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Influences on the Development of Protestantism

Protestantism : Influences on the Development of Protestantism

Protestants can be differentiated according to how they have been influenced by important movements since the magisterial Reformation and the Puritan Reformation in England. Some of these movements have a common lineage, sometimes directly spawning later movements in the same groups.

Holiness Movement and Pietism

The Holiness movement in the 17th and the 18th century, began after the English Puritan Reformation, joined on the continent of Europe the German Pietist movement, and returned to Britain in a changed form through John Wesley and the Methodist Church, as well as through smaller, new groups such as the Quakers. The practice of a spiritual life, often combined with social engagement, predominates in classical Pietism, which was a protest against the doctrine-centeredness Protestant Orthodoxy of the times, in favor of depth of religious experience.


Beginning at the end of 18th century, several international revivals of Pietism (such as the Great Awakening), took place across denominational lines, which are referred to generally as the Evangelical movement. The chief emphases of this movement were individual conversion, personal piety and Bible study, public morality often including Temperance and family values, and Abolitionism, de-emphasis of formalism in worship and in doctrine, a broadened role for laity (including women) in worship, evangelism and teaching, and cooperation in evangelism across denominational lines.


Pentecostalism as a movement began in the United States early in the 20th century, starting especially within the Holiness movement. Seeking a return to the operation of New Testament gifts of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues as evidence of the "baptism of the Holy Ghost" became the leading feature. Divine healing and miracles were also emphasized. Pentecostalism swept through much of the Holiness movement, and eventually spawned hundreds of new denominations in the United States. A later "charismatic" movement also stressed the gifts of the Spirit, but often operated within existing denominations rather than coming out of them.


Liberalism is a label for various attempts to accommodate the doctrine and practice, especially of the main branches of the Protestant churches, to the principles of the Enlightenment. These adaptations achieved critical momentum at the end of the 19th century in the Modernist movement and the historical critical Bible exegesis.


In reaction to liberal Bible critique, Fundamentalism arose in the 20th century, primarily in the United States and Canada, among those denominations most affected by Evangelicalism. Fundamentalism placed primary emphasis on the authority and sufficiency of the Bible, and typically advised separation from error, and cultural conservatism, as important aspects of the Christian life.


Neo-evangelicalism is a movement from the middle of the 20th century, that reacted to perceived excesses of Fundamentalism, adding to concern for biblical authority an emphasis on liberal arts, co-operation among churches, Christian Apologetics, and non-denominational evangelicalization.