Global Christianity: Protestantism

Global Christianity: Protestantism


The focus today will be on the
Protestant tradition. As we all know, there are many different
kinds of Christians in the world, but almost all those Christians can be clumped into one or another of four big traditions. Those big traditions are Catholicism, with 50% of all the Christians in the world. Orthodoxy, with 10% of all Christians in the world. Protestants, 20%. Pentecostals, 20%. Today we’re focusing in on the 20% of all the Christians in the world who could be or would be identified as Protestant. Protestants live in special places. They’re not evenly distributed everywhere. The two places where Protestants are
most obviously seen are in Northern Europe, in Scandinavia and England, and in North America — Protestant turf, where 50% or more of the Christians in the country are Protestant. There are a number of other countries where Protestants are in the majority, too, but they are scattered around the world. Five points to this talk. First, we’ll say a little bit about
Protestant history and structures. Then we’ll say something about the Protestant view of salvation. The Protestant notion of vocation. Protestant worship. And, finally, some American-European Protestant differences. Protestant history and structure. Protestantism began as a protest movement. It was a revolt against medieval Catholicism. They thought the ideas of medieval Catholic and the practices of medieval Catholicism were deficient and needed to be reformed, reconstructed. The Catholic model of how Christianity worked was basically that God’s grace, Christ’s merits, and spiritual power flowed through the Church and then to the people through the priests and the sacraments of the Church. Protestants suggested a very different model, one where individuals had direct access to God rather than God’s merits and grace flowing through the church. This is sometimes known as “the priesthood of all believers.” There are a number of phrases that are
associated with the beginning of Protestantism. The priesthood of all believers is one
of them — that everybody has direct access to God. How should one think and live? In the Catholic tradition, the way you
should think and live is basically you follow the teachings of the Church. The church has the authority and the
right and the responsibility of properly interpreting the Bible for you and telling you how to live. The Protestant response was that individuals have the right to read the Bible for themselves. It was the Bible alone, and not the church. The phrase that was often used was “sola scriptura.” Only the Bible. Not the church or tradition. They do not tell us what to do and how to live as Christians. If you want a birthday for the Protestant movement, it could be October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther posted the 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church, calling for debate about the Catholic practice of indulgences. Luther was soon joined by a number of other people who were leading different Protestant movements across Europe. In the 16th century, there were at least 4 big Protestant movements that emerged that were separate from each other. There was Lutheranism, led by Luther, that
was mainly in Germany. There was the Church of England, mainly in England. Calvinism or Reformed Protestantism was especially strong in the low countries. And Anabaptism began in Switzerland. Four different movements. So Protestantism from the very beginning was not just one thing. From the very beginning it had multiple forms, not just one form. Since the beginning, Protestantism has gotten increasingly more complex and diverse. In the 16th to the 18th centuries, we begin with the four big traditions, but quickly three more traditions were added: Pietism, Methodism, and the Baptist tradition. All three of these new Protestant movements basically arose because they were trying to add a little bit more emotion and affection to Protestant practice. It wasn’t all “head.” It was supposed to be about feelings to some degree as well. When Protestantism came to the United States, where there was separation of church and
state and freedom of religion, Protestantism quickly blossomed into many more different denominations and groups. Even today, the United States has more And even today, the United States has more different kinds of churches and denominations than any other country on Earth. It is the place where Protestantism has flourished and fragmented more than anywhere else. And as Protestantism has then in the last century moved around the world, it has become even more complex. The important thing to know about Protestantism — in contrast to Orthodoxy and Catholicism — is that Protestantism is a movement. It is not an institution. Protestantism is a kind of broad foundation of basic principles. It’s things like: We trust the Bible. We believe in the
priesthood of all believers. In a moment, we’re going to talk about salvation by grace alone through faith alone. These are sort of basic principles of Protestantism. But you could build a lot of different
houses of faith on top of that foundation. And Protestants have built a lot of different houses of faith on top of that. In fact, Protestantism is housed in a variety of different social structures and institutions and different churches. Protestants even invented a new word here. We don’t call our churches “churches.” We call them “denominations.” We also have parachurch organizations. If you want to do something — you want to have missionary activity in Asia or Africa — you start a new organization that is separate from the church. It’s parachurch. Youth organizations — Protestant youth organizations — are parachurch. They are alongside the church, but they are not necessarily part of a local church. Protestantism also exists in small groups, Bible study groups, and accountability groups. It exists in informal gatherings, and it exists through a number of other sub-movements, like the social gospel movement or the civil
rights movement or the Evangelical movement, all of which are primarily Protestant in membership and help carry on this Protestant idea of Christianity. The Protestant view of salvation. There are three Protestant emphases that differ significantly from Catholicism. Protestantism emerged as a reaction
against Catholicism, and lots of the ideas of salvation within Protestantism are defined in distinction from what
Catholics and Orthodox Christians believe. One emphasis: For Orthodox and Catholic Christians, there’s an emphasis on the community. God is saving the community of people. God is saving the Church. In Protestantism, the emphasis is clearly on the individual. Salvation applies to the individual. It’s not a group phenomenon. A second emphasis: In both the Orthodox and Catholic traditions, it’s understood that conversion or becoming a Christian is a lifelong process. Salvation is a lifelong process, a progress of movement toward God. In the Protestant tradition, it is assumed that salvation is a completed act. It’s done. It’s taken care of. It’s not about process. It’s an event. The third difference in the Protestant
tradition: For Catholics and Orthodox Christians, the notion of salvation has to do with accumulating holiness. It is hoped that as you move through your life you will slowly become more and more holy, so that when you do in fact become genuinely holy you’ll be able to stand in God’s presence without embarrassment. Protestants have a very different notion of what happens here. It’s called imputed holiness. It’s like
going to a court of law and being told: “You are innocent. You are not guilty. You are free to go.” It’s imputed. It’s not something you’ve achieved. It’s not even something that defines how you live. But you have Christ’s righteousness or holiness imputed to you. The phrase that Protestants often uses is “salvation by faith alone through grace alone.” That relates to this notion of imputed righteousness. In the smiley face diagram of salvation, the Protestant tradition looks something like this: Protestants, like Catholics, believe in
original sin. So we’re born like little demons here. At some point through conversion you become alive in Christ. Some Protestants think this happens through the act of baptism, like Catholics. Others think conversion can happen apart from baptism. Protestants differ about this, like they
