from Roger Olson:
This year-- 2017-- many Protestant Christians around the world will be celebrating what they think is the 500th anniversary of the birth of Protestantism. Many consider October 31 "Reformation Day" and celebrate it as the annual anniversary of the birth of Protestantism because it was on that day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" to the cathedral church door in Wittenberg, Saxony.
Well, any historian worth her salt knows that’s a somewhat arbitrary choice for the birth of Protestantism. One could just as well date it to the day of Luther’s "Tower Experience" or his excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church or any number of other days. In fact, in Switzerland many Protestants think it was not Luther but Ulrich Zwingli, the reformer of Zurich, who launched the Protestant Reformation.
... Prague preacher and theologian Jan Hus... taught and preached the same things as Luther a century earlier. Hus was perhaps the first real Protestant and the Czech Brethren stem directly from his reforming work in Bohemia. They have every right to claim to be the oldest Protestant churches in the world.
But! A case could also be made that there are even older Protestant groups than the Hussites. Hus was himself inspired by English theologian and reformer John Wycliffe (d. 1384). Wycliffe, however, unlike Hus, left behind no organized religious group that survived. Some historians think, however, that Wycliffe's followers, known as the Lollards, did survive even if they eventually merged into other non-conformist groups in England.
Olson's entire post can be read here.
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