1. Religion & Spirituality
Protestant
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 Related Terms
Reformation
Christianity
priesthood of believers
sola fidei

 

Definition:
The term Protestant is used to refer to any Christian group which developed from the Reformation. Characteristic of most Protestant churches are such dogmas as acceptance of the Bible as the sole source of revelation and authority, justification by faith alone (sola fidei), and the universal priesthood of all believers.

Contrary to popular perception, the name does not stem directly from the idea of people "protesting" various doctrines and actions of the Catholic Church. Early on in the Reformation, those dissenters were referred to in Germany as Evangelicals (and this is the term still in use today). Peace was established between Evangelicals and Catholics at the Diet of Speier in 1526 because the emperor, Charles V, needed peace at home in order to deal with foreign conflicts.

Once he felt that he had those foreign issues in hand, Charles turned back to the religion issue at home and, at a second Diet of Speier, he revoked the peace along with the concessions given to Evangelicals (which allowed each person to follow their consciences and each prince to handle religious matters in their territory). This may have pleased the Catholic Church, but it infuriated the Evangelicals and they protested his actions - it was at this time that the name Protestant came into widespread use.

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