Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 1, 2008

Exploring Protestant Traditions

W. David Buschart, Exploring Protestant Traditions: An Invitation to Theological Hospitality (InterVarsity, 2006).
As a very young boy, I attended an Assemblies of God church with my mother, but from 3rd grade or so, I have attended Baptist churches.  It was awhile before I even understood that there were in other denominations true believers in Christ, let alone grasping their distinctive beliefs.
I attended a Baptist school for my undergraduate work, and received no systematic instruction on the particular beliefs of other Protestant denominations.  In my graduate work in a Baptist seminary, the curriculum was structured such that we were exposed to particular beliefs of other Protestant denominations when that area of theology or practice was under discussion in class (e.g., the Lord’s Supper), and we did discuss something of denominational origins in classes on church history.  I do not recall, however, any sort of systematic presentation of denominational distinctives.
As I continued on in life, it occurred to me that some sort of systematic presentation would have been helpful in forming my mental grid, so that when I read that a certain author was Lutheran, Wesleyan, etc., I would have some idea of what to expect.  When I was working with the youth of our church a few years back, I started getting questions from them in this area.  Some of them attended a Christian school which was multi-denominational, and were faced with questions from classmates (mostly Pentecostal) which they didn’t know how to process.  That led to a short series in which I tried to give the teens some basic idea of what was involved in being a Baptist, a Pentecostal, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian, etc.  The series was eye-opening for me.  In preparing, I used the Handbook of Denominations in the United States by Mead, Hill, and Atwood.  This is an excellent work, but has a broader scope with less depth than I wanted.  I found that Rose Publishing produces an interesting chart comparing distinctive beliefs of various denominations.
What I wish now that I had had then was Buschart’s work.  Exploring Protestant Traditions examines eight: Reformed, Lutheran, Wesleyan, Baptist, Anglican, Anabaptist (Mennonite, Amish, Brethren), Pentecostal, and Dispensational.  Each chapter gives the historical / ecclesiastical background to the tradition (with accompanying charts and timelines), discusses its theological and hermeneutical methodology, and highlights two of its characteristic beliefs.  As would be expected, each chapter gives primary resources for further study.
I have read only a couple of the chapters to this point, and am not in a position to judge how well Buschart represents the various traditions he addresses.  But the sort of work that it is strikes me as valuable as a “one-stop shop” for an overview of various strains of Protestantism.


  1. Thank you for the nice comments about the Rose Publishing chart, “Denominations Comparison Chart.”

    Here is the direct link to it on our website so that people can save time hunting for it.

    May the Lord bless you richly!

    –The Rose Staff!

  2. Thanks for this post. I looked over the Rose material – looks very good.

  3. I have found the Rose material to be generally helpful. I can vouch for good customer service — I ordered two laminated posters for our church once, and the tube in which they were sent had gotten dented, creasing the posters. When I contacted Rose, they immediately sent out the order again, no questions asked.

  4. I notice that this work receives a lengthy (4-page) review in JETS 50:4 (Dec 2007) by James Borland of Liberty University. Borland reviews the book quite favorably, but rightly objects to Buschart’s use of the term “Christian” to describe Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic adherents.

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