Sociology Index


Protestantism is a form of Christian faith and practice and is one of the three major branches of Christianity, along with Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The word 'Protestant' took root from the protests made by German princes at the Diet of Speyer in 1529. The Diet of Speyer voted to end the toleration of those who followed the teachings of Martin Luther within Germany. Protestantism dates from the 16th century. History should be something that all Christians can learn from. The reformers saw themselves as returning to a bibliocentric form of Christianity and the reformation was seen by some as tragic, but still necessary. Protestant Ethic, or set of ideas, in the 16th century, was cited by Max Weber as an important influence in encouraging the development of capitalist society.

Protestants reject the authority of the Pope and many other Catholic traditions and beliefs, emphasize the importance of reading the Bible, and hold to the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Protestant doctrine, also known in continental European traditions as Evangelical doctrine, is in opposition to that of Roman Catholicism.

A number of those sections of the old Empire which were most highly developed economically and most favored by natural resources and situation, in particular a majority of the wealthy towns went over to Protestantism in the sixteenth century. The results of that circumstance favor the Protestants even today in their strug gle for economic existence. Protestantism is characterised by emphasis on the Bible as the sole source of infallible truth and the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone.

Protestants have traditionally encouraged private interpretation of the scriptures by individuals rather than relying on the interpretation of the church (as is the case in Roman Catholicism). Differing groups have emerged (e.g. Baptists, Lutherans and Methodists), each holding distinctive doctrines.

The fundamental principle of traditional Protestantism is that the universal priesthood of believers implies the right and duty of the Christian laity not only to read the Bible in the vernacular, but also to take part in the government and all the public affairs of the Church. It puts the essence and authority of the Church in an exclusive priesthood, and makes ordained priests the necessary mediators between God and the people.