differ about many other things. But at some point there is an experience of conversion that moves you from being lost to being a child of God. What happens next is imputed righteousness: legally, in God’s sight, you are totally holy when you’re converted, because you have Christ’s righteousness or holiness imputed to you, just like a sentence that would be pronounced in the court of law. Most Protestants assume they will never be perfect in this life. There will be times when they’re living a more fulfilling and better Christian life, and times when they’re living a worse Christian life. But in some sense it doesn’t matter, because legally — in the way it matters before God — they are holy because their sins have been taken care of by Christ’s work. What happens at death is that Christians, even if they’re not perfectly holy, immediately go to heaven because they
have imputed holiness that allows them through the door. Christ’s righteousness. It looks something like that. Protestant notion of vocation. Vocation is supposed to work something like this for Protestants: Because salvation is an accomplished event — it’s a done deed — the response of Christians — the response of Protestants — should be gratitude to God for the salvation that God has given to people. And that gratitude is then expressed in loving God and also in serving others. And it is in this notion of serving others, that you get the idea of vocation — trying to make the world a better place for everyone because God loves the world. Vocation comes from the Latin word vocatio, which means to be called or summoned. To have a vocation is to be called or summoned to serve other people. The called are summoned by God’s love to serve other people. In the Catholic tradition, the idea of vocation is much narrower. If you’re Catholic and you say you have a vocation, it means you are called to be a priest or a monk or a nun. That’s having a vocation in traditional Catholic language. For Protestants, anybody can have a vocation. Anything you could do can be a means of serving others and communicating God’s love to others through what you do. So you could be a farmer, a construction worker, a cook, a scientist, a judge, a merchant, even a politician, and even a minster. But for Protestants, having a vocation is something that applies to everybody. It’s not just for those people who are set
apart as ministers or missionaries. All of us have a vocation to serve others and therefore spread the love God in the world. Protestant worship. When we talked about Catholic worship, you noticed that everything architecturally in a Catholic church points toward the altar table and toward the Eucharist. In most Protestant churches, all of the architecture points to the pulpit. Everything directs you to the pulpit. The pulpit is the central thing. And he most important part of Protestant worship is the sermon. Or traditionally it has been the sermon. It is so much a central aspect of Protestantism that Protestants even call their ministers preachers, which is not something that happens in
the Catholic or Orthodox tradition. Protestants are divided in understanding the sacraments. Protestants as a whole reject the Catholic notion that there are seven sacraments. But most Protestants keep the notion
that there are two of them. One of them is baptism, and the other is communion or the Lord’s Supper. Protestants rarely use the term Eucharist to refer these elements. But it is the table — the bread and wine — and baptism. Unlike the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, Protestants tend to see the water of baptism much more symbolically than sacramentally. The water symbolizes the way that God washes our hearts clean. The bread and wine symbolizes the body and blood of Christ, but most Protestants don’t think it becomes the body and blood of Christ. So they’re still considered sacraments, but they’re a little bit thinner, they’re not quite as powerful in the way Protestants understand them as the way Catholics do. The other thing that’s become really important for Protestantism is music. Most of the Protestant churches in Europe were once Catholic churches. When those people became Protestants and changed their churches to become Protestant, one of the first things they did was build an organ in the church so that music could be seen. So if you would look to the front of this, you would see the front of the church, in the back is an organ, and in almost every Protestant church you would go in in Europe and in almost every Protestant church in America there will be an organ or some kinds of musical instruments. Hymn singing is a huge dimension of Protestant worship. It has been from the very beginning. It’s
changed form, it’s changed style, but singing of hymns helps educate us, helps confess the faith for Protestants. A lot of Protestant hymns in the past and in the present borrow secular melodies — usually pretty easily singable melodies —
and bring them into the church so that these are things that people find easy to learn and they can sing on their own even throughout the work week. Music has become such an important for the Protestant tradition that in many Protestant churches now,
music itself is called “worship.” So first you worship, and then you have a sermon. And the sermon has been kind of dissociated from the idea of worship. But for Protestants, it’s the whole thing — worship includes both music and the
sermon and to some degree the sacraments, though they play a much smaller role in Protestantism than in Catholicism. Finally, some European and American Protestant differences. In Europe, almost all of the Protestant churches historically have been state churches. Many of them are still state churches today. Historically, all the people in Sweden and all the people in Norway were part of the Protestant church — the one Protestant state church in each of those countries. In the United States — in North America — there’s a different mode that’s sometimes called the free church model. There is a denomination called the Free Church in the U.S., but “free” here means just free of state control. It has nothing to do with the state. Protestantism operates totally on its own. If you want to start a church, you start a church. It has nothing to do with politics and government. So we have these two different models. In Europe, state churches are often prominently placed in the middle of cities. This is a state church in Helsinki, Finland. The highest point in the city. Very prominent. State churches in Europe are places where royalty are buried. Kings and queens are buried in the state churches. In many state churches, you can see here, the signs, the family shields of different royal families are placed on the walls. In this building, over here, is a special little room where royalty can sit and not have to sit with the people. So there’s a strong sense that the church and the state are connected together and this is a royal church for the whole nation. In America, things were much simpler. Originally churches were just meeting
houses, many of them. They were used for multiple functions. Most churches didn’t have steeples. They were a place for Christians to gather and worship together. But the church itself was seen as having nothing special or nothing holy. It was simply a meeting place. As things moved along in America, churches began to separate into groups called denominations. This is something that came much later in Europe. So different Protestant groups began to identify themselves with the special emphases of their particular group — whether they were Baptists emphasizing baptism or whether they were Presbyterians emphasizing certain Presbyterian kinds of governance in the church — whatever it was, there were certain identifiers that would say what these denominations were. And many Protestant churches in the United States now have moved into something like a post-denominational Protestant existence. Protestantism in the United States
today is mainly located in congregations, and even if a congregation is a member of a denomination that identification with the denomination is often invisible. So it will be the local community church,
even though it may be a Baptist Church or a Reformed church or a Methodist Church — it may just be called “something Community Church.” It is this American model of Protestantism that is disconnected from the state, that grows from the ground up, and new movements can spring up from it, new kinds of congregations, new denominations. This is the kind of Protestantism that is now emerging all around the world. And that is a very short introduction to Protestant Christianity.

