The Christian Noob (n00b)

born & raised Catholic, now going to a Presbyterian church & still learning

rants: an outsider’s look to protestantism

First off, read the following DISCLAIMER. I’m not a theologian and I’m merely expressing my barely educated views in a constant comparison to my corrupted understanding of Christianity influenced by Neopaganism.

After four (4) years going to a Protestant church, I’m still an outsider looking in — from within, no less. I was welcomed to the Presbyterian Church (FAPC to be exact), but I’m still lost at best.

Protestantism is all branches of Christianity outside the Roman Catholic Church, which came about after the Great Schism (1054). As such, Protestantism is not a philosophy against the Orthodox Church of Alexandria. As a matter of fact, I don’t cover the Orthodox Church of Alexandria (east) in this post due to my total lack of understanding, education, social and/or political background. Hence my ignorance to this division of Christianity demands most of my respect. As such, analyzing the western branch of Christianity comes easier.

The way I see Protestantism (most likely wrong) as five sub-groups.

  1. Calvinists (Reformed) in which one’s predestined to salvation, completed at Christ’s death

    “Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Western Christianity that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice of John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians. Calvinists broke with the Roman Catholic church but differed with Lutherans on the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s supper, theories of worship, and the use of God’s law for believers, among other things. Calvinism is a misleading term because the religious tradition it denotes is and has always been diverse, with a wide range of influences rather than a single founder. The movement was first called ‘Calvinism’ by Lutherans who opposed it, and many within the tradition would prefer to use the word ‘Reformed’ rather than ‘Calvinist.’ Since the Arminian controversy, the Reformed (as a branch of Protestantism distinguished from Lutheranism) are divided into Arminians and Calvinists, however it is now rare to call Arminians Reformed, as many see these two schools of thought as opposed, making the terms Calvinist and Reformed synonymous.”

  2. Lutheranism (1521), in which one’s saved by Grace alone

    “Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther’s efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Roman Catholic Church launched the Protestant Reformation. Beginning with the 95 Theses, Luther’s writings were disseminated internationally, spreading the ideas of the Reformation beyond the ability of governmental and churchly authorities to control it.
    The split between the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics began with the 1521 Edict of Worms, which condemned Luther and officially outlawed citizens of the Holy Roman Empire from defending his ideas. The punishment decreed for Lutheranism was seizure of all property, with half going to the Imperial government and half given to their accusers. The divide centered over the doctrine of Justification. Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification ‘by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone,’ which went against the Roman view of ‘faith formed by love’, or ‘faith and works’. Unlike the Reformed Churches, Lutherans retain a high respect for the authority of the Church Fathers, as well as many of the liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the pre-Reformation Church, with a particular emphasis on the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper. Lutheran theology significantly differs from Reformed theology in Christology, the purpose of God’s Law, the divine grace, the concept of perseverance of the saints, and predestination. Like most denominations, Lutheranism is split between Liberal and Conservative/Confessional camps.”

I find these two philosophies very similar. I understand these two movements fought against the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church. Such acts led the Roman Catholic Church to condemn and excommunicate Calvin, Luther and anyone else who had the balls to criticize the Pope and the status quo. As an outsider, I still can’t tell the differences between the two. Surprisingly (as I’ve mentioned several times) I’ve also questioned the Roman Catholic Church in a naive and uneducated curiosity since I was a little kid.

