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-Its Origin and Character

The purpose of this lesson is to provide a very brief introduction to Protestantism which came about in the 16th century and has continued until this day. In order to understand Protestantism, it is important to understand some of the facts about the Roman Catholic church. This is important simply because the origin of Protestantism is Roman Catholicism.

The Roman Catholic church was in process of formation during the first few centuries A.D.. By around the fourth century she was in a state similar to that which we see today. There were various attributes that typified the Roman Catholic church from its early days. Among these were:

  •  The mixing of paganism with Christianity

Never was this God's way. In addition to other scriptures it is forbidden in

Leviticus 10:10: "And that ye may put difference between holy and

unholy, and between unclean and clean;"

  • The joining together of church and state

There is no such combination even hinted at in the New Testament until

Christ returns and the government is upon his shoulders.

  • The establishment of a complex religious hierarchy

According to God's word, the only positions of authority in Christ's Church

are Pastors and Deacons.

  • The elevation of human tradition to a position equal to that of scripture

God's word declares that scripture is sufficient and warns us regarding the

tradition of men:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for

doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good

works." -- I Timothy 3:16

"And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God,

that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy

father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die

the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is

Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited

by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his

father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through

your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things

do ye." -- Mark 7:9-13

  • The persecution of those who disagreed with her teachings

Jesus foretold this:

"Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater

than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;

if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also." -- John 15:20

It is also important to understand that God's true church has always existed as a separate entity from Catholicism from the days of the apostles until today. One example of this is the Bible-believing assemblies that were located within the mountains of northwestern Italy for many centuries.

Protestantism emerged during the 16th century as an effort to reform the Roman Catholic church. It was unable to do so, and it ultimately separated from it. When it separated, it took much of its character with it:

  • The mixing of paganism with Christianity

One way that we see this today in Protestantism is in the celebration of

Christmas and Easter (which came from paganism through Catholicism, has

no basis in God's word, and are opposed to God's commands to make a

clear distinction between truth and error).

  • The joining together of church and state

This was true of the Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Anglican churches.

  • The establishment of a complex religious hierarchy

We see this in the protestant churches today. The Anglican church is

perhaps the most obvious example of this

  • .The elevation of human tradition to a position equal to that of scripture

One example of this is infant baptism by sprinkling which, being a tradition of

men, is nowhere to be found in the Bible and is in opposition to the very

meaning of baptism.

  • The persecution of those who disagreed with her teachings

The following are a few of the multitude of examples:

John Calvin:

Defended to the hilt the burning to death of a man named Servetus.

(The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, p. 54 - author: Leonard Verduin).

Martin Luther:

Favored a policy of extermination for all Anabaptists (Anabaptists:

Neither Catholic nor Protestant - author: William McGrath).

Huldreich Zwingli:

St. Gall city council (at Zwingli's instigation) issued the following

decree: Teachers of rebaptism, baptizing preachers, and leaders of

hedge meetings are to be drowned (The Protestant Persecutions -

Author David Cloud).

Although there are some good things associated with Protestantism, it is a hybrid rather than the faith that was passed down to Bible-believing churches by the apostles. Its origin and character demonstrate this. It is important for Bible-believers to understand this in order to avoid the errors that are associated with Protestantism.

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."

I Thessalonians 5:21

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