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Introduction To Protestantism and Homeric Tours’ Faith Tours P


rotestant includes the following denominations: Assemblies of God, Anglican/Episcopalian (not always reckoned as Protestant), Baptist, Church of God, Church of


the Nazarene, Churches of Christ, Congregationalist, Calvinist, Holiness, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Reformed, Seventh-day Adventist, Quaker, “Evan- gelicals,” non-Denominational Protestants, and other Protestants. Estimates of total Protestant population vary from 800 million to 1 billion on account of the rapid growth and inability to ascer- tain accurately in environments of persecution.


The challenge for all Protestants is to reflect on their shared history within the church founded by Christ himself, who remains its head (Ephesians 4:15-16) and find new ways of relating to the rest of Christendom. Particularly in the last 30 years or so, the growth of the ecumenical movement has led to new ways by which Christians of all denominations can engage in dialogue and work together in proclaiming the gospel.


What is ‘Protestantism’?


The word ‘Protestant’ derives from the protests made by German princes at the Second Diet of Speyer in 1529. The Diet voted to end the toleration of those who followed the teachings of Martin Luther within Germany, which had previously been granted at the first Diet in 1526. The core of Protestant teaching lies within the Five Soli (Latin: ‘Alone’), which lie at the heart of Protestant theology. Essentially, Protestantism is characterized by emphasis on the Bible as the sole source of infallible truth and the doctrine


of salvation by grace through faith alone. In addition, Protestants have traditionally encouraged private interpretation of the Bible by individuals rather than relying on the interpretation of the church (as is the case, for example in Roman Catholicism with its Magisterium, or teaching authority). As a result of differing interpretations, various groups have emerged such as Baptists, Lutherans and Methodists, each holding their own distinctive doctrines.


The Protestant Historian Philip Schaff in the The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge offered this summary of Protestant beliefs:


“The Protestant goes directly to the Word of God for instruction, and to the throne of grace in his devotions; whilst the pious Roman Catholic consults the teaching of his church... From this general principle of Evangelical freedom, and direct individual relationship of the believer to Christ, proceed the three fundamental doctrines of Protestantism - the absolute supremacy of (1) the Word, and of (2) the grace of Christ, and (3) the general priesthood of believers...” - Philip Schaff


NOTE: The term Evangelical (from the Greek “evangelion”: ‘Good news’) is often used as a synonym for ‘Protestant’. More accurately, it might be described as a movement within Protestantism emphasizing evangelistic outreach and commit- ment to social change. However it can also be used for anyone with a desire to help spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, irrespective of denomination.


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