Why Do You Refer to Christians as “Protestants?”

Q. I consider myself a Christian but you seem to refer to non Catholics as Protestants. Why?

A. Well, because Christian refers to followers of Jesus Christ. There are three major groups of Christians:

  1. Catholic Christians-Founded by Jesus Christ
  2. Eastern Orthodox Christians-Break away the result of schism 1000’s
  3. Protestant Christians-Break away the result of the Luther’s Reformation 1500’s

All Christians have the majority of their beliefs in common with each other. But, of course, there are differences. The differences between Catholics and Orthodox are very few. The primary difference would be that the Orthodox Churches reject the Primacy of the authority of the Pope.

All the various denominations of churches resulting from protests against the Catholic Church in the 1500’s are called Protestants. At first there were Lutherans, then Presbyterians and Baptists. These have continued to split and multiply, until today there are over 40,000 different denominations born of the Protestant Reformation. Although Catholics and Protestant share many of their beliefs in common they have many more differences between them than between Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Most Protestant denominations have carried forward the traditions begun by Luther, Calvin, and Henry VIII in opposition to Catholic doctrine. For this reason, it is easier, when addressing these difference to speak about Protestant beliefs rather than Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, or Calvary Chapel, etc. beliefs.


7 Responses

  1. Just who was it that said that Anglicanism broke away fromthe catholic Church. If we read Bede he speaks of the Anglican Church and if we follow down through the ages we find in 1215 at Runnymede (or when ever) the Anglican Church spoken of. If we follow the history of these Isles we find the Anglican Church. Along with this we have to remember that there is only one church, the Holy, Catholicc and Apostolic Church, the Body of Christ and in this country Anglicanism as practiced through the ages is it.

  2. nonjuror

    The “Anglican Church” you write about in 1215, is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church in England. However, in England today there is the Anglican Church and there is the Catholic Church. The Anglican Church broke away from the Catholic Church when Henry VIII rejected the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, and declared himself the head of the Church in England. Due to changes in sacramental language and theology they lost valid sacraments of orders and Eucharist. The Anglican Church is not recognized as belonging to the Roman Catholic church.

  3. Your comment ….Henry V111 in opposition to Catholic Doctrine?

    Could I ask, just what particular Catholic doctrine did Henry oppose? He held to 8 Ecumenical Councils, he believed in the Real Presence and the Sacrifice of Christ once Made on Calvary.

    Again when did Anglicanism separate from the Catholic Faith? Indeed the Anglican Church at no time has described itself as Protestant, only the Roman Church has proclaimed herself as such in a letter to the Lords in 1791. Anglicans have several times refused requests to describe themselves by that term.
    You use the term Catholic in a most singular way, to describe, what is in the official documents of that body, called, the,(and I quote,) Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church! If you read the Diary of John Evelyn, for June 1686, you’ll find that he refers to the New Church of Trent. He was refering to the belief extant then, as now, that the Roman Church was an offshoot of the Council of Trent.

  4. Just like the Eastern Churches, Henry VIII rejected the authority of Christ invested in His vicar the Bishop of Rome. I know many Anglicans do not like to consider themselves anything but Catholics in England but Henry’s rebellion, and persecution of Catholics by him and his successors, especially Elizabeth give evidence of their rejection of the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH.

    Remember all the CATHOLIC Martyrs?

    Under King Henry VIII

    * Cardinal: John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, 22 June, 1535.
    * Lord Chancellor: Sir Thomas More, 6 July, 1535.
    * Carthusians: John Houghton, Robert Lawrence, Augustine Webster, 4 May, 1535; Humphrey Middlemore, William Exmew, Sebastian Newdigate, 19 June, 1535; John Rochester, James Walworth, 11 May, 1537; Thomas Johnson, William Greenwood, John Davye, Robert Salt, Walter Pierson, Thomas Green, Thomas Scryven, Thomas Redyng, Richard Bere, June-September, 1537; Robert Horne, 4 August, 1540.
    * Benedictines: Richard Whiting, Hugh Farringdon, abbots, 15 November, 1539; Thomas Marshall (or John Beche), 1 December, 1539; John Thorne, Richard James, William Eynon, John Rugg, 15 Nov., 1539.
    * Doctors of Divinity: Thomas Abel, Edward Powell, Richard Fetherstone, 30 July, 1540.
    * Other secular priests: John Haile, 4 May 1535; John Larke, 7 March, 1544.
    * Other religious orders: Richard Reynold, Brigittine (4 May, 1535); John Stone, O.S.A., 12 May, 1538; John Forrest, O.S.F., 22 May, 1538.
    * Laymen and women: Adrian Fortescue, Knight of St. John, 9 July, 1539; Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, 28 May, 1541; German Gardiner, 7 March, 1544.

