Church History: The Origin Of The Protestant “ Sinner’s Prayer Of Faith ” For Salvation
(Did you know that NOT ONE Protestant Denomination in existence today, is more than 500 years old?)
- 1st Century:
A.) Christ’s church foretold: Matthew 16:18-19
B.) Christ’s church established with belief, baptism, and repentance as “terms of admittance”: Acts 2.
C.) Christ’s church is His body and He only established ONE: Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4-6; Colossians 1:18, 24; 1st Corinthians 12:12-27. He is its Builder (Matthew 16:18), Purchaser (Acts 20:28), Only Head and Sovereign Authority (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:23-32). His church is God’s church (1 Corinthians 1:2), to which God Himself adds the saved upon their hearing, believing, repenting, and by faith obeying the gospel (Acts 2:47)
D.) Christ’s church named: Acts 20:28; 1st Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 12:23; Romans 16:16.
E.) Congregations of Christ’s church all taught the same things: 1st Corinthians 4:17, 7:17, 13:33-34, 16:1-2, and that was the apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42; Romans 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 14:33-38; 1 Thessalonians 2:13)
F.) False teachers foretold: Acts 20:28-30; Galatians 1:6-9; 1st Timothy 4:1-3; 2nd Peter 2:1-3.
- 150 AD: One elder elevated above the other elders in a congregation and given the title “Bishop”, or “Head Elder”. Soon, certain bishops were given authority over several congregations at once.
- 3rd Century AD: “Bishops” met in councils to discuss issues and decide doctrinal disputes.
- 312 AD: Roman Senate acknowledged Constantine as Emperor.
- 313 AD: Constantine issued “Edict of Milan” granting “toleration” of Christianity.
- 325 AD: “Bishops” convened the first “Worldwide Council” of bishops in Nicea, under Constantine. A new creed was issued (Nicene Creed) by the council, wherein “those who wrote expressed themselves as dissatisfied with the Scriptures”. From this meeting came a new party with a new name: “Catholic”. Constantine was also named “Pontifex Maximus” (high priest?) during this period.
- 334 AD: Christianity (that is, Christianity according to Constantine) became the official religion of the Roman Empire.
- 337 AD: Constantine baptized.
- 606 AD: Boniface III named “Universal Bishop” or “Pope”.
- 1054 AD: Roman Catholic Church divides into two groups; Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox
- 1517 AD: The date that Protestants claim as the beginning point of their movement, when German monk Martin Luther (1483-1546) posted for debate, a series of theses which challenged Roman Catholic doctrine on 95 biblical contradictions (in his opinion):
“Luther, an Augustinian monk and teacher of theology at Wittenberg, Germany, was troubled by the sale of indulgences and related activities to raise money for the Roman Catholic Church. He posted his ninety-five theses to the church door at Wittenberg for debate on theological topics on October 31, 1517” (1)
“As commendable as courageously challenging the Catholic Church was, Luther’s reforms did not take him all the way back to the New Testament because there were certain practices, such as infant baptism and state churches, that he wished to keep. How he would accomplish that would be done by adopting as a guiding principle of Bible interpretation that he could do whatever the Bible did not specifically forbid. (It would seem that this deficient principle is one thing modern denominationalism in general, and Lutheranism in particular has propagated from antiquity with little change.”
“Luther was to become a religious leader on the world stage. His efforts, very successful in many ways, fell far short of restoring the church to New Testament teaching. Luther was widely known for his translation of the Bible into German, for his religious leadership that ultimately gave birth to the Lutheran Church, for his voluminous tracts, books, serious treatises on Biblical themes, and controversial works of many kinds. Sadly, in spite of many good results of his efforts, his legacy included the Lutheran Church around the world as well as the denominational world arising from split-off groups of various kinds that issued from his efforts to reform the Roman Catholic Church.”
“Although Luther sincerely plead with his followers not to call themselves Lutherans, that was an aspect of his teaching with which they would not abide.”
