Outline of Protestant Church History


Short outline of Protestant & Post-Millennial Church History from 1517 to present

Part 1: Reformation (Protestant Movement in Europe)

In the past, anyone who disagreed with the absolute authority of the Pope was called a heretic. When their protest became organized, the Protestant and English Reformation were two major movements. They caused a significant blow to Roman Papacy.

Four Important Crux of the Protestant Reformation

  • Salvation is by faith alone.
  • The Pope is not the Vicar of Christ.
  • The church is built upon Jesus, not St. Peter.
  • The Bible should be read by ordinary people.

Martin Luther, the Father of the Reformation

Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses at the door of the church of Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517. It was a “protest” against abuses of “indulgences” by the Catholic Church.

It sparked the Reformation that began in Germany and spread throughout Europe. It became known as Protestant, a slur used by the Vatican against those who opposed them.


According to tradition, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Theses to this door at All Saints’ Church, Wittenberg. It sparked the Reformation. His followers were called “protestants” as a slur.

King Henry VIII
Pope Clement VII

The complicated influence of Luther led to the founding of the Church of England. In 1527, King Henry petitioned Pope Clement VII to annul his marriage with the Queen Catherine of Aragon. The Pope denied him.

Infuriated, Henry’s obsession with marrying Anne Boylen pushed him to severe with the Vatican and established a new Church of England. As the head of the church, he annuled his marriage with Catherine.

The Protestant Church of England

Initially, King Henry VIII was not a fan of Protestantism; he wanted to retain the seven sacraments of Roman Catholicism. Desperate, he passed the Act of Succession (to marry Anne) and then the Act of Supremacy that declared the monarch “the only supreme head of the Church of England.” Henry, not the Pope, became the final authority in doctrinal disputes. [Anglicana Ecclesia]

The Church of England had its roots in the early second church with an Anglican identity, but its official formation began with King Henry. At the same time, the Reformation was taking place.

King Henry relied on the growing anti-Catholic sentiment to support his religious agenda—thus bolstering the formation of a new church.


Wartburg Castle martin luther
Martin Luther hid in Wartburg Castle for 300 days (1521-1522) when declared an outlaw and heretic at the Diet of Worms. He translated the Bible into the German language for about ten months. Influenced by his work, William Tyndale translated the Bible from various sources to English for the first time.

First true Christian Bible translation

Saint Jerome of Stridon
William Tyndale

During the transition of “Catholic England” to the new “Church of England,” English scholar William Tyndale began translating what is considered the first true Christian Bible (1526 to 1536). It was distinct from the Latin Vulgate (Catholic Bible) that Saint Jerome of Stridon translated in 382 A.D.

The work of the great theologian Erasmus and Luther influenced Tyndale. He translated directly from the Hebrew & Greek texts and used older manuscripts—burdened by some of the Vulgate’s wrongful passages.

In 1530, three years after King Henry petitioned the Pope to annul his marriage with Catherine, Tyndale opposed the king, earning his wrath. In 1536, Tyndale was declared a heretic and burned at the stake.

Within four years, four English translations of the Bible were published in England at the king’s behest—including Henry’s official Great Bible. All were based on Tyndale’s work. [Wiki]

Catholic vs. Protestant Bible

  • Saint Jerome translated the first Bible, known as Latin Vulgate. However, it was corrupted because it was tweaked to support the pagan origin of the Papacy and its authority.
  • The Vulgate found its way into other translations, considered the first translation outside the original Hebrew and Greek text.
  • Tyndale Bible (William Tyndale) was a “fresh translation” made c. 1522–1536. Also known as “Early Modern English,” it was different from Vulgate. Hence, all of Tyndale’s books burned; only three copies of the 1526 edition survived. 
  • The keys of “St. Peter,” the catholic mass, the Virgin Mary as Mother of God, and other non-Christian teachings are found in embryonic form in the Latin Vulgate.
  • Tyndale studied the original Hebrew and/or Greek of the biblical text and then looked at the ancient translations in Greek and Latin—the Septuagint and the Vulgate—for help. [BYU] 

King James Bible to end all translations

  • In 1611, the King James Version (KJV) was completed. The new English Bible intended to end all translations and settle the incongruence of earlier translations.
  • KJV had various sources, mainly from Hebrew and Greek texts, including Willliam Tyndale’s first English Bible translation in 1536.
  • Since England broke from Rome, the KJV was spared from destruction. It became the standard Bible of the reformation movement.

