- prayer to saints, the immaculate conception, Purgatory, etc., those unbeliefs don’t really qualify as contributing something Catholics lacked. It just takes doctrines away. Bans take away things that might otherwise be acceptable.

[quote=JMBNH]Some pentecostals have added that you have to have spoken in tongues to be saved
[/quote]

I could be wrong, but I think that that’s another restriction. It takes away the salvation of those that have not spoken in tongues. It doesn’t seem to add.

These are new ideas being added in, I agree! All of the things I listed in my first two posts are new ideas that have been added. One certainly could have a good case that Protestantism has added a lot of subtraction of doctrine to Christianity. But these ideas seem always to subtract in one way or another, rather than adding.


#12

Sola Scriptura was “added” to what was taught in scripture, among other errors.


#13

Yes, all of the changes from Catholic thinking that I cited in my first two posts were new ideas that were added. However, each of those ideas, including Sola Scriptura, seems to just take away from what Catholics believed without adding anything new. For instance, Sola Scriptura often agrees with Catholics that the scripture is infallible and inerrant. However, it takes out the infallibility of the Magesterium and Tradition. Thus it removes authorities rather than adding authorities. The doctrine is one of subtraction rather than addition. I’m wondering if Protestantism added any doctrines, outside of end times eschatology, that contribute new things to Christianity. Are all of their new ideas subtractions in one way or another from Catholicism, or are there new layers of meaning they add, which Catholics hadn’t before seen or accepted?

I guess that one could see the “once saved, always saved,” idea Protestants might be an addition (Which doesn’t mean it’s right, of course). The Catholic belief that people who have once been saved can still fall away seems to take away from the above universal idea of salvation, and thus subtracts from the Protestant teaching, rather than the other way around.


#14

. So Protestantism has been a great blessing for the world, even as it, in my view, has also been a negative influence to the extent that it deviates from Catholic doctrine.Hi Lief,
Though I can agree with what you have said above there is one very critical problem here.

One cannot make that differentiation between “Christianity” and “Catholicism” because that creates a dichotomy that does not exist. Christianity and Catholicism are synonymous, even as it was from the beginning of Christianity.

By using the terms the way you have, you open up a flaw that we already see all too often in dialog with n-Cs. Most Catholics know they are Christians and that is one reason that we respond to questions as to if we are Christians with, “Yes, I am Catholic.”

To us it is a forgone conclusion, and it is only in that context that it should be understood.

When the reformers departed from the Catholic faith they departed from the fullness of Christianity, so again, they detracted from Christianity and (as someone has already pointed out) added both errant doctrines and even more teachings of men.

I have been thinking this over for some time and it gelled into a couple of articles that I have posted on my blog.[FONT=Palatino Linotype]
[/FONT]Who REALLY Preaches “A Different Gospel”?

My Reformation Theory


#15

Good point, Church Militant.


#16

Actually, some Protestant denominations (Foursquare for one, also pentecostal and charismatic churches) teach that those gifts are alive and present and being used today.

I guess that those are the big ones I can think of at this time. There are several smaller things I thought of, such as a number of Protestants not believing in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Other Protestants believe he actually did sin at various times in his life. Some reject the Trinity. Some reject the various days of the year where church events are celebrated.

If you don’t believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead, you are not a Christian. If you believe that he sinned, you have some major doctrinal issues. I’m not sure about the Trinity thing. However, as far as I know, most major Protestant denominations do NOT as a group deny any of those things (aside from Oneness Pentecostals, and I would question the validity of any “Christian” group which denies the Trinity). On the contrary, they affirm it. Rejecting the days of the year where church events are celebrated has absolutely nothing to do with eternal salvation, in my opinion. It’s not necessary; it’s extra.

Didn’t the whole Protestant thing start because the original Protestants thought that there were practices occurring that were unbiblical or otherwise should not be there? So they would naturally take those practices away, not add more things. Why do they have to add doctrines?

I do think that Protestants have added, among the lay people, a hunger and thirst for God’s Word and Bible study which is not present to the same degree among Catholics. This is hard to quantify, though, because of how people are. I’m sure there are plenty of exceptions to the rule.


#17

Well I’ll give you my thoughts as a protestant. I’m not of the belief that anything can add to the teachings of Christ. I’m not sure that is what you meant though. If you mean what does protestantism, if that is a real word, add to your specific life I would say the one thing over the years I have noticed in my discussions with many Catholics is that the relationship with Chirst seems to be a reason some change to a protestant denomination. I’m not claiming that Catholic’s don’t have that but that is an observation I have noticed as someone who grew up in a protestant church.


