Protestant Vs. Pentecostal [Differences Explained]

When it comes to Protestantism and Pentecostalism, there are more similarities than there are differences. Both believe in the Trinity and the Bible as the authoritative source of religious teachings. However, a few key points set these two groups apart. Protestants typically emphasize the personal interpretation of scripture and individual salvation, while Pentecostals focus on a literal interpretation of scripture and Spirit-filled living.

Protestants Vs. Pentecostals

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Many people are familiar with the terms “Protestant” and “Pentecostal” and know they are both associated with Christianity. However, they don’t know the difference. Are they different denominations?  Churches? Theologies?  Are they different?

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Along with Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, Protestantism is one of the three historical branches of the Christian faith. Pentecostalism, a movement in the Protestant tradition of the 20th century that believes speaking in tongues to be the first evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit after conversion, is an example.

Is there a common origin story for Protestantism or Pentecostalism? Which denomination is the largest in each tradition’s history? Are Protestants and Pentecostals the same about God, Christ, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the end of the world? Continue reading to find out more.

Pentecostals and Protestants: Similarities and Distinctions

The early 20th century saw the birth of the Pentecostal movement in America. They were members of Protestant churches and believed in Protestant doctrines.

Their beliefs and practices didn’t directly challenge any of the key tenets of the Protestant tradition about the importance of grace, faith, and Jesus Christ.

Pentecostals didn’t seek to remove any Protestant core belief but wanted to offer a unique experience, namely speaking with tongues. They believed this was available to all believers after their conversion to Christ.

ProtestantismPentecostalism
Origin16th century Europe, Germany, especially under Martin Luther’s reforms (1483-1546).The Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906 was the birthplace of the modern expression of Pentecostalism.
Meaning ofThe Latin protestari word is the root of “Protestant,” which means “to bear witness.”“Pentecostal” refers to the first day of Pentecost (Acts 2), when the Holy Spirit visited the early church in an unusual way that allowed believers to speak in unknown languages.
InfluencerMartin Luther, John Calvin (France) (1509-1564), Ulrich Zwingli (Switzerland) (1484-1531).The early stages of the tradition were significantly influenced by Charles Parham (1873-1929) and William Seymour (1870-1922).
Significative writing other than the BibleThe Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. The writings and sermons of Martin Luther.The Assemblies for God doctrinal statement The 16 Fundamental truths
What is the highest denomination in tradition today?Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and Assemblies of GodAssemblies Of God are the largest Pentecostal denomination. It is followed by the Church of God in Christ and the Church of God in (Cleveland, Tennessee).
Theological, social and worldviewTheologically or socially, Protestants can be either liberal or conservative.Pentecostals tend to be overwhelmingly evangelical and conservative. There has never been a major liberal or progressive movement within the largest traditional denominations like the Assemblies of God.

Comparison of Pentecostal and Protestant Beliefs

ProtestantismPentecostalism
ScriptureThe authority of Scripture is a hallmark of the Protestant tradition. Protestants have believed in the authority and inspiration of Scripture for centuries.Pentecostals believe in the inspiration, authority, and inerrancy of the Bible.
GodProtestants believe that the Trinity is one God who exists through three persons. The three persons are fully divine: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.Pentecostals believe that the Trinity is real and each member of it is fully divine. The so-called “Oneness Pentecostals,” who don’t believe in the Trinity, don’t share fellowship with Trinitarian churches like the Assemblies of God.
ChristJesus is the second person in the Trinity. He is God in human flesh. He is both 100% God and 100% Man. Jesus was born from a virgin and lived a sinless existence. He died to atone for sins and was physically resurrected on the third day.Jesus is the second person in the Trinity. He is God in human flesh. He is both 100% God and 100% Man. Jesus was born from a virgin and lived a sinless existence. He died to atone for sins and was physically resurrected on the third day.
SalvationProtestants believe salvation is through grace alone and faith only in Christ. You can identify as a Protestant, Arminian, Calvinist or Baptist.Jesus Christ is the only way you can be saved. Like Arminians and Pentecostals, the emphasis of Pentecostals is on people’s freedom to choose faith or repentance.
BaptismProtestants generally believe baptism is a way to identify a person who has died and been raised from the dead (Rom. 6:3-5), and to Christ. It also signifies their acceptance into the church community (Acts 2,38-47). Protestants disagree on who (children or adults) should be baptized and how (sprinkling/immersion).Pentecostals believe in “believer’s baptism,” which means that one must be a practicing Christian to be baptized. Infants are not permitted to be baptized. Baptism signifies that someone has been converted to Christ and is now following Him.
CommunionProtestants generally believe that the Lord’s Supper was a continuing practice Christ began before his death. The nature of the bread or cup is a matter of dispute among Protestants.Pentecostals believe that the cup and bread are symbols of Christ’s death for sin, and they anticipate his return.
Holy SpiritThe Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity. He is completely divine. The Spirit works for the salvation the Father intended, and the Son earned to save sinners. He gives spiritual gifts to believers, which they can use for the benefit of the Church.Pentecostals believe the Holy Spirit is divine and applies Christ’s salvation. He also distributes spiritual gifts. It is not Presbyterianism. Instead, it believes that all Christians should expect and seek the second baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Talking in tonguesSome Protestants are Pentecostal, while others are not. Non-Pentecostal Protestants may speak in tongues.Pentecostals believe all spiritual gifts, even speaking in tongues, can be found today. The first sign of speaking in tongues with another tongue is a physical sign.
SanctificationMost Protestants believe that sanctification is a cooperation between God and the people. Few Protestants believe that one can attain sanctification in their lifetime. However, most of those who do believe so are Pentecostals.Sanctification can be described as an act of separation from evil and of devotion to God. Pentecostals may believe in “perfectionism,” which states that believers can be separated from sin during this lifetime.
ChurchOne of the key principles of Protestantism states that the Church is made up of those Christ has saved from sin.The general beliefs of Pentecostals about the Church are the same as those in the wider Protestant tradition.
Divine HealingProtestants believe God can heal. Some Protestants do not believe that the atoning work of Christ provides healing.Pentecostal Theology holds that divine healing is a central tenet. It is an integral part of the gospel. All believers have the right to receive healing from sickness through atonement.
Christ’s ReturnProtestants believe in Christ’s Second Coming, which is a fundamental belief of the tradition.Pentecostals believe that Christ will return at the Second Coming.
MillenniumThe premillennial, postmillennial, or amillennial views are prevalent in Protestant churches.Pentecostals are premillennialists and believe that the 1,000-year reign for Christ is literal. It will take place after the rapture and seven years of tribulation.
JudgmentThe majority of Protestants agree that judgment upon death is inevitable for everyone. Some people believe that hell is an eternal state of conscious torment. Some believe that hell will end after a certain period of punishment.The final judgment is certain. Those who are not in Christ will be condemned to hell for eternity. For eternity, those who are found in Christ will be in heaven.

Conclusion

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In conclusion, there are key differences between Protestant and Pentecostal churches. Protestants generally have a more formal worship service, while Pentecostals emphasize experiencing the Holy Spirit. Both groups share common beliefs, but Pentecostals are more expressive in their faith. Protestants also tend to downplay the role of emotions and speaking in tongues in worship, while Pentecostals consider them to be important. Ultimately, both groups are united by their shared belief in Jesus Christ as Savior.

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