Category:Working Within the Protestant Tradition
From Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers
Protestant Christians believe in the potential for direct access to God through His Son, Jesus. Most -- but by no means all -- Protestants also hold to Trinitarian beliefs which regard the Godhead as having three forms, that of the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit. Like other Christian traditions, Protestant Christianity contains a measure of Jewish Tradition. In some regions it also draws upon earlier local Pagan religious beliefs and customs.
The history of Protestantism traces back to the Reformation and its central figure, Martin Luther. The Protestant Reformation began in 1517 as a protest against what was viewed as the corruption of the Catholic Church. Protestants took issue with Catholic practices like simony, clerical celibacy, indulgences, the concept of purgatory, and the veneration of the Virgin Mary and the saints. Protestants viewed devotion to the saints and the Virgin Mary as idolatry and the practices of the Catholic Church as corrupt.
Protestantism focuses on a Christianity that removes the intermediary influence of clerics and returns access to faith, scriptural teachings, and scripturally-supported sacraments to the hands of congregants in emulation of an older or more Biblical form of Christianity. Protestants are generally distinguished from Catholic or Orthodox Christians because they undertake their spiritual work in the name of God rather than petitioning the favor of saints or other patrons.
The majority of root doctors identify as members of Protestant denominations, and thus Protestant Christianity plays an integral role in the practice of hoodoo. Spirit Workers and root doctors from Protestant backgrounds often perform work on behalf of clients through the power of prayers to God, generally carried out in the name of Jesus or with an invocation to the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit. The spiritual work of Protestant root doctors is intimately connected to the core beliefs and practices of hoodoo, for the majority of conjure doctors and rootworkers consider themselves Protestants or members of one of the many Protestant denominations.
One of the largest branches of Protestantism, Lutheranism developed from the teachings of Martin Luther (1483 – 1546), a German Catholic priest and professor of theology, and led to what latter became known as the Protestant Reformation. Luther challenged then-common church actions which he viewed as corrupt, among them the Catholic manner of handling the sacraments, the practice of simony, the rule of celibacy for clerics, and the sale of indulgences -- remissions of punishment for sins which have been forgiven, the sale of which, he believed, reduced forgiveness of sin to the level of a financial transaction. Luther believed that forgiveness was God's alone to grant, and therefore that both the clerics who sold indulgences and the parishioners who bought them thinking that they were thus to be absolved from punishment and granted eternal salvation were in error.
Luther went from being a protestor to a Protestant, when, on All Hallows Eve, October 31, 1517, he nailed a document titled "Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences" to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Within two weeks, printed copies of the "Ninety-Five Theses" had spread throughout Germany. In January 1518, friends and supporters of Luther translated the "Ninety-Five Theses" from clerical Latin into popular German. The translation was printed and went into wide distribution, making the Lutheranism the first protest in history that "went viral" through the use of the then relatively new technology of the printing press. Within months, further language translations and reprintings had followed, and copies of the "Ninety-Five Theses" were available the length and breadth of Europe.
On June 15, 1520, Pope Leo X issued a rebuttal to Luther's "Ninety-Five Theses," but by then Lutheranism had become a majority point of view throughout much of Northern Europe. The official split between Catholicism and Luther's supporters occurred at the Edict of Worms 1521, where Lutherans were excommunicated en masse from the Roman Catholic Church. Martin Luther then went on to translate the entire Bible into German; the first printing of both testaments was released in 1534. In addition to his protests against the Roman Catholic Church, Luther later protested against the Jewish faith, writing that Jewish homes in Europe should be destroyed, Jewish synagogues burned, the money of Jews confiscated, and the liberty of Jews curtailed. These beliefs, while not a part of modern religious Lutheranism, did influence the political outlook of German Lutherans for centuries after Luther's death.
Contemporary Lutheranism is organized into world bodies such as the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference, the International Lutheran Council, and the Lutheran World Federation; as well as national and local administrative bodies called synods. Among the synods are denominations such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Concordia Lutheran Conference, the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, and the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.
Lutherans hold to justification through faith alone, over the good works professed by Catholicism. They celebrate two major sacraments, baptism and holy communion. They do not practice confession after the manner of the Catholic church, although a confession of sins is given before receiving the Eucharist for the first time. Lutherans hold that baptism by water is a saving work of God, mandated by Jesus Christ, and that since the creation of faith is exclusively God's work, the salvific grace of baptism does not depend on the actions of the one being baptized. Therefore, since it is faith alone that receives these divine gifts, Lutherans practice both infant baptism and the baptism of consenting adults, stating that baptism "works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare."
