Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Protestant Religion

Since much of my genealogical research has revealed ties to the Prostestant Churches and/or Reformation Movement by both the slaveowners, slaves and freed lines who were very passionate about their religion to say the least, I decided to explore and learn a little more about the term and categorization as a Prostestant.

What I have so far learned is that the term Protestantism encompasses the forms of Christian faith and practice that originated with the doctrines of the Reformation. The word Protestant is derived from the Latin protestatio meaning declaration which refers to the Letter of Protesation by Lutheran princes against the decision of the Diet of Speyer in 1529, which reaffirmed the edict of the Diet of Worms against the Reformation.

Since that time, the term Protestantism has been used in many different senses, often as a general term to refer to Western Christianity that is not subject to papal authority.

The doctrines of the Reformation can be summarized as follows:

a) the rejection of papal authority
b) rejection of some fundamental Roman Catholic doctrines
c) the priesthood of all believers
d) the primacy of the Bible as the only source of revealed truth,
e) the belief in justification by faith alone

While the faiths and churches born directly or indirectly of the Protestant Reformation constitute Protestantism, in common usage, the term is often used in contradistinction to
Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox. However, this usage is imprecise since there are many non-Roman-Catholic, non-Eastern-Orthodox communions that long predate the Reformation (notably Oriental Orthodoxy). The Anglican Church, although born of the Protestant reformation, differs from the reformation principles of most other Protestants and is referred to as a middle path between Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrines.

Yet some other groups, such as the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses reject Protestantism as having deviated from true Christianity and see themselves as Restorationists.

The churches most commonly associated with Protestantism can be divided along four fairly definitive lines:

1. Mainline Protestants - a North American phrase - are those who trace their lineage to Luther, Calvin or Angicanism. The Docutrines of Reformation are their doctrines and include such denominations as Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Methodists.

2. Anabaptists are a movement that developed from the Radical Reformation. Today, denominations such as Baptists, Pentecostals, Brethren, Mennonites and Amish eschew infant baptism and see baptism as aligned with a demonstration of the gifts of the spirit.

3. Nontrinitarian movements reject the doctrine of the trinity. Today, they include such denominations as the Universalists, Unitarians, and some Quakers.

4. Restorationists are a more recent movement. Today, they include such denominations as the Latter-day Saints, and Adventists

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