#18

It seems most Protestants would actively try not to add any doctrines. That’s something that many criticize us Catholics for doing.

The fact that they have stripped down many Catholic doctrines likely would be taken as a compliment. The whole point many try to make is to get back to the basics and get away from the “traditions of men” that were “added” by the Catholic Church.

But simply because they haven’t added new doctrine, doesn’t mean they haven’t added something. Many Protestants have done great work in the field of Scripture study and historical exegesis. Of course, there have also been many who have veered way off course, but the same might be said of many Catholic Scripture scholars.


#19

I would agree with this statement. As someone who apart of a Non-denominational church I would say we do try to use scripture as our only creed to guide us in our living. But that has led to many problems over the years with people “bending” scripture to mean what they want it to mean. This is an area of weakness for our faith and must be carefully guarded against.


#20

Very good points, IMO.

[quote=HannahLisa]Actually, some Protestant denominations (Foursquare for one, also pentecostal and charismatic churches) teach that those gifts are alive and present and being used today.
[/quote]

That is very true. This is just a belief that is present among some big Protestant denominations, so I thought it worth mentioning.

[quote=HannahLisa]If you don’t believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead, you are not a Christian. If you believe that he sinned, you have some major doctrinal issues. I’m not sure about the Trinity thing. However, as far as I know, most major Protestant denominations do NOT as a group deny any of those things (aside from Oneness Pentecostals, and I would question the validity of any “Christian” group which denies the Trinity). On the contrary, they affirm it.
[/quote]

I agree with you on this. That’s why I didn’t number any of those points and put them up with the others. It’s minorities among those claiming to be Protestants that reject these central doctrines. I didn’t consider the groups that held these views to be very big or influential, so I didn’t include them in my list.

[quote=HannahLisa]Didn’t the whole Protestant thing start because the original Protestants thought that there were practices occurring that were unbiblical or otherwise should not be there? So they would naturally take those practices away, not add more things. Why do they have to add doctrines?
[/quote]

I’m not saying they have to. I’m just trying to find out if they did. Though I do think that if they just took away from what formerly was, Protestantism is pretty much Catholicism hacked down very badly. It’s sad to me that it seems to only take away, to subtract. Its positive characteristics are present in Catholicism, it has nothing Catholicism does not have, and it serves as a negative force toward many layers of belief that Catholicism does have. Its primary function in comparison to Catholicism is negative. It takes, and it cuts things away, but does not give or produce. Doctrinally speaking.

Protestantism gives a vast amount to any non-Christian, and it also, I think, can give a Spirit filled life to a Catholic who does not experience God but only has the form of his beliefs, but who turns from Catholicism to because of finding God alive in the Protestants he meets, and receiving the Holy Spirit through them. That is the Spirit who gives, and God gives through Protestantism a great deal. Protestantism has retained many extremely valuable and central parts of Christianity.

It’s just that when I look at Protestantism’s relation to Catholicism, it seems that doctrinally, Protestantism serves as a purely negative force. It takes away and takes away, but gives nothing new. And if Catholicism had already everything that Protestantism had, then what was the point of disposing of the traditions and taking away so much that was previously believed? One runs a great risk, when doing that, of stripping away God’s truth, and one gains nothing for what one does.

[quote=HannahLisa]I do think that Protestants have added, among the lay people, a hunger and thirst for God’s Word and Bible study which is not present to the same degree among Catholics. This is hard to quantify, though, because of how people are. I’m sure there are plenty of exceptions to the rule.
[/quote]

That’s a hard one to know. But that is certainly not a doctrine.

[quote=sjmelton]If you mean what does protestantism, if that is a real word, add to your specific life I would say the one thing over the years I have noticed in my discussions with many Catholics is that the relationship with Chirst seems to be a reason some change to a protestant denomination. I’m not claiming that Catholic’s don’t have that but that is an observation I have noticed as someone who grew up in a protestant church.
[/quote]

Yes. That also is not doctrine, of course, for Catholicism readily accepts the importance of a relationship with Christ. I do think that some Catholics who never have that in Catholicism move to Protestantism when they truly meet the Spirit there. And I think of that as valid, because the Spirit has never revealed to the hearts of many of those people that Catholicism is true. They thought it was true, but for many it was a human belief rather than God showing them. Thus they were not disobeying God when they left Catholicism- they only had the shell of Catholicism to begin with, not the spirit. So they moved and found the Spirit in Protestantism, which unfortunately, in my view, added a great many errors to their beliefs, but which did give them the Holy Spirit and a true relationship with God.


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