Martin Luther held typically Germanic views about the nature of folk-magic and witchcraft, particularly the local belief in the evils of stable-witches who attack farm animals. For instance, in a disquisition on Exodus 22:18, he wrote that, with the help of the devil, stable-witches could steal milk simply by thinking of a cow. He not only had full faith in the existence of stable-witchery, he recommended the death penalty for its evil practices. In August, 1538, when there was much local discussion about stable-witches who had poisoned hens' eggs in the nest and were spoiling milk and butter in the pans, Luther said, "One should show no mercy to these [women]; I would burn them myself, for we read in the Law that the priests were the ones to begin the stoning of criminals." In his "Small Catechism," he further stated that harmful witchcraft constituted a sin against the second commandment and prescribed the Biblical penalty for it.
Luther's admonitions aside, the folk magic of Lutherans is essentially quite Germanic and Nordic in culture, and incorporates pre-Christian pagan influences from throughout Northern Europe, including Swedish Trolldom and German hexerei, zauberi, and braucherei. Root doctors in this tradition may make use of European-style herb and tree magic, create consecrated talismans and amulets, work according to astrological timing, and recite spoken enchantments. They may also petition angels and archangels and employ the Bible in their spirit work, for they see the Bible as holding the full authority of God.
Anglican and Episcopal
The formation of the Anglican church, also known as the Church of England, can be traced back to the teachings of John Wycliffe, who rejected various Catholic doctrines and argued against papal involvement in secular matters. The Anglican denomination broke away from the Catholic Church in 1531 by declaring the King of England the head of the church and rejecting papal authority. Second after the Monarch of England, the clerical head of the Anglican Church is the Bishop of Canterbury.
The Episcopal Church is the Anglican Church outside of Britain, and is mainly found in the United States, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The American Episcopal Church broke with the Anglican Church after the American Revolution of 1776, and while it still holds loose ties with the Anglican Church, it remains a separate entity. It does not recognize the ecclesiastical authority of the Monarch of England or the Bishop of Canterbury.
Both the Anglican and the Episcopal denominations have historically been proponents of civil rights, gender equality, affirmative action, and the Social Gospel movement that originated in the 19th century. Unlike the Catholic church both Anglicans and Episcopalians recognize and ordain female and gay clergy. The Episcopal Church's strong ties to racial justice issues brought many African Americans into the denomination; eventually some of these churches formed a composite denomination with the African Methodists to create the African Methodist Episcopalian Churches of Zion, known as the AME-Zion denomination.
Calvinist, Reformed, Presbyterian, and Congregational
These churches were influenced by the thought of John Calvin, a French theologian, who was part of the Protestant movement. A lawyer, Calvin broke with both the Catholic church and other Protestant denominations in his understanding of the roles faith and grace play in the life of a believer. Calvin and his followers believed in the concept of original sin but did not believe that everyone would be redeemed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Rather, redemption occurs by the grace of God alone and cannot be accomplished through merit or any specific practice.
One prominent group of Calvinist denominations in America was formerly known as the Dutch Reformed Church, whose congregations since 2004 have merged into groups such as the Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America, Protestant Reformed Churches in America, Free Reformed Churches of North America, Heritage Reformed Congregations, etc. Theodore Roosevelt was the only President of the United States who was Dutch Reform.
The Presbyterian Church was founded in the 15th century in Scotland by John Knox-a man who studied with Calvin in Geneva. Quickly thereafter spread to England. Scottish and Scots-Irish immigrants brought their faith to North America. American Presbyterian Churches tend to trace their origin point to the Scottish Reformation as opposed to the Protestant Reformation.
Presbyterian congregations are governed by a Session, a council made up of members from that congregation. American Presbyterian Churches have no Bishop however there are elders (the word Presbyterian comes from the Greek meaning elder)-these are ordained but non-clergy members of the congregation who advise on assist on a number of different ecumenical matters. Rootworkers who are part of the Presbyterian denomination may work in a faith based manner utilizing prayers, Psalms and the Holy Bible.
Because many adherents to the Presbyterian church are of Sottish, Northern Irish, or Scots-Irish descent, they may employ traditional forms of Celtic divination such as Tasseomancy or tea leaf reading.
