Short Protestant Church History

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father of protestants

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

Part 1: Reformation (Protestant Movement)

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

Wittenberg
According to tradition, in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his Theses to this door at All Saints’ Church, Wittenberg. It sparked the Reformation.
Martin Luther hid in Wartburg Castle for 300 days (1521-1522) when declared outlaw and heretic at the Diet of Worms. He translated the Bible into German language during this period of about 10 months. Influenced by his work, William Tyndale translated the Bible from various sources to English, for the first time.

Martin Luther, King Henry VIII, and William Tyndale

The complicated influence of Luther to the English throne and King Henry VII’s marriage led to the founding of the Church of England. King Henry was not a fan of Protestantism, and he wanted to retain the seven sacraments of Roman Catholicism.

His main reason for severing with Rome was to be the head of the church of England, so he can do as he can divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Then, he can freely marry Ann Boylen, his second wife, to which both the Pope and Luther objected.

First true Christian Bible translation

After the new Church of England established, it leaned towards Protestantism. William Tyndale was an English scholar. Erasmus and Luther’s works had a strong influence on Tyndale.

Burdened by the errors of the Vulgate, Tyndale translated the first English Bible directly from Hebrew & Greek texts.

William Tyndale used other manuscripts older than the Roman Catholic Bible, the Latin Vulgate. Tyndale’s incomplete Bible set apart from Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. It was the first “true Christian Bible.”

King Henry enraged; it undermind the Roman Catholic tradition. Tyndale declared a heretic and burned at the stakes in 1535.

Henry executed at 81 dissenters and his daughter Queen Mary, also a devout Catholic, sent three hundred people to burn at the stake for pushing for the protestant reformation of England.

Jerome’s Latin Vulgate and Tyndale’s Translation

  • The Latin Vulgate that Jerome translated corrupted. It was tweaked to support the Papacy and its dogma.
  • The Vulgate found its way into other translations, considered as the first translation outside the original Hebrew and Greek text.
  • Tyndale’s Bible was a fresh translation and completed with the Vulgate. Hence, all of Tyndale’s books burned, only three copies of the 1526 edition survived. 
  • The word “Protestant” comes from the Latin Vulgate Version. Martin Luther or William Tyndale never referred to themselves as “Protestants.” The word Protestant used by the Vatican as a slur against the Reformed Christians who obeyed Christ’s command to “come out of her, my people.” (Rev. 18:4)
  • The keys of “St. Peter,” Joshua changed to Jesus, the mass, the Virgin Mary as Mother of God, are all found in embryonic form in the Latin Vulgate.

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

King James Bible to end all translations

The King James Version (KJV), completed in 1611, was the English Bible intended to end all translations and settle incongruence of earlier translations, such as the corrupted Latin Vulgate.

KJV had various sources, mostly coming from the Hebrew and Greek text, including Willliam Tyndale’s first English Bible translation in 1536. Tyndale was burned for translating the Bible.

Since England broke away from the Vatican, the KJV spared from destruction by the Pope. It became the standard Bible of the reformation movement (Protestants as Rome called it).

Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, Queen Elizabeth and the Puritans counter-reformation

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

Catholic Queen Mary ordered the death of hundreds of Protestants earning the name “Bloody Mary.”

She was succeeded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1558. Elizabeth was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, who restored Protestantism for good in England. She faced the counter-reformation from the Puritans.

During this era, John Calvin in France became the principal figure in Christian theology Calvinism.

English Reformation leading to the “First Awakening”

Protestantism grew in Europe, British missionaries brought it to their colonies such as the Americas by 1650. During this period, Spain also evangelized its territories.

They called the “New Spain” Nueva Filipinas, for their success in colonizing and evangelizing the Philippines, while Protestantism flourished in Europe through Queen Elizabeth.

Second and Third Awakening

In the 1800s, the second awakening in America focused on the unchurched that gave birth to various forms of religious movements such as the Mormons, Methodist, Adventists, and Pentecostalism.

Part 2: The end of Protestantism

Post-millennial theology

What can be considered as counter-reformation by the late 1850s to the 1900s is the third awakening. It gave rise to social activism and postmillennial theology that sparked a new worldwide missionary movement.

Modern Church Fathers Moody, Booth, Spurgeon, Taylor

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

By the 20th century, American and English 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.

Billy Sunday, Billy Graham

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

All the while, missionaries from the US continued their expansion in Asian countries like the Philippines. In the 1970s, Christian communities gained a foothold in the Catholic-dominated country.

Far East Broadcasting Company

God planted in the hearts of two young men named Bob Bowman and John Broger, a vision for missionary radio that would one day become Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC).  In 1945, FEBC established with one goal in mind: broadcasting Christ to the world. 

3. Post-Millenial Theology

As the Protestant movement slows down, Charismatic-Born-Again preachers sprung all over. Then came the popularity of the “Pentecostal and Full Gospel movements” in the 1980s. The likes of Jimmy Swaggart and Pat Robertson widely popular because of television.

In around 2000, a new Christian movement that emphasized “blessings and abundance” yet veered away from solid scripture rose into massive popularity. These are huge groups led today by the likes of Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and recently Beth Moore.

Interestingly, it is also during this period that several pastors have fallen from grace. Each year, the scandal of sexual immortality, financial abuse, and suicide plagued the Christian community.

Rise of the YouTube Superstar Preachers

The introduction of tablets and faster internet connection by 2010 gave rise to “superstar preachers.” Their popularity measured by subscribers, shares, and likes.

Unfortunately, it was also filled with preachers who preach heresy. They based their sermon on instinct and revelation from the Holy Spirit, which are demonic whispers, coated with little scriptures.

The best way to describe their theology is what’s called “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” first introduced in 2005. It’s all about “me, myself, and I.”

They also exchanged the truth for a lie. For example, LGBTQ Pastors allowed in Lutheran churches (ECLA). Others support abortion women’s rights and same-sex marriage.

Resurgence of Biblical scholars and apologist

After 500 years since Reformation began, it would be safe to say that Biblical interpretation (except Roman Catholicism), is perfectly sound today. The most influential apologists we have now maintain the same textual criticism of the Bible as it was during the period of Reformation.

Most influential Christian apologists today

Hugh Ross
John MacArthur
J.I. Packer
R.C. Sprouls
Michael Brown
John Lennox
Josh McDowell
John Piper
Paul Copan
Paul Washer
Peter Tan-Chi
Ravi Zacharias
Tim Challies
Tim Mackie

Most popular sources of textual criticism

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

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Albert is an academic researcher and UX/UI content manager. He is a graduate of Asian Studies and went to the Asian Bible Seminary and Trinity College of Music. He is happily married with three lovable teenagers.

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