“But I don’t like being called a Protestant!”

I came out of Roman Catholicism and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior way back in theSP early 1980s. I can still vividly remember the intense joy of knowing all my sins had been forgiven by my wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. I was finally able to step off of that religious treadmill and find spiritual peace and acceptance with God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.

One thing bothered me, though. In leaving Catholicism and accepting Christ, many would say I had become a “Protestant.” Protestant? I didn’t like that at all. It seemed as if, in using that term, Protestants were identifying themselves in respect to their opposition to Roman Catholicism. I saw myself much more as a proclaimer of the genuine Good News of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone rather than a protester of Catholicism’s works gospel. I wanted to be known as being “for” Christ rather than being “against” Catholicism. How did this “Protestant” label get started, anyway?

In 1526, the Diet of Speyer (the parliament of the Holy Roman Empire) issued the Edict of August 27th, which granted each principality the freedom to choose Catholicism or Christianity. This was the first step towards freedom of religion. Unfortunately, the pro-Catholic Diet of 1529 rescinded the previous edict. Christians immediately lodged a protest with the Diet (see photo) and non-Catholics have been labeled as “Protestants” ever since.

These days, I’m not nearly as sensitive about being labeled a Protestant. The Lord used the Reformers and early Protestants in a great way and it’s a heritage all genuine Christians should be familiar with. However, as we’re all aware, many of the mainline Protestant denominations (Episcopalian, United Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran, Presbyterian USA, American Baptist) drifted into liberal apostasy long ago. I’m certainly blessed to be called a Christian, a follower of Christ, although the term has become a catch-all, which includes a whole lot of people who teach an unbiblical gospel of works or who have never accepted Christ. Because of that, I also like the term evangelical, one who proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ, because it’s a little more distinguishing. It was generally understood that evangelical Christians proclaimed the genuine Gospel, but now we’re even seeing that term losing its distinctiveness (e.g., Joel Osteen, TBN).

“He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” – Luke 13:18-19

There’s probably a number of people who dislike the title of this blog, excatholic4christ. I even thought about changing it a few times to something more “positive.” But I AM an ex-Catholic and I AM for Christ. Both Catholics and Christians need to know the Catholic church does not teach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. Everyone who reads the New Testament knows that the Lord Jesus and the apostles weren’t patronizing and accommodating in regards to wrong doctrine. They confronted false religion and heresy. In this era of advancing ecumenism with its idols of accommodation and compromise – led by the church of Rome – I will continue to protest error and compromise and uphold the Gospel of grace.

“…And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” Acts 11:26

For more on the “Protestation at Speyer,” see here.

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33 thoughts on ““But I don’t like being called a Protestant!”

  1. I think another reason for the “protestant” label, is that apart from separation from the Roman Catholic Church, there is little that actually unites them (while still distinguishing from Catholicism).

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    1. Evangelical Christians are united in the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Catholics are united in their institution via the ritual of infant baptism, but of course 75 percent of Catholics show no regard for their church by failing to attend obligatory mass every Sunday and only 12 percent participate in obligatory yearly confession. Catholic “unity” is a mirage.

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      1. Well, “evangelical” is a good label for that reason, in that it does successfully denote the group it means. My point wasn’t that protestants are divided and Catholics are united, but just that there’s little use to labels which don’t accurately refer to anything. You say “protestant” and you can understand “not Catholic”, you say “Catholic” and you can understand they believe/identify more or less with the Pope, Bishops and Magisterium. That’s how Catholicism is unified, and why it’s a useful label.

        God bless you 🙂

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      2. Yes, I agree that labels are very useful as well as misleading. While Catholics generally will confess an allegiance to the pope, the vast majority do not follow even the most basic of the church’s teachings. The Gospel is not an institution but a Person and Catholicism failed miserably in that regard.

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      3. I suppose a part of the issue is, because of how Catholicism is defined, you can be Catholic to different degrees. Especially with the Catholic culture that has accumulated, one can be a merely cultural Catholic. I agree it’s a Person not an institution, but for me, Catholicism has only ever brought us closer

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      4. Despite references to faith and grace, Catholics are taught they must ultimately merit their salvation by achieving a “state of grace” prior to death. I know I could never achieve a “state of grace,” not even close. My only plea is the imputed perfect righteousness of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

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      5. Exactly right. Catholicism gives lip service to grace and faith but then demands it’s followers must “cooperate with grace” and merit their salvation. CCC 2006-2011. Catholicism is a contradiction of “grace” and works. As a Catholic you can have no peace or joy regarding your spiritual state. Your salvation is dependent on your ability to remain in a “state of grace,” an impossibility.