Congregational churches are Calvinist and Reformed denominations which reject the governance by Presbyters or elders, preferring that the congregation as a whole make decisions regarding church matters.
Two large American denominational groupings within the Congregational movement are the non-institutional, independent Church of Christ churches, and the organized, institutional United Church of Christ. The UCC was formed in 1957, through the merger of the Congregational Christian Churches with the Evangelical and Reformed Church. At the time of this merger, the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches, based in England, chose not to join into the UCC union and thus it has retained the word Congregational in its denominational name.
Methodist and Pietist
The Methodist Church has its roots with John Wesley and the Holy Club, a group of pious men in Oxford who strove to live devout lives. In this they resemble the similar movement in Northern Europe called Scandinavian Pietism. Due to their dedication to living methodically holy lives the members of the Holy Club were called Methodists by their detractors -- a name that they adopted readily.
Methodists hold sacred the idea of free will over predestination and, like most Protestant denominations, emphasize salvation through Grace alone. The personal piety of Methodists is imbued with a sense of social justice and community, linking love for God with love for one's neighbors. Unique aspects of Methodist worship include high-energy congregational hymns and the renewal of covenants. Many Methodists annually renew their covenant with God as a symbolic rededication to a life of piety and holiness.
The Methodist preacher George Whitefield spread Methodist teachings throughout the United States during the 19th century; denominations that derive from this era include the Free Methodists and the United Methodist Church. Prior to the United States Civil War, many Methodists worked for the abolition of slavery and a number of their members became "conductors" on the underground railroad that helped slaves to escape to the North. Being open to members of all races, the Methodist Church drew many African American congregants, some of whom formed a composite denomination with the Episcopalians to create the African Methodist Episcopalian Churches of Zion, known as the AME-Zion denomination.
Anabaptist are historically linked to the 16th century and the Radical Reformation though there have been many groups who were predecessors, including the dissenters of Medieval era and various monastic orders. The term Anabaptist comes from Greek and Latin, meaning, "re-baptizers" or "baptizing again" which refers to the Anabaptist doctrine of adult baptism of believers as opposed to the infant baptisma prevalent in Catholicism.
Anabaptists firmly believe in the separation of church and state, with members refusing to participate in civil government, while they also promote freedom of religion which manifests as a freedom of churches and a priesthood of believers. Like their monastic ancestors, Anabaptists tend toward nonconformity to the world that often leads to lifestyles that call for living separately from the rest of society. They also do not wear wedding rings or take oaths. The core of the Anabaptist belief is the Bible as the literal source of faith, practice, and truth. They also adhere to a literal interpretation of the Beatitudes or the Sermon of the Mount.
Anabaptists have a charismatic wing connected to camp-revivals, healings, and manifestations of the Holy Spirit that involve falling to the floor, speaking in tongues, dancing, and the giving of prophecy.
Contemporary Anabaptist denominations include the Amish, the Mennonites, and the Hutterites.
Among the many denominations of Protestant Christianity, the Baptist tradition features prominently among root doctors and conjurers. Baptist denominations are generally organized into groups called Conventions, and include Southern Baptists, American Baptists, Missionary Baptists, Primitive Baptists, National Baptists, and more.
In the Baptist tradition emphasis is placed on full body immersion for baptism, salvation through faith and God's grace alone, and the independence and autonomy of local churches within each Baptist Convention. Baptist churches lack the hierarchical clergy of other Christian denominations, relying instead on the guidance of pastors and deacons. Conjure doctors who work in the Baptist tradition often perform spell-work reminiscent of church rites of baptism, such as cleansing; they emphasize the power of prayer and faith in spiritual work, may recommend Psalms to their clients. Baptist root workers tend to ally themselves with Baptist leaders, sometimes acting as pastors and deacons themselves.
Before the emergence of the Holiness movement in the mid-19th century most denominations believed that Christians received the baptism with the Holy Spirit either upon conversion and regeneration or through rites of Christian initiation. Since then, however, the Holiness belief that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is an experience distinct from regeneration has come into increasing prominence.
The Holiness Movement grew out of Methodism, but gave rise to its own denominations, including the Church of the Nazarene, The Salvation Army, the Church of Daniel's Band, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, the World Gospel Mission, the Churches of Christ in Christian Union, and the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana).
