The designation "Protestant"


#1

The other night, my non-Catholic husband and I were discussing religious topics, and he insisted that it was incorrect for me to lump all non-Catholic Christians under the term “Protestant,” since they are not all the same, and some of them don’t think of themselves that way. He says that “Protestant” is a term that only Catholics use in the sense of anyone who is a non-Catholic Christian. I’d love to hear opinions on this from other non-Catholic Christians.


#2

Baptists traditionally reject the label “Protestant,” since they claim that they predate the Reformation and never “came out” of Rome because they were never a part of Rome. Even still, you will commonly hear some Southern Baptist spokesman use the term publicly, apparently as a shorthand expression for “Christian non-catholic.”

Of those Baptists I’ve met who reject the label, almost none of them object to someone innocently using the term. It’s too much trouble to try to lecture someone on the Baptist version of ancient and Medieval church history, so they just take it in stride.

I don’t think that there are any other large groups who don’t call themselves Protestants. But who knows what might be going on at the storefront down the street…?


#3

This is a long read but basically it’s a research paper on how modern day Baptists didn’t appear until after the Reformation. They are not an extension of the AnaBaptists and were basically founded in the 1600s in Great Britian … thus they are Protestant.

biblicalstudies.com/bstudy/ecclesiology/baptism.htm


#4

While appropriate in a general sense, ie not Catholic, I would never refer to a friend who I knew where they went to church as a Protestant. Or if I knew or suspected they were Christian, I would not say are you a Protestant? I would refer to them as a Christian who goes to the Nazarene church, a Christian who goes to the Baptist church. But then I frequently refer to myself as a Christian who attends the Catholic Church!

God Bless


#5

I was just rereading my original post, and I think I worded one thing rather badly. I shouldn’t have said that I was “lumping” non-Catholics together under one term. Or perhaps I should have been clearer about the fact that we were arguing doctrinal issues - i.e., what Catholics believe that non-Catholics don’t. I don’t know if this clarification was necessary, but it makes me feel better. :slight_smile:


#6

Protestants do use the term for themselves. It is not at all just a “Catholic” name for them. Use it freely.


#7

According Protestant author J. Leslie Dunstan, from his book Protestantism:

[font=Arial]Protestantism is one of the three main divisions of the universal Christian Church, which together with the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches make up one world-wide religion. Protestantism is the most recent of the developments within Christianity, having a relatively short history of slightly more than four centuries; the other two branches of the faith have histories going back to the earliest days of the Christian era. Moreover, compared to the unity which characterizes those other branches, Protestantism is divided within itself among hundreds of separate organizations, some of which deny all relationship to others. The many denominations and sects have differing beliefs and carry on a variety of practices, which give them the appearance of being distinct from one another. [/font]

[font=Arial](*Protestantism, *by J. Leslie Dunstan, (New York: George Braziller, 1962), p. 9)[/font]
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[font=Arial]My understanding is that some Baptists immerged from the Catholic Church and some from other Protestant denominations.

According to Baptist scholar, the late William B. Lipphard, former president of the Associated Church Press, and twenty-year editor of the Baptist publication Missions Magazine,

… Baptists … are related to, and were a part of, the same spirit that brought about the Reformation–although Baptists are not directly related to Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, or Knox…

Most historians would place the **historical roots of Baptists in England, growing out of the Puritan and Separatist movement. **

The early Baptists were those who wanted reform, or who withdrew from the established church in England, whether it was Roman Catholic or the Church of England

In 1609, thirty-six men and women in Amsterdam formed the first Baptist church on record: [John] Smyth poured water upon himself, first, and then upon the others. (Pouring was empolyed initially as the mode of baptism; by 1641, immersion was the established form.)

(From “What is a Baptists?” from “Religons of America”, Leo Rosten, ed., pg 35)[/font]
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[font=Arial]According to Protestant author Frank S. Mead, from his book *Handbook of Denominations in the Unites States, *6th edition:[/font]
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[font=Arial][size=2]Baptists constitute one of the major Protestant forces in the United States … as a church, or as organized churches, they began in Holland and England. … Mennonites met and perhaps deeply influenced a little group of British Separatists who had taken refuge in Amsterdam … and one of their leaders, John Smyth, was completely captured by the Mennonite argument. He rebaptized himself and his followers in the Anabaptist, or Baptist, faith and with them organized the first English Baptist Church in 1609.[/font]
[font=Arial][/size][/font]
[font=Arial]The classic categorization of Christianity, used also by Protestant authors, groups Christianity into Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. It seems whether to be called “Protestant” or not is just one more thing that Protestants cannot agree upon. http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon6.gif[/font]


#8

It’s nice to have the term to distinguish the traditional catholics from the “reformed” catholics.

As more of us cradle catholics leave the RCC, I guess we are protesing… hence “protestant” is an apt term.

peace,
John


#9

Dave, you have quoted history with which all Protestants agree. Any Baptist historian is well versed in the English roots of today’s Baptist churches. But there’s more to it than that.

There is a subset who believe in something called “landmarkism.” At least one other thread has discussed it. It also gets the name “trail of blood.” They believe that Baptists predate the Reformation. And, indeed, it’s a matter of record that many dissenting groups appeared here and there in church history who held one Baptistic belief or another.

Baptist assume that their forefathers were always there, but stayed underground because of persecution. They point to the Waldenses as one of many examples.

Landmarkers have roughly the same status among mainstream Baptists as Traditionalists have among regular Catholics.


