Is it fair to use "protestant" as a synonym for "credobaptist"?

I've noticed several instances here (both recent and historic) of folks using using "protestant" as a synonym for "denominations which practice credobaptism"¹, i.e. credobaptists. This seems disingenuous, as Wikipedia lists several major protestant denominations (what looks to me like a significant portion of them, perhaps even a majority) that practice pædobaptism². In particular, IIUC, Lutherans (along with Catholics), who might be called "the original protestants", consider credobaptism a heresy.

In fact, AFAICT, the only "protestants" that practice CB are Baptists, the Churches of Christ, and possibly Pentacostals. Given that a majority of "protestants", at least counting the number of major denominations (and not members thereof) practice pædobaptism, it it fair to use "protestant" to refer to credobaptists? Or should we be discouraging this use, similar to how we discourage exclusion of LDSs and JWs from the SE?

(In fairness, population numbers do tell a different story, and in the U.S., Baptists are easily the majority of Protestants. Worldwide, however, the numbers aren't quite so skewed, and at best, equating "protestant" with "credobaptist" is probably offensive to at least a quarter of all protestants.)

(¹ a.k.a. believer's baptism; for this discussion, may be abbreviated CB or BB)

(² a.k.a. infant baptism; for this discussion, may be abbreviated PB or IB)


2 Answers 2


No, of course not, and I can't remember seeing anyone here ever mistake the two. It's definitely not a common mistake.

The major branches of Protestantism include:

  • Credobaptist
    • Adventism
    • Anabaptist (Mennonites etc)
    • Baptists
    • Brethren
    • Churches of Christ
    • Pentecostalism
  • Paedobaptist
    • Anglican
    • Continental Reformed
    • Lutheran
    • Methodism
    • Presbyterian

No, I don't think so, and for that reason I preferred when we used "Reformed" instead of "Protestantism" because I think Evangelicals (even Evangelical Lutherans) fall under that moniker. I was chatting with Curiousdannii and he wasn't of that mindset (that Evangelicals wouldn't consider themselves Protestants) but I don't know any Evangelicals who consider themselves Protestants in the normal sense. They mostly avoid the nitpicks and tracts against the Catholic Church that Lutherans get taught in favor of either complete ignorance or something like passive ecumenism.

Of course, I don't know that many people, at least many non-Catholics who are actually religious, so my experience is limited. I have been active on this site for a while though. And I'm pretty sure that Evangelicals are Protestants only in the Bill Cosby sense that they say "Amen" in a cool way.

But this question isn't about Evangelicals of course, but I'm just trying to say that it's not a good idea to use Protestant as a synonym for ANYTHING. Protestant means people who protest such and such a practice of the Catholic Church, not necessarily a belief. In protest they reformed the doctrines of the Catholic Church making their own Churches (whereas the traditional way of reforming was to reform the practices of the Catholic Church).

So is some of the Churches reformed the doctrine of infant baptism and some didn't it wouldn't make sense to call credobaptists protestants, especially given the global nature of the site.


with tagging, it is perfectly acceptable to use a tag that represents a subset of who the question is about if there is not a better more specific tag. And perfectly acceptable to use two tags even when the second one is entirely a subset of the first (as would be for .

  • 3
    You can't use "Reformed" to talk about Protestantism generally, because the Methodists, Lutherans(?), and majority of Credobaptists are Arminian. Only Anglican, Presbyterian, Continental Reformed, and the "Particular Baptists" have Reformed theology. The Evangelical/Liberal divide meanwhile cuts across all denominations. There are lots of Evangelical Arminians.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 8, 2021 at 23:58
  • Are the Evangelicals you know personally devout, or is it just a cultural/political identity? (Like "Catholic" and "Protestant" in Northern Ireland.) I really don't understand why they wouldn't consider themselves Protestant, unless they basically don't know anything about Christianity. Sadly there are probably far too many people who would fit that.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 9, 2021 at 0:00
  • @curious thanks for clarifying that with Reformed, I thought Lutherans fell under "reformed" but that was something I incorrectly picked up here. The Evangelicals I'm talking about are very devout, non-denominational types. They've got no particular beef with Rome.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Sep 9, 2021 at 13:15
  • "Reformed" isn't a great label, neither are "Catholic" or "Orthodox", but they're what we're stuck with now.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 9, 2021 at 13:32
  • Agree with @curiousdannii If I may add, a label is only as good as what it's used for: to make a distinction. Depending on the purpose, the labels Protestant (vs. Catholic & Orthodox), Evangelicals (vs. liberals), Reformed (vs. other branches of Protestants) have their unique purpose and are NOT interchangeable. That's why "Protestant Catholic" or "Lutheran Reformed" are oxymoron while "Evangelical Catholic" is meaningful, although rather rare. "Evangelical Lutheran" is a historical mistake since they're liberal, see my recent answer. Sep 10, 2021 at 16:10
  • I hear Evangelical Catholic quite a bit, mainly because friends of ours lead evangelicalcatholic.org
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Sep 10, 2021 at 16:42
  • @PeterTurner You meant Catholics who are active in the New Evangelization. But I was referring to a growing subset of Evangelical catholic (with a small "c") to mean Evangelical Protestants who maintain their "catholicity" in the sense of the historical ecumenical church before the split. See the various strands in this wikipedia article section. I think I can call myself Evangelical catholic, which is a minority subset of evangelicals. Sep 12, 2021 at 21:06

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