Understanding Protestant Beliefs

Does anyone know of a resource where I can learn the policies of the various Protestant religions?

For instance, I have a friend who is Presbyterian, and I’d like to better understand what they believe. She makes a lot of claims regarding Christ, but then she doesn’t go to church at all, and it’s hard to say if she is right or wrong with respect to her own denomination on different topics.

This seems common amongst Christians, including Catholics; they don’t always seem to know their religion’s stance on certain issues. For example, a lot of Roman Catholics (e.g. Joe Biden) do not seem to understand or cannot accept the church’s non-negotiable understanding on abortion rights. But I know this because Roman Catholicism is something I have grown up with.

Where can I learn such information on other denominations? Or even other religions, like Judaism. I mean, do Jewish folks believe in abortion? Where can I learn their policies?

For a brief summary of anything, Wikipedia is usually okay I have found.

Not everyone knows what their religion teaches, and some know but reject some teachings.

Most churches maintain a website where much information can be found. You didn’t say what kind of Presbyterian your friend is, but here’s a link to the beliefs page for the Bible Presbyterian Church:


If any church you’re interested in learning more about doesn’t have the specific answer to your question on their website, there is likely contact information so that you can ask them directly.


That’s something I did not know to ask her. I will have to do as such soon.

I must be stupid. It makes sense that I could just go to a Presbyterian church (or any other place of worship) and speak to a qualified someone. I hadn’t even thought of it.

Websites are a little impersonal, and complex issues can require some degree of discussion, so I may foot it instead.

Thank you for the ideas. :slight_smile:

If you wanted to know, for example, what the Presbyterian church believes it would be best to get it directly from a Prebyterian theologian rather than from someone outside that particular assembly. That would go for any religion or even secular subjects like Chrysler automobiles, it would be best to ask someone who works for Chrysler or a dealership who sells and services that make, or even someone who owns and drives one., instead of someone connected with Toyota, for instance.

I’d strongly second this suggestion.

I also think the Wiki suggestion is good. Though sometimes people here look down on Wikipedia, I think more often than not it’s a very useful resource if taken as a starting point. I often click on the reference notes to follow on with more depth information.

I’m a convert to Catholicism from evangelical Protestantism.

The best way to learn about a Protestant church is to visit that church (make an appointment with the pastor) and talk to him/her, and also ask for a copy of the church’s "Statement of Faith."

This document might have a different name depending on which church you are visiting. I’m guessing that many of the non-denoms have it all on their websites rather than wasting money on a paper document that sits in a rack on the wall.

But basically, this document will describe what the church believes.

The mainlines (older Protestant denominations;, e.g, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Congregational, United Church of Christ, Reformed, etc.) will also refer you to their Catechisms and Confessions. Often, these are fairly short documents (not like the Catechism of the Catholic Church :)), so go ahead and look them up and read through them.

The evangelical churches will have a written (or online or both) Statement of Faith that is fairly short.

It’s very important to determine whether the Protestant church you are interested in learning about is “autonomous” or “denominational.” Many of the denominations actually consist of a group of “autonomous” churches, and the denomination exists mainly as a “fellowship organization,” not an authoritarian organization. An example of this is the Evangelical Free Church in America–the “denomination” organization doesn’t have any authority–all the individual EFree churches are autonomous.

In other Protestant denoms, the denomination DOES have authority over ALL the individual churches. Look for an organization within the denomination called “convention” or “consistory” or “council” etc.–these organizations make decisions that are given to the individual churches, and the individual churches are expected to accept and implement these decisions. Also, the individual churches are expected to send a certain amount of money to the denominational headquarters. An example of a Protestant denomination like this is The Christian and MIssionary Alliance–very strong central authority.

And as someone else on the thread already mentioned, be very careful not to assume that all the churches that call themselves a certain name (e.g., Presbyterian) are the same kind of Presbyterians. There are hundreds of different kinds of Baptists, and although they share many common beliefs, especially the Fundamentals of the Faith, they also are very very different.

That’s why it’s good to visit each Protestant church individually and get the Statement of Faith (or whatever) from the pastor of that church. Don’t assume anything. I once ran across a Southern Baptist church that allowed a coven of witches to meet in their building, and the pastor of that SBC was one of the most vocal pro-abortion advocates in the city. But right down the road, there was a Southern Baptist church that led the way in pro-life actitivities in the city!

Yeah, I think Wiki is a good resource.

It’s kind of like “the word on the street”, except the street in Wiki’s case is the information superhighway.

It may not be 100% right all the time, but it can be full of useful stuff.


Another example of autonomy is the Assemblies of God. It appears to be a denomination, it even has headquarters in Springfield Missouri and a couple of its own seminaries and a publishing house. But each separate assembly is pretty much autonomous. Some Assembly of God churches are huge mega-churches that look more like auditoriums and others are very small congregations with sometimes less than 100 in the congregation.

Try this site…chnetwork.org/resources/coming-home-journals/

I recommend you pick up a copy of The Lutheran Difference published by CPH. It is written from a Lutheran perspective and compares beleifs from all protestants. It compares where they all originate from, and how the differ.

I recommend you pick up a copy of The Lutheran Difference published by CPH. It is written from a Lutheran perspective and compares beleifs from all protestants. It compares where they all originate from, and how the differ.

Having been a part of many protestant faith traditions I can tell you that although you can go to their “websites” you will find a broad variation of what they believe among the lay persons as it is run more as a “democracy”. Authority is not as big of an importance as in the Catholic Church although unfortunately, I can see such disrespect for authority here as well…such a shame. It makes me sad and prayerful.


Hi Jeff,
Welcome to CAF.

The OP could also check out www.bookofconcord.org

Initially, read the Small Catechism and the Augsburg Confession.



There are a variety of ways of looking at this and all are good…here are some thoughts

Protestants are divided by many things…


Look that up and you will see that many fall into one group or the other

Calvinism, Once saved always saved
Armenianism, Salvation not assured

Eschatology/last days

Premillinial/a new invention of the Evangelical Dispensationalists/John Nelson Darby

Then you will find commonality

Anglican…Episcopalian…Methodist…Holiness movement…that spawned…Pentacostal, AOG, Evangelicals and the “non”

Lutheran…Evangelical Free

Reformed/Calvinist/Presbyterian…and some Baptists

Baptists…many different types


You may want to get the book “Separated Brethren” or “Handbook of Denominations”

Lots to cover…

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