Review of major belief systems – the Protestants

26 b) Review of major belief systems – the Protestants

The Protestant divergence (reformation): Source:

“Martin Luther who is widely acknowledged to have started the Reformation with his 1517 work The Ninety-Five Theses. Luther began by criticizing the selling of indulgences, insisting that the Pope had no authority over purgatory and that the Catholic doctrine of the merits of the saints had no foundation in the gospel. The attacks widened to cover many of the doctrines and devotional Catholic practices. The new movement within Germany diversified almost immediately, and other reform impulses arose independently of Luther. The largest groupings were the Lutherans and Calvinists, or Reformed. Lutheran churches were founded mostly in Germany, the Baltics and Scandinavia, while the Reformed ones were founded in France, Switzerland, Hungary, the Netherlands and Scotland. The new movement influenced the Church of England decisively after 1547 under Edward VI and Elizabeth I, although the national church had been made independent under Henry VIII in the early 1530s for political rather than religious reasons. There were also reformation movements throughout continental Europe known as the Radical Reformation, which gave rise to the Anabaptist, Moravian, and other Pietistic movements.

Although the core motivation behind these changes was theological, many other factors played a part, including the rise of nationalism, the Western Schism which eroded people’s faith in the Papacy, the corruption of the Curia, and the new learning of the Renaissance which questioned much traditional thought. On a technological level the spread of the printing press provided the means for the rapid dissemination of religious materials in the vernacular.”

This movement was the first organized attempt to break away from the “CHURCH” and the authority of the Pope. There have been literally thousands of spin off denominations from this initial movement. The major sects in the USA are Total about 62 million in total (almost ½ are included in the four Baptist Sects):                                                                                                           Source: /what-are-americas-biggest-christian-groups/

  1. Southern Baptist Convention: 16.2 million members
  2. The United Methodist Church: 7.8 million members
  3. The Church of God in Christ: 5.5 million members
  4. National Baptist Convention: 5.0 million members
  5. Evangelical Lutheran Church, U.S.A.: 4.5 million members
  6. National Baptist Convention of America: 3.5 million members
  7. Assemblies of God: 2.9 million members
  8. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): 2.8 million members
  9. African Methodist Episcopal Church: 2.5 million members
  10. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America: 2.5 million members
  11. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS): 2.3 million members
  12. The Episcopal Church: 2.0 million members
  13. Churches of Christ: 1.6 million members
  14. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World: 1.5 million members
  15. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church: 1.4 million members

The Protestant Denominations accept much of the Catholic Doctrine with the following exceptions*: a) The infallibility of the Pope b) the actual body & blood of Christ at communion c) merits of the “saints” d) rejected many of the devotional practices e) the selling of indulgences f) the act of confession being a direct link to God * not all of these apply to all denominations. See Roman Catholic Blog for additional doctrine.

stay tuned next week for more on this topic