The word Protestant used by the Vatican as a slur against the Reformed Christians.

Protestant Counter-Reformation in Europe

Huldrych Zwingli
John Calvin
Queen Elizabeth I
The Puritans

Protestantism in England will be challenged in the next two decades until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1558. She was King Henry’s illegitimate daughter with Ann Boylen.

King Henry VIII succeeded Edward VI but ruled for only six years. He was succeeded by Henry’s daughter from her first marriage with Queen Catherine, Mary I. Queen Mary reversed the English Reformation back to Catholicism.

Like her mother, Mary was a devout Catholic. She sent 300 people to “burn at stake” for their radical support of England’s Protestant Reformation, earning her the moniker “Bloody Mary.”

The Puritans
John Calvin

Queen Elizabeth succeeded Queen Mary in 1558. She was the daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn, who restored Protestantism for good. Elizabeth was challenged by the counter-protestant Reformation led by the Puritans.

The Puritans wanted to “purify” the new Church of England of its similar Catholic practices. During this era, John Calvin in France became the principal figure in what would be known as the Reformed tradition.

Great Awakenings in American colonies

Protestant Reformation led to “Great Awakenings” in American colonies—much bigger than what occurred in Europe. The First Great Awakening was in the 1730s-1770s; a great religious revival swept American colonies just before American independence from British rule.

  • Spain brought Catholicism to its colonies in Asia, South America (Latin countries), and West America (California). It was their “New Spain” (Nueva Filipinas) in the 1500s.
  • European protestant missionaries (Pilgrims) brought Protestantism to their colonies in East America (Massachusetts) in 1620.

Second and Third Awakening

The Protestant (spiritual) revival in the United States from 1795 to 1835 focused on the unchurched. Religious meetings were held in small towns and large cities all over. It grew into an organized camp meeting where congregants came from other states.

The great interest in religious piety gave birth to various denominations, such as Methodists and Baptists. Adventists, Mormons, and Pentecostalism. At the same time, patriarchy and the Culture of Domesticity became social norms.

Roman Catholics (Katholou)
Protestants (Lutherans; Calvinists)
Christians (Katholou; Reformed Tradition)
Christians (Katholou; Non-denominational)

  • The early followers of Jesus were called Christians (Acts 11: 26).
  • Towards the middle ages, Roman Catholicism (Western Orthodoxy) became the dominant force in Christendom, although there were other branches of Catholicity such as (non-Roman) Eastern Orthodoxy.
  • Protestant‘ was a slur for those who left Catholicism during the middle ages.
  • Katholou means “general,” hence all religions in the Judep-Christian traditions can be called Katholou or Catholics.
  • A Christian can refer to someone stemming from the Protestant denomination or a non-denomination.
  • Reformed Tradition can be both protestant and non-denominational.
  • Today, a Catholic refers to being a member of the Roman Catholic church and a Christian belonging to the protestant, non-denominational or Reformed Tradition.
christian awakening

Part 2: Counter-Protestant Reformation

Postmillennialism (the second return of Jesus after the Christian renaissance) was a dominant belief among American Protestants in the 1850s. Jesus’ return seemed imminent and excited a modern global missionary movement. Hence the rise of preachers and protestant mission work.

Calvinists and Presbyterian

At the same time, various independent movements grew and established non-denominational churches like the Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Adventists. Still, some of the “original protestants” such as Calvinists, Methodists, and Lutherans retained its tradition until the 2015 schism when some protestant churches embraced same-sex marriage.

