April 19 – The religious sect, or sects, launched at the time of the Reformation is known as the “Protestant” religion. The name would seem to imply that it was chosen to express the idea that the new religion was a “protest” against the old one, with all its works and pomps. It had, however, a very different and much less glorious origin. It arose in this way.
The work of the Reformation was being carried on, to the great spiritual and social disturbance of the German Empire; threatening, in fact, to bring on not only spiritual but national chaos in the country. Hence there was a general desire to get together and talk things over. The different parties, Catholic and Lutheran, did get together at the town of Speyer in Bavaria. The Catholics were in the majority, but by no means dictatorial. After much argument and discussion, the sense of the assembly was that the different princes should see to it that neither party should practice any further violence or confiscation against the other; and that things should be allowed to remain in statu quo (that is to say, as they then were) till a general council should be summoned.
This ought to have satisfied all, and should have brought quiet and rest to the distracted country. But the Lutherans had contracted habits of aggressiveness which they could not control; they had developed a taste for spoliation, which grew by what it fed on. Archbishop Spalding says: “They desired freedom to pull down the Catholic altars and to abolish the Catholic worship wherever they had the power to do so.” Consequently, they withdrew from the assembly, April 19, 1529, and solemnly “protested” against its decisions. Thus was one word more added to the dictionary of theological terms; and, though the Lutherans then were just as disunited in their beliefs as they are now, they all go by a name which is negative in character, and recalls an exhibition of bigotry and greed. With compliments to Doby