#10

<<<There is a subset who believe in something called “landmarkism.”>>>

Ah ha…Now I know where Landmark Baptist Church (a well known Baptish Chruch in Cincinati) got its name. Always wondered…Thanks for the information…


#11

Kevan,

Yes, I’ve read of the “trail of blood” theory. It’s rather unscholastic and difficult to take seriously. I have also had long discussions with some who actually believe it. These also affirmed their belief Jack Chick’s scholarship. http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon11.gif

The book The Baptist Heritage thoroughly and scholastically refutes the “trail of blood” claim. It is written by Baptist scholar Leon McBeth, professor of Church History at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, who has served as chairman of the Texas Baptist Historical Committee, as president of the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as president of the Southern Baptist Historical Society.

Landmarkers have roughly the same status among mainstream Baptists as Traditionalists have among regular Catholics.

It’s been my impression that traditionalists are typically more scholastically well-informed about Catholicism than many “regular” Catholics. In that regard, they don’t seem to resemble landmarkers at all.


#12

[quote=itsjustdave1988]It’s been my impression that traditionalists are typically more scholastically well-informed about Catholicism than many “regular” Catholics. In that regard, they don’t seem to resemble landmarkers at all.
[/quote]

True, but they do have a status among regular Baptists roughly analogous to the status of Traditionalists among regular Catholics.

“Status” refers to their standing or reputation. It’s not usually the kind of thing included in a handbook of denominations. To learn how they are perceived by their cousins, you have to ask one of them…unless you are one of them yourself.


#13

I hope you’re you’re not one of the ones leaving. :eek:

I’ve always subscribed to the notion that he who controls the language controls the argument - by this I mean that if you get to define what words mean, then you control the term implies. For example, I know of some protestants that claim they are “catholic with a small ‘c’” - because of this, they can say the Nicene Creed and mean it. They claim teir own authority and state that "we all agree on ‘the important things’; but give their members leeway to interpret things on their own.
I also know of Christians who re-define the term to mean “bible-believing christians”, and then get to reject from Christianity any person or group that they feel “don’t believe in the Bible”, whatever they claim that to be.

You would think that the groups that originated the term would have control over what the term really means. Commandeering a term gives a person or group a sense of power; if they sell it to enough people, it can give them real power.


#14

Since I didn’t see much historical reference to the origin of the term ‘protestant’ here and I wanted to avoid explaining more than I know, I looked it up in The Catholic Encyclopedia, here is the factual historical origin of the term “protestant”:

the adherents of the new Evangel „ the Elector Frederick of Saxony, the Landgrave of Hesse, the Margrave Albert of Brandenburg, the Dukes of LÙneburg, 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.

In course of time the original connotation of “no toleration for Catholics” was lost sight of, and the term is now applied to, and accepted by, members of those Western Churches and sects which, in the sixteenth century, were set up by the Reformers in direct opposition to the Catholic Church. The same man may call himself Protestant or Reformed: the term Protestant lays more stress on antagonism to Rome; the term Reformed emphasizes adherence to any of the Reformers.

newadvent.org/cathen/12495a.htm

Recommended reading.


#15

[quote=kevinfraser]Since I didn’t see much historical reference to the origin of the term ‘protestant’ here and I wanted to avoid explaining more than I know, I looked it up in The Catholic Encyclopedia, here is the factual historical origin of the term “protestant”:

newadvent.org/cathen/12495a.htm

Recommended reading.
[/quote]

Considering that the Catholic use of the word has basic negative connotations it shouldn’t be used in the manner you use it.


#16

Well, “factual” is a word that might overlook a bit of slantedness in that definition. Isn’t it unfair to give us a choice between “antagonism to Rome” and “adherance to any of the Reformers”?

I spent some time at a Reformed institution, even though I did not subscribe to their distinctive doctrines, and I never conversed with anyone who appeared to “adhere” to some historic or present-day Reformer. Their goal, howsoever imperfectly realized, was to adhere to Christ and his word. They called themselves Reformed because they believed that particular emphasis in theology to be biblical, not because someone else (like a hero) had believed it.

Among today’s Protestants, some certainly are antagonistic to Rome and some certainly are not. The encyclopedia article was enlightening to me regarding the first use of the word, but it doesn’t provide much assistance for understanding today’s use.

I checked Martin Marty’s article in the 1980 Britannica and learned that some pro-Catholic groups in the past have lobbied for a new term, since they aren’t as antagonistic to Rome as the term supposedly connotes. Marty observed that common and general usage had become pretty well ingrained and the term is here to stay-- which seems reasonable to me.

I dunno: would Catholics like for noncatholics to use a different term?


#17

I’m a Protestant. I don’t feel it’s a bad term. Martin Luther protested. And we’re protestants. Big deal. I use the term protestant for non-catholic and non-orthodox.

At least catholics don’t have creepy, insulting names for us like “Romanists.”:cool:


#18

On another board I read that some Anglicans in Australia do not consider themselves protestants. They are very dismayed that in the British Isles, especially Northern Ireland, Anglicans have no qualms about referring to themselves that way.


#19

[quote=PXseeker]It’s nice to have the term to distinguish the traditional catholics from the “reformed” catholics.

As more of us cradle catholics leave the RCC, I guess we are protesing… hence “protestant” is an apt term.

[/quote]

You are certainly more honest than most “traditionalists”. May God bless you. Think about what you’ve just admitted, and please consider returning to the Catholic Church.


#20

I’ve always thought that by calling someone (or oneself) Protestant, one is acknowledging that one’s Christianity is in line with the two major planks of the Protestant Reformation – Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. This differentiates them from all other Christians – Catholics and Orthodox.


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