    (2) Under Queen Elizabeth

    * Martyrs connected with the Excommunication: John Felton, 8 Aug., 1570; Thomas Plumtree p., 4 Jan., 1571; John Storey, D.C.L., 1 June, 1571; Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, 22 Aug., 1572; Thomas Woodhouse p., 13 June, 1573.
    * First martyrs from the seminaries: Cuthbert Mayne, Protomartyr of Douai College, 29 Nov., 1577; John Nelson p., and S.J. before death, 3 Feb., 1578; Thomas Nelson, church student, 7 Feb., 1578; Everard Hanse p., 31 July, 1581.
    * Martyrs of the Catholic Revival: Edmund Campion, S.J., Ralph Sherwin, Protomartyr of the English College, Rome, Alexander Briant p., and S.J. before death, 1 Dec., 1581; John Payne p., 2 April, 1582; Thomas Ford p., John Shert p., Robert Johnson p., 28 May, 1582; William Filby p., Luke Kirby p., Lawrence Richardson p., Thomas Cottom p., and S.J. before death, 30 May, 1582.
    * York martyrs: William Lacey p., Richard Kirkman p., 22 Aug., 1582; James Thomson p., 28 Nov., 1582; William Hart p., 15 March, 1583; Richard Thirkeld p., 29 May, 1583.

    And there are hundreds more HERE

    The Catholic Church was founded by Christ not by the council of Trent. The Protestant “churches” rejected the Catholic Church, the Pope and many doctrines. The Catholic Church in England was once a glorious member of the One Catholic Church founded by Christ. But Henry VIII, BROKE AWAY AND STARTED HIS OWN CHURCH IN ENGLAND AND EXECUTED PEOPLE WHO WOULD NOT RENOUNCE THE HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND SIGN ALLEGIANCE TO HENRY’S CHURCH.

    Henry made himself the head of his church and even to this day the English Prime minister, and probably the kings and queens, CANNOT be Roman Catholic. There are not that many differences in many doctrines. The Anglicans are the most similar to Catholic in theology until the recent years. Now they ordain women, and active homosexual, okay abortion and other immorality. I would recommend the Apologia or biography of John Henry Newman.

    Right now Irish Anglicans are preparing to enter the Roman Catholic Church as a whole church body and so are other communions in other countries.

  5. Regarding:

    Catholic Christians-Founded by Jesus Christ
    Eastern Orthodox Christians-Break away the result of schism 1000’s
    Protestant Christians-Break away the result of the Luther’s Reformation 1500’s

    You are right that Catholic Christians — Founded by Jesus Christ but that can be misleading as most folks think Catholic here refers to Roman Catholic it does not. There were five Churches intially; Churches in Rome, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Constantinolpe. I hope you know the reason there was a schism and the after effects.

  6. We need to re-think the divisions in Christianity:

    The Eastern Churches: this would be the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, which have differences that few Westerners would probably recognize yet still remain significant enough to the Easterners. Orthodox like to speak of how God became Man so that Man can become God.

    The Catholic Church, aka RCC, aka Rome: this Church recognizes the Bishop of Rome as a Christ’s Vicar on earth.

    Protestant churches: These started with Luther, although many more followed Calvin into the Reformed tradition. Among the Protestant churches, obviously you have the Reformed Protestants, being the Congregationalists and Presbyterians. You would also have sacramental or liturgical churches which retain certain Catholic elements in liturgy and vestments, particularly the Lutherans (in the Swedish church, they still call their services “Mass”), Anglicans (whose members range from Low Church evangelicals to High Church Anglo-Catholics, with many liberals in between), and to a far lesser extent Methodists, who breaking away from the Church of England as Luther did from Rome, are the last genuine Protestants.

    Charismatics/Pentecostals: While in form, these groups appear to be Protestant, especially given their disdain for the Catholic Church and their insistence on Sola Scriptura. However, since these groups have little historic relation to the protests against the Catholic Church in Europe centuries ago, “Protestant” doesn’t seem to be the right term term for them. Furthermore, they have little use for the systematic theologies promoted by Luther, Calvin, or their respective followers; rather, many seek and some have energetic experiences that they believe are testimony of blessings from the Holy Spirit.

    “Restorative” or “New World Heretics”: These would be churches that began in North America, claim to have received visions/revelations regarding the relationship between God, Jesus, and Man, but many features of their theology have little in common with orthodox Christianity: rather, they claim to restore Christianity. Curiously, some of their beliefs echo heresies that the early Church condemned. Many don’t even consider them Christians: Restorative/NWH churches would include Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).

  7. Oh, and it was Parliament that made it so that members of the Catholic Church are taken out of the line of succession to the British Crown. During the Coronation ceremony, the Monarch swears to maintain the “Protestant Reformed” religion, and the current Queen is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England but when in Scotland she is a member of the Church of Scotland (aka The Kirk) and has sworn to defend its security; the Church of Scotland is a Presbyterian church and is a national church that is independent from the state in spiritual matters, whereas the Church of England is an established Church and is subject to Parliament (or rather, the Queen in Parliament), and as Prime Minister both Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher have recommended candidates to the Queen in naming the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    However, I do not think there is a similar law against a Prime Minister being Catholic, but since there is still a lingering prejudice against Catholicism in Britain, I think it has yet to occur. Tony Blair only joined the Catholic church after he left Number 10 (his wife was already Catholic).

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