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      6. Do you not believe we must cooperate with grace then? Does that mean we do not freely accept or reject the gospel?
        I think you misunderstand the Catechism. CCC2006-2011 explicitly says we cannot merit forgiveness or justification, and that “merits are pure grace”.
        I guess your stronger point is “we can then merit… the graces needed for… the attainment of eternal life”? Well, since merits are also a grace from God, this is equivalent to saying that by cooperating with God’s will, He will strengthen us in His will, and so strengthen us to persevere to the end. Would you believe that Christians don’t have to do the will of God?
        Catholics can certainly have peace & joy in their spiritual state. Being in the state of grace is being open to God’s saving work in Jesus, which naturally means not rejecting Him in our deliberate actions. And when we fall, we throw ourselves once more on His mercy

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      7. Acknowledging one’s utter sinfulness and accepting Christ as Savior without any other plea leads to justification (Luke 18:9-14). Good works and sanctification in Christ then follow justification (Eph 2:8-10). Catholicism teaches the reverse; sanctification leading to merited justification. Catholics claim even their merit is by grace through the sacraments yet most Catholics partake of the sacraments initially and still drop away. You must present yourself in a perfect (sans venial sins) “state of grace” when you die. That’s a complete impossibility since no one can obey the Law except for Christ. I break the Law every waking hour of every day, in thought, word, deed, and by omission. I have no plea of my own other than the perfect, imputed righteousness of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Despite your claims I know you have no spiritual peace. Since your justification relies on your obedience, you must hope that you have no serious sin on your soul up until your death. But you’re a man just like me and I know you disobey the Law every day as I do. Lust, covetousness, anger, hatred, pride, putting your own desires ahead of God and your neighbor? You might try to try to fool yourself that you actually uphold the Law but you break it every hour of every day, just like me. Christ came to save sinners, not the religious self-righteous. No flesh is justified in His sight.

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      8. Catholicism does not teach “merited justification” at all.
        Remaining in the state of grace is far from an impossibility. Only mortal sins remove us from the state of grace, and these must be done deliberately, knowingly, and be a serious matter. As difficult as it can be to resist these, it’s far from impossible. How could it be otherwise? Will accepting the Lord with our mouths save us when we reject Him with our deeds? (Mt 7:21)
        Indeed we have no plea besides Jesus, and He alone can save. But we have to accept and live in His salvation; He must live in us and we in Him.
        Yes, I fall multiple times each day. But each time, I let the Lord pick me up. It’s usually not a serious sin, but that’s not important here. I get back up, and I go on following the Lord, submitting myself to His love, to the best of my strength, and that is the obedience He desires.
        Yes, Christ came to save sinners, and even me. What did He come to save us from? He came to save us from the spiritual death that is sin itself.

        God bless you

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      9. In Matthew 5, Jesus took just two of the Ten Commandments and explained to those who would try to justify themselves that keeping the Law is an impossibility. I pray the Holy Spirit reveals to you your sinful state. I wish my ecumenically-minded evangelical friends would read your comments because they clearly delineate the difference between the Gospel and Catholicism’s gospel of merit.

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  2. Allow me to add something to the mix here if I may, Tom. If you were to conduct a poll of the believers in the word I am part of, and ask..”Are you Protestant?”…they would universally answer…”Nope”

    Interest aroused now? LOL.

    Our reasoning is simple. We maintain that the true churches never died, therefore never had to be brought back out of the Catholic church during the reformation. Jesus started His church while He was here, and it never died, even during that rather great apostasy that was the State sponsored church of the time of the Reformation.

    Jesus promised to Peter that his church would be built on Himself(Jesus), and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

    Having said that, I am sure glad the Reformation happened, I just would not lay claim to being Protestant.

    How’s that, my friend?

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    1. Thanks, Wally, my friend. I’ve been connected with Baptist churches since accepting Christ (except for my 23-year prodigal dry spell) so I’m familiar with this viewpoint. Yes, I’ve even read Carroll’s The Trail of Blood! I’m not a historian so I can’t vouch for the orthodoxy of all the non-Catholic groups down through history but I believe strongly that there was always a Gospel witness as you say, even within the Roman church. The Waldensians were certainly preaching the Gospel 400 years before the Reformation but it was a localized movement. The Reformation (along with the printing press) was the tipping point that shattered Rome’s stranglehold so that the Gospel could go out throughout the world. There are those who trace the beginnings of the Baptist movement to John Smyth and the English Separatists.
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Smyth_(Baptist_minister)

      But, as I said, I’m not a historian.