- 1530 AD: Martin Luther produced a creed to explain his positions, known as the “Augsburg Confession”.
“Shortly after Luther’s death, February 18, 1546, his followers formed the Augsburg Confession of Faith (1555). Brother Shepherd wrote concerning this development:
‘The German Reformation was a vast stride from Rome, but it fell far short of a return to Jerusalem. About the best that can be said, is that the Reformation was a change of masters; a voluntary one no doubt, in those who had any choice; and in this sense an exercise, for the time, of their personal judgment. But as soon as the Augsburg Confession of Faith was written no one was at liberty to modify or change it, and those who did not conform to it were no less heretics than Luther had been when he failed to conform to the behests of Rome.’
Therefore, the first protestant or denominational church to branch off from the [apostate] Catholic Church was the Lutheran Church with beginnings in 1517.”
- 1534 AD: Church of England (Episcopalian) established by King Henry VIII.
“The term ‘episcopal’ points to the form of government consisting of a body of bishops instead of one pope. The Episcopal Church is also known as the Anglican Church and the Church of England…The Church of England began in 1534 when King Henry VIII was made its ‘Supreme Head’ by an act of Parliament…”
[NOTE: Jesus was made the Head of His church by an act of almighty God 1500 years earlier: Eph. 1:22-23]
“His brother, Arthur, had been married to Catherine of Aragon, and at Arthur’s untimely death their father, Henry VII, did not wish to return Catherine and her large dowry to Spain, so he petitioned Pope Julius II to allow Henry VIII to marry her, which he did in 1504. The break of the Church of England with the Roman Catholic Church was predicated upon two leading factors. One, eighteen years of marriage to Catherine had not yielded a male heir to the throne, and two, Henry VIII wanted to divorce Catherine and marry Ann Boleyn. Pope Clement the VII would not allow it. When Thomas Cranmer was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533, he immediately made void Henry VIII’s eighteen-year marriage to Catherine, and he legalized the marriage to Ann which had already taken place three months before the official pronouncement! The Pope excommunicated Henry VIII and England followed him as the new head of the new church…”
- 1536 AD: John Calvin (1509-1564), native of France, was another who sought to reform the Catholic Church on several issues including the doctrine of predestination. Well-educated, his break with Catholicism came after studying with some Protestants in 1528. In 1536 he issued the “Institutes of the Christian Religion”, which stated his theses, (but which was relentlessly and repeatedly revised until 1559) and the Presbyterian Church was later established upon them, although the actual recognized founder of the denomination itself was the fiery Scottish Reformer John Knox (1514-72) (2). Calvin’s five main doctrines can be summed up with the acronym T.U.L.I.P:
“Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints… Over the years…some of the doctrinal positions were re-shaped: Total depravity has remained the same, unconditional election has become salvation by faith only, limited atonement has been virtually set aside by most denominationalists, irresistible grace has become salvation by regeneration through the direct work of the Holy Spirit, and the perseverance of the Saints has been virtually abandoned as unworkable because of obvious spiritual failures of quasi-Calvinists”
- 1550 AD: Congregational Church established in England by Robert Browne:
“The Congregational Church was the forerunner of the Puritans who came from Leyden, Holland, to America on the Mayflower in 1620 and landed at Plymouth Rock. The Puritans were seeking religious freedom. In Norwich, England, Robert Browne became the minister for a large group of Calvinists who had arrived from Holland. The work he began there in 1581 was interrupted when he fled to the continent due to opposition from the English hierarchy. His system grew and spread in England and ultimately came to be known as the Congregational Church.”
- 1607 AD: Baptist Church established in Holland by John Smyth:
“The earliest historical beginnings of the Baptist Church may be found in Amsterdam, Holland, in the year 1608 with a preacher named John Smyth. The Church of England stood in opposition to separate Protestant groups, so Smyth moved from London to Amsterdam and started a new, independent church…
The Baptist Church, like other churches that were a part of the Reformation Movement, mirrored the political and doctrinal complexities of their day. Many of the leaders could see the wisdom and simplicity of New Testament Christianity, but did not seem able to free themselves of the sticky web of denominational entanglements. For example, a foremost Baptist preacher named Charles Spurgeon, whose building in London held a capacity of 10,000, made the following observation: ‘I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living. I hope they will soon be gone. I hope the Baptist name will soon perish; but let Christ’s name last forever.’”
