Difference between Protestant and Evangelical

One is an offshoot of the other, a common occurrence in the Christian world. Let’s find out how the two are different from each other.


Protestant vs Evangelical
Inside a Protestant church

Protestants are followers of Protestantism, a Christian movement that points out what they believe as errors in the beliefs and practices in the Roman Catholic Church. Along with the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, Protestants make up the 3 major factions of Christianity.

Protestant groups do not believe in the authority of the Pope over the church, including the Catholic belief of transubstantiation, or the changing of the bread and wine into the blood and body of Christ offered during mass. However, they themselves disagree about what Christ’s place is in the Eucharist. Various Protestant groups also believe any ordinary Christian has direct access to God through prayers. The exact meaning of this and its implications differ depending on the denomination. Protestants also believe that sins are forgiven only through faith, and not through good works. They uphold only the Bible, not traditions, as the absolute authority in faith and morals.

Protestantism originated in Germany, and began to flourish in 1517 when Martin Luther came out with Ninety-Five Theses, a reaction to the abuses surrounding the sale of indulgences which the Roman Catholic Church claimed would “forgive” the sins of anyone who bought them. There were a few groups who sought to either leave, or reform the Roman Catholic Church, but Martin Luther was the one to be able to set the movement in full motion.

The Evangelical movement is a movement within the Protestant church that believes in the good news that Christ brings, that he came to the world to redeem humanity’s sins.

Evangelicals uphold four cardinal beliefs. The first is that the Bible is absolute and without error about anything it says about God, nature, and the world. Second is that salvation is only possible by believing in Christ. One of their most popular beliefs is that a believer must claim salvation for himself, or what is commonly known as being “born again”. The fourth belief is the importance of spreading the word of God through evangelization.

Protestant vs Evangelical

So, what’s the difference between a protestant and an evangelical?

While some Protestants believe in the absolute nature of the Bible, some look at it as a historical document containing the word of God and a great deal of important truths that should be interpreted in close relation with the times and places of those reading it. Evangelicals see the Bible as the be all and end all; everything in it is absolute truth.

Protestants believe in a gradual, spiritual transformation from a young age continuing until old age. Evangelicals place a high regard on conversion, which can be achieved through active evangelization. Protestants would rather share their doctrines in a broader sense. Evangelicals preach the good word with the hope of converting someone to their cause. Protestants also believe that there may be more ways that one to be saved. Evangelicals believe it’s only through upholding their four cardinal beliefs or being that someone can be saved.

Comparison chart

Protestants Evangelical
One of 3 major groups of Christianity One of many groups within Protestantism
Usually emphasizes spiritual transformation Usually believes in total conversion
Some may see the Bible as a historical document containing God’s words The Bible is the absolute truth