Is Protestantism the greatest (most damaging) heresy in Christian history?


Over the past few months I’ve been studying the great heresies of Christianity. (Interesting point: the root word for heresy comes from the Greek – “to choose”).

Many heresies were incredibly divisive and damaging to the Body of Christ. Some of the “big” ones were Gnosticism, Arianism, Modalism, Marcionism, Modernism, etc. Most of them were related, and in one form or another they all exist today. Another common element is that they led to schism.

But I think the most divisive heresy – because of its constant splintering – has to be Protestantism. Whereas most of the other great heresies peaked and receded within about 400 years or less, there seems to be no abatement to the mushrooming of Protestantism.

So is Protestantism the greatest (most damaging) heresy in Christian history?

I don’t ask this question to “beat up” Protestant people. I have nothing against them. I’m merely looking at Protestantism from an objectively technical and historical context and in relation to other heresies which antedated it or sprung from it.


No doubt, Protestantism is one of the most damaging heresies in existence. But I think Modernity is the next step after Protestantism followed by agnosticism and then, eventually, atheism.

In regards to Modernity, the only answers they could provide for their own questions was tantamount to an abandonement of traditional Christianity; they dissolved the age-long theological concepts of Catholicism into a residue of imagery and symbolism. In striving to adapt the Christian message to the mentality of their contemporaries, they succeeded only in emptying it of vital significance. Thus the way was open to the most insidious of all forms of scepticism: unbelief disguised as a serious interest in religion.


Hi Lepanto,

Considering that Protestantism denies most of the sacraments it is indeed a very damaging heresy for its members. The sacraments are our help on the way to heaven.



Pope Benedict wrote some time ago that relativism is the most dangerous ideology to ever threaten civilization. There is no doubt that the roots of relativism are in the Protestant Reformation.


I 100% agree with the Pope.

However relativism has been around long long long before the Reformation. Just look at the arguments of St. Augustine, he is responding to and arguing against relativists!


Okay, I am a faithful Catholic who disagrees with the OP’s assertion.

Collectively, there can be no doubt that the Reformation, with it’s plethora of individual heresies,has been profoundly divisive and destructive to the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.

I would contend, however, that it is not the most damaging. You see, the damage has pretty much settled down. The Church is not really hemorrhaging souls and lives on large scale to the myriad of Christian sects.

These sects do not pose a threat to the existence of the Church, (or Mankind for that matter). Even militant pseudo-Christian group like Christian Identity do not really pose a major threat to many people.

The most damaging heresy began early in Church history, in the late second ant third century.


You see, it is from Gnosticism that Mohamed got his ideas. I would contend that Islam is greatest and most damaging of the Christian heresies. I think we have all seen the effects of radical and militant Islamics.


The damage has not even begun. Nevertheless, if it were not for denominationalism/Protestantism, the fracturing of Christendom, we would not have legalized abortion, the sanctioning of murder of 40,000,000 babies in the U.S. alone. Once there was no agreed upon morality chaos ensued. It is directly attributable to denominationalism. The civil government has taken the place of the Church, taken the Church’s God given jurisdiction in the area of moral law. Now we can’t even figure out that men marry women. Moral chaos in society, the confusion we see results from the religion that is the foundation of our society broken into pieces by Protestantism. “A house divided against itself, surely will fall”.


Wow!!!..Um…Man that is…Wow!:bigyikes: I thank you for you’re honesty but!
To blame protestants for the abortion epedemic is biggeted, ignorant, unfounded, hatefull, unjustfied and pointless to name a few. For evey one protestant you could find that suports abortion, I could find hundreds that are against it. The civil government has not taken place of the church! This is not a communist country. The Church still has jurisdition in the area of moral law. If civial law does not follow the Churches moral teachings thats the choice of the government. But that too can NOT be put on protestants!! Moral chaos in society, the confusion we see is a result of people freely choosing to sin. WE ALL ARE SINNERS! To blame protestants only is…is…:banghead: is a self righteous point of view.


I think there are worse heresy’s than that os the reformers. One thing to rember, those born into protestant denomations are not heretics. Only the those that know then reject the Catholic faith. Ex. the reformers themselfs.
What’s that quote? “we know where God is, but we do not know where God is not” something like that.


At this point in history Protestantism has been around for about 450 years, that is likely the longest surviving of the great heresies of the past.

It is the most destructive because it has relativism at its core with Sola Scriptura leaving the individual to interpret what he wants out of the pages. When the Truth becomes relative then by definition your moral compass goes out off line and there is no limit to what madness can ensue.

It is most devastating when it leads to the break down of morals where everyone choses what they think is right and nobody can tell them to stop. This damage is compounded with the Once Saved Always Saved mentality.


Those born into heresy are part of the “damage” that the Lepanto is talking about.
It started out with a few and the countless millions born into it are the result of the damage.
I would have to agree that Protestantism is one of the most damaging heresies because so many heresies and division have come out of the original.