17. 1643-1649 AD: At the request of the English Parliament, the Westminster Assembly was convened at the famed Westminster Abby (the British coronation church building dating back to 1220 AD). An assembly of so-called “Divines” (church leaders) and some laity, its purpose was to bring the Church of England into line with Calvinist theology. It produced standards that have continued to be foundational for Protestant denominations (divisions) to this day; all of which are of course, in and of themselves, anti-Scriptural (1st Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 4:4-6; Philippians 1:27-2:2), and all of which, in teaching any man-made doctrines not in line with Scripture, continue to mislead countless millions (Matthew 15:7-9; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:6-11; Jude 3; 2nd John 8-11, Revelation 22:18-19, etc.).
It’s most famous of deceitful doctrinal pronouncements was the “Westminster Confession of Faith”. This “ sinner’s prayer of faith for salvation sake ” is obviously not found in any New Testament example of conversion to Christ in the Bible, and was never taught by Christ, His Apostles, or His church. And yet, the “Westminster Confession” was the foundational confession of faith, upon which all the official Protestant statements of belief issued as standards of doctrine during the 17th and 18th centuries were based. Today’s “Confessions” or “Prayers of Faith” are but a melting pot of these, originating from this meeting, some 1600 years AFTER Christ, through Peter, told us undeniably, what God required for salvation and becoming a part of His one, blood-bought, N.T. church (Acts 2:38-47, 20:28).
“R. Brown, Minister of Victoria Drive Baptist Church in London wrote, ‘The (Calvinistic) Particular B Baptist Confession of 1677 (a modified form of the more famous Westminster Confession of 1647 and the Savoy Declaration of Faith of 1658) and the (Armenian) General Baptist Orthodox Creed of 1678 are typical of the theological variety not only within 17th Century English Baptist life, but also of later periods and other countries. (Brown, 75)’
Incidentally, one other prominent mark of Protestantism is their claim that humans are not saved by meritorious good works as 16th century people heard Catholics proclaim (which is true), but by “grace through faith-alone” (which is not true-Matthew 25:31-46, Romans 2:6-11, James 2:14 ff., etc). They deny the Scriptural essentiality of baptism specifically FOR the forgiveness of sins as God commanded (Acts 2:38, 22:16; 1st Peter 3:21), referring to it erroneously as a work (Colossians 2:8-14) instead of an act of faith as this passage proclaims, and as the Bible shows is essential (see Hebrews 11).
18. 1739 AD: Methodist Church established in England by John Wesley:
“In 1729, John Wesley (1703-91) ‘returned to Oxford at the request of Lincoln College and soon became spiritual leader of the small group of students his brother Charles had gathered’ (Albin, 719). For the first time in history men were known as Methodists. They were called “Methodists” because of their strict conformity to the Book of Common Prayer. They were, however, members of the Church of England…There was never any formal declaration of separation of the Methodist church from the church of England, but in 1795 the Methodist conference declared that it had power to confer priestly functions upon its ministers which amounted to a declaration of separation from the hierarchy…
Although Wesley is the recognized founder of the Methodist Church, shortly before his death he said ‘I hold all the doctrines of the Church of England, I love her liturgy [worship] and approve her plan of discipline and only wish it could be carried out…” Yet John Wesley saw denominational division as a barrier to the unity and fellowship heaven desires because he said, ‘Would to God that all party names and unscriptural phrases and forms which have divided the Christian world were forgot; that we might all agree to sit down together as humble, loving disciples at the feet of the Common master, to hear His word, to imbibe His spirit, and to transcribe His life into our own…”
19. 1830 AD: Mormon Church established in America by Joseph Smith.
