Offshoots of the Catholic Church Essay

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Protestant Summary

The author of this report is to list and summarize the four major Protestant reform movements. Those movements are the Lutherans, the Zwingli/Anabaptists, the Reformed church (Calvins) and the English church. For each church, the main person who spurred and created the moment will be named, the main theological points and precepts for each movement will be listed and the major events of each reform movement will be listed. While each reform movement bears some similarities, they are also quite different as well.

The Lutheran movement was an offshoot and breakaway of the Catholic Church and was created in the early 1500's by its namesake Martin Luther. Luther, a German monk, chose to take the step to break away from the Catholic Church due to the perceived problems and issues that existed with the Catholic Church at the time. His work started with his treatise known as 95 Theses in 1517. Rather than the church itself being a final, if not the only, authority over Christians, Luther held that the Bible and the Bible alone was the source authority over Christians. In his words, it was "by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Scripture alone." Indeed, the Catholic Church tended to be fairly heavy-handed at the time and was indeed seizing property of any Lutheran advocates and keeping half for the government with the other half going to the people who found out the Lutheran.

Lutherans, as made clear in the last paragraph, rely heavily on the Bible and do so above and beyond just about anything else. Much like other Christian faiths, they believe in baptism, the Eucharist (communion), conversion of people of their own free will to Christianity and so forth. Lutherans make heavy use of creeds such as the Apostle's Creed and they generally follow a more traditional and regimented worship structure. Over the years, the Lutheran Church itself has split into sections with the largest two by far, although not the only ones, being the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA) and the Missouri Synod (LCMS). The former trends more modern and liberal while he former is more traditional and sticks quite stridently to the teachings and edicts of Martin Luther. The Lutheran Church is quite dominant and present in Europe and the United States but they are especially dominant in Denmark, Germany, Poland, parts of the United States and even some former Russian republics like Kazakhstan. More generally, the Lutheran church is largest in North America, Western Europe, and Southeast Asia just north of Australia as well as parts of Africa and South America. Asia and Australia are fairly sparse when it comes to Lutheran presence

Next up is the Calvinist faith. They are commonly also referred to as the Reformed tradition and/or the Reformed faith. Like the Lutherans, they also broke away directly from the Catholic Church and they did so at roughly the same time. The first Calvinists patterned themselves after their own namesake, that being John Calvin, and other like-minded theologians. The Calvinists believe that God speaks through scripture but they otherwise believe much the same thing as other Christians as it relates to God and his role in the universe and creation. What sets apart Calvinists is the five points of Calvinism. Those points are unconditional election, total depravity, perseverance of the saints, limited atonement and irresistible grace. Unconditional election is the idea that people are given grace by God's discretion alone and not because of any perceived or actual good deeds or morals. Total depravity asserts that man is predisposed to being evil and depraved. Perseverance of the saints is the idea God alone is holy and is those that fall away will be punished by the divine for falling away if they do not make things right with God in time for judgment. Limited atonement is what it sounds like…that atonement is not nearly as infinite and available to everyone as other Christians would suggest. Finally, irresistible grace is applied to those that are saved but not necessarily anyone else

The next Reformation movement up for discussion is the Zwingli/Anabaptists movement. Zwingli refers to Huldrych Zwingli, who lived from 1484 to 1531. He was the leader of the Reformation efforts in Switzerland. The Anabaptists were a subset of that church and eventually had issues with the wider Swiss reformation movement in the late 1520's. When looking at the Anabaptists in particular, some consider them to be just another part of the Reformation/Protestant movement but this is not universal and some consider them to be their own entity and type altogether. The Anabaptists, not unlike the Zwingli's, were heavily attacked and persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church but they also got attacked or even killed by other Reformation peoples including people very close to the Zwingli movement. It got so nasty, that Anabaptist were threatened with death for doing their own version of baptism rights and similar acts and Zwingli, while not approving directly, did not voice any discontent either

The fourth and final Reformation church to look at is the English Church. Like the other three movements in this report, their breakaway also occurred in or around the 1500's. Specifically, the Church of England, also commonly referred to as the Anglican Church, broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 and are modernly manifested as the Episcopalians. The church made it a point to assert that they held themselves to still be Catholic (which is another word for universal) but that they were also reformed. The church also asserts that their viewpoint and mission is consistent with the version and scope of Christianity as used and espoused by Saint Augustine of Canterbury about a thousand years prior in the 500's AD. The true catalyst the broke away from the Catholic Church seemed to come as a result of a relationship between Catherine of Aragon and King Henry VIII. There was a regression back to the Catholic Church in 1555 by Queen Mary I and King Phillip but that went away just a scant three years later under Queen Elizabeth I and the Act of Supremacy

The Anglican Church has very much set itself apart from its brethren in other sects and denominations. One example would be that women as far back as the 1800's become messengers of the bishops as well as deaconesses. Even with the similar changeover as seen by other churches, the Anglian Church does not have a singular leadership structure or source authority like the Pope in the Catholic Church or anything similar. Like the Lutheran church, they are present in many to most corners of the world but with a few differences. Rather than inhabiting the islands of Southeast Asia, they do indeed inhabit much of Australia. This makes a lot of sense given England's prior control of that part of the world. The Anglican Church also has a massive presence in Africa, much more so than Lutherans. They are also very present in most of South American, much more so than Lutherans, but their area of coverage is quite similar in North America and Europe


As probably already quite clear from the four different sections, the four churches (five if you consider Anabaptists separate and many do), there is a wide range of where everyone falls. Luther wanted to restore the past of the Catholic teachings while the Anglicans seeking a middle ground between the Catholics and most other Protestant or similar movements like Anabaptists, Calvinists, Zwingli and so forth. Also over the years, the depth and breadth to which these churches have gone and will go to enforce their beliefs kept intact has changed. Gone, at least for the most part, are the days of killing in the name of Christianity although many Christians are persecuted for their…[continue]

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