Holiness doctrine emphasize entire sanctification as a definite experience linked to Spirit baptism. According to the Articles of Faith of the Church of the Nazarene, sanctification is a work of God "which transforms believers into the likeness of Christ" and is made possible by "initial sanctification," entire sanctification, and "the continued perfecting work of the Holy Spirit culminating in glorification".
Entire sanctification, in distinction to initial sanctification, is an act of God in which a believer is made free from original sin and able to devote him or herself entirely to God.
Pentecostalism is a charismatic form of Christianity that took root in the United States in the early 20th century. Like the Holiness movement, Pentecostalism is a charismatic movement that places an emphasis on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, with a distinctive focus on spiritual gifts. The term Pentecostal comes from the Greek Pentecost, referring to the Jewish Holy Week and commemorates the day where the Holy Spirit descended upon the followers of Jesus Christ, an event described in the Acts of the Apostles.
Denominations within the Pentecostal Movement include the Assemblies of God, the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, the Church of God (Cleveland, TN), the Church of God in Christ, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.
Pentecostals are a diverse and complex group, but they generally hold to four cornerstone beliefs: Jesus alone is mankind's salvation, baptism of the Holy Spirit is necessary to augment baptism in water, ministers and parishioners have the power to heal, and the End Times indicate the imminent second coming of Jesus. The Holy Spirit plays a vital role in the experiential aspect of Pentecostal faith as its believed that when a believer is reborn that the Holy Spirit dwells within and is part of the spiritual warfare that each believer partakes in. Living spirit-filled lives often manifests in gifts of the spirit, especially speaking in tongues. In addition to other gifts of spirit, Pentecostals believe in divine healing as a cornerstone of their faith alluding back to Jesus as a healer in the Bible.
Pentecostal root doctors apply the belief in the spiritual gifts of speaking in tongues, laying of hands, and prophecy in their work often working closely with Pentecostal ministers, or acting as both minister and root doctor themselves.
Unitarian and Universalist
Unitarian Christianity is characterized by holding to the position that views God as one and as such separate from Jesus. This view directly opposes the Trinitarian doctrine held by the majority of Christians. Unitarians trace their history back to Eastern Europe from where it traveled to England then to the United States. Unitarians reject several orthodox doctrines, including the inerrancy of the Bible. Unitarian doctrine adheres to a strict monotheism that emphasizes the oneness of God and rejects the notion of Jesus as God, believing instead that he was a great prophet and perhaps had pre-existence, but is not divine himself. The doctrine of pre-existence states that Jesus existed before with God as a unique being, though was and is less than God. They point out that the Trinity is not a biblically supported doctrine and refer to God as the "Father" mentioned by Jesus. This doctrine holds that Jesus is more than man, less than God.
Unitarians also uphold free will over predestination and man's capability for both good and evil over notions of original sin. Characterized as a "liberal" church, the Unitarians are accepting of both other perspectives and the ability of other religions to access deity.
Universalists believe that an all-loving God would not create man knowing that he was destined for hell and therefore profess belief in universal salvation, or the idea that everyone was destined for salvation. Universalists became allied and associated with Unitarians as both denominations had similar stances on various doctrinal issues, which resulted in the formation of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Denominations include the Unitarian Universalists, Humanists, Progressive Christianity, Evolutionary Christianity, Ethical Culture (which also has Jewish roots), Free Thinkers, Secularists, etc.
Adventist denominations are distinguished by their belief in the Advent or Second Coming of Christ, as described in the Book of Revelations in the New Testament of the Bible. Their lineage can be traced to the teachings of William Miller.
William Miller was a devout Baptist and student of the Bible who through his study predicted the second coming of Jesus to be on or around 1843. His prediction and teachings spread and developed into what became known as the Millerite Movement. A significant aspect of the Millerite movement, besides its apocalyptic leaning, was its belief in conditional immortality and the need for each believer to study the bible and engage in theology. It was this teaching about theological freedom to engage in personal Bible study that led the Millerites to splinter into different Adventist denominations after the Great Disappointment, or the passing of prophesied date of the second coming without the appearance of Jesus.
The Seventh Day Adventist denomination is recognized by their practice of holding the Sabbath on Saturday and are the largest of the Adventist groups. As a denomination they began in the mid-1800s from the Millerite movement and along with other Adventists emphasize the eschatological aspects of Christianity, specifically the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ. Unlike many other Christian sects, the Seventh Day Adventists believe in conditional immortality for those who are consigned to hell; such individuals would not be punished for eternity, but rather would perish.
