Why be Protestant?

Lately, I have been reading a number of Medieval Catholics, some early church fathers that are prominent in Eastern Orthodoxy, and very little of people in my own tradition of Reformed Theology (strange since I go to a Reformed Seminary and all, right?).  I have been greatly enriched by the time that I have spent in these authors. It has, however, made me reflect on “why am I a Protestant Reformed Presbyterian?”

Typically Theologians, Scholars, Pastors, and each of us are good at articulating our criticisms of other traditions and even the faults of our own tradition. Rarely, however, do we engage in  positive affirmation of our theological tradition. So I would like to ask “Why are you Protestant?” By this I mean why are you Reformed, Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic, Eastern Orthodoxy, or whatever tradition you belong to. What keeps you apart of that tradition?

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4 responses to “Why be Protestant?

  1. Justin Richter

    Bennifer,

    I love you brother. I guess I will start this off. I am a Reformed Baptist because after careful research and biblical inquiry I have confirmed that my dogmatics are clearly true and better then all the other denominational distinctives.

    Actually, thats not true. After careful inquiry I have discovered that my personal systematics are insufficient compared to some of the other traditions.

    So why am I what I am? Good question. I think part of it is because when I became a Christian this was tradition that I first received. I think thats true for most people. In my journey within this tradition I haven’t seen anything that would negate it. Sure, I have read some things that question it, but nothing that defeats it. I think of my tradition more like a home then a shining light of doctrinal purity. I am comfortable here, I feel like I can walk around in my tighty whities and scratch myself vigorously.

    On top of this, I think I would be more eager to move to other traditions if I didn’t think mine was malleable. I think I can camp out here and learn from the other traditions and humbly learn, appreciate, and borrow from them.

    I see denominations how orders are within the catholic church. I think we can have are differences and still be brothers, share commonalities, differences, without trading houses. Even though sometimes their houses are way nicer then my shack of trailer. In the end, I know their jealous of my baptismal font with the blinging water slide.

  2. I am a protestant because that is the way I was raised. I tend to agree with a lot of what Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theologians say, but rather than leaving my tradition for other traditions with richer theological history and rich diverse tradition, I want to bring the bits and pieces I like into protestantism. I think this is the calling of every Christian. To spice up the life of their own denomination.

  3. I have this intense need to be protesting something. That’s it. Plain and simple.

  4. christopherlake

    I was not raised as a Protestant, other than in the most nominal, cultural way in the Deep South. I “converted” from agnosticism to Catholicism at twenty-one, after having read much Catholic theology and sadly little of the Bible. I have now been a conscious Protestant for around six years, and as far as my convictions, I am a Protestant for two main reasons. I hate to state them in initially “negative” terms, as the nature of the post is supposed to be more of a positive celebration of Protestantism, rather than a critique of Catholicism or Orthodoxy, but my main two reasons for being Protestant have to do with serious theological error in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Thus, after addressing some of that error, I will get to the positives of my own convictions (which are largely Reformed Baptist)! 🙂

    First, I am a Protestant because I disagree with the Catholic and Orthodox Churches (both of whom see themselves not as denominations, but as the One True Church that Christ founded) on the issues of the authority, respectively, of the Bible and the Church. I believe that the Church (universal and local) is under the authority of the Bible, not that the Church is the authority over the Bible. As a Catholic, I believed that the Church is ultimately “over” the Bible, as a definitive interpretive authority. After actually reading more of the Bible, I came to the opposite conclusion.

    The second reason that I’m a Protestant has to do with the first. If the Church is under the authority of the Bible, then the Church must submit to the Bible for all of its teaching. Both the Catholic and Orthodox Chuches fail to do this in major ways (and again, unlike Protestant denominations, they each claim to be the True Church). The Catholic Church officially teaches baptismal regeneration, and it does not teach justification by faith alone, while the Orthodox Church has seriously deficient understandings of sin, God’s wrath, and the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Believing, as I do, that the Church is under the authority of the Bible, I cannot, in good conscience, be either Catholic or Orthodox.

    In that light, I am, by definition, a Protestant, and I’m a Reformed Baptist Protestant mostly because I see the Bible clearly teaching baptism of believers alone. This was a hard conclusion for me to reach, because after coming to understand that the Bible teaches Reformed soteriology, part of me reeaallly wanted to become a Presbyterian. I knew that Reformed soteriology was much more welcome in conservative (Biblical) Presbyterian churches than in many, if not most, modern-day Baptist churches. However, when I researched the traditional Reformed arguments for paedobaptism, I found them wanting, in light of the Bible’s teaching on what baptism is and what it signifies in a person’s life. This led me back to the Baptist church, and in God’s kind providence, He led me to Capitol Hill Baptist Church, where Reformed soteriology was/is not “pushed” as an agenda, but rather, presented as simply one facet (an amazing, humbling facet!) of God’s complete sovereignty over all things. I am currently looking into the Baptist and Presbyterian arguments on church government, and am not concinced fully of either, but at this point, I am happy to still identify as a Reformed Baptist. Unless I reach a different conclusion, Biblically, on believers’ baptism, I will probably continue to identify as a RB.

    Just as Calvin did, I study the Catholic Church Fathers, and I benefit from the good things in their writings. I also enjoy further sudying Orthodoxy, to see where we are alike and where we differ, on Gospel essentials. I can definitely also learn from various Protestant denominations other than my own (especially Lutherans, Presbyterians, and A.W. Tozer, hehe!), but I believe that the Reformed Baptist “tradition” is the one that is closest to Biblical teaching on both soteriology and the nature and right use of the sacraments. That is why I call myself an RB– but a Christian first, of course! 🙂

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