20. 1831 AD: Seventh-day Adventist Church established in America by William Miller.
21. 1866 AD: Christian Science Church established in America by Mary Baker Eddy.
22. 1872 AD: Jehovah’s Witnesses established in America by Charles Russell.
23. 1880-1900 AD: Methodist Church fractured. Several prominent denominations resulted from the ensuing chaos including: the Church of the Nazarene in 1894, as well as the Church of God, the Assembly of God, and the Pentecostals.
24. 1880-1910 AD: Within Christ’s one, non-denominational, New Testament church, a dispute arose, instigated by those more liberal components within, who, seeking a closer fellowship with the denominational world, sought to introduce instrumental music in worship, and supported the “Missionary Society.” Eventually, this led to yet two more liberal denominations and departures from Scripture: the “Disciples of Christ,” and the “Christian Church.”
25. 1980-Present: Several sects and factions from within the Church of Christ (as Christ established it through Peter on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2), still continue to rebelliously divert from the truth, and splinter off into apostasy, seeking to please men rather than God. Seeking more female church leadership (despite 1st Corinthians 14:33-34, 1st Timothy 2:11-12), instrumental music in worship (despite the Divine pattern of Ephesians 5:19, and Colossians 3:16, etc), and false fellowship with those not baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and hence without the Holy Spirit and thus not belonging to Christ according to His own Word (Acts 2:38, Romans 8:9-14) which is what will judge us all in the end (John 12:48-50), they seek to emotionally seduce as many as possible into apostasy with them, as all such false teachers do (Acts 20:26-32; 2nd Timothy 3:1-9; Titus 1:10-16; and 2nd Peter chapters 2 & 3 for example).
When it comes to the ultra liberals of this so-called and self-absorbed “change-agent” movement which is ravaging the Lord’s church today, spreading out their satanic tentacles and Bible-denying doctrines from many of our once-faithful, but now fallen brotherhood schools, history will inevitably record their denominations and departures from the truth (John 17:17) that these apostates have and will continually spawn, just as it has done in every other age and time that such has occurred. The “Community Church” movement, which has already swallowed up Max Lucado and the Oak Hills Church (which used to belong to Christ, but now belongs to the community according to its own name change, being apparently ashamed of the Name “of Christ” – see Matthew 10:32-33!), stands as a stark testimony to the fact that this has already begun and is now in full swing. All of this, while The Lord’s one, true, New Testament church will stand forever, in accordance with God’s Word (Daniel 2:44, Matthew 16:18).
The only questions that remain are:
What has history taught us?
Who do YOU follow?
Who do YOU trust to save YOU?
Whose church (saved group) are YOU in? (There’s only really one)
Do YOU wish to be the kind of worshipper that God seeks (John 4:23-24)?
Do you love the Lord – according to His definition (John 14:15, 15:14), or yours?
To those who would claim to follow ONLY Christ, hear His Words well:
“If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when He prophesied about you: ‘These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’…Every plant that My Heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
(John 14:15, Matthew 15:7-14; emphasis-mine).
May we all truly and completely seek the Lord with all our heart, that we may be with Him for all eternity…
In the Love of God and His Eternal Truth; your servant for His sake; Douglas E. Dingley;
Blessed to be the evangelist for the still faithful and Bible-believing and preaching
church of Christ (Romans 16:16) in Cleveland, Oklahoma (918-358-3952)
A very special “thank you” goes out to the Spiritual Sword publication produced by the Getwell church of Christ in Memphis Tennessee for the vast majority and body of work contained in items 11-18 above, which was taken directly from the July 2005, Volume 36, No. 4, issue of this magnificently-sound publication, with the theme: “The Church, The Falling Away, and The Restoration”, and specifically the 2 articles on pages 31-40:
“The Protestant Reformation”, by brother William Woodson, and,
“The Emergence of Denominationalism” by brother Gary McDade.
by Doug Dingley