Protestant and Christian Denominations

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The Lutheran denomination is the oldest of all the Protestant denominations. It was founded by Martin Luther, the German monk and professor who famously posted 95 Theses against the practice of indulgences in 1517. The founding of the denomination wasn’t intentional at first. Luther saw contradictions between the Bible and current practices of the Church as well as corruption and abuse within the Church, and had hoped for reform, not a schism. When that proved impossible, he continued to spread his teachings despite excommunication and death threats. Martin Luther taught that salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ alone, and the many rituals and works the Church prescribed were not only unnecessary, but also hindered salvation. He rejected traditions such as the mediator role of priests, priestly celibacy, the Latin Bible and liturgy (public worship), purgatory (process of purification process for dead members), and transubstantiation the change in the Eucharist of communion), and advocated for the scriptures to be available to the people in their own language. Despite his rejection of many aspects of medieval Catholicism, Luther accepted any aspects of church practice that did not contradict the Bible’s scriptures. Contrarily, some other Protestant groups rejected any Catholic tradition that wasn’t commanded in the Bible. For this reason, Lutheran churches tend to have more of a Catholic look than their more strict Presbyterian counterparts. Those who followed Martin Luther's teachings were called "Lutherans" by their opponents, and they accepted the name. Lutheranism spread throughout Germany and into Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark). Today, Germany remains predominantly Lutheran, and Lutheranism is the official state church of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland. Some Lutherans view the Book of Concord as an important expression of the Lutheran faith, but not necessarily completely for all modern Lutherans. Others "regard their doctrinal content as a true and binding exposition of Holy Scripture and as authoritative for all pastors, congregations and other roistered church workers." Lutherans practice infant baptism and the baptism of believing adults. In the Lutheran perspective, baptism is a sacrament that is commanded by God and "cleanses from sin, removes us from the power of Satan, and gives us everlasting life." Some Lutheran churches ordain women to the ministry, while others do not.

The primary Baptist distinction is their practice of believer's baptism and also the rejection of infant baptism. The Baptists are one of the largest Protestant Free Church denominations. There are about 43 million Baptists worldwide with about 33 million in the United States and 216,000 in Britain. There are over 850,000 Baptists in South America and 230,000 in Central America and the Caribbean. Many Baptists trace their denomination's origins to the early church, a period when the church consisted of committed believers who were baptized upon their confession of faith as adults. Baptist origins have also been traced to medieval sects who protested against prevailing baptismal theory and practice, and to the Anabaptists of the Continental Reformation. The origins of the Baptists are most commonly traced to John Smyth and the Separatists. In 1609, John Smyth, led a group of separatists to the Netherlands to start the General Baptist Church with an Arminian theology. In 1616, Henry Jacob led a group of Puritans in England with a Calvinist theology to form a congregational church that would eventually become the Particular Baptists in 1638 under John Spilsbury. Baptist churches usually are more evangelical in beliefs and doctrine and Reformed in worship. However, Baptist churches do not have a central governing authority, so a wide range of beliefs can be observed between one Baptist church and another. Some Baptist churches use the following acronym...
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