Protestant (Four Family ‘sub’ groups) – A term used to describe those Christians who sought to “reform” the Roman Catholic church. Contrary to popular misnomer, the word did not arise as a result of “protesting” the Pope or the Roman Catholic church. Rather, the etymology of “Protestant” is tied to a group of German princes, civic centers, and authorities all of whom voiced their dissent from the Diet of Speyer which was decidedly against Luther reforms. It has since come to be known as a term for “anti papist” groups and although it primarily referred to German reformers (Lutherans) and the term “Reformed Churches” referred to Swiss and French reformers, the term protestant has today come to represent all denominations besides the Roman Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox denominations.
Pre-Reformers – These are the groups of believers which broke from Roman Catholic oppression prior to Luther’s German Reforms
Waldensians – Founded by Peter Waldo, perhaps the earliest of all true reformers. Waldo decried the lavish lifestyle of monks and priests amidst the squalor of the common people. He petitioned for the Scriptures to be translated from Latin (educated tongue) to French – the language of the common people. He also believed in preaching in the common language as well. The Roman Catholic church for some strange reason believed that all masses should only be “said” in Latin – a language which most common people could not understand. Waldo also believed in personal evangelism. His efforts would earn him infamous hatred and notoriety that would dog his followers, the Waldensians, for centuries BEYOND the great reformation! The Waldensians are perhaps the most persecuted Christian denomination in Church history, mostly due to their challenge of the Roman Catholic Pope’s authority.
Moravians or Unity of the Brethren – began by secret small study groups formed by John Hus, the Czech pre-reformer – originally called “Hussites”, they closely mirrored the reform teachings of John Wycliffe who died prior to Hus’ martyrdom at the hands of the Roman Catholic faith. Half of the “Hussites” or “Unity of the Brethren” fled the persecution of Czechoslovakia to join the Moravians – both groups are still in existence today.