Dwight Moody
William Booth
Charles Spurgeon
Hudson Taylor

Dwight Moody, William Booth (Salvation Army), Charles Spurgeon, and Hudson Taylor (China Inland Mission) were considered the “new apostles of the new century.”

By the 20th century, protestant or “Christian missionaries” effectively influenced most Asian countries. Roman Catholicism was no longer the dominant force in Judeo-Christianism.

It paved the way for Christian ecumenism and neo-Evangelism—other movements spread, such as the Pentecostal-Charismatic movements by the mid-1900.

Rise of T.V. Evangelists

Billy Sunday
Billy Graham

Billy Sunday rose to popularity in the early 1900s. He was an American evangelist whose revivals and sermons reflected the emotional upheavals caused by rural to industrial society in the United States. Afterward, Billy Graham became the face of evangelicalism.

All the while, missionaries from the U.S. continued their expansion in Asian countries like China and the Philippines.

Haven of Rest and the FEBC

God planted in the hearts of two young men named Bob Bowman and John Broger a vision for a missionary radio. In 1945, the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) was born with one goal: to bring the message of Christ to the ends of the earth. 

Before FEBC, Bowman was part of the Haven of Rest Quartet. The radio program that evangelized America beginning 1934.

Part 3: Post-Millenial Theology

A new heresy associated with Christian Protestantism

Charismatic movement

As the Protestant movement dichotomized, Charismatic or Full-Gospel (Pentecostal) movements developed. A new phrase “Born-Again Christians” sprung everywhere in the 1980s. During this era, the likes of televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and 700 Club’s Pat Robertson became the face of Christianity.

Prosperity Gospel: The rise of mega-Churches

Social media, smartphones, and faster internet connections by 2010 gave rise with 21st televangelists who brought prosperity gospel. Their message centers mainly on Moralistic Theistic Deism (MTD)

Earlier in the 2000s, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen began packing churches by the thousands. The best way to describe their theology is “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” first introduced in 2005.

“YouTube Christian churches”

The non-traditional preaching of Steven Furtick, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, and the likes of Beth Moore, among others, quickly followed the rise of mega-Churches. But their following were mostly virtual (YouTube followers) and not in a physical church.

Earlier in the 1990s, followers of Hillsong Australia peaked in the 2010s as smartphones and internet connection became more available. Its millions of followers in YouTube established a new form of worship—establishing a “Hillsongs church online.”

Progressive “Woke” Christianity

Around 2015, left-liberals of America inspired the rise of Progressive “Woke Churches.” Many oReformation exchanged the truth for a lie. For example, LGBTQ Pastors and same-sex marriage were embraced by ECLA (Lutheran branch), Methodists (UMC), and Baptists (AWAB).

During this period, great men of faith and pastors left Christianity, while scandals of sexual immorality, financial abuse, and suicide plagued the Christian community.

Part 4: Resurgence of Reformed Tradition

Reformed Protestantism: 500 years after the Reformation

According to Tim Challies, the teachings of John Calvin have had a sudden resurgence in the last decade, attributed to Paul Washer’s sermon on YouTube. Apparently, the rise of “liberal evangelicalism” purported by “superstar preachers” has diluted Christ’s message.

The interest in Reformed Protestantism (usually associated with Calvinism and Presbyterianism) grew in popularity because of YouTube. Apologists John MacArthur and R.C. Sprouls are some of the strongest voices in the Reformed Tradition.

Most influential Christian apologist on YouTube

Charles Swindoll
David Wood
Don Stewart
Hugh Ross
John MacArthur
J.I. Packer
R.C. Sprouls
John Lennox
Josh McDowell
John Piper
Mike Winger
Paul Copan
Paul Washer
Peter Tan-Chi
Tim Challies
Tim Mackie
Timothy McGrew
Voddie Baucham

Most popular sources of textual criticism

Answers in Genesis
Bible Project
Blue Letter Bible
Got Questions
John Piper
Ligonier Ministry
The Gospel Coalition (TGC)

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