What is a Protestant?
By Robert Thiel
What is a Protestant? Many generally define Protestants as those who profess Christianity but are not Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox. But this is not entirely accurate.
TheFreeDictionary.com provides this definition "Prot·es·tant...n. 1. A member of a Western Christian church whose faith and practice are founded on the principles of the Reformation, especially in the acceptance of the Bible as the sole source of revelation, in justification by faith alone, and in the universal priesthood of all the believers. 2. A member of a Western Christian church adhering to the theologies of Luther, Calvin, or Zwingli. 3. One of the German princes and cities that supported the doctrines of Luther and protested against the decision of the second Diet of Speyer (1529) to enforce the Edict of Worms (1521) and deny toleration to Lutherans." (Free Dictionary).
15th-16th Century Origins
Originally, a Protestant was one who protested and left the Roman Catholic Church as part of the protest/reformation movement led against it by 15-16th Century leaders such as King Henry the VIII, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. This article takes the position that all groups that trace their history through any of those leaders are currently Protestant.
Technically, the real Churches of God, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Pentcostals, the Baptists, and some others are not Protestant. However, all of those groups, with the exception of those part of the true Churches of God have accepted parts of Protestantism, and some of them are virtually indistinguishable from the Protestants.
The plain truth is that Protestantism had two main political elements to get it going. The first was that King Henry the Eighth wanted to keep divorcing and remarrying, so the Roman Catholic Church disfellowshiped him, and he (Henry) in a political move (mainly to indulge his own lusts) dragged many of the nominal Catholic leaders in his country with him in order to found the Church of England. An institution, of and by men, that lasts until this day. Shortly thereafter, the second was that Martin Luther did see corruption when he went to Rome. And at that time, various German leaders, including one who had been disfellowshiped and refellowshiped by the Roman Catholic Church, saw Martin Luther as a convenient political tool to separate from the control of the Roman Catholic Church. Martin Luther, himself, penned most of the foundation for what became Protestantism, and most Protestants do not accept the plain teachings of the Bible above certain teachings from Martin Luther. A third Protestant leader, John Calvin, also appeared shortly after Martin Luther. And while Martin Luther somewhat authorized the direct killing of heretics. John Calvin was more direct in the physical killing he authorized to maintain power and theological influence. I am considering writing more about John Calvin, and may eventually do a specific article about him.
The fact is that the older I get, the more convinced I become that the Protestant movement simply does not really want to DO what the Bible says. They appear to wish to tell each other that they BELIEVE what the Bible says more than the Roman Catholics, but to actually "live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" is not anything I have seen from any known Protestant denomination (I do not doubt that there are individuals, as well as small groups, who fashion themselves as Protestant, who actually do attempt to do what they think they understand that the Bible is teaching--even though that is normally tainted by prior teachings of Protestant leaders).
"Evangelical Protestantism promotes the doctrine of rejecting Jesus earthly ministry, exactly as the ancient gnostics did, and it is this very doctrine that the apostle John singles out as a manifestation of the spirit of Antichrist in his epistles. We have seen how the events of the end time, which are right now beginning to be fulfilled before our very eyes, are a repetition of similar events in the early centuries after Christ. Is it any wonder that Sunday, the Eighth Day, should play an important role in the end time, as it played such a key role in subverting the church in the second, third and fourth centuries? Why is the Sabbath so important? Why should we draw the line over such a thing as Sabbath observance? Those among us who believe in joining hands with evangelical Protestantism complain that making a big deal out of the Sabbath prevents us from focusing on inner spirituality. To be sure, they have a point. Error occurs at both ends of the spectrum. Some Sabbatarian groups are legalistic in their pursuit of the law. On the other hand, those who say they are promoting Christ-centeredness by downplaying the Sabbath are engaging in blatant fraud. Can you really be Christ-centered and not take seriously what Christ preached? Can you really be Christ-centered and reject large parts of His earthly ministry, as evangelical Protestantism does with its dispensational heresy? Doesnt Christ-centeredness automatically imply we take Him seriously when He warns us to keep separate from apostate Christianity? We must be loyal to the Sabbath not because of legalistic obsession with the law but because of our devotion to Jesus, to the day that honors His plan of Christian salvation (see our explanation of Hebrews 4 in Primitive Christianity in Crisis). The end time is already upon us, and it will take a seriously ugly turn fairly soon. What happens to us in the terrible days ahead depends largely on decisions we make now. There are Sabbatarian groups that will be protected, and there are Sabbatarian groups that will not be protected. Is it absolutely certain that 666 refers to Sunday observance? It is a mistake to be too confident. What we can be certain of is that we must resist and keep separate. When we see the Christian world uniting under Rome, then whatever it is that they try to force on us to make us acknowledge loyalty to them will be clear enough at that time. Most important is to understand is the nature of Christian apostasy and Jesus repeated instruction through the authors of the New Testament to remain separate. If we understand the nature of Christian apostasy, if we have made our decision to remain loyal regardless of the cost, if we understand the prophecies of Christian apostasy in the end time, then the battle is already half won" (Knight Alan. The Journal, News of the Churches of God. September 30, 2004).
Why did I mention CG7's Alan Knight? Because he may be the most vocal CG7 member in opposing the Protestantism of CG7. In his book, Primitive Christianity in Crisis he wrote, "Some simply are not aware of the evil embedded within Reformation theology. Those who are aware, and most are aware to some degree, generally dismiss it by saying what really matters is that we all love Jesus. On that basis they feel compelled to ecumenically embrace all Christians...Finally, the Apostle John directly warns us to not ecumenically hail nor welcome those who reject the earthly ministry of Jesus. It was Gnostic Christianity beginning in the first century that preached this heretical doctrine, substituting a second, Hellenistic and supposedly more spiritual revelation of Christianity in place of Jesus' earthly ministry. This same theology is widely embraced and preached today under the name of dispensationalism...The evidence is overwhelming. How can these warnings not apply to us, when we are surrounded by Hellenistic Christians preaching the same antinomian doctrines today? The initial wave of apostasy is being repeated today especially through American evangelicalism, the epitome of the antinomian spirit of ancient Gnostic Christianity. Evangelicalism is the driving force behind extreme eternal security and dispensationalism, the modern justification for rejecting Jesus' earthly ministry...John Gerstner is a prominent Hellenistic author who decries the error of evangelical antinomianism. He describes what he calls a "veritable explosion" of antinomian teaching within evangelicalism beginning in the 1980s. This latest surge of antinomian theology coincides with the beginning of significant acceptance of evangelical theology among Primitive Christian churches...Gnostic rejection of Jesus' earthly ministry is duplicated today in Hellenistic Christianity as 'dispensationalsim.' This modern doctrine, espoused by most of Protestant evangelicalism, argues that portions or all of Jesus' earthly ministry are part of the Old Testament and therefore have no relevance for Christians. Just as their Gnostic forefathers, they use this to reject the many lawful teachings of Jesus' earthly ministry" (pp. 321,324,340,345-346).