Seventh Day Adventists have a holistic view of man and health and often tend towards strict dietary lifestyles connected to the laws of the Old Testament. They also believe in the Spirit of Prophecy as a continuing source of truth which is connected to the writings of Ellen White, one of the founding members of the Seventh Day Adventists.
Jehovah's Witnesses, who are known for their door-to-door teaching and handing out of pamphlets, first formed out of the Bible Study Movement of the 1850s. They view themselves as restorationist whose beliefs and practices are a return to Scripture. As such they reject Trinitarianism, the immortality of the soul, and hellfire. The rejection of hellfire goes hand-in-hand with the belief in no afterlife. Jehovah's Witnesses instead believe that after the imminent Armageddon, or war between the followers of Christ and the followers of Satan, mankind will be resurrected and live in God's Kingdom where they will be instructed in proper way of worship and holy living.
Jehovah's Witnesses do not describe themselves as "Protestants" stating that their beliefs do not protest anything, but rather are positive instruction. They also do not observe Christmas, Easter, and birthdays, which they consider to be purely Pagan holidays.
Independent Conservative Evangelical Fundamentalists
Plymouth Brethren, Brethren
The Latter Day Saints movement, also collectively known as the Restorationist Movement, refers to a set of churches tied to the teachings of Joseph Smith. The majority of the people in the Latter Day Saints movement follow Mormon theology, which is more or less aligned with the theology of other Protestant denominations.
The movement began in New York during the 19th century, when Joseph Smith received visions in which he saw that the true church was lost and that he would re-establish the church through a new religious text. The text was published in 1830 as the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith reported that he was led by the angel Moroni to a set of golden tablets written in reformed Egyptian. He was also provided a pair of seer stones which enabled him to translate the tablets into English. The tablets recorded Jesus Christ's appearance among the Native Americans and the history of the prophets who traveled from Israel to live in North America. The Book of Mormon, along with "Doctrine and Covenants," "The Bible", and the "Pearl of Great Price" form the foundational religious scriptures of the Latter Day Saints movement.
The Latter Day Saints view themselves not as a Protestant movement, but rather as Christian restorationists who are renewing the true church of Christ. According to this view, the church fell into apostasy and corruption after the ascension of Jesus Christ, by adopting Greco-Roman culture and philosophy. In common with many other Protestant churches, Latter Day Saints hold to beliefs in the atonement of sin through the sacrifice of Jesus, baptism, celebration of communion or eucharist, and the awaited second coming of Jesus Christ.
Denominations within the Latter Day Saints movement include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Apostolic United Brethren, the Community of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), the Confederate Nations of Israel, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Kingdom of God, the Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as the Mormons, who comprise the largest group in the Latter Day Saints movement, differ in their theology from some of the accepted Protestant doctrines. Humans are believed to have pre-existed the Creation, as spirits whom God offered the opportunity to become exalted like Him by choosing good over evil. Life is seen as a small part of a larger eternal existence where humans rise up to a god-like existence.
However, Mormons also hold to a set of ordinances similar to sacraments found in other Protestant denominations and within the Catholic tradition. Among the many ordinances, some are considered essential for salvation. These include baptism, confirmation, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, ordination into a priesthood, and marriage.
In addition to the saving ordinances, Mormons participate in anointing the sick with blessed oil and participating in prayer circles. These latter often are used by Mormon spirit-workers in their practice.
Spiritualist, Psychic, and Metaphysical Christianity
The Spiritualist religion developed in large part within 19th century Christianity, and there are many Judeo-Christian Spiritualist churches and Spiritualist organizations in which Protestant doctrinal and liturgical beliefs and practices continue to play a strong part.
New Thought Christianity
The New Thought Movement arose primarily within 19th century Christianity, and more specifically within Protestant denominations, and for this reason, there are many Judeo-Christian New Thought churches that incorporate at least some elements of Protestant doctrine and liturgy.
Petitioning The Holy Trinity
The Holy Trinity is a Christian conception of the triplicity of the Godhead, referred to as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, or as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Father is Jehovah God of the Jews; the Son is Jesus Christ, the Messiah or Redeeming Saviour; and the Holy Ghost is the Shekinah of the Jews, symbolized in Christianity as a snow white Dove or as Light. Many Christian root doctors call upon the direct aid of Jesus Christ, or the Holy Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost when working on behalf of clients. (Read More ...)