They are heretics, but there is a key distinction between formal heretic and material. Formal heretics knowingly reject Church teaching and are excommunicated by definition, material heretics hold to heretical teachings but their ignorance reduces culpability and thus it is not necessarily a mortal sin on their part.


We are talking about philosophical and theological systems, not people.

Please don’t personalize the argument.


I think it could be argued that Modernism (like Relativism), is one of the ugly daughters of Protestantism.


ok. I still don’t see the connection between legal aboration and the philosophical and theological systems of protestants. Could you show me how we get from A to B? a link explaining or showing some light would work too.


But why would it not be that of the athist, or a pagan heresy? The portestants do believe in the trinity.


Reletivistic morality did not come from Protestantism. For centuries, Protestant denominations held virtually identical moral positions as the Catholic Church.

It was the advent of secular, anti-Christian philosophers and leaders like Voltaire, Nietzsche, Hegel, and yes, even Thomas Jefferson, that brought about these changes.

As fun as it might be (for Catholics), it is not historically accurate to place the blame for the erosion of morality at the feet of Protestants it is neither charitable, nor true.

However, I will concede that rudderless, (without a Pope) many denominations succumbed to the pressure of the secular world out of a misplaced sense of charity.


Right it is not communist. It is democratic. That is irrelevant. The confusion we see is people thinking they can determine truth for themselves. You do not understand self rightiousness or reaon and logic. I am a sinner. I confess. I am not self righteous. I need God’s mercy. I did not blame Protestants for legalized abortion. I blamed Protestantism. The majority of Catholics vote for prodeath politicians. I work with Protestants in the prolife movement. That has nothing to do with it.

The civil government has not only taken over the jurisdiction of the Church, it has usurped the place of God as the giver of the moral law. How do we resolve issues of public morals today? Who determines if men can marry men, or mothers can kill their babies, or doctors can kill old and sick people? The civil government, by, for and of the people. You are right that the problem is sin. The people are sinners. The people vote on morality and the majority elects lawmakers who enact laws. We are under the illusion that the people can make the moral law what we want it to be, rather than understanding that it is what it is. It would be like having the people vote on the law of gravity rather than discover it and live with it. So we end up murdering millions of innocents. God is the giver of the moral law and the Church is its guardian, not the people or the civil government. How did we come to this point? Go back through history and figure it out. Under the auspices of the American experiment we declared religious freedom or liberty. Every man for himself. It is the same as religious anarchy. How did this happen? And what is it if it is not moral relativism? There were feuding religious ideas, denominations, and the founders wanted to find a way for everyone to get along, so they said each man can determine truth for himself. They were men of good intention who believed the Bible was the sole rule of faith according to Luther’s teaching. So everyone can have their own version of truth or determine the moral law for themsleves depending on how they interpret the Bible. Call this Biblical relativism, but the Bible does not teach it. And they gave freedom to those who do not believe the Bible or worship the devil to have input into the determining the moral law through the civil system they create. That is how we end up debating things like men marrying men and creating laws that say it is possible. The religious system that has surrendered the Church’s moral jusrisdiction or turned it over to the civil state, the ideas that allowed this to happen are from Protestantism. Now we have the government by the people determining the moral law and we are murdering millions of babies. If all authority is in the Bible, the Church has none. What religion says all authority is in the Bible, sola scriptura? It is true that in our day the civil government makes the moral law or tries to. That is undeniable. How did this happen? History tells you, not theology and it is not self righteous to see where we are and how we got here? The Americans did not come up with the udnerstanding that there are two governments, civil and religious, each with its jurisdiction. Augustine did. The Americans had the civil government sieze the jurisdiction of the religious. The root of this is in Protestantism which is the source of relativism, whatever is true for you is true for you, there is no objective truth or morality.


Ok. Thanks for clearing me up!:thumbsup:
I would not atribute the downfall of society to that of Protestantism. All of these problims mentioned were in the world long before the reformation. Long before Christ came into the world. I think the state we are in has more to do with the idea of “if it feels good, do it.” As a society we are so self indulging that the mentality is to avoid burdon at any cost.
I don’t think people as a whole look at life as there is no objective truth or morality. I think they don’t give a Darn eather way, as long as they get theres.


So don’t blame it. Think what you want.

Sin has always been in the world and in Chritian cultures. You are right. Legalized abortion, homosexual marriage, the epidemic of divorce, public demonstrations glorifying sexual deviance in parades have not. The public sanctioning of evil called good or a civil right was not anywhere to be found in Christian civilzation.

Here is the question for you. If Christendom was still united institutionally and had not been devastated by division, directly attributable to Protestantism/denominationalism, would we have legalized abortion, etc. today? Would we be talking about men marrying men and tomorrow dogs? How did the civil goverrnment become the definer of the moral law? What caused this to happen? What were the historical social civil ideological events that led to where we are?

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