      The Anabaptists of Luther’s and Zwingli’s era believed in adult baptism only but they went off into the weeds of unorthodoxy regarding other doctrines.

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      1. It is an interesting view point, Tom, and I think a valid one…within reason.

        I say that because frankly I think some of my fellow Baptists go a wee bit to far with this thought and try to say it was the BAPTISTS who were preserved through time. Well, that’s problematic, as some “Baptists” are pretty questionable LOL.

        I actually have heard of people trying to trace the lineage of the Baptists from..you guessed it…John the Baptist. Sigh

        These are folks who do the same as other groups, and try to say that only Baptists are true New Testament churches and other stuff like that.

        Look, I am Baptist to my core I suppose, but….one can go too far, and some of my brethren do.

        Ever hear of Baptist Briders? I know some of them too!

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      2. Thanks, Wally. Yes, I’ve heard of the Baptist Briders and some of the independent Baptist churches I visited as a young Christian were probably not too far from that. But I love the Baptists. In my opinion, they moved the farthest away from Rome and back to the Gospel roots of the early New Testament church. Some went a little too far by emphasizing rules over grace and forgiveness but that’s the fallen nature still in us.

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      3. Being a Baptist…there is much irony there for me

        My mom hated Baptists. Years and years ago when she was quite young she had wanted to join some Baptist Church. Well of course they said that saved or not she had to be Scripturallly baptized and she got mad and never got over it

        All I ever heard was how bad they were. So I pretty much hated them too and had a special place for Baptist preachers

        On the other hand it was in a Baptist Church where I first heard the Gospel in a way that made sense

        So…I have much love for something that 10 years ago I thought was full of lunatics

        Don’t tell me God has no sense of humor

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      4. Thirty-five years ago I used to work at a huge (15,000 people) Kodak manufacturing plant on the west side of Rochester. The only people giving out the Gospel at work that I knew of were independent fundamental Baptists. That’s a pretty good testimony.

        Postscript: OK, there also were few Full Gospelers witnessing at work back then. A lot of cobwebs accumulate after 35 years. But the IFBers were definitely the most zealous.

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      5. There was a much larger complex in the middle of the city that employed about 40,000 and there was another 5000 at corporate headquarters. So at it’s peak when I was in my 20s there were 60,000 working at Kodak in Rochester. That number is currently down to around 3000. Blame it on the digital camera and smart phone! I’m one of the few still there. Yes, there’s no solid foundation other than Jesus Christ!

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      6. It was incredible, Wally. The layoffs began in 1985 and never stopped. I could write a book. Buffalo, 60 miles away lost all of its heavy manufacturing and Rochester has lost most of its higher-tech manufacturing (Kodak, Xerox, Bausch). A lot of people took service jobs and a lot of people moved south. Western NY is one of the most economically distressed areas in the country but we still have some of the highest taxes. The property taxes in Monroe County are the highest in the US. A large percentage of retirees leave because of the taxes (and snow). Businesses leave because of the taxes. College grads move out because there are no jobs here. The high taxes are a leftover from the boom days and of course they’ll never be rolled back.

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      7. That’s very sad to hear, Tom. It’s always been depressed on rural SE Arkansas, so anything is an improvement. I’m immensely blessed with a great, very secure job. So, even though they often ask more than I want to give, I thank God for it and shut up .

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      8. Glad you’re job is secure, Wally. When you’re in your fifties, you don’t want to be sending out resumes. I just got my 40th year with 3 more to go, Lord willing. I’m very grateful because I know thousands upon thousands of Rochester families had to scramble after a layoff.

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    1. Thanks a lot, Hope! I considered changing it a few times to make it less “confrontational” but I think the unbelieving world needs to be confronted with the unadulterated Gospel here and there, we both know there’s already way too much coddling going on.

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  3. I totally appreciate your misgivings about using the Protestant label in light of the nominalism And liberalism that pervades Protestant Churches. However, I still believe the term Protestant is good and even biblical because it stems from a desire to publicly confess our faith. Romans 10:9. Like the term Christian it was a name which has remained with the Church.

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