The other three are

  1. Primitivism — an attempt to live Christianity before the Great Schism, preferably about the time the Gospels and other books of the New Testament (NT) were written, which has included Puritans and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    “Christian primitivism, also described as restorationism, is the belief that Christianity should be restored along the lines of what is known about the apostolic early church, which restorationists see as the search for a more pure and more ancient form of the religion. Fundamentally, ‘this vision seeks to correct faults or deficiencies [in the church] by appealing to the primitive church as a normative model.’ The term ‘restorationism’ is sometimes used more specifically as a synonym for the American Restoration Movement. The term is also used by more recent groups, describing their goal to re-establish Christianity in its original form, such as some anti-denominational Charismatic Restorationists, which arose in the 1970s in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In comparable terms, earlier primitivist movements, including the Hussites, Anabaptists, Landmarkists, Puritans, and the Waldensians have been described as examples of restorationism, as have many seventh-day Sabbatarians.
    Efforts to restore an earlier, purer form of Christianity are often a response to denominationalism. As Rubel Shelly put it, ‘[t]he motive behind all restoration movements is to tear down the walls of separation by a return to the practice of the original, essential and universal features of the Christian religion.’ Different groups have tried to implement the restorationist vision in different ways; for instance, some have focused on the structure and practice of the church, others on the ethical life of the church, and others on the direct experience of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The relative importance given to the restoration ideal, and the extent to which the full restoration of the early church is believed to have been achieved, also varies between groups.”

  2. Charismatic — led by the Pentecostal Church, whose members speak in tongues (as the disciples did, Acts 2:1-13; 10:1-17 & 23-28)

    “2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilæans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

    10:1 There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. 7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. 9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. 17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,

    23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And the morrow after they entered into Cæsarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. 25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. 26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. 27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. 28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” (Acts 2:1-13; 10:1-17 & 23-28 KJV)

    and often do amazing acts led by faith as curing the sick by touch (hands a mere vehicle for the Holy Spirit); although the fastest growing denominational group(s) in South America especially Brazil (56 million, 10:1), still much too disorganized for my liking.

    “Charismatic Christianity (also known as Spirit-filled Christianity) is a form of Christianity that emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and modern day miracles. Practitioners are often called Charismatic Christians or renewalists. Although there is considerable overlap, Charismatic Christianity is often categorized into three separate groups: Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement, and neocharismatic movements. In 2011, Pentecostals and Charismatic Christians numbered over 500 million, a quarter of the world’s 2 billion Christians.
    The term charismatic derives from the Greek word (‘gift,’ itself derived from ‘grace’ or ‘favor’). This is the same origin for the word charismata, another term for spiritual gifts.
    Charismatic Christianity is diverse, and it is not defined by acceptance of any particular doctrines, practices, or denominational structures. Rather, renewalists share a spirituality characterized by a worldview where miracles, signs and wonders, and other supernatural occurrences are expected to be present in the lives of believers. This includes the presence of spiritual gifts, such as prophecy and healing. While similar in many respects, renewalists do differ in important ways. These differences have led to Charismatic Christianity being categorized into three main groups: Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement, and neo-charismatic movements.”

  3. Others & Questionables — which include the much debatable and often most controversial forms of Christianity such as Mormonism (nothing against LDS as my youngest sister’s a practicing member); many including other doctrines and/or practices too bizarre for Mainstream Christianity.

Needless to say (type), each group refers to itself as the correct way to worship God and sees all others as false prophets — deception from the devil. The latter has always been the Roman Catholic stand against non-Catholic regarding of its numerous scandals and never ending corruption. As part two of my DISCLAIMER and related to the previous paragraph, I do openly criticize the Roman Catholic Church as I grew up In it. I’m neither ashamed of my opinion nor scared of its consequences. Besides, most of my friends consider themselves Catholics and my eldest son’s a devout Catholic.


2 responses to “rants: an outsider’s look to protestantism

  1. indytony 05/19/2013 at 22:27:21

    You are right to note that in many modern churches the distinctions have blurred. For instance, you won’t find many Presbyterians today who take as hard a line as Calvin did when it comes to predestination.

    I applaud your search for truth. As you continue seeking, I encourage you to invest a generous portion of your time reading Scripture and comparing it to what you hear at churches you attend.

    • Frank Olvera (aka "The Christian Noob") 05/20/2013 at 10:08:25

      Thanks for the comments. I’ve indeed compared the various churches I’ve gone to. Some are more fun than others while some are fire and brimstone. Needless to say (type), I prefer the fun ones even where hell and damnation are mentioned when needed, but the end of times hasn’t become the bread and butter of that church.

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