Protestantism is the second largest form of the Christian Faith with more of 900 million adherents in the whole world, representing 40% of the whole Christian religion.
It officially started with the Reformation movement in the XVI century by Martin Luther, John Calvin and Thomas Crammer and that developed into a force that travelled to the whole world, and that has affected nations, culture and politics wherever it has gone.
HOW MANY MOVEMENTS
Most people think that because the Reformation was started by several of these men independently from each other, they all are different Churches with opposite doctrinal beliefs and in enmity with one another. But this is not the case at all.
Contrary to the idea that the Church that Jesus founded, is a specific organization under an infallible human world leader; Protestantism acknowledges the Church of Christ to be a community of believers, organized under the instructions of Christ and his Apostles as expressed in the New Testament. In fact, only Protestantism takes Scripture as the only authoritarian Rule of Faith, while other non-protestant institutions, count as source of Revelation, other fountains apart from Scripture.
This common authority (Bible) has permitted since the XVI century, starting with Luther, Calvin and Crammer, together with many others before them, and many others that came after, to have a common agreement in all matters of salvific faith, and to have intercommunion between all their members and ministry.
So even though there must be thousands of ‘protestant’ congregations in the world, they are not independent organizations proclaiming to be the ‘one and only’ Church founded by Jesus, at all. They are independent organizations, united under a common faith and ministry, and that together profess the Trinitarian Faith of the Apostle’s Creed.
ARE THERE PROTESTANTS WHO ARE NOT TRINITARIANS?
There are independent Christian groups from among this great number of 35,000 denominations in the world, that do not profess the Trinity as part of their faith, or fail in one way or another to the other articles of belief in the Creed, but apart from the opinion of others, these are not ‘protestant’ churches. They are what it is known as ‘sects’.
No Protestant Church has intercommunion with any sect that do not profess the simple truths of the Gospel contained in the Creed.
DO SOLA SCRIPTURA DENY THE TRADITION?
Contrary to popular misconceptions about the sources of Revelation in Protestantism, it is thought that the reformed churches totally interpret the Scripture as they imagine or desire, totally disregarding historical Christianity. Well, that is wrong.
All Protestant Churches acknowledge the fact that the Church has been founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago, approximately; and that it has subsisted since then all other the world, and divided since the V century in separate groups, being one of them the Protestant movement.
So all Protestant churches claim as their own, all the Tradition of the first centuries when the Church was one, and later all other traditions of all Trinitarian historical Churches up to our day.
When protestants interpret the Scripture, they do it following rules of original language, culture, style of writing, and the common teachings of the whole of Christianity, giving as it is done everywhere else, considerably weight to the opinion of the whole undivided Church. The only difference, is that the only source considered to be infallible and inspired by God, is the Bible; while the writers of Christianity, are only seen as human, fallible source of guidance.
WHY DO PROTESTANTS HAVE DIFFERENT FORMS OF GOVERMENT
Another misconception is that because protestants have different forms of government, they must be non-united.
But the truth is that Protestantism does not hold any form of government described in the Bible, be mandatory in the NT. So, some will maintain the historical Episcopacy, others the historical Presbyterial government, and other a Congregational form of control over the community. However, still, they all have as a duty the preservation of the sacraments, the teaching of the Scripture and the spiritual direction of the community. These different governments do not stop them from having intercommunion, so a Bishop of the English Church, could also be admitted as a senior Presbyter or a Senior Pastor or Overseer over any other congregation, while having very similar duties. All members are free from every church to take sacraments from any other Christian Church at any time.