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11 Comments

  1. Pentecostalism is protestantism, also Protestantism begun very early as in the 8th century, but started to develop after the 11th century with the Waldensians; Even I could say that protestantism started with the Donatists in the 4th century. This is still a good video tho.

  2. There's an estimate of 41,000 denominations in 236 different countries and obviously not everyone can be right 🙉😳🙉😳🙉😳

  3. Wasnt one of the main ideas atleast in lutheran protestantsim to seperate the church from the state not to have them together and governed by the same people? ~ 17:35

  4. Well, I am in Central Europe and Western Protestant Europe is 85% agnostics and atheists. Protestantism is dying here from it own Poison. Protestants are taking down their crosses so fast out of fear that you can hear a Sonic boom.
    My experience of Protestantism is they swore loyalty to the communist party as this party gang raped the Catholic religious sisters and either killed the priests or sent them to the labour camps or the uranium mines.
    When the communists fell the Protestants fell with them.
    Islam is the future of Europe due to the confusion of Protestantism which the people rejected, religion is a defensive fence and Europeans threw it away.
    We have long memories, the Catholics fought the Islamic invasion at Lepanto in 1571AD and again at Vienna in 1683AD and both times Protestants prayed for Catholics defeat and Europeans to be enslaved.
    Central Europe is Catholics and who suffered and we have American Protestants tell us we are not born again and teach a false gospel and they do the same in Russia. Bad manners doesn't make you liked.
    Visegrad group, Czechia.

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